[nascar - my view]

"It's a hick sport."

"Nobody likes guys driving in circles."

"It's not a sport at all."

I get so tired of the same comments over and over. People will fight to the death their love of baseball, the reason the Redskins are going to go all the way, or how pro basketball should be made the offical national pastime. NASCAR is a distraction - not a real sport, not real athletes, boring and hickified.

Where have these people been? NASCAR, the fastest growing sport in America, has over 50 million fans. And trust me, all those fans are not from the below the Mason-Dixon line. They aren't all hicks. They aren't all men. And they all believe these drivers are athletes.

NASCAR, truly "America's Sport" in today's sports world, is embraced by people all around the country, a full 50% of which are women. Women that probably could tell you what a track bar does (used to loosen/tighten the car), what degree banking Daytona is (31 degrees), and who the crew chief for the 17 car is (Robbie Reiser). And trust me, not all of these women grew up in the South, in a garage, learning how to change her own oil.

Not by a long shot.

It's true - much of the sport is men driving in circles. Men driving in circles on over 20 different tracks, at speeds from 90 to 190 miles an hour, an inch away from other cars going just as fast in all directions. Men who, if they have a bad day, could be hurt or god forbid, killed. These men steer unwieldy 3400 pound cars around tracks of all sizes, using brute strength, stamina, concentration and a little luck in a race that can last 3 hours or more. And they do it 37 weeks a year.

Let's see any "real" athlete do that. So many athletes in today's world compete for mere minutes, with little thought to what is being done, with nothing to show but huge paychecks and injuries that sideline them - injuries like stubbed toes.

NASCAR drivers are always hurt. Bruised. Beaten up. And yet they race every weekend - Rusty with a broken foot, Johnny with broken ribs, Mark with a bad back. They pride themselves on *not* missing a race. Some of these men, these ironmen, have driven in hundreds of race over years and years without missing a day. Not one day.

These athletes combine strength, stamina, smarts and saavy to do what they do. And the makes thousands of appearances each year, because they know what built this sport. The fans. The fans who buy their sponsor's products (NASCAR fans have been proven to be among the most brand-loyal people in America), go to the track every weekend, and support these drivers through thick and thin.

Once you pick a driver to root for, you never stop. NASCAR fans are nothing if not loyal.

So the sport may have started in the South. So it may be guys driving in circles. So these guys don't slam dunk basketballs or hit homeruns. But I dare you to get in the face of a NASCAR fan and tell them that it's a hick sport with no fans and no athletes.

Then run like hell.