Identifying and Debunking the Five Biggest Myths About NASCAR

Jim FolsomContributorMay 14, 2013

Matt Kenseth hails from Wisconsin
Matt Kenseth hails from WisconsinGeoff Burke/Getty Images

What are the five biggest myths in NASCAR? That's hard to say in a sport with as many myths as NASCAR has. It has mythical figures all throughout its rich history. As with all myths, there has to be some truth to them, otherwise nobody would believe them and they would just die. But many things about NASCAR are just not true, or at least not anymore. Here are the five biggest myths. I'm sure you've heard these and maybe even repeated a few of them.

1. NASCAR is a sport where only rednecks are welcome.

Not true. A race crowd is among the friendliest crowds at any sporting event. I have been to more NASCAR races than I can count, and I don't recall ever seeing a fight in the stands. Ever. Try saying that about the NFL. NASCAR has been going out of its way in recent years to bring about more diversity. They have programs aimed at bringing more minorities and women into the sport. Go to to a race and look at the following Danica Patrick has if you think it's not working.

2. NASCAR is just a bunch of cars going around in circles.

This is the most irritating one for me. Whenever I hear someone say those, and I hear it a lot, my first response is "well basketball is nothing but a bunch of freakishly tall black guys dunking a ball in their underwear" or "Football is just a bunch of huge guys crashing into each other in a big pile" or "Baseball is just a bunch of guys standing around scratching themselves and spitting."

All of those are absurd if you are a fan of those sports. You know there is much more to it than that. Yet people who follow those sports will be ignorant enough to spew the line about guys going in circles. The guys are going in circles at over 200 MPH inches away from the wall and many times inches away from several other cars. Every little change in temperature or air pressure, or a bump from another car, can be the difference between winning and losing. There is so much that goes into winning a race that most fans don't even realize it.

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3. NASCAR has already peaked and is on the way down.

Not true. Many point to the dwindling attendance at nearly every venue as proof that it is not as popular as it was back in the Dale Earnhardt days. But in fairness, our national economy is the worst it has been since the Great Depression. Look at other sports. All of them are suffering drops in attendance. The Miami Dolphins used to be a very tough ticket. Look at their stadium now on a game day. It's empty. Ask the Kansas City Royals or Detroit Pistons about attendance.

How can people afford to go to races when they are having a hard time staying in their homes? At $4.00 a gallon for gas, you'd better live pretty close to a track of you want to go.

Plus, with the way races and other sports look on these hi-definition flat screen TVs, and as inexpensive as they have become, it is awfully tempting to stay home and watch it from the living room sofa and avoid the expenses.

4. NASCAR is a southern sport.

That may have been true at one time. But that's not true any longer. Look at the locations where the drivers hail from. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are from California as is Kevin Harvick. The Busch brothers are from Las Vegas. Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart are from Indiana. Matt Kenseth is from Wisconsin. In fact, it is hard to find a driver from the south these days. Dale Earnhardt Jr is really about the only driver from the south.

Back in the old days, the Pettys, Allisons, Earnhardts, Waltrips, Yarboroughs, Pearsons, Parsons, pretty much all the drivers were from the south. It's not that way anymore. This was because back in the old days, all the races were in the south. Rarely did the circuit stray away from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina or Virginia. There was a race or two in California and the Poconos or Dover. But that was about it. Now they race all over the country.

5. NASCAR has made all the cars the same.

That was true. But now with the new Gen 6 cars, it is not so much anymore. The Chevys, Fords and Toyotas all look a bit different now, which makes it possible for some cars to be better than others. This could bring about the old "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" days of old. NASCAR was at its best when there were not only driver battles on the track but also manufacturer battles, too.

This is not the same as the old days when they were truly running "stock cars." Unfortunately, those days are gone as the cars are now made in race shops all over the Charlotte, North Carolina area. But this is a lot better than it has been in years past when NASCAR more closely resembled INDY Car and F1 than it did racing stock cars.