August 1, 2008
By Guest Columnist Cathy Elliott
It is said that into every life a little rain must fall. Well, isn't that the truth? Toss a low pressure system in with all that moisture, add some nice warm temperatures and rapidly swirling winds, and you have the recipe for a real humdinger of a storm. Some would call it a hurricane.
Jim Cantore and his posse of Weather Channel gurus tell us to always have a storm preparedness kit stocked and ready for use. It should include things like bottled water, canned food, important documents and prescriptions -- essential items, in other words.
Each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is comprised of thousands of moving parts and technical details that have the potential to combine in various ways and create storm conditions around an event. The premise of preparedness so critical when coping with Mother Nature is paramount in racing's scenario, too, and ranges from track personnel making sure there are enough garbage receptacles in the infield camping areas to Goodyear conducting pre-event tire tests at venues hosting the races.
The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard showed us that sometimes things just do not go according to plan, even the best-laid ones. The tires didn't hold up, resulting in a third of the race being run under caution and a series of short sprints rather than the long periods of green-flag racing we are accustomed to seeing. The second-biggest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the year just didn't live up to its own hype.
Disgruntled fans started casting about for someone to blame. Was it Goodyear's fault? (Although they did conduct a tire test, things went awry. They have accepted responsibility.) Was NASCAR to blame? (They did everything they could to play the hand they were dealt and ensure the safety of the competitors. NASCAR has also publicly expressed regret for the situation.) Was it the new car? (They raced it half of last season and all of this one, so it can hardly be considered "new" anymore, can it?)
Maybe global warming is at fault. Perhaps aliens from the planet Hoosier sabotaged the event weekend. Maybe the dog ate someone's homework.
What's with all the fault finding? There are plenty of reliable clichés in the closet to pull out and dust off here, like "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," "Physician, heal thyself," and my personal favorite, "Who died and made you perfect?"
I know this is the point where the eye-rolling will commence and "that idiot woman has no clue what she's talking about" comments will starting whizzing past my head like fastballs at a Yankees/Red Sox game.
Bring it on. Because you know what? You're absolutely right. I have zero insight regarding the process of creating and producing a specifically designed piece of technology for a specific race track. I don't know a tire compound from Adam's house cat. I don't even know how to figure out how many garbage cans you need to accommodate the needs of a quarter of a million fans. Mostly, all I know a little bit about is how to string nouns and verbs together into something coherent enough to read, and sometimes I even manage to screw that up.
Think about this. Have you ever had a bad haircut? Have you ever eaten in a restaurant and gotten a hamburger so tough it was more like trying to chew a Topsider than top round? Have you ever seen a movie that failed to thrill you to the bone? Of course you have.
In an Internet opinion poll conducted by a popular racing Web site, 87 percent of those who responded said the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard was "the worst race they've ever seen."
Whoa. Let's rein it in a bit, shall we? We need to get some perspective here.
The pole sitter (Jimmie Johnson) won the race, but we didn't have to watch him lead the field round and round for the entire 400 miles. I don't know about you, but I find races like that awfully dull. Instead, there were 26 lead changes and a close finish.
There was plenty of drama and a shakeup in the driver standings as several Chase contenders experienced their share of problems.
No one got hurt. It didn't rain.
It was less than amazing, but the worst race ever? Not even close.
Each weekend brings a new NASCAR challenge, and if we can forget about tires for half a second, maybe we can remember there's a very close contest for positions in the Chase happening right now. How unfortunate it would be to miss something spectacular on the track because we were so busy pointing our fingers somewhere else that we just weren’t paying attention.
It is a fact of life that eventually there will be another overcooked burger on our plate and another day when our bangs are cut too short. We will see many more movies. Most of them will not resemble "Citizen Kane" or even "Pulp Fiction." Chances are there even will be another race or two that fails to meet our impossibly high expectations.
But we will not turn our backs on haircuts, because most of them will be flattering. Millions of us will be in movie theaters for the premiere of "Spiderman XXII: Caught in Charlotte's Web." We will not hold a permanent grudge against the restaurant industry. Instead, we will sit around with our good-looking hair, grabbing a juicy hamburger after the movie, waiting for the race to start.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.