If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you’ve been a reader of my work since 2005 when I first began writing a column for Yahoo! Sports called Observations, which was published late on Sunday night following a NASCAR Cup race or if it was a late night, early on Monday morning. I like to think that it was one of those “must read” columns following a weekend of racing because I touched upon many topics and wrote about more than NASCAR.
I left Yahoo! Sports in 2008 and went on to do other things in racing. However, I still enjoy writing about racing and other topics which is why I write this blog.
After spending many years watching NASCAR Cup races from the grandstands (actually I was in the press box, which is located either in the middle or top of the main grandstands at most tracks and varies in comfort from having real luxuries like air conditioning, toilets and an Internet connection that works reasonably well to professional working conditions so bad you wished you were back in the infield media center, away from the actual race and forced to watch on television) I now watch Cup races on television.
The difference is shocking.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup races as they are being broadcast are, simply put, unwatchable. Period.
If you have spent any time watching NASCAR races live, you just can’t watch them on television. I will admit, the HD picture quality is excellent. The sound is amazing and all those cool camera angles, like the gyro cam and others are designed to add to the viewing and listening experience on a big screen television.
However, the rest of the experience is…something else.
Think of getting an invitation to see the race in person, with tickets at the start finish line in a nice suite with good food and a working toilet, but having to spend the afternoon with your lovable old Uncle Dave, who never seems to shut up about the past and his conversation is filled with non-stop references to the “good old days” – meaning any year when Earnhardt Sr. was driving.
Uncle Dave, of course, brings along his neighbor (and best buddy) Oscar, who used to work at a muffler shop and knows a bit about cars and can pretty much tell you exactly what every crew chief on pit road is thinking. And (lucky you!) sitting next to you in the suite is Uncle Dave’s former brother-in-law (although he still calls him “my brother”) Rodney, who doesn’t really care about racing, would be just as happy being at home watching hockey games, farts a lot and thinks he knows all about NASCAR and NASCAR racing. But, when the invite includes free beer, Rodney is there.
All this adds up to a miserable experience at the track, where your afternoon of racing is either being disrupted by Rodney’s talking about some new reality television show that’s the latest and greatest (and that you don’t care about), Uncle Dave’s non-stop comments about how “Jimmie Johnson is good, but back in the day…” and Oscar’s insistence that taking two tires is the right move, not four.
And then there’s Uncle Dave’s insistence that you go with him to the balcony outside of the suite every five laps or so, while he chain smokes another cigarette (a habit left over from those “good old days”), thus forcing you to miss much of the racing action. Of course, there’s Oscar and Rodney to fill you in on what you missed while you were away.
It almost makes you want to stay at home and watch the race on television.
NASCAR’s loop data, which are statistics measured at 10 scoring loops around the 1.5-mile track showed that there were 31 passes for the lead and over 2300 passes throughout the field under the green during Sunday’s race the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, yet the television audience missed most of them. How did that happen?
Ask Uncle Dave.