Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito: Driver Introduction Music at Bristol – How to Turn a Good Idea Up to 11

This past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, the night race that was the Sharpie 500 was host once again to one of NASCAR’s most anticipated races of the year. As NASCAR continues its effort to elevate itself to something that resembles a cross between an NFL game, Wrestlemania and a rock concert, it featured personalized “introduction” music for each of the 43 drivers.

Mercifully, “Don’t Stop Believing” was omitted from the catalog. I know, I like Journey too, but only when I’m loaded and doing karaoke or playing Rock Band. And while we’re at it, the cannon shot from “For Those About to Rock” wasn’t exactly, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” what with there being a couple of hours of daylight left during driver introductions… but hey, it was a nice touch.

Seriously, I actually liked this idea, particularly for the spectacle that the night race at Bristol has provided throughout the years. What better way to whip an already on-edge crowd into a frenzy then amp them all up with some rock tunes? Some of the songs were appropriate and original, such as Michael Waltrip playing Toby Keith’s “I Ain’t as Good as I Once Was” or Marcos Ambrose coming out to Men at Work with “Down Under.” Looking down the list, though, I was a little underwhelmed and a little puzzled by some of the selections. Surely these guys could have done better than this!

Looking down the list at the songs that were played, there were five drivers who picked AC/DC – three of them the same song – and others that either used the same song of another guy, or one that has been on a generic mix CD since 2000. I’m not saying you have to turn into Serious Music-guy and have a bunch of stuff from Radiohead, Morrissey or Interpol, but if the intro music was supposed to be “personal,” it should have some more relevance to it.

Here’s a few that stood out to me.

Mark Martin: AC/DC – “For Those About To Rock”

Not a bad song. Martin often attributes some hearing loss to decades of cranking AC/DC on car stereos and the “we salute you” chorus fits in nicely with his Salute to You Tour – which is now entering its fourth year. Hey, whatever. At least he means it.

See also
Voice of Vito: Salute to You III... IV... Anyone for V?

Better Choice: Kid Rock – “Forever”

If you ask Brad Keselowski, that is about how long he will probably be driving the No. 5 car. There is also a line in that song that fits Martin and his resurgent 2009 season to a T:

Thought I got dusty, thought I’d get rusty (Wallace?),
Fat and ugly, broke
Black and blue?
But I’m trim, fit, rich,
And I’m back for round two

Jeff Gordon: The Rolling Stones – “Start Me Up”

Solid choice. Safe, fan friendly, not objectionable and agreeable to those both young and old; just like Gordon. The only thing he might have in common with Keith Richards, however, is that his wallet and Richards’s skin appear to be made from the same material.

Better Choice: Chevelle – “Send The Pain Below”

Let’s face it: the only people you’ll ever hear about their backs more are Vida Guerra, Jessica Biel and Kim Kardashian. Gordon’s back pain has been a story this year, so why not exploit it? Like Amy Fisher said during the Joey Buttafuoco saga, “If I’m going to go through all this trouble, I better get a Ferrari out of it.”

Greg Biffle: P.O.D. – “Boom”

I always liked this one and thought it lent itself well to NASCAR, since the chorus declares “Here come the boys from the South.” Granted, Sonny Sandoval meant Southern California and San Diego, which is ironic considering Biffle is from Vancouver, Wash.

Better Choice: Nelly & Paul Wall – “Grillz”

What it do baby, it’s The Ice Man, Paul Wall
I got my mouth lookin’ somethin’ like a disco ball
I got the diamonds and the ice all hand set
I might cause a cold front if i take a deep breath
My teeth gleamin’ like I’m chewin’ on aluminum foil
Smiling, showing off my diamonds sippin’ on some potent oil

Like I was going to let Biff off and not make a comment about the braces. It’s OK, my uncle is 46 and just got a gri… err… braces too.

Joey Logano: Jerry Reed – “East Bound & Down”

Actually, that’s pretty awesome.

Better Choice: Like there is one. Hands down, best movie soundtrack song, ever. There, I said it. Take that, “Danger Zone” or “I’m Walkin’ On Sunshine.”

Brian Vickers: O.A.R. – “This Town”

Really, Brian? Did you just pick a song off the back of a NASCAR compilation CD? You might feel sorry for Kyle Busch but I feel sorry for your taste in music. “This Town?” More like, “This Song… is Terrible.” Come on, brosef, you can do better than that for sure. You’re winning poles left and right and you just came off a big win at Michigan making a convincing final charge towards championship contention. Like General McAllister said in Lethal Weapon, “Time to turn up the heat.”

Better Choice: Atreyu – “Becoming The Bull”

Back and forth the struggle consumes us all,
Trying to keep a level head
In the most unsettling of times,
Today I’ll become the bull

Or in this case, the Red Bull. Go get you some and get on in that Chase, buddy.

What songs do you want to hear your favorite driver come out to in the future? Send me a line and let me know, and maybe together we can get in NASCAR’s ear about it. Right after they remove out their fingers.

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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