Maybe I should have entitled this Legendtorial something like "Come On Perry, Lois and Jimmy, really?” I am referring to the early 1950s television show "Superman" starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel,” a visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers far beyond those of mortal men. Who, disguised as Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights for truth, justice, and the American way!” This is a part of the opening of the television show and while I watched every episode of that show when I was a kid, it is not like I memorized that opening from all those years ago. Truth is, up until this coming week, there were two episodes of Superman on every afternoon beginning at 4:00 p.m. I admit I watched as many as I could, sort of reliving my childhood to an extent, but in reality loving the old cars shown in every episode. Lois Lane's Nash Metropolitan with the roll back convertible roof which I always equated to opening a can of sardines. Never quite figured out what kind of car Clark Kent drove but it was really cool.
My issue with that show is that Clark Kent was Superman and it never occurs to Perry White (Chief) Lois Lane (reporter) and Jimmy Olson (photographer) that a part of glasses and a dress suit aren't much of a disguise. Anyone who could not associate the slicked back, greased hair on both Superman and Clark Kent just wasn't paying attention. Or, even more obvious is that both Superman and Clark Kent both talked exactly the same. Add that to the fact that Clark and Superman were never seen in the same place at the same time and what do you have? An entire population of a great metropolitan city that doesn't pay attention to anything. I would have to wonder if they even notice red lights.
Oh, I am very aware that Superman, on television, in the comic books, and in the movies which have been made about him is a fantasy. For the most part, good entertainment for someone like me but fantasy none-the-less. After all, he is "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall building in a single bound".
Obviously as there is no real Superman, and not even a Superman in racing these days, not even Kevin Harvick, but NASCAR seems to be playing a game with the fans and general public, hoping that we will buy in the disguise like Perry, Jimmy and Lois. NASCAR assumes that we, the fans, like those in the great metropolitan City, can be fooled by a clever disguise.
I stated last week that weather probably played a part in low attendance at Atlanta. I was, however, reminded by more than one person in e-mails that adding all the fans together at the past ten Atlanta races would barely equal a full grandstand. Face the truth here, attendance at Atlanta races resembles the amount of Confederates left in the city as Sherman's troops were approaching. Once upon a time, Atlanta was a great track and I was there at almost every race. Then Bruton got his hands on it, changed it from the beauty that it was into another cookie cutter fiasco which I regret. Oh yes, there is some good racing there, but folks aren't going there to watch it which is more the pity. But Atlanta is now in the rearview and we need to address Las Vegas.
The advertising slogan for Vegas is something like "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" which hints at the fact that you really should tell about things you do in Vegas. With the exception of Kevin Harvick, I would guess everyone else is ready to leave what happened in Vegas in Vegas. Frankly, I didn't think it was that great a race. In fact, I fell asleep somewhere after lap 60 and didn't awake until lap 150. Part of the reason was the hour of lost sleep from the time change, but the other reason was that the race, at least to me, was boring. Oh, gotta give it to D.W., Chris Myers, Larry Mac and Mikey, for trying so hard to hype the "four abreast racing" which consisted of four cars being side-by-side for one millisecond on restarts coming off a turn as they jockeyed for position. I realize it is the job of these guys to excite the fans, but let's present something to really get excited about. And speaking of "Mikey", as if the "grid walk" was no revolting enough, the "strip=walk” he did before this race equals the worst television segment I have ever witnessed.
Now, let's address the issue of how a reference to the Superman television show applies to this Legendtorial. Even though I missed a portion of the race due to my trip to dreamland, I heard D.W. reference 3 times, Mikey twice, and Chris Myers twice and Larry Mac once that "the stands were packed", the "crowd was awesome" and that it was "almost a sellout". To further add an insult to the intelligence of anyone over the age of three months, was the reference made to the display of the American Flag, and "Support Our Troops", tarps that covered a huge portion of the grandstands. Like Perry, Jimmy and Lois, we were supposed to see a "packed house" regardless of the fact that what appeared to be one-half of the grandstand seats were covered in tarps to "honor our troops and our country". If you aren't observant enough to notice that Clark Kent is only Superman with glasses, then I don't expect you to notice such things as the "Tarp Family Reunion" in the grandstands. Frankly, I am getting tired of being assumed to be an idiot by the folks at NASCAR and FOX. (Jeff, don't you dare respond to that.)
Another thing I find interesting is that I have not been able to find television ratings from any of the three events thus far this year. Last year, I had only to go to one website on Tuesday of each week and I could find the ratings. This year, that website has yet to post a rating that I can find. I have searched under several other sites I would assume to have the ratings, but I cannot find them. I'm sure there is someone out there listening who can provide that information so please let me know where you find it. How about it Alex? You can find anything within seconds. While I hope the ratings are at least holding steady, I have my doubts.
While searching for television ratings for the three events this year, I did discover an interesting little article about how the tracks don't really care how many tickets are sold. Rounding off figures, last year's ticket sales, circuit wide, amounted to 280 million dollars. Television revenue paid to the tracks, circuit wide, exceeded 388 million. And wasn't that BEFORE this awesome new contract? But, as our own Jeff Gilder has repeated many times, how long is this television gold mine going to last when advertisers realize no one is watching the races on television, much less those disgusting commercials. I am expecting Congress to declare the Narwhals an endangered species before the end of the year.
Let's be sure to mention that Jeb Burton did contact the wall, thanks to Jeff Gordon, that was NOT protected by the SAFER barrier. It is the new battle cry of race fans that all tracks need safer barriers all the way around the track, inside and outside. NASCAR says they are "reviewing the situation and discussing it with tracks". I'm sure Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, "Blaze" Alexander, Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon are all happy to hear that. But that is all I'm going to say about that here. Any fan who has been around racing more than one season knows that NASCAR moves at its own pace and nothing in heaven or earth is going to speed them up on slow them down.
You have to wonder just how much thought NASCAR gives to things it does. Knock-out qualifying for instance. I didn't watch qualifying from Vegas and haven't heard anything about it so I assume progress is being made on the foul ups of Daytona and Atlanta. What about inspections? Again, NASCAR made some changes to the inspection process for Vegas and, again, I haven't heard anything about problems at Vegas so I assume that progress has been made.
As we head to Phoenix for race number four of the current season, I have to ask:
That's enough for this week. I guess I should be happy that we have had three different winners in the first three events, even if Kevin Harvick appears to be on the road to another championship if he keeps doing what he's doing. Can't help but wonder, though, if he goes into Homestead with say, 8 or 10 wins and then loses by one position, how "Happy" he is going to be? Oh, that wonderful, glorious, ignominious Chase! Just another joke on us, the fans. Or at least the fans who built the sport, but, what the heck, we don't matter anymore.