Sunday, May 23, 2010

American Racing

Memorial Day is next weekend, a big weekend for racing fans what with the Indianapolis 500 for open wheel fans and the Charlotte 600 for those who like stock cars. There is a tradition of having a big buildup the weekend before with Indianapolis qualifying and an “All Star” race at Charlotte, and the buildup has gone more and more hyper as the years have gone by. This year they added a “shootout” to Indy qualifying.

I tuned in and waited through the first round of qualifying, thinking that the “shootout” would be a race. Silly me. It was not a race, it was merely 90 minutes of making the top nine cars repeat their qualifying runs again, and again, and again. Who dreamed up that piece of idiocy? Each of the nine cars could make as many tries as they wanted to for a shot at the pole, and apparently they wanted to a lot. Why they wanted to is unclear, because once you are in the top nine, why does it matter where you are within that first nine at the beginning of a race that runs for 500 miles and takes more than three hours?

If you thought it was boring watching 50 or so cars making attempts at getting into the race, try watching the same nine cars doing it over and over. Add some really shrewd and penetrating commentary, like "Oh, look, he's going really fast," and the day is complete. I was strongly inclined, at first, to shoot the television, but by the time it was over I was having to resist the temptation to shoot myself.

Danica Patrick qualified 23rd. There were 24 positions filled on the day, so it would be understating the case to say that she did not do well. Needless to say, it was all the car's fault. The car was so bad that she was actually frightened to drive it.

Then came the NASCAR fiasco. There was a preliminary "showdown" race, which was 20 laps in which nothing happened. The race itself was the traditional silly segmented affair. Segment one was 50 laps in which nothing happened. Segment two was 20 laps in which nothing happened. Segment three was a repeat of segment two. Segment four was 10 laps in which everybody wrecked, some of them several times. No racing occurred at any time, and the drivers were all total idiots, which doubly begs the question of why they called it the "All Star Race."

I may just go to Disneyland or the beach next weekend.

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