Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: Shiny Objects NASCAR in X-Mo

At least once a week during the NASCAR Sprint Cup race, I hit the replay button on my remote and make this funny noise, “Oooooh! Did you see that?” I sit bedazzled for moments longer as I watch the entire segment, sigh when it is over and slump back in my chair.

I do laugh at myself. I have to. I mean, being of the fairer sex, I tend to make fun of the men who point and growl that complex sound of complete and utter fascination. “Aw, dude! Seriously! No way!” It is usually followed by laughing, exchange of many thumps and the knowledge that everybody in the room enjoyed the crunch of the tackle in exactly the same way.

I seem to have grown a similar fascination with racecars shown in X-mo. For those of you lucky enough to have an HD set in the living room, you know what I’m talking about. For the rest, just imagine being mesmerized by the spin of a lugnut as it is removed by an air gun, and being able to see each turn, wobble, its extremely slow flight through the air.

You have time to read the back of the tire changer’s gloves, the marks on the tire and wonder what it would feel like if you just reached out and touched. During Sunday’s broadcast, I tried to use some body English so I could see behind the window illustrating some meaningless stat or ad for yet another mindless FOX show that blocked the fascinating tire change in X-Mo.

But is it only the X-Mo responsible for this lapse of consciousness where the rest of the world is concerned? Not at all. It seems I am susceptible to similar bouts of utter and complete absorption any time I pass a racecar, its hauler or even a picture… but not any picture. I’m quite capable of turning a blind eye to the stock image of the No. 48 tilted at a 15-degree angle seemingly suspended in front of the blurred logo of whatever track we’re at this week.

Such photos are dime-a-dozen these days. We are blinded to the mechanics of the machine, the surface over which it runs and the myriad of parts and pieces that make up our sport by such unimaginative focus.

Flipping through my personal collection of race photos — I’ve been enjoying shots from my 2004 visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway this week — it isn’t the usual touristy shots I’m loving, but the ones where the Coors Light No. 40 passed too close to the photographer, and now we have a shot frozen in time of the window net and the hand-molded body panels of days gone by. Every last detail, from the flecks of rubber around the edge of the wheel opening to defunct contingency sponsors, is there for my study and enjoyment.

Such are the details that the X-Mo shots bring alive, with yet another dimension added. Flames and sparks come alive as they escape the confines of the exhaust pipes, marbles are flung across the pavement and a most humble lug nut dances before my eyes.

For a moment or two I get to enjoy the mechanical bits of this sport, without the human whimsies that so often color our perception of the afternoon. There is only the car, no Mr. Five-Time or Wonderboy. I don’t wonder where the firesuit might be. I don’t even much care which number will cross the finish line. I only want this moment to ogle the bounce and heave of a 3,200-pound car in the corner, marvel at the complex motions and savor the collection of machined parts and man that come together in a remarkable manner.

I’ve sometimes laughed at the saying, “You need to slow down to speed up.” But lately, I’ve been thinking FOX might have applied the saying just right. For all the complaints I have regarding other parts of NASCAR coverage, I invite the producers to X-Mo my race any time they want.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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