NASCAR: A Ridiculously Brief History

Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lead the pack at Talladega on Oct. 20, 2013. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)
Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lead the pack at Talladega on Oct. 20, 2013. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

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Clinton, S.C., Thursday, January 16, 2014, 8:31 a.m.
NASCAR these days is just a whirling dervish, which naturally leads to the question, “What is a dervish?”

I mean, besides something that whirls.

The whirling dance, or Sufi whirling, that is proverbially associated with Dervishes is best known in the West by the practices (performances) of the Mevlevi order in Turkey, and is part of a formal ceremony known as the Serna.

What of the Dervish?

A Dervish or Darvesh is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path …

Ah. Like Scott Speed.

Meanwhile, Yu Darvish had an exceptional season pitching for the Texas Rangers, but that’s not important. Nor is it that I know a country singer named Andy Serna.

NASCAR keeps me playing catch-up.
NASCAR keeps me playing catch-up.

Dervish 6.0: NASCAR Edition involves constantly changing everything. Have a Chase, change a Chase, label it “New and Improved!” just like a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Car of Tomorrow? Tomorrow never comes. Free pass on the lead lap? Ah, let’s wave a heap of them around. Bonus points. Talking points. Points as they run. Point Break. Swimming pools. Movie stars. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed. Poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shooting at some food. Up through the ground come a-bubblin’ crude. Oil, that is. Texas tea.

Then, once Jed Clampett found all that oil, Big Bill France figured out what to do with it. Only Slightly Less Big Bill France built an empire, and along came Brian Zoroaster France (okay, it’s Zachary) to decide he was going to run football out of business.

France Jung Un.

What is NASCAR’s biggest problem? It went out of style. I had a history professor decades ago who was fond of using that phrase: “So, in Alabama, they started buying up those plots of land like they were going out of style!” Meanwhile, I sat scribbling in a notebook and thinking, If they’re going out of style, that is not going to be a wise investment.

NASCAR, however, agreed with Dr. Sanders.

Watch us! Watch us! We’re already the fastest growing sport in America! Next we take over the world!

For a while, people flocked to the tracks, anxious to see what the big deal was. Then there came a time – one that’s inevitable when dealing with those flocking to what has lately been deemed cool – when the newbies all decided NASCAR was sooooo last year.

Then there were the longtime fans, tried and true, who had loved NASCAR the way it was, or had been. They got grumpy and still are.

The best way to rebuild is to be patient. Reassure the base and regain their enthusiasm.

But that is not Zoroaster’s way. To reconfigure a baseball slogan, it’s “Tinker forever to France.”

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10 thoughts on “NASCAR: A Ridiculously Brief History”

  1. Figurin’ on playing comedy clubs while you’re on the book tour are ya? A man can’t have too many irons in the fire ya know.

    BZF has to bring the show back to the small tracks. back to the people in the bleachers instead of the skyboxes. Preferably tracks that are too small to fit all those motorcoaches inside so that the drivers have to actually stand around and talk to the fans. It wouldn’t hurt to cut down on the number of divisions and run them on different tracks than cup races.

  2. Once again, you’ve properly expressed the feelings of quite a few older fans with more flair than we could muster up.

    But some of us prefer ‘curmudgeonly’ to ‘grumpy’. It sounds slightly more sophisticated.

    Wait until the impending announcement of more changes to the race procedures and you might see a curmudgeon revolution.

  3. Don’t play coy with me young man. You’ve already confessed to have played on your high school team and the blog has detailed the travails of your high school and college teams this season. You’ve even based a novel around the sport. You my man, are a “footballer”.

    Me, I couldn’t care less for the sport. But being one of them damn yankees, I’ve noticed that football is taken much more seriously here than it was up North. I came down here expecting to be greeting by a wealth of NASCAR fans. Instead, at best it’s third on the list after football and basketball (I’m in NC). The photo is of a prep school in Massachusetts, but it seems to me that response is typical for many a football team and their fans.

    “The school’s on fire? Well, just hold on a minute, there’s five minutes of play left and we’re down four points”.

    Say what you will about Bill France, but they kept the yellow flag out after JPM nailed the jet dryer instead of playing through it. Worst of all, this ffootball thing commands the airwaves to such an extent that both NASCAR and Indycar are afraid to put up races against it and I am subjected to unfathomable suffering in not being able to watch any racing on TV. Bring back the Motor Trend 500!

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