I Blame Elvis Presley

Duncan ScottAnalyst IFebruary 2, 2010

Yes I do. I blame Elvis Presley.

Despite urban myths to the contrary, Elvis left the building a long time ago, and will not be returning. But, his legacy lingers on.

You like his music? Fine, so does my wife. Why, even I can do a knee-shaking, lip-curling, sneering Heartbreak Hotel when suitably fuelled.

But, Elvis appeared in 31 movies. Every one of them a stinker designed and produced with the sole objective of separating young Elvis fans from their cash.

I'm quite a movie buff, and I know the movie industry distorts every subject it touches. It corrupts and degrades its viewers' perceptions, because there is a natural tendency to accept what is depicted on screen as having some relationship to reality.

In several of his movies Elvis played a race car driver. A singing race car driver, of course. There were soundtrack albums to be sold. Watch this clip . Do you like the King's footwear?

Those Elvis race movies portrayed motor racing as a mix of the cheap, the tawdry, and the comic.

Fortunately, the movie industry has mostly stayed away from open-wheel racing. Apart from the rather good and respectful Grand Prix of 1966, Formula One (F1) has been spared the silver screen treatment. Never has it had an Elvis or celebrity equivalent gripping a steering wheel in front of some back-projected race action; it has not been dragged down by being portrayed as a sport for drunken hicks.

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So, F1 has been able to retain its air of aloof superiority, to reign as the unchallenged supreme, expensive motor sport.

Why one set of race rules should be seen as inherently superior to another set of race rules is difficult to understand.

It is the competitive nature of motor racing that appeals to me, and having watched year after year of F1 races in which genuine "driver vs. driver" battles have been notable by their rarity, I am very receptive to other types of races.

I'm a simple man, and I don't have the 180-plus IQ required to understand the complexity of NASCAR. Nor do I have the gritty determination of a one-legged marathon runner, as is needed to follow a complete NASCAR season.

But, I have always been weirdly fascinated by the spectacle of driver X trying to get around a circuit quicker than driver Y, so I'll watch any form of motor racing, even a wheel-deficient sport like Moto GP.

Dagnammit , I even watched A1GP before it went belly-up.

And up until this year I've watched some NASCAR...I'm not ashamed.

For a UK viewer, watching NASCAR has always been a matter of studying the schedules of minority channels, and either programming a VCR/PVR or staying up late.

That was no problem.

More recently, however, NASCAR was only available to we stout-hearted Brits via the Irish satellite broadcaster Setanta Sports, who packaged the Sprint Cup with a number of other US sports.

Unpleasantly, Setanta required viewers to pay a subscription. That is a pernicious trend in TV broadcasting. But, at least we had the opportunity to watch what is a very big motor sport.

Then Setanta went bust.

At the time I laughed, thinking that NASCAR coverage would surely be picked up by a free-to-air broadcaster like Eurosport, or perhaps by pay channel Sky Sports, and I'm already paying their subscription so my wife can watch her tennis.

But, nobody has seized the opportunity to deliver oval track action to UK motor heads. Why would they? NASCAR is a sleazy joke sport; they've seen it in the movies.

So this year, I won't be watching any NASCAR.

And I blame Elvis.