The Serfs Are Restless

Kevin Harvick is second, and the Michigan race hasn't even started. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kevin Harvick is second, and the Michigan race hasn’t even started. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 13, 2015, 11:40 a.m.

I used to be there, man. For 20 years, I was “at the track” most weekends of the NASCAR season. Some years I went to every race. The last few years of my tenure, I started going to about 75 percent, which was plenty, and I was only too happy to take some time off, and the place where I worked was even happier.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

It was simple. I just wrote what I saw. I didn’t write stories about drivers, or crew chiefs, or owners, or anyone else, because it was their turn*. I just wrote what interested me, figuring that if it interested me, it would undoubtedly interest others.

Now I get surprised more often. I read the transcripts, but I don’t see the expressions on the faces. I depend on what TV chooses to show me because I have no other choice. I just do the best I can, but I don’t get the same perspective. I can read the lines but not what’s between them. I don’t get to ask the questions, and I’m astonished at the ones that don’t get asked.

All in all, this doesn’t displease me. I get to write as much or as little as I want. It’s the same in that I still write what I see but different in that I don’t see as much. I don’t think I’ve changed, but what I write isn’t a quota of stories to be filed each day (“the budget”). The blog is just for when I have something to write, and that’s still fairly common. The weekly free-lance column at Bleacher Report keeps my attention focused.

I’m more likely to be wrong. NASCAR used to seem more predictable. In general, whenever I wondered what NASCAR would do, I just assumed the worst, and it was what happened on a regular basis. The madness is still there; there’s not as much method.

This could be the week for Kasey Kahne. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

This could be the week for Kasey Kahne. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

For instance, this year NASCAR, being ruled by France, after all, has moved from a revised English system of justice to one more based on the Napoleonic Code.

Let’s see. There was Napoleon Bonaparte France. Then there was Napoleon Jr. Now there’s Brian Zoroaster France.

If that’s not the truth, it ought to be.

In other words, violations have been codified, allegedly, meaning that drivers, teams, crew chiefs, owners – anything but, God forbid, sponsors – can be punished for receiving two “written warnings.” NASCAR officials who used to defend their strange decisions by saying each case would be considered on an individual basis, without factoring in past actions, are now pulling those dreaded “permanent records” we all thought we escaped with the completion of high school.

Sometimes it seems the Soup Nazi is running things.

“You! Go to the back of the line!”

“No practice for you! … But, hey, you be good boy, maybe I let you go on track after 15 minutes, no? How’s about you think before you talk next time!”

What hasn’t changed is that NASCAR officials still set their trial balloons loose, see if they fly, and then, if they don’t actually fly very well, they can say what they technically did was fly even if only briefly, like Howard Hughes managing to get the Spruce Goose off the surface of the water for a few exciting seconds.

This week’s trial balloon is the notion that NASCAR may change the rules for one race, the one in Kentucky next month. Previous balloons in this extravaganza were: (1.) Wait till you see our new rules package! (2.) This rules package is pretty good, but the real changes are going to be next year! (3.) Maybe we’ll just keep these rules next year! and (4.) We may just test next year’s rules this year!

The reason for the fourth balloon is that the first three were greeted with various synonyms of “Bullshit!”

Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson are undoubtedly quite pleased with the season to date. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson are undoubtedly quite pleased with the season to date. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Empty seats and declining TV ratings must be having a panic-inducing effect. Isn’t it amazing that the regular season is so extraordinarily unimportant that an official race can be conducted as a test session?

Just a little R&D. They’ll love it in Kentucky. I mean, what do they want? The traffic’s better.

I didn’t see this coming. Of course, I didn’t expect NASCAR to allow its world’s most affluent slaves to speak out of turn, either. NASCAR, since its founding, has been predicated on the great notion of “Big Bill,” William Henry Getty Napoleon Bonaparte France, that as long as all the boys in the garage were doing a little better this year than last year, and the fans weren’t slap broke, no one would mind if the real money was safely tucked away in the Daytona Beach, Florida, vault.

