And the dog ate my homework

I really don’t know where to start. Maybe with a (quick) apology for not updating this blog as often as I should. Yes, yes, I know. I had cancer and that’s as good an excuse as any for not keeping up with one’s responsibilities. And writing this blog for you, my friends out there, is a responsibility I do take seriously.

So, why then haven’t I been dazzling you all with my wit and wisdom like I should?

First of all, I started writing for Bleacher Report. It’s a really different kind of sports web site that uses a mixture of professional and amateur writers. The pros on the site are some of the best in the business and I feel honored to share a site with them. The amateurs are all great sports fans, some have good writing skills but little storytelling skills, other have great storytelling skills but lack good writing skills. Bleacher Report has a protocol for helping those amateur writers who lack the writing skills by offering up a sort of writer’s university. Even I got involved with the writer’s university because while I may call myself a professional, I will always be open to learning and the Bleacher Report university taught me some really good stuff and made me a better writer.

The editor who hired me at Bleacher Report told me he wanted me to be an analyst, not a reporter, which was something different from what I had been used to while writing about NASCAR. I had written plenty of analytical, opinionated columns, but I’d always considered myself a reporter at heart. I’m still a reporter, but to be honest, I like playing the role of an analyst a lot more. I write a lot of slideshows, which at first I balked at because on an easy glance they look lightweight and forgettable. But they’re not. I spend a good deal of time writing my slideshows and put a lot of thought into each slide and I think you’ll enjoy them. Please check them out when you can.

The folks at Bleacher Report know about Sledgehammer and they’re fine with it, so long as I don’t publish the same stuff in both places. That will never happen. I can say things here that I could never say over there. And I write about other things besides NASCAR here, although my racing stuff in general is why most of you come here to read.

I’ll make this short, like it should be. A quick recap…

My cancer is gone. Two scans in a row and nothing. Nada. A couple of dried out, tiny lymph nodes, decimated by the toxic chemicals they use in chemotherapy into the tiny, shrunken dots on a scan they are today. I feel good. My weight is back up, but nowhere near what it was pre-cancer this third time around. And my hair is slowly growing back. What I wouldn’t give for my ’80s mullet again!

God has blessed me once again with the gift of living and believe me, every day I can roll over and shut off the alarm is a day I know will be lived to its absolute fullest, with little time wasted with all the crap I used to think was important.

And so much is going on in the world of motorsports.

The women have finally taken over the NHRA, even as the motorsports and mainstream media ignore that story completely. I’ll have something to say about that in the next week.

Gene Haas is absolutely out of his mind for wanting an F1 team. Either he’s OK with spending a good deal of his own personal wealth in starting this new all-American team based in Charlotte, or he’s got an ace up his sleeve in the form of an half dozen very solid business partnerships who see the b2b value of being in F1 and are willing to help ol’ Gene offset the ridiculous price of admission into what most of the world consider to be the No. 1 motorsport.

NASCAR is better than ever and no one is watching. I wrote about that at Bleacher Report. But what I didn’t get into over there is that the network television broadcast has to dramatically change in order to keep up with the changes in the world of sports entertainment, or be rendered nothing more than the place where NASCAR fans can get a visual on a small part of what is happening at the track. So much more is available online during a race nowadays that during a NASCAR television broadcast the talking heads in the broadcast booth are often the last to know what is really going on.

It’s scary stuff.

Damn, don’t get me started. I promised this one would be short.

If you were once a NASCAR fan and you no longer follow the sport, NASCAR has a name for you. You are a “lapsed” fan. And whatever your reason for not following the racing, it’s bullshit. Stop living in the past. And the folks out there who stopped following IndyCars and haven’t come back? Have you seen the potential roster for this year’s Indy 500? Jacques Villeneuve, John Pablo Montoya and now Paul Tracy! Come on. Stop making excuses and start living. And what’s better living than watching someone cheat death? Believe me, I live that life every day. It’s incredible!

There us much more to write about here…like the non-profit organization I co-founded that will help those who may have cancer with early detection and for those who don’t have it yet, a way out and a way to prevent it. I will make this come to life and bring it to the hundreds of thousands of race fans across America every weekend throughout the racing season. Stay tuned for this!

Until next time…

Thanks for stopping by.


9 thoughts on “And the dog ate my homework

  1. Paul Tracy at Indy? Paul Tracy? Is some car owner insane? Do some good in the world by giving all the money you will spend on Tracy to charity. Tracy is very talented. He can find more ways to lose a race than anyone thought possible.

  2. RE: And whatever your reason for not following the racing, it’s bullshit.

    First I’ll say that I am not a lapsed fan, I watch every race from beginning to end. However I am a disgruntled fan.

    Personally I respect people that have stopped following the sport because they disagree with the direction it has taken. That is called putting your money where your mouth is. If NASCAR is more interested in the casual fan and younger demographic and they turn a deaf ear to the long-time fan that doesn’t fall in that demographic, then there should be fallout. Their is a price to pay or reward to reap for every decision we make. In my opinion NASCAR has made decision after decision that increases the crapshoot factor at the expense of the sport/competion side of the equation.

    As an example, let’s look at the GWC rule. Yes, it does create exciting endings but is it fair to the competitors? You have a guy with a 3 second lead and 2 laps to go and he’s been in the lead for 50 laps. Then a caution comes out, some pit, some don’t, some get two tires some get four. Now you end up with a crapshoot. This is akin to a team in another sport having an insurmountable lead going into the last two minutes of the game and having their score adjusted to make it close at the end of the game.

