Sunday, February 26, 2017

Daytona 500. If it ain't broke.....

One is left to wonder about the brain trust, and I use that phrase very loosely, calling the shots at NASCAR.  They're messing with the Dayton 500 again.

Since 1959, the event has been an American "institution". The Super Bowl of stock car racing -- though why they begin the season with the biggest race has always been a sort of mystery. The "Great American Race" -- though the prevalence of Japanese automobiles and drive trains seems to be growing every year. Go figure.

1959 was a long time ago. To put that in perspective, a guy named Eisenhower occupied the White House. The ill-fated Ford Edsel was fairly new. Fidel Castro and his merry band of revolutionaries were just getting started in Cuba, and Leave It To Beaver was the rage on then current TV. In black and white, of course. The Andy Griffith Show with Barney Fife and Co. hadn't been born yet.

For most of the years since the race format was pretty simple.Go to Daytona with the best car you and your team can build, run 500 miles, and whoever finishes first -- wins.

But that wasn't good enough. They had to change the rules. This last 500 was run in three stages. Go for 60 laps (150 miles) and have a stage winner. Stop. Repeat for Stage 2. Stop again. Then run the remaining 200 miles in Stage 3. At the end, someone (this time Kurt Busch) was declared the champion. Good for him, but casual race fans don't know what the hell is going on anymore.

NASCAR will no doubt say they are weeding out the weaker competitors during the stages, so only competitive cars will be in it at the end to vie for such a prestigious title. Well OK, but if that's the case, what was the likes of Danica Patrick doing out there in the first place? She's never won squat in NASCAR, despite having a team (and sponsors) that have provided her with the best of equipment over the years. And how many $400,000 racing machines has she trashed over those years with nothing to show for it except hissy, foot-stomping fits and photo shoots for girly magazines? How'd you like to be the people footing THOSE bills over all her futile years? Go Daddy tried it for a while. Then Go Daddy -- finally went. Forget that, and who can blame them?

Not long ago, NASCAR tinkering with the cars led to them having to pair up in twos on the racetrack, like bugs humping, to be competitive. It was a joke.

Before that, they instituted "restrictor plates" on "superspeedways" such as Daytona and Talladega, which slowed the cars down and supposedly made the racing more safe. In reality, the drivers hated it and many more accidents occurred. Here's a clue. Listen to the drivers. Nobody knows more about racing at high speeds than the boys and girls behind the wheels piloting the darn things. If they want to go faster -- let them. But no, the restrictor plates bunched up all the cars where they had great difficulty passing each other -- which led to even more wrecks when they tried. This is safer? Dale Earnhart Sr. might be alive to this day if restrictor plates, which he railed against, hadn't been implemented.

They just can't seem to leave well enough alone. Three parts to the Daytona 500? Are you kidding me? How wimpy is that?

On a related note, there's probably a reason the once super popular sport of bowling is so rarely seen on TV anymore. Sure, those guys and gals are still as good or better than ever. But they've changed the scoring format. Nowadays, any "strike" count for 30 pins -- automatically. You don't have to get a couple more in a row like in the old days. A "spare" is treated the same, as is an "open frame".

Though the maximum attainable remains 300, this little gambit serves to enhance the scores. People familiar with bowling will remember the old term "Dutch 200". That was when a kegler alternated strikes and spares for the entire 10 frames of any particular game. Now, if one does the exact same thing -- that score becomes 250, for the extra 10 pins gained during the 5 frames one rolled a strike. And just what exactly are the powers that be trying to prove here? We already know these people are world class bowlers and have made it through the field of any particular tournament to advance to the top few towards the end -- or they wouldn't be on TV to start with. Does inflating their scores make them any better? Of course not. It's hogwash.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it -- dammit. What is the matter with these people?

Next thing you know, there won't be any short, bald, or fat people in the world. Just those that are altitudinally, follicly, and calorically "challenged".

But I suppose we already have that.


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