by Larry Palletti
NASCAR & Pro Wrestling
wrap íem with the
As a long-time fan of automobile
racing, I find myself saddened by the kind of stuff thatís going on in
NASCARís Winston Cup series.
Can it be that NASCAR has
gone the way of professional "wrestling," becoming nothing more than a
show to entertain the ticket buyers and the television audiences? While
the drivers themselves may still be engaged in honest racing, have the
NASCAR bosses begun to make the whole affair a mere money-maker?
Itís beginning to look that
MORE AND MORE, the
Grand Poobahs of "stock car racing" from Bill France on down are acting
more like riggers than racers. The idea: make the show more competitive
and more "interesting" for the fans to watch, and never mind about keeping
things on the up-and-up.
Thereís no doubt that rules
have been made simply to create more head-to-head racing opportunities.
The yellow-flag rules that permit cars to close up tight are good examples.
And perhaps thereís nothing wrong with this, since it applies to all cars
But is it racing? Is it fair
to have a driver labor to build a big lead several times during a race,
only to have that lead yanked away from him by the caution flags?
Of course not. What you end
up with is not a real race, but a conjured-up affair that penalizes the
driver who does his best to win.
THE CAUTION-FLAG restarts
have been around for a long time, and because they are crowd pleasers,
they will remain with us.
But the sort of stuff coming
out of NASCAR for the past several years should come to a tire-flattening
halt if the organization wants to maintain its credibility.
Those yellow caution flags
for "debris on the track," for example. Strange how they donít come out
unless Rusty Wallace or Dale Earnhardt has a runaway lead late in a race.
Strange too how there never seems to be any real debris being picked up.
The worst, though, is the
way NASCAR officials have of letting some teams slip by without obeying
all the rules. Itís an open secret along pit row that certain cars arenít
watched very closely when it comes time to check restrictor plates or aerodynamic
modifications to bodywork. Meanwhile, other teams are hounded by the scrutineers
and fined heavily when their cars are found to be slightly out of compliance.
THE SAME THINGS Ė
a sloppiness in applying the rules and a willingness to bend them to make
the competition "more interesting" Ė ruined professional wrestling back
in the late Forties.
The real wrestlers, guys
like Jim Londos, George Zaharias and Don Eagle, werenít all that big as
crowd-pleasers. They were simply magnificent wrestlers. They were elbowed
aside by character actors like Gorgeous George and Haystack Calhoun, all
show and little substance. But they drew fans. Their show-biz styles sold
tickets; the fans ate it up.
And pro wrestling died as
a result, turning into nothing more than entertainment and a way to make
a buck. Now itís a battle of makeup artists, hair stylists and publicists.
grew out of a pure and unfettered desire to see who could build and race
the fastest cars. Itís a shame to see it become a hoked-up chase of high-speed
Hereís a yellow caution flag
for NASCAR: give us back our honest racing, or risk losing the loyalty
of fans who have long appreciated the hard-fought competition that stock
car racing embodies. Give us back our chance to see pure racing without
the silly cosmetics and the jury-rigged rules.
And to the NASCAR weenies
who make those rules, hereís s blue flag that says "move over." Let the
original spirit of automobile racing have its rightful place on those multi-million
dollar showplace tracks.
I would like to root for
the best all-around stock-car builder and racer of them all, Dave Marcis,
with the knowledge that each driver, each team on the circuit will compete
without the unfair advantages.
Itís what sport is all about.