The Everyday NASCAR Fan's Problem With Scanners

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IOctober 16, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 25:  Brian Vickers, driver of the #25 GMAC Chevrolet, listens to a scanner during qualifying for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2006 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Drivers sometimes say things that need not be said. It happens to all of us. The problem for NASCAR's personalities is that their most stressful moments, and the words produced during those moments, are all over the airwaves for everyone with a scanner to hear.

The occasionally foul mouths have some people upset.

Think of the word "perception" while applying it to the world of NASCAR. It can change the way things are seen while we look at what is actually happening in the sport around us.

A good parallel to defining the word perception in NASCAR would be to look at the "arm chair quarterback" in football. This is probably one the most popular phrases used around the homes of the typical football fan.

For those of you who are not familiar with the phrase, basically it's a person who sits back in his chair while watching the game, and then begins yelling at the T.V. Why would a team call such a ridiculous play knowing that the opposing team had already pre-conceived it? The arm chair quarterback thinks he can do better.

But if you really sit back and watch one of these fans in action, they never do it if their team scores, or if they advance down the field without losing any yardage. In that sense, their hindsight is always 20-20.

Well believe it or not, NASCAR also has that same type of fan. But with this type of fan, they usually only perceive the things on the track that they feel is right in their own mind.

Most of them choose to paint this pretty picture of how they feel the drivers should act while out on the track during a typical race weekend.

Alas they forget, it’s not always a perfect world, the world beyond the fence that separates the fans from the drivers that are paid to perform their weekly duties race after race.

Because of this high tech society that we live in, it’s not hard to pull up a website on your laptop, Blackberry, PDA, or whatever else you choose, and see what’s happening in the world around us.

NASCAR as a sport has also made it easy for the fans to be able to listen in on what’s going on with their favorite drivers during a race.

And just how bad can this be? Well most of the fans perceive their favorite drivers as these sweet, polite, cordial, and friendly drivers once they get into their hot, uncomfortable, and noisy race cars for about three to four hours on a typical race day.

They sit up in the stands and put their headphones on thinking that they will hear some pretty cool stuff.

With most of them thinking that the crew chief and driver get along like some fairy tale marriage, maybe talking about how Aunt Betty is doing, or how Uncle John just celebrated his 75th birthday on Friday.

But instead, what they do get to hear is probably some of the worse language that you would only expect to hear at some sailor convention.

Scanners have done a really good job of putting the fans in the figurative passenger seat—without all the worries of hitting a wall or being cramped up for three plus hours.

It’s amazing when you think about all the valuable information that is broadcast through a box that almost fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Scanners give the everyday fan a chance to listen in on what the drivers, spotters, and crew chiefs talk about during a race. And at the same time, it takes away the guess work of trying to perceive what there next move will be. 

Now is this really a good thing?

What a lot of the fans don’t realize is that once they put those headphones on, they enter into a conversation that should more than likely be private.

Drivers often get caught up in the moment and sometimes they need to let off some steam, even when they're not thinking straight.

The language that is used can be a far cry from the expected for those fans who were hoping to hear some type of race startegy talk.

These drivers have a lot on their minds while racing around at these high speeds. They make split-second decisions under the greatest of pressure.

Not only do they have to concentrate on what they are doing, but they need to know what the driver in front of them is thinking. When all doesn’t go as planned, that’s usually when the slang—and yes, sometimes cursing—pours out.

So in all reality, can we actually think that the driver is worried what the fans will hear while sitting back enjoying a race, sipping on their favorite beverage, or eating their favorite snack?

Probably not.

Instead that has to be the furthest thing from his mind. The language that is used, and the heated remarks that they make are the norm in the middle of the race.

It’s just too bad when the fans take what should be a private conversation, and blow it up into something most of us have said at one time or another when maybe our blood was beyond boiling temperature.

You know what it's like. You lose control for either a minute or two, say something crazy, then when you cool off you look back and think to yourself, “Why did I say that?”

So why should the drivers be any different? Why are they scrutinized for things that they say, when actually they are just as human as us, and play with the same feelings?

Maybe this is a question for the wise old owl. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.