Macho Macho Man John Hayes
August 29, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
There are two parts of being macho when it comes to racing: confidence and defiance. Machismo and confidence go together like peas and carrots. If a driver doesn't have confidence, then they will never piece together a successful career. Without the confidence that you can go places in your car, that car won't go there on it's own. A driver needs to know that they have the ability to do what it takes.
Defiance is a different story. It is similar to confidence but it goes past simply being confident. If you are flying into a corner at 200MPH and you're not so confident that you will make it out the other side, yet you stick that car in there anyway, that's a form of defiance. Another form would be a blatant disregard for the rules and perhaps the
feelings of others such as your sponsors, car owner, or fellow competitors.
Stick 43 of the most macho athletes in the world in a sauna for three hours battling one another, and you will create a very macho atmosphere. The focus of my point is that recent acts of machismo have been much more prevalent than in past years, both on the track and off. Why is this? The simple answer would be the ever-growing pressures of corporations wanting their mega-million dollar investments to come to fruition and perform well on national television. However, I believe it goes a bit past that.
As much as I detest what Major League Baseball has become, it is a perfect comparison to NASCAR in this regard. More often than not, if your pitcher hits one of their hitters, nowadays you can almost bank on a retaliation. If their pitcher doesn't do something to "stand up for the boys" and knock down your next hitter, then that pitcher would be considered weak (probably something more derogatory than weak) and would be vilified in their own locker room. It's sort of a "jock" thing. You had better stick up for yourself and your teammates or face heavy consequences.
Now back on the NASCAR side, there are two degrees of retaliation. On the track retaliation has gone on since racing first began and will continue to go on forever. It may take a few laps, or in the case of Kurt Busch vs Jimmy Spencer, a few months for the return favor to occur. It's a virtual concrete part of the sport.
Off-the track retaliations have occurred far more frequently this season. We've seen everything from pointing fingers (or a finger), sarcastic applause, the hurling of heavy-duty heel shields, and the ever heinous "look at my bum" dance. The drivers feel their manhood and reputation is on the line. If they don't let that other driver know how PO'ed they are to be crashed into the wall, they feel they've been taken advantage of. They want that driver to know that there won't be a next time and that they'd better watch their arse for the next few weeks. They also know that such antics often find their way on to many sports shows that may not have otherwise covered the race. It may not be the best exposure for a sponsor, but it's still their name on TV and many ad executives like that kind of thing.
To me, PDA (not that - I mean public displays of aggravation) isn't a bad thing. Heck, it can be downright entertaining and it stirs up great debate among fans. Now, I don't recommend punching an immovable object like.....say....an ambulance. What did that poor ambulance ever do to you? It's funny stuff, that's for sure. It's just not real bright.
Yes race fans, there will come a time in the near future that every single bit of contact on the race track results in some sort of retaliation. Network censors will have to be prepared for the dreaded "bird" during in-car camera shots. NASCAR will hire bouncers to see to it that uninjured, ticked off drivers leave the scene of the crash in a timely fashion. Fines will be handed out to the non-compliant.
But, given the current state of the sport, the world of NASCAR will likely see enough machismo to make Randy Savage blush. Oooooohhhhh, yeah!!!