I’ve been obsessed with auto racing since I was five years old and was given NASCAR Racing by Papyrus. I even managed to find a picture of the game’s cover.
In any case, this kicked off a love of speed I still haven’t shaken. I’ve always rooted for Jeff Gordon, probably the one sports “team” I have stayed loyal to my entire life, as I flip-flopped my favorite baseball, football, and basketball teams constantly growing up. When I was about 8, I went to my first NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway in beautiful Sonoma County, California. Since then, I’ve attended a couple of NASCAR races at Fontana, the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Indycar), and I’m hoping to go to the Indy 500 next year.
I grew up doing amateur level competition racing myself. When I was about 13, I started racing at the indoor karting track near my house. After moving up the overall “standings” there (which wasn’t really that hard), I graduated into racing outdoor, “real” karts. These karts are about 150 pounds, and capable of hitting 120 if geared properly and the track is long enough. I did reasonably well considering how underfunded our “team” was, as my dad worked 20+ extra hours a week at his side business to pay those bills.
I can’t express how grateful I am he did it, as the karting experience repaired our relationship that was kinda iffy during my troublesome teenage years, when I was a chubster.
I miss it. I think that’s part of the reason I was so bummed to sell my car last week.
I just love everything about racing. The smell of gasoline. The motors warming up. The starting line jitters. The bond between man and machine.
But more than anything, despite the speeds I competed at, I miss how time would slow down when I was strapped into that kart. How, even if there were a dozen of us diving into one tight corner, I’d see it in slow motion – knowing exactly where I needed to stick my wheels to avoid the chaos.
I’ve written before about the downsides of TV and have encouraged men to give up TV and stop idolizing sports icons before. I never watch baseball, unless it’s the World Series and the Giants or Yankees are in it. I’ll watch the NBA playoffs if I happen to be at home and there is a good stream available. I’ll watch the 49er playoff games with my friends, but I don’t tune at all until the playoffs come around, and even then it’s more just an excuse to drink beers and hang out.
Despite that, I cannot shake my love of racing.
And I doubt I ever will. Most Sundays, I look forward to sitting down at my computer and streaming a NASCAR or IndyCar race while I work on endeavors such as this blog. I look forward to watching the replay of the Formula 1 races on Monday since I refuse to wake up at 4:30am to watch them live.
So, what’s the current state of affairs in the Big 3 of motorsports?
…I am enjoying this year because my guy Gordon has been having a pretty good year. In general, the racing has been pretty good, but NASCAR has suffered from becoming the second most popular sport in the US behind the NFL. They have employed countless gimmicks to draw in more viewership and the constant changes get old.
…has hands-down the most exciting racing out of the three leagues of motorsports I’m discussing here. The racing is usually close, the battle for the championship goes down to the wire in the last few years, and there are some good rivalries between some drivers.
Plus, I pull for Will Power in this series, and that is just an awesome fucking name.
…is a snoozefest. As it has been for the last few years. The Mercedes team is outrunning everyone else by half a lap or more every race, much like the Red Bull team of Sebastian Vettel did for the last four years. It seems his reign is coming to an end this year.
In addition, F1 cars are now running V6 hybrid motors. WTF? They sound like rice rockets, and the rule about not being able to refuel is stupid in my opinion.
Ferrari’s chairman summed it up well:
“Formula One isn’t working,” he said. “It’s declining because have forgotten that people watch the racing for the excitement. Nobody watches racing for the efficiency, come on.”
I hope you enjoyed the slight deviation from normal content today.