    I could serve up more examples of this in NASCAR. Double file restarts, fake debris cautions, wave arounds, lucky dog, the chase itself, etc.. Each of these rules has increased the crapshoot factor in the outcome of a race. What happens during the first half of the race has become less of a factor than ever, going down a lap early is no longer as big a deal as it was before the wave around and LD rules. Being the leader on a restart has never meant less. You watch a 5 second lead go down to less than a car length on the restart and the guy that was 5 seconds behind now is even with you.

    You see, some of us want a sport, not a reality television show and almost every rule change in the last decade has tipped the scale more and more toward creating entertainment than legitimacy to the competition itself.

    So if you want to say it’s bullshit that’s your opinion but what you are implying is that fans should accept whatever tripe they’re served and enjoy it with a smile. I couldn’t agree less with that opinion.

  3. Gee, Bob, first off, congratulations on your recovery that’s a good thing. However, that success does NOT give you the right to tell any of the fans that we should just shut up and put up with the nonsense we get from both NASCAR & the tv partners. I’m not living in the past, but I have higher expectations than what I have been getting from the sport in the past 5 years.

    Yes, I’m a fan who no longer watches the tv broadcasts because as you pointed out I get better information from online resources – like Raceview (even though it could also be better for the price that I am paying), twitter & the radio feed. I’ve gone back to the radio feed to follow the race because they call the race w/o the bias and unprofessionalism shown on Fox. Would I like to be able to watch the race on TV? Sure, but so long as this is the Waltrip Brothers show and whoever is driving the cameras refuses to actually show the entire field and race, I am not interested. We’ve also cut down on the number of races we personally attend.

    I am also not interested in the constant shuffling of concepts that Brian France feels is necessary to try and gain the interest of, well, whoever it is he is trying to interest now. NASCAR was on fire with everyone BEFORE all of the “great” changes that the Brian France era implemented and now it’s not. That would tell most people something – Coca Cola realized they made a major mistake with New Coke and did the smart thing – they reinstated the product that everyone liked. That’s not the Brian France way – he’ll keep fiddling until NASCAR no longer exists. So long as the money from the TV contracts and the “official” Nascar sponsors keeps coming in, that will work, but with many fans, all of these changes created the tipping point that has made them step away from the sport.

    So many of the changes have been made in order to make it “more exciting” but in my opinion also allows for a lot of manipulation by NASCAR. The double-file restarts, green white checker, which often results in a bunch of wrecked race cars and ruins the finish for the driver who was leading BEFORE someone waved the caution flag for what quite often appears to be ONLY to have it be a wild finish.

    I am not a completely lapse fan, but I certainly have become a far more casual fan than I have been. I think this current iteration of the chase is going to wind up being a crapshoot/demolition derby at Homestead and I don’t feel that it is a way to define a genuine champion for the sport, any more than I have been a fan of the 10 race championships. I fully expect that there will be a lot more of the sort of thing that went on at Richmond among the teams – they will just be smarter about it than MWR was.

    I have voted with my wallet and by reducing the time I am willing spend watching as I don’t agree with the direction of the sport.

    Bob, you can make fun of people for their decisions if you like, but that won’t change my mind, no more than Kenny Wallace’s constant harping with his “listen up race fans” and trying to tell me what I should think. All that did was make me stop watching all of the pre-race shows. You don’t keep customers by insulting them.

    As you also pointed out, life is short, so I am going to spend my time and money doing things I enjoy. It’s a shame that NASCAR is one of those things that has fallen way down on that list.

  4. Bob, I agree with everything you said in its entirety. The only real problem as I see it is that Brian France does not(even if he says otherwise) care what the long time fans care about. Or the new ones either. He is a total idiot. I go to and watch a lot of races and at the end of a year have talked to hundreds (maybe even more) of people who dislike everything he has done. The bottom line is there is nothing we can do about it. Nothing. Makes me sad.

  5. Another “lapsed” here who is full of BS. 40% less butts in the seats and dismal ratings says something is not right. You can blame the economy for some of it, but I think us “lapsed” are tired of spending money and time on a product that has become laughable. Phantom cautions, rule changes on the fly, sicophant TV announcers, cookie cutter tracks and the constant feeling that NASCAR thinks they can go it alone without us “lapsed” because we are too stupid to know better is my thinking.

  6. Bob,

    Congratulations in your fight against cancer. Tremendous news!

    Best wishes on your non-profit organization. May it touch, encourage and change many lives.

    Enjoyed your article, but I have to ask do you really think the “lapsed” fans not returning to the “sport” is BS or are you using the same ploy you described in your Danica Patrick article to draw readers?

  7. Bob,

    Most importantly, HOORAY! Your cancer update is fantastic. Your positive attitude is everything/

    This morning in Ox I am enjoying relaxing to your writing, then reading the many responses ‘in defense’ of the lapsed fan. Remember that I am completely removed from the entire motorsports scene on a national front so I have yet to see the latest coverage or media updates.

    Reading your words and then those of these ‘fans’, I am wondering: is the common thread through all of this a ‘maturity’ issue? Specifically, have the life-long motorsports fans matured with the sport, the technology and their lives and discovered that the “more” that they want isn’t being addressed by the media that deliver it partially because they no longer know what they want?

    Reminiscent to our glory days, we all want what we used to have. And, we know that it’s no longer possible and we’re no longer who we were. Therefore, the television media have yet to hit the target? I must concur that (being from Alabama) I could not imagine listening to the Waltrip drivel for hours on end would do it for me. I would much rather sit beside Buddy Parrot for a Nascar race and hear his insights. Get where I’m going?

    Anyway…I am thinking that your nay-sayers may have a point alongside your ‘cheat death, enjoy the ride’ strategy. Having a solid source ‘inside’, doing some great investigative reporting while being entertaining is really where the lifelong Nascar fan deserves to be fed. Like Dennis Miller, That’s Just My Opinion, I could be Wrong. Just a bit of perspective from DownUnder.
    Cheers, Mate!

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