Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito: I Don’t Feel Right – NASCAR Needs to Cut Out Their Sacred Cows for Lent

As I am writing this, I just returned from Ash Wednesday services at St. Roberts of Newminster in Ada, Mich. Being Catholic is pretty cool. If you’re not, no big deal. We have a huge, elaborate building, the lights are turned down low, candles and incense burning, music, drinking, gambling, the girls get all dolled up, you name it.

It’s kind of like Las Vegas minus the temptation, sin and vices that condemn one to eternal damnation!

A few things have changed over the last couple of thousand years, but there remain two constants: The Catholic Church and me getting some kind of horrific upper respiratory infection around Ash Wednesday. Well, it’s here, and so is the green stuff.


One of the traditions of Lent is finding something to sacrifice for the next six weeks. I know, it’s so noble of us; a guy suffers a horrific beating and butchering for mankind, we give up some chicken nuggets.

Way to take one for the team.

As I was drifting in and out of consciousness in my weakened condition earlier, a few thoughts started drifting through my mind. What if the ultimate modern glutton – NASCAR – was forced to give up a few things for Lent? If there is one thing we have learned over the years, the one body who does not like to sacrifice things is NASCAR, who worships at the altar of St. William Getty. Let’s blow through these real quick-like so I can double up on some Nyquil, and “ride the dragon” here before I pass out at the keyboard:

Boring is Banished: You know who you are. Chicago, Pocono, CaliBORINGya and Phoenix. All of them are hereby stripped of one date. One is given to Kentucky, another is issued to a road course to be named later, the other two are weeks off. NASCAR is in love with itself; like a constant dripping, it has grown long in the tooth. If these tracks are so great, run more IndyCar races at them, since that series is so convinced they need not be paired with the fendered crowd. If not, you still have the Camping World Truck and Nationwide series to give away some tickets too.

See also
The Yellow Stripe: The Track Too Tough to Watch - How to Change the Boredom at California with 1 Simple Fix

Tell me what good sense does it do, following up your Super Bowl with something utterly boring, uninspiring and uncompetitive? OK, so the NFL does do it with the Pro Bowl, that doesn’t mean that NASCAR needs to follow suit going to California and Vegas after Daytona. Remember how we got to where we were nine years ago? Being DIFFERENT. If you are fond of sports analogies, old NASCAR was the NFL. This is the XFL. It’s getting to the point that my racetrack credential has been changed from my given name to “He Hate Me.”

New Blood in the Booth: Thomas Jefferson once said, “From time to time, the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of… tyrants.” We need not go to those lengths obviously, but I am not sure why the same faces return year after year for each of the networks. Can’t we shuffle a few in and out every decade or so? These are out of shape, middle-aged men with bellies eclipsing their belts, not Barker’s Beauties on The Price Is Right. Like Adam Sandler instructed Bobby when he was popping him in the Poly-Grips in Happy Gilmore, “The price is WRONG, #$%&@ !”

The only new person to come on the air for FOX has been Krista Voda, and God bless her. Watching Jeanie Zelasko had me fashioning a noose around my garage rafters like Red in The Shawshank Redemption. If I have to listen to Chris Myers be spoon-fed facts and tidbits of information that are being piped to him via Jayski and NASCAR.com, it’s going to look like that scene with Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter over here.

TNT’s crew is probably the best in the business as far as TV is considered. Not quite MRN, but it’ll get the job done. Bill Weber’s hair is bullet proof, Wally Dallenbach is witty and Kyle Petty is going to be a treat this year as he will be all riled up after getting shafted out of his ride and his business. The rest of the guys have to either go or just wear tank tops and Dale Jr. cutoff t-shirts. We can cease with faux-objectivity.

We’re all into some freaky stuff, and we all have a favorite driver. Let’s stop acting like animals and pretend that we’re human.

Back to the Future: Judging by our website traffic, I am fairly confident that this is read by as many people on a daily basis as who read a major metropolitan newspaper here in the United States. If anybody in network television is still reading this, please – for the sake of our future – and for the continued existence of our sport – you need to stop with the bullshit.

Digger: Stupid, has to go. One hour long pre-race show: Stupid, has to go. Starting races after 3 p.m. on the east coast: Stupid, has to go. Turning heroic drivers into metrosexual man-models mugging for the camera like a bunch of chicks at a Sweet 16 party: STUPID, HAS TO GO.

To quote former Chicago Bears linebacker and 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary: CAN’T DO IT.

This is not what this sport is about. For God’s sake, it’s so bad that the most dominant driver over the last seven years gets no respect, and has to grow some Tom Hanks-In- Philadelphia -looking-beard to butch him up a little bit. The freaking guy falls off the roofs of golf carts, pukes in his helmet and almost DIES in the middle of the desert in a truck race, and everybody says he’s boring.

What does he have to do next, cut a finger off… oh… wait. Bad example.

To find the keys to success that they have been looking for under FOX’s cushions and Brian France’s pockets, all one has to do is to watch some races from 1985-1999.


Just sit down and watch. Ken Squier. Eli Gold. Neil Bonnett. Ned Jarrett. Even Jerry Punch, when he was down in the pits amongst the mayhem or doing a blind tracheotomy on Rusty Wallace’s lifeless body at Bristol, is required viewing for anybody who hopes to understand this sport and reclaim the fan who has been here for all these years but offers little more than a shoulder shrug to the action today.

Maybe it’s just the Nyquil talking. I think I am going to ride over to that puffy pink cloud now and get some rest.

Don’t eat meat tomorrow.

About the author

Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

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