'Splain This: How NASCAR Nation Rules the World

Adam AmickSenior Writer IMarch 31, 2007
As I was driving to get my hairs cut today, I found myself behind an SUV that was in my way, and going a little slower than I would have preferred.
Other than that, there was nothing remarkable about the vehicle—or at least there wouldn't have been, for anyone who doesn't see the world through my eyes.

Those of you who claim citizenship in "NASCAR Nation" will appreciate this next bit:  The SUV had a Dale Earnhardt Jr. license plate holder.  Understand that my attention-to-detail skills are probably above average, being ex-Air Force and growing up with the Army, so the Junior souvenir might have gone unnoticed otherwise. 


Can you guess what was going through my mind when we hit the highway? 
In NASCAR Nation terminology, you might even signal to him that he's "Number One."

Translation: You might give him the finger.

Anyway, I didn't do any of that. I did the right thing and simply passed the vehicle—but in doing so I hoped pretty hard that the driver saw the decals on the back window of my truck: "24" and "48." 
Sorry, I just couldn't resist. 
The situation made me smile outwardly.  Why? Because I'm a fan of Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevy, and his teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy. And I just passed a Junior fan.

Ha ha.


Immature as it may sound, this kind of competitiveness is a fact of life for many sports fans.  We in the NASCAR Nation just have a distinct advantage.


Eagles fans can't tackle someone wearing a Terrell Owens jersey.  It's called assault, and there's no way out of that. I, on the other hand, can openly and legally pass the fan of a competitor on the highway—same as my driver runs ahead of his on the track week-in, week-out.

NASCAR Nationals also have the advantage described by redneck comic Jeff Foxworthy, who's got the ultimate defense for any stock car fan cited for following too closely.  
"I wasn't following too close officer—I was drafting."
By the same token, there's, "I didn't pass without signaling, sir—I performed a slingshot maneuver." Or, "I didn't bump into him—I rubbed him. 'And rubbin, son, is racing.'"


And NASCAR will get you without your even knowing it. How many of you have ever used the term "pit stop" to describe a trip to the bathroom?  They don't make pit stops in baseball, or basketball, or hockey.  That's a racing term, Jack, and somewhere along the way you've been corrupted by the NASCAR Nation.


I should point out that some folks are racing fans, but not fans of NASCAR.  Okay, fine.  But there's a reason the purses for all other racing series in the United States don't add up to the total awarded for the Daytona 500 ($18 million, in case you missed it)...because NASCAR is it, Jack. 


That's why the most coveted demographic during the 2004 election wasn't "soccer moms"—it was "NASCAR dads."  Oh, and drag racing fans, you're excluded, because your sport doesn't have pit stops. It does have John Force, and his daughters...but that's another discussion entirely.


There's also something economic analysts could, and should, examine: The buying power of NASCAR Nation, and the targeted purchases its citizens make.


I prefer to drink Pepsi rather than Coke—not because Pepsi's easier on my stomach, but because it sponsors Jeff Gordon and his team, Hendrick Motorsports.  I'd rather shop at Lowe's than Home Depot, because I like Jimmie Johnson and can't stand Tony Stewart, who drives the No. 20 Home Depot car.


There are those who will drink Budweiser, because that's Junior's sponsor, rather than Miller Lite, whose livery adorns Kurt Busch's Dodge. Then there's David Stremme, who drives the Coors Light car.


Like Little Debbie snack cakes? That's the No. 21 Ford Fusion of Jon Wood and Ken Schrader. Kellogg's Cereal? Kyle Busch. Or perhaps you prefer Cheerios...and Bobby Labonte.


I bet your office ships via FedEx (Denny Hamlin) or UPS (Dale Jarrett), or buys supplies at Office Depot (Carl Edwards). Maybe you have a High Definition TV powered by DLP, which sponsors Tony Raines' number 96 Chevy. And maybe that TV is fed by Dish Network (Matt Kenseth's Busch car) or Direct TV (Clint Bowyer's Cup car).


Perhaps you're serving or have served in the United States Armed Forces. Army? Mark Martin. Air Force? Wood and Schrader. Navy? Shane Huffman. National Guard? Casey Mears. And the Marines? They sponsored Bobby Hamilton Jr. last season.


The list goes on and on...and on. Really. Click here for a list of Nextel Cup drivers complete with cars and primary sponsors. Click on Busch or Craftsman at the top right of the screen to see all the sponsors in those series.

Admit it, Jack: NASCAR Nation has you in its grip—and unlike at Colonel Klink's Stalag 13, there really is no escape. 
See if you can 'splain that to me.