Y'know, it might not be a bad time for Jeff Gordon to step aside.(Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Jeff Gordon’s timing might be really good. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Placate the stakeholders, lest they decide to start nailing people up with them.

Beware the fate of dictators who loosen their iron grips. It’s unlike NASCAR to let freedom ring, and no one believes it. These guys have been hiring crooks and making them inspectors since 1949. Now they’re hiring image specialists. That’s worse.

As Mark Twain allegedly said on Twitter, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”

Someone will say to me, “Hey, smart guy, you think you could run this sport any better?”

I think to myself, well, anyone could.

Here’s a start. Stop trying to dictate what people think. They can think on their own. Try to reflect those thoughts, not shape them.

Even the early Bonapartes knew that, and they were ornery as hell.

*Except on the syndicated race page, where it was necessary.

My blogs that are fiction, about fiction, and about writing and things literary, are at, and most of my books are available here:


About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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13 Responses to The Serfs Are Restless

  1. Dave Fulton says:

    NASCAR’s use of the word “stakeholder” has become as overused as younger generations throwing out “absolutely” as the answer to a question and responding with “no problem” rather than the correct “you’re welcome” when thanked.

  2. tim says:

    You know Monte, you are the best. It’s great when someone actually mentions what BS NASCAR/France is about to throw around.

  3. tim says:

    You know Monte, you are the best. It’s great when someone actually mentions what BS NASCAR/France is about to throw around. As a side issue, how did the Red Sox blow a 5 run first inning and loose the game…….

  4. Monte says:

    Well, the Red Sox have been figuring out ways to lose all year.

  5. Al Torney says:

    The only stakeholders in NASCAR are named France. Same with partners.

    How much money in wind tunnel time will the car owners be spending to come up with an aero package for each track?

    I have absolutely no doubt that Monte could lead that sport better then the current group.

    It’s getting to the point that taking a shovel to NASCAR meetings to handle all of the BS they are spewing is inadequate.

    I hope that Jimmie Johnson now realizes that he has been a dupe for NASCAR all along after being looked over for the driver committee.

    Once again I congratulate Monte on a well put together presentation.

  6. Anne says:

    The people who love(loved) this sport know what is wrong. It is not hard to figure out. The sheer arrogance of BZF and his guaranteed billion from the networks is all he cares about. NASCAR is an American treasure and should be treated as such. Not a lot to root for regarding how this country is being run into the ground with special interest groups and the paid politicians who don’t give a lick about anybody but themselves. Brian is one of them, therefore he hasn’t a clue and will not ever get it. Sad much like the country, thousands working in NACSCAR depend on this entity for their livelihood…oh never’s too sad and senseless to even state the obvious.

  7. Fed Up says:

    BZF’s (aka Brain Farce) stake holders are just that. France gets the steaks and the rest are left “holding”. NA$CAR’s promotion
    this week to the lady who designed the latest Chase scenario is just another slap in the face of racers in order to promote the
    entertainment idea.
    Another great column Monte!

  8. Tom says:

    Maybe they will just ban wind tunnel testing like they did track testing except for all inclusive ones held by NASCAR or maybe VW. That would be interesting. To make sure the teams comply just put a party, I mean NASCAR official in each garage.

  9. Roger Miller says:

    Brian France… Wish I could have been a fly on the wall after the Kenseth championship season. Since then Brian drove one wheel of the Cadilac onto the gravel should and has been doing everything he can think of to get it back on the road, but it isn’t working … just getting worse and worse. I get wanting new fans but didnt he stop and wonder how the sport got so big in the 1990’s? Gee they did it without a gimmick that is called the Chase. One thing the Chase did do is turn off long time fans that followed the sport for decades. Watching a season of championship racing is similar to watching a game of baseball in this regard. Baseball is by all comparisons a slow moving experience where the NFL is every 25 seconds a play is run. But baseball is a national PASTIME. NASCAR is or was a PASTIME. The higher heads try to keep or acquire the new fan that hates waiting for a 40 second download off iTunes , when they had a huge fan base of people that thought nothing of driving 20 mins to get home before I could put my record on to listen to. A season was a journey. Now it’s all about a moment and another moment until so many moments are artificially created none stand out. Point resets have made any momerable moments less memorable. I wish Brian was a little less memorable .

