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.
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.
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!”
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.
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 wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and most of my books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1