Nascar's Grassy Knoll of Their Own Making

Roberta CowanContributor IJuly 27, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Officials wave a yellow caution flag late in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
NASCAR may have a "Have At It Boys" policy in public. But the behind the scenes policy is more dictatorial in nature. On Monday, AP Reporter Jenna Fryer published an article stating that, " least two star drivers have been fined—one as much as $50,000—for comments that were deemed destructive to the industry." This was confirmed by Nascar spokes person Ramsey Poston. Shocking news considering the claims by Nascar that they want the driver's personalities to show through and become a part of the sport again. I guess that is as long as it's what they (Nascar) want to hear.


According to Nascar, the opinion of drivers color the the opinions of the fans. This could cause them to stay away from races when drivers speak negatively about the sanctioning body. Bull Hockey. No driver has said a word that the fans had not either already said or observed.


What is so shocking about a driver saying that fabricated debris cautions and mysterious speeding penalties and scoring errors benefit some teams more than others? Come on folks that has been said on every race track from the beginning of time.


Or maybe it was the Lottery comment at the super speedways. Has Nascar watched one of those races lately? They are basically a controlled and timed demolition derby. We love them because of the skill required to compete on those tracks. But at 200 mph and four inches apart when it goes south everyone goes with it. If you were lucky enough to have 10 extra inches when it started then you got through it. If you didn't you were wrecked with everyone else. It's a lottery. The luck of the draw or the preference of fate on that day.


Or maybe it was the comment on the yellow line rule going to get people killed. Well yellow line or not the behavior of some of our drivers of late may hasten that occurrence. But the fact is that when it was made the incident it followed made it very obvious that it is a real possibility.


Or perhaps it was the comment that Nascar had no respect for it's drivers. Hmmm then it made sense and now with this information it makes even more sense.


We have young men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq putting their lives on the line to defend our rights to freedom of speech. A right granted to us in the Constitution of the United States. A document that has stood the test of time with it's wisdom and it's foundations. No where has it been amended to say unless you drive a race car for Nascar and Brian France doesn't like your opinion. The rights of drivers and fans alike have not changed or disappeared just because Brian France thinks it might cost him a buck or two.


The issues of Nascar go so much deeper than the comments of drivers.  The Gestapo like tactics of Nascar with their secret fines. Talking out of both sides of their mouths at once. Appearance's of favoritism. Random and seemingly unjustified penalties. Manipulating the competition and the media. These are just a few of the reasons that fans are leaving by the droves.


Add that on top of the greed of track owners and package ticket deals to get a ticket to a cup or Nationwide race. Hotel gouging. Concessions priced beyond the realm of reasonable. Merchandise that quality has degraded to the point of piracy.
Now consider that the competition has become at times boring to the point of sleepy. Follow the leader in a car that is at best a kit car, guarded so closely by Nascar that it is virtually unraceable. And at worst a death sentence for the sport it should be supporting.


The broadcast media that delivers the sport is so inept and biased that it makes you wonder exactly how many checks do these folks get a broadcast and where do they come from. Camera work that basically follows the top 5 if you are fortunate. And pit road reporters who have the intestinal fortitude of an earth worm.


People are speaking in the only way that Nascar seems to understand with their pocket books. It's the age old tradition of if you don't like it go elsewhere. Well Nascar fans are doing exactly that. And even though Nascar has considered it's self immune, it is learning different and looking for a place to put the blame.


The time has come for Nascar to ask themselves what part of this steady decline did we play? Is our attempt at a perverted bracket system for the championship called the Chase really the answer? Is changing it to a distorted Super Bowl playoff system going to help that? Are cars without identities truly the answer? Is manipulating the outcome with debris cautions in some cases and failing to throw cautions for cars in the wall to "avoid disruption of competition" truly the answer?


When will Nascar figure out that rules like 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); make them suspect. It's about honesty. Being above board and not hiding things. When you begin to manipulate things and hide things people immediately assume that you are doing one of two things. You are either manufacturing the results or you are lying about how they were obtained in the first place.


Come on Nascar, wake up. Your fans are intelligent people from all walks of life who are smart enough to use search engines and find answers to questions you don't want the experts to answer. They have either followed the sport for a long time or they are transplants from local series and they know how the game is played and how it is suppose to work. The empty seats are a result of your arrogance not the opinions of drivers trying to make a living and satisfy a fan base.


I am not one to embrace conspiracy therories or to believe that a whole field of drivers or officials were all told to shut up and let this guy win. I am sorry that would encompass way too many folks and that many folks can't shut up. Someone is going to tell someone. And then it's all out there. That is undoubtedly what happened here. I have been to both Nascar head quarters and there is no grassy knoll. What there is however, is very apparent to even the causal observer: an overwhelming sense of greed and thrist for power and control. On their own any of the three can be a good thing when used in moderation. But Nascar seems to have lost that sense of moderation and in the process is drowning in it's own excess and arrogance.
Congratulations to Ron Hornaday on his Truck victory at ORP. Kyle Busch on his Nationwide win. Jamie McMurray on his Sprint Cup win at IMS. And of course Chip Ganassi for winning the triple crown of auto racing.

To all the competitors in all the series thanks for giving us everything you have to give, you are our heroes. Most importantly though, thanks to all the families who share their loved ones with us each and every week so that we can cheer our favorite driver and favorite teams. You are the true heroes of the sport we are forever in your debt.