Yes, NASCAR is a sport, and yes, I am a foreigner who loves to watch it.
I am guilty of believing that NASCAR was the sport of a stereotypical “Redneck” from the South. Maybe because of Jeff Dunham’s ventriloquist puppet “Bubba J” who is described as “white trash, trailer park” by his creator. Growing up in South Africa, I didn’t know much about the Southern American culture, nor did I know anything about NASCAR.
When Jeff Dunham’s doll said that NASCAR is a sport that is simple to follow when wasted from drinking beer all the time, I figured this is probably a dumb sport and could never live up to the elite-ness of the Grand Prix.
However, I was wrong.
NASCAR is so much more than simply “making a left turn” as Bubba J points out. Apart from the two road courses that the Monster NASCAR Cup drivers compete on, there are several tracks in the U.S. that are not just oval-shaped. A fun fact about these road courses too, is that they are the only tracks that drivers can and do drive in the rain, just like Formula 1.
With the Food City 500 coming up next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, tickets are being scalped left, right and center. As one of the smallest tracks in the nation, Bristol is by far the most exciting track to watch a NASCAR race.
Drivers have to go pedal to the metal with full force on the straightaways, but must brake almost to a complete stop before attempting to go around the four turns.
This makes Bristol one of the most dangerous tracks to race in NASCAR. The drivers race in close quarters and have very little room to move.
The strategies and rules going hand-in-hand with the new stage racing in NASCAR can get complicated. If a driver wrecks, the team goes on a five-minute crash clock. This does not leave much time to fix a broken car. If the team is able to fix the car, the vehicle must achieve minimum speed before the caution is over in order for the team to remain in the race.
Before brushing off a NASCAR fan for being an uneducated hick and being annoyed because you simply wanted to enjoy your gluten-free, fat-free, eco-friendly, almond milk-based, green tea latte concoction without any loud noises interrupting your chi, just remember that there is a lot more to it than someone just “making a left turn” 500 times.