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Monday, June 16, 2014

A day off may cure my NASCAR addiction

nascar
nascar (Photo credit: rogerblake2)
For the first time since the 2004 season, I missed a race--on purpose!

I have been too obsessed for too long. I'm starting to control my addiction. I did record the race, so when I got home I watched it. It was a totally different experience.

Normally, when I watch a race, I have a certain procedure to follow. I generally start up my aged laptop so I can listen to my favorite driver, Ryan Newman's radio traffic. Without that, it is often difficult to know anything about any driver that isn't Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, or Tony Stewart, the most popular drivers. Now and then other drivers are mentioned briefly, but it just so happens that Ryan is one of the least mentioned. That makes it really difficult to follow his racing progress, unless he is leading the race. That hasn't been an issue lately, but then he is in his first year with a new team which is still trying to iron out the bugs.

I try to watch Race Buddy, but that is pretty taxing for my old laptop. It doesn't always work. Of course I monitor the live leaderboard to fill in some of the blanks about how Ryan is doing in terms of speed, position, and potential to pass other cars. 

Since I recorded the race yesterday on the DVR (digital video recorder), my normal multi-dimensional experience was greatly reduced, which resulted in a very different viewing experience. 

The most glaring difference was that I wasn't just watching Ryan's race, as I usually do. I watched the whole race, in its entirety. I don't think that was a plus, as it was hard to follow Ryan on the track. I had to rely on the crawl line for his position. While I watched, I found I had unanswered questions. I wanted to know why his position changed so drastically from one point to another during the race, exactly what was done in pit stops, what the handling was like in his car, how his speed compared to the drivers around him. None of those things were available to me. All I really learned from announcers were predictions that Jimmy Johnson could win his first Michigan race and how great Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was doing. 

There was one good thing about my single-dimensional viewing of the race however. I was able to fast-forward through the commercials. I knew there were lots of commercials, but I rarely paid much attention to how much time is squandered by the enormous number of them. I was stunned to learn that races don't take up an entire afternoon when you take away all the network garbage. 

Since I've never actually been to a race, I never realized they weren't as long as I thought. I was shocked at how little time is actually spent on racing. 

Jayski's Silly Season Site
Jayski's Silly Season Site (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In fact, according to Jayski's Silly Season Site, 132 minutes of racing took place. That is a little over two hours. Add in the 118 commercials and the 64 companies and entities advertised, and the time actually broadcast was 187 minutes, or just over three hours. That translates into almost an hour of garbage I didn't need to see. So, on a given day, as much as one-third of the race is squandered by marketing. Isn't it enough that car bodies and driver bodies are covered in advertisements and products have their logos splashed on the walls and in the grass?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sick to death of everyone from politicians with their constant barrage of letters and phone calls to NASCAR and television in general vying for my limited funds. 

While Jayski's didn't have the stats for this, there is always a gushing factor--the time spent when announcers make the equivalent of goo-goo eyes over certain drivers. I was thrilled to be able to skip over that. That said, I genuinely enjoy listening to Kyle Petty, because I think he does a decent job as a broadcaster. While I don't always agree with his opinions, I think he is the closest thing to a professional that NASCAR employs. I also like Dale Jarrett and Larry McReynolds. The two of them seem to try to be relatively fair-minded in their coverage. 


I have to say, skipping my Sunday race ritual was eye-opening. I may become a little less rigid in my NASCAR obsession. I may even opt for NASCAR lite in the future.