I obviously suffer from skewed judgment. Things that strike others as perfectly reasonable strike me as ridiculous. I don’t know why. I’d like to think that I think things through, but there’s no great body of evidence to that effect.
For instance, I heard recently that Charlotte Motor Speedway will be smoke-free this year. How can that be? Has there been some great advance in green technology so that 43 race cars emit no exhaust fumes? Are they all equipped with catalytic converters or whatever those are called now? If I sit in the CMS grandstands this May, will I smell no exhaust, no rubber, no grease?
Oh. It’s cigarette smoke. This seems, to me, a rather tiny element of the toxicity in the race-track air. I suppose it would be annoying before the race starts to nearby patrons, but once it starts, and 43 cars are whipping around, I doubt a lit cigarette would even be noticeable.
I’m not suggesting that smoking be allowed at all sporting events. But automobile races? Some fans love the smell of exhaust and rubber as much as Robert Duvall’s character loved the smell of “napalm in the morning” in “Apocalypse Now.”
I doubt I’ll be in the grandstands at all this year, and if I am, I won’t be smoking, but banning smoke at a race track makes no more sense than banning butter from cineplex popcorn.
Besides that, 20 years on the NASCAR beat left me with the unmistakable impression that many race fans smoke. Are they going to spend five hours without a cigarette? I’m not sure, but I would think the race-car smoke in the air would cause a smoker to want to light up in the worst way, so much so that he might defy the rules, and if not, stay home and watch on TV. There’s a lot of that – staying home — going around already.
This may come as a shock, but I’ve heard that some race fans drink beer. Some people who don’t otherwise smoke have been known to do so when they are drinking.
Good luck with that, Charlotte. Meanwhile, I’ll await an onslaught from the ranks of the politically correct.
I can’t help but imagine a scene in which a huge wreck occurs off turn four. A car erupts in flames while pinned against the wall. As the safety trucks arrive and fire extinguishers are activated, a lone fan peers through the cloud and screams, “Hey! Hey! That guy three rows behind me is smoking a cigarette! Security! Security!”
A smoke-free section? Good idea. An entire smoke-free grandstand? Fine. Other than that, it seems to me that you buy your ticket and you take your chances.
What’s next? Only non-alcoholic beer? A Nicorette ban? Mandated mufflers? No burnouts?