on Sports
Nascar Road Rage


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman

        Check out these recent events: NASCAR’s Jimmy Spencer punching Kurt Busch in Michigan; Kevin Harvick side-swiping Ricky Rudd’s car after the race. You’d have thought Vince McMahon has taken over the radio helmets, telling the drivers where he’s stashed the folding chairs, and secretly hoping he can start an Extreme NASCAR Circuit.

Hey, it couldn’t do worse than the XFL, except, because of all the labels, there’d no room on the back of the driver’s jump suit to write “HE HATE ME.”  The cheerleaders would have to wear tool belts and if they swivel too much they’d have to keep a flying wrench from decking a member of the pit crew. Other than that, it could work.

And if there were an ENC you can be sure there would be no Winston Cup rule 12-4-A warning against “actions detrimental to stock car racing.” It’d be like telling rednecks they couldn’t drink beer. “Hey, Neal. Did ya hear? Ain’t gonna be no fightin’ anymore down at Greenboro. Well, I might as well just stay home and kick my dog.”

The truth is you expect an after-the-race skirmish once in a while. There’s been a long history of punches thrown. And why not a little road rage? Everyone’s going the same direction. You’re flashing your left turn signal but they won’t let you pass. You practically sitting on the horn and they’re creeping along at 150 or so. The guy in the next car has got the gaudiest stickers you’ve ever seen… a total embarrassment. If you can get away from him, it couldn’t be too soon. Your pit crew’s wanting you pick up some milk on the way in and you’re telling them the traffic is murder. It’s no wonder.Nascar Road Rage

People point back to the 1979 famous Daytona 500 Cale Yarborough vs. the Allison Brothers as the fight that ignited NASCAR. It was the “Thrilla in Manilla” of after race brawls lasting all of 30 seconds. It also occurred during CBS’s first live broadcast of the Daytona.

It wasn’t the first time NASCAR racers went to fisticuffs. The 1950s incidents all seemed to involve 6’5 250 pound Tiny Lund. The first one was 1957 Lund vs. the Petty Family where the Petty’s Lee, Richard and Maurice took their turns trying to pound Lund with Lee’s wife, Elizabeth, swinging her pocketbook.

Many NASCAR drivers have been boxers, either amateur or pro, so it’s not unusual to expect punches to be thrown. And, sport wise, the activities are similar. You’re feeling out the other competitor. You’re in a peeking from behind your arms position. You’re looking for openings to make your move and when you got them on the ropes you don’t let up. And, every so often, you have to report to your support team for water and repairs.

Only thing missing would be the pre-race smack down. This would have Vince McMahon’s touch. Michael Waltrip would be snarling “Rusty Wallace drives like he’s in a bass boat. My grand mother drives better than he does… and she’s in a wheel chair.”

Wallace grunts back “Yeah, and she was wheeling pretty good in my motel room last night.”
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  
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