  10. James McClure says:

    Now that the short attention span fans have moved on to the next big thing. And many of the old line fans can not stand the new version of NASCAR it makes it hard to fill the seats.

  11. Steve Stubbs says:

    Monte: Great stuff, as always. My free advice (worth every penny) is: pray that NastyCar/ISC assets purchased by sports management consortium, Little BXF can go play with an NFL team, which seems to be his real desire. No Frances (or Bruton) in new ownership. Rule package will make cars handle horribly, even if bias ply tires must be resurrected. Drivers must learn to drive ’em loose at some point during normal pit stop cycles. Greatly shorten sked (see below). Only four (4) 500-milers. Win all four earn $10M bonus; win three, $5M. Also bonus points for those races. Forget “the Chase.” Some races would have new, “multi format,” ala 3-100 milers, etc. The original ASA had some incredibly exciting formats as well as other rules NastyCar unabashedly copied. The sport has enough innovators to come up with some exciting formats including short intermissions. Schedule would be something like: 1-Feb., Daytona 400M; 2-Mar., Las Vegas, multi; 3-Mar., Phoenix, 500Km; 4-Apr., Texas, multi; 5-Apr., Martinsville, 500Km; 6-May, Canada (Montreal, Mosport or Niagara track, if built); 7-May, Charlotte, 500M; 8-Jun., Dover, 500Km; 9-Jun., MIS, 400M; 10-Jun., Elkhart Lake, RC; 11-Jul., Indy, 400M; 12-Jul., Talladega, 500M; 13-Jul, Kentucky, multi; 14-Aug., Watkins Glen, RC; 15-Aug., Bristol, multi; 16-Aug., Pocono, 400M; 17-Sep., Darlington, 500M; 18-Sep., Richmond, multi; 19-Sep., New Hampshire, 500Km; 20-Oct., Kansas, 400M; 21-Oct., Iowa, multi; 22-Oct., Homestead, 400M; 23-Nov., Road Atlanta, RC; 24-Nov., Daytona 500M. M=miles; Km=kilometers; RC=road course; Multi=multi segment event. More road courses essential to attract the desirable younger demographic.

  12. Steve Stubbs says:

    Monte: And a “P.S.” if I may. Secondary series (whatever they call it these days) must run at least one-half of annual schedule on tracks that do not have a “Cup” date. No driver currently in the top-25 of Cup points may enter a secondary series event. Trucks must run at least one-half of their annual schedule on dirt surface tracks. Also no top-25 Cup drivers and no top-10 current points secondary series drivers may enter truck series events. The only way to tell if the Enfant Terrible newcomers be bad is to let them beat up on each other and not be endlessly snookered by vastly more experienced drivers basically doing testing. I’d wager that some of those secondary series/truck races could get downright unruly.

  13. John Irby says:

    Another week, another exciting Cup race. Thanks to the rain and Michigan Speedway’s lack of lights, this one mercifully ended in less than 6 hours. Oh, and Kurt Busch, NASCAR’s tabloid poster boy, won.

    I’m sure Patrica Driscoll is over the moon!

    To heck with technical changes to the cars to “make for closer racing”. If BZF wants to appeal to the Millenials, he needs to look to Le Mans.

    The epic, French 24-hour race drew 263,000 fans this weekend, of which maybe 50,000 even cared about the race. But the fans came anyway to drink heavily, eat deep-fried snails, ride ferris wheels, see ex-Dr. McDreamy drive in the “Amateur Class” (he finished 2nd!), ride ferris wheels, and have sex in the campgrounds. Sort of like Cochchella with race cars on the side!

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