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Random Thoughts on the Annual Silliness That is The NASCAR Banquet

Is there anyone who really enjoys the awards banquet? It combines all the subtle sophistication of an episode of Hee Haw, all the knee slapping humor of a court martial, all the drama of a bus schedule and all the spontaneity of a High Latin Mass. Since NASCAR decided it would be a good idea to hold their awards banquet in New York in a desperate attempt to shed it’s country bumpkin image the banquet has gone through various iterations which have ranged from unmitigated catastrophes to amateurish embarrassments.

Boil away the BS and with all the sponsor plugs the banquet telecast is a three hour commercial occasionally interrupted by commercials. Now that’s entertainment.

The NBC folks got rights to the banquet. They’d like you to think it’s a really big deal. Which makes it curious that they stuck the show on TNT rather than the Mother Ship.

In the absence of any real news rumors flourish. Jack Roush’s wife wasn’t at the head table so people are guessing a divorce is imminent. Jeff Gordon spent much of the week in the hospital with the flu so perhaps he’s contracted AIDS. Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are shown in the same frame of a video so Junior must be preparing to jump ship from DEI to RCR. It gets a little ridiculous sometimes.

Speaking of rumors, rumor has it next year Bill Weber will take Alan Bestwick’s seat in the broadcast booth for the second half of the season. Hopefully it works out because Weber ain’t going to make it as a stand up comic. It’s almost painful to see a joke bomb as hard as Weber’s crack about the cancellation of Pit Bulls did. But Weber is perfect for the banquet as his career is a study success through volume rather than talent worthy of that old hair-band Cinderella. Now if Weber really wanted to crack people up he could have kicked off the show by asking that all in attendance shut off their “damned cell phones” so as not to disrupt the banquet.

As usual it seemed the folks at NASCAR were less interested than in celebrating a new champion than in celebrating themselves. A ridiculously long video gushed over the senior management of the organization. Anyone with the sound muted probably thought at any moment the words “Been hurt in an accident? Call 1-800-McLawyer” would appear on screen. The theme of the video seemed to that folks like Brian France and Mike Helton are men of action and everything they do is coming up roses. Does anyone else remember these are the same folks whose officiating made incredible messes of races at Dover, Talladega and Pocono this year to the point rioting almost broke out in the stands?

Some folks get a kick out of the banquet because they get to see the drivers who normally wear fire suits that double as advertising billboards in tuxedos. But that thrill went by the wayside a long time ago for most of us. Now make the drivers wear pink ballerina tutus and that would be something to see. Wait a second. Tony Stewart. Mark Martin. Strike that idea or at least offer parental advisories prior to the telecast.

I wonder if dogs belonging to the France family were offended they weren’t introduced too?





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