This week's Legendtorial asks, Are We Having Fun. Just before last week's show was to begin, I asked Jeff to mute the studio microphones so I could let tell him something I would prefer not being made public for obvious reasons. I suppose I should have realized that the others in the studio would be privileged to the conversation but I hadn't given that particular circumstance any forethought.
What I wanted to tell Jeff was that I had been selected and accepted to the NASCAR Fan Council to which I had once belonged for quite some time before being "booted" because of my participation in this radio show. I am aware that I am only one of probably 50,000 selected but my reason for disclosing this to Jeff was with the intention of giving him the information required to complete the application for membership to the Council, information that, in my opinion, further exemplifies the total disconnect NASCAR now has with its "fans". I did not want to publicly announce my membership so I could I continue to monitor the Fan Council's comments throughout the season.
Immediately upon my disclosure to Jeff, Bopper began his comments about the Fan Council. Although Bopper's comments were not made in any particular context as related to me, it wasn't difficult for those listening to determine why the microphone had been muted at my request. Bopper continued these comments for several minutes after the show went live. Thus far, I have received no notification that I will be booted by the council again, but if that happens, so be it.
I am well aware that I am the "foil" for jokes and comments by many on RacersReunion from Jeff's "wordy" comments to such things as the Fan Council comments and other comments made about situations that have come to the airways since this show started. All of that doesn't bother me and hasn't for at least a couple of years. My mission has been, long before there was a RacersReunion, to talk racing history at any opportunity. As I have stated before, RacersReunion has given me a much broader platform from which to do that and for that I am appreciative. Further, because I like to think of people smiling and laughing, being the "foil" for jokes is ok with me.
There are some times mean-spirited individuals who enjoy attempts to get me riled with their comments, but it doesn't work anymore. Funny thing about that though is most of those "mean-spirited" folks like to remain anonymous, going so far as to establish fake e-mail accounts to which my replies are rejected. Seriously, I had an e-mail concerning the Legendtorial from a couple of weeks ago asking me if I knew how many times I had used the word "I" or "my". I replied that "no, I didn't count them, but if that was an issue for the writer please count them for me". Although my reply e-mail was done in the "Reply" mode, my reply came back with the notation that the e-mail address to which I responded was not valid.
I get it. I really do. I get riled and spout off quite often on topics that engage my passion and any of you who have listened to this show, or have read what I write are aware of that. When I do it, everyone knows its me. I'm not hiding behind anonymous e-mails or secret identities. You know from where I'm coming and whether you agree with me or not, you know I will respect your opinion and that I will respond to e-mail communications. My Wednesday morning e-mails run from say 10 to 80 each week, depending upon the level of controversial topics. While most are positive, I do receive the negative as well.
Ok, now that I've gotten that bit of business behind me, let me get on with further business of the weekend. As I sit here at 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon, I am aware that the Xfinity race is either already on television or will soon be. Frankly, I didn't even look at the schedule to see when it airs. Ann walked into the kitchen just before I came to the Lair to write and caught me indulging in my second Klondike Bar of the day. I swear, I need to talk with ADT about an "Ann Early Warning System" to prevent that in the future. She asked me about watching the race and I told her something like "I'm not watching it". Ann opined that my attitude toward my weekend diversion has certainly changed. She's right. Time was that my entire weekly schedule was pre-determined by when anything to do with racing was being televised. Not any more.
As I stated last Tuesday, I had no intention of watching the Eldora race and I did not. I stated my reasons for tuning that race out and I meant it. I saw the write-up on the race on a news feed I frequent on Thursday morning and it appears it was a good race . Good for Tony Stewart and Eldora.
Sitting here at my desk in The Lair, I can look up and see a coffee mug from the very first Brickyard 400. Behind me, carefully folded and packaged, is a t-shirt from that first 400. Those were gifts brought to me by a friend that attends every event at Indy, stock cars or Indy cars. I don't think he went this year due to his health, but from the conversations I've had with him the past several years, his health issues about Indy may be more related to the very poor events to which he has been subjected. He was at Indy the year the yellow flew every 20 laps or so because the tires couldn't hold up to the speed. He was there when the "kiss the bricks" started. I won't even bother to tell you what he thinks or says about that tradition. Nevertheless, I have the coffee mug and the t-shirt that represents the era when NASCAR was an event eagerly anticipated at Indy. Boy, have those times changed.
Attendance at last year's race was abysmal to say the least. There were more empty seats at the historic speedway than there were bricks used in the original paving of the track. As I am writing this Saturday, I have no idea what the stands will look like tomorrow, but if I were a betting man I would bet those stands will give an entire new meaning to the word "empty".
It is very common place to read the terminology used by NASCAR to describe what they are attempting to do these days. It's not racing anymore, it's the "On-Track Product". I guess that is some technical term dreamed up so they don't have to say the manipulated outcomes should be considered racing. This morning (remember this is written Saturday), I read in my newspaper and on several sports outlets, that the new aero package being used for the 400 is awful. Direct quotes from Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth all indicate one car cannot get within 15 car lengths of the car in front without experiencing such turbulence as to prevent any effort to pass. I don't think it's strictly a Toyota issue although all those guys drive those makes. As of my last read of the sites at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, NASCAR has made no effort to address the issue. So, it would appear we are going to have forty-three cars running 15 to 20 car lengths apart with passes only occurring during pit stops. I told Ann I would just go down to Elmwood Cemetery tomorrow and wait for a funeral procession to come by.
If NASCAR is truly concerned about its "on-track product", they really need a Fan Council that is composed of folks who will take the time to complete the multi-page application for approval. Then, those same folks will need to come as one voice to say the "on-track product" is no longer acceptable. If the declining numbers in the stands can't convince NASCAR, then I doubt the Fan Council will either. In fact, some will say, the Fan Council is nothing more than a pubic relation effort of NASCAR. Could be, but their pledge is to read each and every survey completed by Council members. It should be interesting when they read, if they do in fact read my comments to the form request that I respond with only one word as to my opinion of today's NASCAR. There were three blanks requiring a one word response so I filled those out as: 1} failing; 2) mismanaged; and 3) unimpressive.
Bopper had the right to laugh at my disclosure to Jeff, but my intention was to let Jeff know that I would publicize that which NASCAR is asking about each race. Problem for me, I guess, is that I won't be watching, at least not much. NASCAR has the Race Team Alliance, the Drivers' Council, and the Fan Council. What they do NOT have, however, is competent leadership to revive the failing sport. I had a young man ask me a few weeks back what I thought NASCAR would be like in 20 years. My response was "non-existent". Admittedly, the response was intended to be whimsical, but I'm thinking it things continue as they are going, I may have everything right in that statement. When I was asked that same question in the 50s, 60s and 70s, I would always respond by saying that NASCAR would be the number one sport in the world. Now I know soccer is the number one sport in the world. Who would ever have thought that. Is NASCAR still, in fact, second to only the NFL in the USA? Funny, I haven't heard that statistic thrown around in a long, long time. What we once had in the sport is no longer and that is a real shame. What was bound for the stars has fallen far short and fizzled like a dying sparkler on the Fourth of July.
By the time this Legendtorial is presented, Indy will be in the history books, should NASCAR choose to remember it at all. Further, as the Legendtorial is always presented after the opening comments of the show, I'm sure we will have discussed the weekend of racing. I can't imagine, at this writing, how that discussion will go, but from what I'm expecting, and from what drivers are saying about the new rules package, I may only be able to discuss the funeral procession at Elmwood.