Out Of Focus

Howdy y’all.

After havin’ NASCAR and Mother Nature ruin my stock-car watchin’ weekend – cuz where I was don’t get FX and it rained on them trucks enough to blow the broadcast – I figured I done had enough of some stuff.

I’m a pretty happy feller – cynical, but happy – but this stuff just has to stop… Now!!!!

First and foremost… Stop with all this dern seat belt talk.

Look, I’m as eager to get to the bottom of all this Earnhardt stuff as anybody – and I’m as frustrated as anybody that NASCAR’s credibility is flyin’ out the window with each and every “no questions please” press conference they hold – but can we please focus on what we should be focusin’ on? Please?

The one feller in this deal everyone agrees they trusted – the medical expert who saw Earnhardt’s autopsy photo – says the seat belts didn’t play a role in his death. They did their job.

So, rather than spendin’ more than a month on somethin’ that didn’t cause his death, and writin’ 2,000-word stories each time Bill Simpson sneezes, let’s do some talkin’ about something like why the cars are just as rigid as they were a year ago when Adam Petty died.

That’s right folks, it’s been a whole year ago that we had a death… then a few months later we had another death… then a few months later we had another death… then a few months later it was Mr. Earnhardt’s death.

All this stuff ain’t new, and not a single one of them deaths had anything to do with the dern seat belts.

In the end, NASCAR’s gonna hold up a belt and it’s gonna have a tear in it of some kind, big or small. Everybody afraid their credential is gonna get pulled will stand up and holler: “Yippee, see, NASCAR didn’t fib.” They’ve done one heckuva job of making that the focus… whether they intended to or not.

Thing is, focusin’ on whether NASCAR is fibbin’ about the belt won’t make them cars one bit safer than they were when Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Tony Roper or Dale Earnhardt died.

Wanna know when I’ll stand up and holler, “Yippee” at the top of my lungs?

That’ll happen when NASCAR holds a press conference and says: “The cars are less rigid, and that’ll save lives. The drivers are all gonna wear neck restraints like the other circuits, because that saves lives. We’re gonna implement something other than a solid concrete wall, because that saves lives. We’re gonna put absorption materials in certain spots around the frame of the car because that lessens the G-forces, and that saves lives… and on and on and on.”

The politically-correct thing to keep sayin’ apparently is “it’s work in progress” on all that stuff, and some folks – like Humpy Wheeler and his boys – are doin’ their own thing that might just force NASCAR’s hand a little bit. But ya know what? It’s been 12 months since we lost a young Petty and it’s apparently gonna take six months from the time our biggest hero died before the organizing body can come forth with its calculated response.

Bottomline a year after Adam left us - If the cars are the same, the tracks are the same, the speeds are the same, the drivers are the same and the rules are the same… folks, I’m afraid to say, the results are going to be the same. At what point – I think it’s long past - is “it’s work still in progress” not nearly good enough.

Give the people what they want
I ain’t the only one tryin’ to watch NASCAR racin’ every weekend, only find out I can’t because some of it is on some channel I don’t get. I can only imagine the racin’ media types don’t talk about this much cuz it don’t affect them… sittin’ all pretty in the media centers and press boxes.

Well, me and the other fans ain’t happy, and that used to count for somethin’.

RacingOne ran them a poll last week askin’ which network we would prefer the Richmond NASCAR races on. After 24 hours, it was ESPN with 76 percent; 14 percent said TNN; and then 10 percent preferred that FX thing it was actually on.

Ya gotta wonder if anybody at FOX is proud of their efforts. I mean, if you spend a few gajillion dollars on something and nine out of every 10 people watchin’ wishes it was on some other channel, isn’t the only reason folks are on your channel at all because it’s the only place they can see it?

And… isn’t it strange that NASCAR realizes good competition on the track is what has made the sport so strong and offered so much to fans, yet all its other departments (licensin', marketin', media properties) do just about anything in their power to avoid competition and extremely limit what’s offered to the fans?

Is makin' two gajillion dollars and makin’ folks mad better than makin’ one gajillion dollars and makin’ fans happy?

Quick hits from this weekend
My buddy Elrod, who lives a few counties over, was kind enough to bring me some tapes of the weekend action. Here’s some stuff I seen/thought…

*Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace battlin’ was the most excitin’ part of the race. Good stuff fellers. Only thing is, you get Jeffy and Rusty hollerin’ at each other and I’ll be derned if their voices don’t get so high-pitched it sounds like two cats fightin’.

*John Andretti hit the wall in qualifyin’ again. Y’all will be happy to know it weren’t the slick track’s fault this time… nope, this time it was the car’s fault. When he hits next week, whatcha reckon… tire's fault?

*Andretti’s teammate is havin’ even worse problems. Buckshot Jones said after missin' the field with another poor qualifyin’ lap: “I just don’t know what the problem is.” Dude, it’s the same problem it’s been for a few years now.

Y’all hear what Rusty said after qualifyin’? He said, “If we couldn’t get the pole, we were rooting for Mark Martin.” Man, I’ll bet his teammate Jeremy Mayfield loves to hear that, eh?

I’m all geared up fer my trip to Darlin’ton this weekend fer the truck race. I ain’t gotta ticket yet, but since them trucks is averagin’ about 1,000 fans a race – that’s countin’ track staff, drivers, families, officials and the clean-up crews - I reckon I’ll find a seat somewheres. Trucks racin’ at Darlin’ton… man, could it get any better than that?

I’ll talk at y’all next week… I reckon.
Bubba

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