Friday, June 23, 2023

No more ridiculous than golf

Rey Kadon took this shot of the Miller High Life 400 in Brooklyn, New York, in 1989.
“Who wouldn’t have fun on a charter bus with a bunch of your coworkers and kegs of beer?” he recalled.

     An apology is in order.
     I’m so inured with the toxic free-fire zone that pops up around controversial issues, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most people are decent and sensible. When I invited readers Wednesday to write in explaining the allure of NASCAR, I didn’t really expect that people would then actually, you know, write in explaining the allure of NASCAR.
     But that’s exactly what they did — wrote thoughtful, often heartfelt reflections and celebrations of the sport. So as much as I like to flit nimbly from topic to topic, it felt wrong to just ignore them. So here goes.
     Neal Elkind finds beauty in the races, writing:
     “NASCAR has more in common with watching baseball than maybe you may realize. It’s a wonderfully lazy spectator sport. It’s auto racing perfected (in its traditional oval) as a spectator sport. ... The strategy of cars maneuvering for position and the use of aerodynamics. F1 and Indy, you only see cars whooshing by for 1 second (like watching competitive downhill skiing in person). The noise, which is astounding, and motion, is hypnotic. Like baseball, it’s pastoral. Really. You can wander off to the concessions for 15 minutes (or, a whole inning) and not feel that you’ve missed anything. The crowds tend to be families that do not fight or swear in the stands. I could go on about how this race shows the beauty of our city’s lakefront to a whole new audience.”
     Doug Nichols traced the appeal of racing back to antiquity:
     “There are the funeral games held by Achilles to honor Patroclus. Among other sports, the games featured a chariot and a foot race. Centuries later, the chariot racing in Constantinople’s hippodrome was important to the social fabric.”

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  1. Neal, not to be confused with Neil, wins the day with his characterization of the sport as "pastoral". Can you think of a more absurd description? Just like a lovely walk at the Botanic Garden if there was a jet runway on the grounds.

  2. Doug, Jack and Don are all entitled to their opinion about a "sport" (I don't think driving a car is a sport. Don't @ me, bros.) And I respect their right to spend stupid amounts of money on them. But this assertion that it's not that big of an inconvenience is just flat out wrong. People want to go to the museums. Taste of Chicago has been disrupted. Downtown is overrun with tourists for a spectacle that they could just have easily watched wherever NASCAR is usually run -- when it's not taking over streets of cities. It's clearly Lori Lightfoot's parting shot. She had to know she had no chance of reelection. We don't need more tourists. We need affordable housing, an end to gun violence and a lot of other things but we don't need NASCAR making it impossible for Chicagoans to enjoy their own city at the height of summer. Boo Hiss.

  3. A heads-up, Mr. S: That track appears to be the Michigan International Speedway, near Brooklyn, MI, which is south and east of Jackson. It's out in the boonies, in the Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan, near U.S.12. On the other hoof, Brooklyn, NY, has almost 39,000 people per square mile, and is the second most densely populated place in the country, after Manhattan.

    1. Grizz: and it's a much more suitable venue for racing cars than either Brooklyn, NY or Chicago, IL.


  4. Of course some, like Bill Beliakoff, agreed with my skepticism:

    “$269.00 to sit and watch a ____________________________________? While sitting next to someone getting plastered? I wouldn’t pay more than 10 cents.”

    The price might be different - but you can fill in the blank with many things. 1. Watch someone sing on stage. 2. Watch a pitch thrown every 20 seconds. 3. Watch the Blue Angels fly buy. 4. Sweaty people buy expensive 'taste portions of food" 5. Stare at a painting from centuries ago 6. Look at old dinosaur bones

  5. Ever since Karen departed and you got a broader readership of your blog from the cross, the advertising man, your comment section has gone completely to hell. It used to be pretty much just a praise of your work by people who seem to really like you. Now it seems like a place where people come to b**** and b**** they do and I'm sure it's gratifying to become more popular, but maybe it's time to turn off the comments section

    1. TWI? Bad idea. Even if it isn't, it needs a translation. Then maybe I might even attempt a reply. Who was Karen? The Cross? The ad man?

      True, the number of comments (and commenters) has decreased over time, but the quality is still very high...and EGD has never felt like a "bitch board"--at least to me. I've seen some pretty whiny sites. This ain't one of them..

      Most of the posted comments remain fairly intelligent. The rest? They never see the light of day. Thank Mr. S...and his moderation and his discretion...for that.

    2. While the genial proprietor of EGD has occasionally hinted at eliminating the opportunity to comment, he has graciously elected to give the hoi polloi their say. (So far.) (Within certain limits, of course.)

      The blog is approaching its tenth anniversary. (Hear! Hear!) While the NASCAR post drew a lot of responses, the overall number of comments often was greater in the early days than it is for the average post now. And a number of them used to be much more inane than most that I've seen lately.

      I'll just note one other thing, not that I have any business addressing your remarks in the first place. The most disturbing comment of late, it seems, was the sixth one out of the gate on Wednesday about a "crash that kills some spectators." The guy who mentioned that has literally been commenting here since Day 1, ten years ago.

    3. sorry for the garble. Karen is : Caren. crow ad men was meant to be cross advertisement. with his writer friends. lots of new commenters showed up in the las few months. TWI? got me.

      10 years huh. will there be a party?

      clark st. oy

    4. TWI: Typing While Intoxicated.
      Or, if you prefer other substances, TUI...Typing Under the Influence.

  6. "it is exactly the same amount of pointlessness"


    520 drivers have been killed in motorsports, including 28 Nascar drivers. In one race alone at LeMans in 1955, a wreck killed the driver and 83 spectators, injuring 180 more.

    Compare that to the people killed at golf and baseball events. Zero, as you might imagine.

    I went to a stock car race once and the noise was mind blowing. Research shows that attending a Nascar race can cause irreversible hearing damage.

    Pastoral? Similar to baseball? Give me a break.

    1. You make it sound as if your disdain for car racing is based upon a deep abiding concern for human life, when in reality, you just don't like it, and can't accept the fact that there are other people that do. Attending a car racing event may be riskier than attending a golf or baseball game, but so what? Alcohol consumption carries greater risk than drinking iced tea. Should we blurt that point from bullhorns and mountaintops until every drippy drunkie in the world sees the light and becomes a bona fide teetotaler?

    2. I reread my comment looking for disdain. It's not there. People die doing in motor sports, it is breathtakingly. loud. I'll take baseball any day. If you like loud with danger more power to you. Not for me.

  7. It's not a question of whether some people enjoy NASCAR, but whether it's appropriate to basically shut down the what is one of Chicago's best assets, its lakefront, for this event. I haven't talked to a single Chicago resident who is happy about it. They all have found the description of it as "Lori's Revenge" fitting.

    The commenters on this blog seem pretty thoughtful, so I'm not sure what Anonymous is talking about, though the explanation of Karen, Cross, etc., was as baffling as the initial comment.


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