User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: April 2013


Sunday, April 14, 2013

NASCAR, NRA race buddies; fans take sides

Samsung/RadioShack 500 on Sunday, April 9, 200...
Texas Motor Speedway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I hope there were plenty of empty seats at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night, as NASCAR decided to partner with the NRA as its race buddy. It isn't surprising that these two entities would team up, given their corporate mentality to better the bottom line no matter what the cost, but I'm glad to have stood my ground. I hope others did as well.

I chose not to watch this race. By allowing the NRA to sponsor the Texas race at a time when Congress and the entire country is debating gun safety measures in light of the tragic killing of 26 people including 20 little first graders in Connecticut last December, it was simply distasteful to me to be a participant in any way. I have made no secret of my dislike for NASCAR's corporate behavior in the past for many reasons, but for me, this was something I couldn't ignore.  

When I declared my decision to forgo this race, so did many others. I was actually surprised by the number of people who felt as I did. Then there was the other side--those who love that NASCAR supports the NRA. The trouble with them is they, more often than not, used such hateful rhetoric that ranged from unplaced paranoia about someone knocking on their door to take their guns away, to those that spoke about their firearms in the same way a small children describes its beloved security blanket. Then there were the racist zealots who simply can't get over having a black man in the White House and blame President Obama for everything wrong with the world.

I understand that the culture in the south, where I live, by the way, includes guns for hunting, target practice, and protection in remote rural areas. I have no problem with that; but neither does anyone else. For cripes sake shooting is an Olympic event. And there is certainly nothing wrong with supporting this activity.

NRA Headquarters, Fairfax Virginia USA
NRA Headquarters, Fairfax Virginia USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The NRA has crossed the line, however. Their reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is in my view extreme at best. It demonstrates a desperate attempt to maintain its hold on the power it has amassed in recent years, reflected on humongous salaries and its big, shiny corporate office building in Fairfax, VA. While I recognize that not everyone shares my view, I have no problem talking about our differences.

That doesn't seem to be the case however, with the irrational comments posted on social media by NRA supporters/NASCAR fans who apparently feel somehow threatened by non-gun owners' opinions. Their comments were rude, insensitive, racist, demeaning, and insulting. It is frightening to think that these quick-tempered, irrational people own guns. Not only can they not accept a divergent point of view, but they have trouble expressing their own ideas in an intelligent manner. The Hatfield/McCoy mentality is a real danger in our rapidly-growing population, which we see in the headlines every day. Guns should not be used for settling a personal dispute or making a point. Too often times, innocent people die. 

On a brighter note: Congratulations Ryan Newman who is obviously back in top form, with a 10th place finish at Texas. While I didn't actually see his performance, reading about it was just about as sweet. 

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Friday, April 12, 2013

NASCAR and NRA; bad combination for me

National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I haven't missed a NASCAR race since I became a fan--somewhere around 2004. My friends and family know not to call me on race day because I refuse to answer the phone. 

I have been a devout fan, although admittedly, not always pleased with certain aspects of the sport, which I've detailed in this blog, but I enjoy the racing, the driver personalities, the technical advances in the equipment, racing strategies, etc.

But when I first heard that the National Rifle Association, (NRA), the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturers, was planning to sponsor the NASCAR race at Texas, I decided not to watch. While I am heartened by the many fans that have opted to pass on this race, as I have, I am appalled at some of the comments by certain die hard NASCAR fans on social media displaying absolute ignorance about the gun safety issue, which has been the focus of national debate since 26 people were slaughtered in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

The fact that NASCAR allowed an NRA-sponsored race is telling, but that it would occur at this time is appalling. NASCAR says it wants to appeal to a broader audience, but its actions indicated just the opposite. I happen to love the south; I live in the south. I love that NASCAR embraces its rich history. However, I am not in favor of ignorance, which is what has been displayed by too many NASCAR fans on various online venues that have dealt with the NRA flap, as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has called it. 

It is cool to have an opinion. It is okay to express that opinion. It is not alright to be a racist, small-minded, insulting idiot. So many of them who claim to be trying to preserve their constitutional rights fail to recognize the constitution is more than the portion of the second amendment they like to quote. 

The debate about gun safety has become a nationwide conversation, as it should be. Of course everyone won't always agree, but that's okay. At least the conversation should be civil and hopefully constructive. 

In my view, the arguments supporting the NRA are simply specious. The NRA isn't an organization that supports gun owners; it supports gun manufacturers. It is all about the money; it isn't about what is right and beneficial for people. It isn't even about the people who support it. They are merely pawns. It is said they don't realize they are being used.

My rant against the NRA has little to do with the ongoing gun safety issue. The NRA isn't talking about safety; they are just talking about selling more guns. There is nothing wrong with owning a gun. It is a guaranteed right of citizens to protect themselves and to use firearms for hunting, and other types of sport. But what is going on in this country today is totally insane. Doing nothing will not stop the killing. Since the Sandy Hook massacre--December 14, not even four months ago--there have been more than 3,000 people killed by a firearm. I used to live in a town that had less people in it. I find that number shocking. Everyday headlines scream about another murder, suicide, or accidental gun-related death. I saw three just today. This has to stop. There has to be a rational discussion and viable solutions we can all live with.

For my own small part, I am taking a stand against all the violence; refusing to participate in something I thoroughly enjoy, with the hope that it will make some kind of a difference.

Perhaps it has. NASCAR has reportedly decide to scrutinize its race sponsorships in the future. That is a small thing, but I believe change takes time and is often incremental. At this point, any step is a step in the right direction.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Time for NASCAR to re-"tire" its rules

Used Tires
Used Tires (Photo credit:
During the race at Martinsville, Ryan Newman blew a front tire. He tried to get to pit road, but was unable to weave his way from the top to the bottom of the race track. He made a judgement call--to stop on the track to wait for traffic to clear rather than to drive around with a damaged tire.

NASCAR said he intentionally causing a caution. What?! 

NASCAR made the decision to hold him in pit road for three laps, totally ruining what could have been a very good day. Newman lost more than 30 points, not to mention the positive momentum, which will undoubtedly affect his entire season. Newman was the previous winner at Martinsville and was running in the top 10 for much of the day.

I suppose the safety-conscious sanctioning body would have preferred that Newman drive around the race track with a flat tire at full speed threatening the safety of all the other drivers. 

Once again, Ryan Newman is the beneficiary of NASCAR's seat-of-the-pants ruling. Frankly, I'm sick off  it.

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