Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ryan Newman wins Daytona 500. Yawn

For the second straight year, I've tried to watch the Daytona 500 and see what all the fuss about NASCAR is really all about. For the second straight year, I've come away convinced that watching biathlon highlights on Eurosport 2 is about as interesting.

Let's put it this way: given the choice between the Daytona 500 and golf as TV sports to help me fall asleep for my Sunday nap, I chose auto racing.

Let's put it this way: my 4-hour drive from Sheboygan to Scandinavia - which took two hours on Friday - in rain, sleet, freezing rain, then white-out snow, was a far more compelling drive than 30-some cars making left turns for four hours.

Here I thought NASCAR had graduated from its redneck roots, only to hear one of the announcers - probably Darrell Waltrip - yell "Wooo-eee! I hear thunder comin' and it ain't Garth Brooks!" Ugh.

One of the sponsored highlights showed one of the race's highlights, and from what I could tell, no cars changed positions during the gripping sequence. In the last 25 laps I think there were five cautions. Admittedly I don't know much about auto racing, but to me it is incredibly boring that these yellow flag instances count against the overall lap totals.

I will say this: the television production of NASCAR events is arguably the best in sports today. The circuit's broadcast partners put cameras everywhere, cut in on audio at the right times, and offer statistics - like speed, RPM, etc. - that are probably really enlightening to people who, unlike me, know their relevance. And aside from the Larry the Cable Guy-type hyperventilating commentary, the "play-by-play" guy was excellent, as were the "sideline reporters."

The one puzzler: whereas football, basketball, and baseball broadcasts liberally show crowd shots, I saw none during Sunday's race. You would think that there would be enough tipsy Southern belles wearing midriff-baring cutoff Kasey Kahne T-shirts to make these shots worthwhile for the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic.

When Matt Kenseth wrecked late in the race I stopped caring completely, although I was still interested in seeing where Janesville's Travis Kvapil, friends with my buddy Todd Sommerfeldt, finished (30th). Maybe next year I'll invest another six hours in a drab February Sunday and catch NASCAR fever. Probably not.

Oh, the picture above is winner Ryan Newman. Tomorrow morning, if you asked me to pick him out of a police lineup, I wouldn't be able to.


Wisconsin Music Man said...

You hit the nail on the head. I tried my best to get into the Daytona 500 yesterday. I had not watched a race in years. It MUST be about the crashes, because no crashes=a good nap.

Corby said...

I watched too, which I never do, and I was actually somewhat interested because I was hoping that Dale Jr would win and then flip the bird to his stepmom. No luck. One thing I learned though is that with the "Car of Tomorrow" that they are driving today, the body style of the cars seems to prevent the crashes that most people want to see, where cars go end over end. That, to the very casual fan, will make racing even more of a bore.

ajs said...

By chance, I caught the last 3 laps. The one guy passed the other guy on the final lap so it probably made for as thrilling as race as it could have and I still couldn't get into it. To each their own I guess.

I agree on the lack of hottie shots- the best they do is show the drivers wives before the race on pit row.

I have heard from a bunch of people though that going to a live race is pretty cool- I'll take their word for it.

mjschwal said...

This post from the man who was the proud "owner" of the Redneck Racer?

Shame on you Mr. Tappa.

mjschwal said...

By the way, that poll is impossible to answer. I've been sitting here for five minutes going through the relative cons of each.

I just didn't vote.

I would say bad women's basketball can also be brutal. I remember convering a high school game that was 12-8 at half. Thank God I was getting paid for it because I needed to replace my eye after I had stuck my pencil in it.

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