10 Reasons Why Racing Is The Best Sport

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Charlotte – Now that the final gun has sounded on the 2007 National Football League season, we can finally get down to some serious business ? the 2008 racing season. While it?s no secret this writer is a huge football fan ?this year?s NFL Playoffs and last night?s Super Bowl were among the sport?s best-ever – there?s nothing like a good race. That doesn?t change whether it?s at a local, weekly event, or the 50th-annual Daytona 500 which will open the 2008 NASCAR season in less than two weeks.

There?s just something about racing. Most people who love it can?t really explain the passion. Frankly, I?m not sure I can either, but let?s take a swipe at it anyway. Here?s 10 reasons why millions of people list racing as their favorite sport –

1. Everyone Has A Car –

This is an easy one. Just about everybody has a car ? some have two, three or more ? and everyone loves to drive them. We pamper our cars, choose them because they reflect our personalities, enhance our status, etc.. Owning a car immediately gives us direct contact with our racing heroes, puts us on common ground with them.

Regardless of age or gender, almost anyone can put together a low budget race team and compete at their local track believing all along that they are Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson. That?s quite unlike other sports where owning a football doesn?t make you Tom Brady, or where a possession of a basketball won?t make you LeBron James.

2. We?re Are The Champions –

A drive down the freeway here in Charlotte ? or any place else for that matter ? says we?re a nation of Dale Earnhardt?s. Most people think they can drive as good ? or better – than their racing heroes. Ask any fan if they could take Junior in a grudge match, and you?ll get a big ?hell yeah.? That?s unlike most baseball fans who don?t think they have a chance in hell to connect on a Roger Clemens fastball.

3. Sounds and Smells ?

While the crack of the bat and the smell of a freshly cut baseball diamond or football field are wonderful experiences, they hardly compare to the sounds and smells of racing. Racing is an in your face sensory experience. The sounds are so extreme that they shake your body, forcing you to wear protective ear wear at times to block out the ?music? of the powerful engines. You don?t see anyone at baseball games with protective earphones on.

While smell is one of the more subjective senses, there isn?t anything that smells as good to a race fan as rubber, oil, gear lube, etc. Again, the smells, like the sounds, aren?t subtle. You either love it or hate it.

4. Pagentry ?

The NFL was all full of itself yesterday as it trotted out gala pre-game and halftime shows. Baseball and basketball games lend little pageantry prior to their events (unless it?s something off-site like at the baseball all-star game or the NCAA basketball playoffs).

NASCAR has been giving the fans awesome pre-event shows ? complete with live music, stunts and military flyovers ? for decades. And, by the way, they do that at every race, not just the biggest ones like the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Nobody throws a bigger party than NASCAR.

5. Violence ?

We love violence. It doesn?t matter what kind ? we all enjoy seeing someone get cracked ? especially if they get up. That?s why football is king for many sports fans.

Racing has its violence too. Most fans will tell you they like the wrecks, and racing has plenty of them. Those same fans will tell you while they are thrilled by the ?Big One? at Daytona or Talladega., they don?t want to see anyone get hurt. It?s something I call the Wylie Coyote syndrome. Falling off a cliff is funny as long as Wylie gets back up.

6. Being A Part Of The Action ?

Racing is unlike almost any other sport in that it allows its fans in the ?huddle.? Thanks to radio scanners, fans can access every ?play call? from every team and they can have a driver?s eye perspective because of in-car camera technology.

In the upcoming Daytona 500, you can everything that goes one and have multiple views of what someone like Matt Kenseth sees throughout the race. Think of it as hearing Eli Manning and coach Tom Coughlin discussing strategy or the next play call prior to the winning drive of the Super Bowl last night. Or, how about Manning having a helmet cam to give viewers an inside look throughout the game?. That would have been way cool, but it didn?t happen.

In racing, we get that every week, every lap.

7. Racing is 24/7/365 –

Now that the Super Bowl is over, we won?t hear much about football again until late August when training camps begin again. Other than the player draft in April, football pretty much falls off the sports landscape over the summer. Baseball, basketball, hockey, and most other sports have distinct seasons with major downtime and waning fan interest between seasons.

Not racing.

For most fans, racing has no calendar other than the schedules of each division or local track they follow. In the case of NASCAR, the season opens with testing in January and ends with the awards banquet in December.

Meanwhile, many short tracks in the warmer climates like Florida, Texas and Arizona race year round. In short, racing season never ends, something the other sports can?t boast.

8. Just Plain Folks ?

Racers ? especially NASCAR racers – are for the most part just plain folks.

Fans can identify with someone like Mark Martin. He?s not 7-feet tall, or 350 pounds. He?s just a regular guy. Racing is full of regular guys and almost all fans can identify with that.

9. Contact ?

How many fan autograph sessions did Tom Brady or Michael Strahan do this week prior to the Super Bowl? The answer is probably none. Professional athletes in other sports are readily available to the media, but rarely to the fans.

Meanwhile, Kasey Kahne will probably do at least 2-3 hospitality events just HOURS before the Daytona 500 on February 17. That?s in addition to the multiple fan appearances he and every other driver will make throughout Speedweeks ? and at every one of the other 37 NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season.

Brady and Strahan? You can?t get within a mile of those guys. Ditto for Clemens, LeBron, Kobe and the rest. They are in the bubble ? racers aren?t.

10 – No Player Strikes or Driver Controversies ?

To date, racing has never gone on a major strike. While the NFL will surely have a spike in fan interest after Sunday?s thrilling Giants win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl, there are dark clouds on the horizon with a player?s ?work stoppage? looming in 2009.

Additionally, there have never been any scandals about enhanced performance through HGH or steroids in racing. Meanwhile, the sports pages aren?t filled on a weekly basis about racers beating up their spouses or significant others, getting DWI?s, or busting up ?gentlemen?s clubs? with their buds/posse.

Thanks to the sponsor-fueled economy of racing, drivers and team members are held to a higher-accountability. Racing?s not completely clean, but its participants aren?t headed to Capitol Hill to somehow explain the shortcomings of their sport to Congress either.

There are probably more reasons why racing works ? why so many people love it, can?t wait for it to roll off each season. Obviously, we?re in that group. Football is cool ? and Sunday?s Super Bowl was an all-time thriller – but as far as we?re concerned, the real action will start this week when they fire the engines at Daytona.

We’re not trying to be smug here, or totally bag on other sports. That’s not the point. We just think racing is king when compared to other sports.

That said, welcome to the 2008 racing season.

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