Race Weekend Central

Happiness Is: No. 8 – Birdwatching

Weʻre back with another installment of bringing joy to the NASCAR world.  Or maybe itʻs regarding the joy that NASCAR brings.  Or perhaps NASCAR fans are just joyful people.  It doesnʻt really matter as long as thereʻs a recognition that joy is supposed to be strewn throughout this column.  

We tried to get a sponsor, so that Happiness Is would be brought to you by Trojan or Johnson & Johnson KY brand, but NASCAR is in the process of making sure that all possible companies are tied to the mother ship.

Why those two?

Well, people studying happiness found that lovemaking/intimacy is the most joyful thing, statistically, that we do.  Yes, people study happiness – in fact, itʻs become an industry and thereʻs been a surprising amount of scholarship done on the topic in the last few years.  One of the notable books is: The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being by William Davies.  One of the bookʻs basic tenets is that we are being sold the concept of being happy, that we must be happy in essence, all the time, and when weʻre not something is wrong – which is where the pharmaceutical companies pick up the slack.  Everythingʻs a racket.

But be happy, NASCAR can account for two of the top 11 items on the 33 things that make us happy list: No. 4, sports; and No. 11 drinking alcohol.  Of course, for those fans that are struggling with the current iteration of the sport, youʻre in good shape too, as sleeping/relaxing falls in at No. 29.  

So let the happiness happen.

Happiness Is…Over.  This may come across as showing some dissension from the common narrative of celebrating the USA, but Happiness Is canʻt be the only entity that struggles to embrace the Olympics.  Thatʻs not a criticism of the Olympics or what they can do.  The show of athleticism, the grace of the athletes, the talent they all have is marvelous.  That the Olympics also bring a theatre of politics is, actually, a good thing.  A united Korean sporting body could go a long way toward some sort of reunification or at least thaw the hostilities that exist between the two countries.  Thatʻs awesome.  Something like gay athletes being embraced is also great – they deserve to included in the sporting world and recognized for their accomplishments.  

But on the whole, how are many of us supposed to connect to Olympic activities, and even more so for sports that have relatively little carryover to the nation where winter isnʻt six months long.  That doesnʻt mean that thereʻs not some fun with the Olympics, but the hype surrounding them is egregious and even more considering many of the stories may be forgotten by the time this post is published.

Then thereʻs NASCAR, that feeble sport, thrashing around like a dying fish in need of water.  That makes it interesting that NASCAR held the spot of most popular non-Olympic sporting event from this past weekend.  Thatʻs right, Kevin Harvickʻs blistering of the field this past weekend still held the No. 1 non-Olympic spot.  The sport may have all kinds of issues but it still is clinging to a covetable position.

Happiness Is…Guns.  With the country embroiled in its latest round of gun control debate, itʻs good to know that NASCAR can join the fray.  Thatʻs not in discussing anything regarding better gun control measures but instead with regard to air guns.  We could all see this coming as soon as NASCAR made air guns something to be mandated by the governing body – now theyʻre an issue.

They were more of a silent issue before, one that showcased class distinctions in the sport, illustrating how the rich teams are willing to spend money on every aspect of racing to gain even the slightest advantage.  The blowback has been NASCAR mandating the guns for the year.  

The NASCAR guns are slower and have already proved to be problematic, as seen at Atlanta.  Now word comes out that teams have to pay close to $1,200 a race to lease the guns.  So not only are the guns not as good as many teams had been using, but NASCAR is also enjoying a new revenue stream as a way of coercing conformity.  

How smart.  How sly.  

Happiness Is…Frigid.  The pinky-out crowd has things going outside of Barcelona, Spain, as they begin their season-opening testing.  These days at the track are crucial, as they are live testing, something that has been slimmed in the sport over the past few years as a cost-effective measure.  Thus far, the weather has failed to be cooperative, will cold temperatures and wet conditions.

Things turned for the worse on Wednesday, as the conditions became less helpful, with snow littering the area.  Many teams had already decried the week a wash, as the weather made gaining any kind of useful data almost impossible.  McLaren, however, sent Fernando Alonso out in the questionable conditions, probably just because they want to see if they have an engine that lasts longer than three laps.  

And then thereʻs Mercedes:

Well, if the trip isnʻt going to be all that productive, may as well have some fun with it.  

The time sheets from this week are pointless, which will make the testing scheduled for next week all the more important.  Or perhaps just give more time for making snowpeople.  

About the author

Ava Lader headshot photo

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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