To Appreciate America, Go to the Races

I recently attended a NASCAR East event in Connecticut. NASCAR East is one the ‘feeder’ leagues for NASCAR’s top-echelon Nationwide and Sprint Cup racing series where up-and-coming young drivers show their stuff.


The venue at Lime Rock Park in the northwestern part of the state is easily one of the most beautiful in America. Lime Rock, named for the nearby lime deposits, is surrounded by rugged, low mountains while the road-race course itself snakes up and down the hilly terrain. On a bright, sunstruck summer day with a sky of cumulus clouds, it is just incomparable. Then when the 620 horsepower racers fire up, you see a wonderful spectacle. Because auto racing is not a sport – it is a spectacle.


When you attend an event like this, you can forget for a few hours all about the terrible world that is being created by perpetually-indignant urban socialists, where a president is drowning the nation in debt, politicians are disparaging our values, and environmentalists are attacking our progress. NASCAR – and auto racing in general – is a true-blue American endeavor that reflects the best our nation has to offer.


Just look at how much liberals go out of their way to disparage car racing, whether it be NASCAR or NHRA drag racing or IndyCar open-wheelers or Saturday night at the local dirt track. The elites of the Democrat party have a special animus for one of the oldest spectacles in our lexicon. After all auto racing traces back to chariot racing in the 8th century BC in Greece.


Liberals talk disdainfully talk about “going around in circles” as if it is just for dumb people. That is typical. They attack NASCAR fans as uneducated rednecks when in fact race fans span every social and educational stratum from the very rich to the large middle class to lower-income working class folk. Yes, and some rednecks too. Women are highly represented in the ranks of race fans, and even some drivers. Racing is fun family fare with lots of kids watching with their parents.


If you walk through the garage area of a NASCAR event where the cars are prepared, you find hard-working crews doing their best to master “the beast”, to make their 3,400 lb. race car do what they want. The workers are generally well-disciplined and courteous. The drivers are well-spoken and only too anxious to accommodate their audiences. After all, they need their fans.


So racing allows special access that other sports do not. Just imagine deigning to go backstage to talk to lefty Bruce Springsteen. He’d have you hauled away. Because liberals think they are better than the rest of us. Not so in auto racing. Even the elite team owners go out and meet the people and mingle. It is in their optimistic human nature, the one that makes America exceptional. You can meet top drivers like Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon at a NASCAR event.


The crews have matching outfits, the cars are highly polished to show off the sponsor decals, and the transporter rigs are modern diesel power, shined to the max. Everything is in order.


To work in racing, you have to be smart and understand American technology. No Harvard flunkies need apply; this is the real world where real things must work. The cars have become masterworks of engineering. You need to have a lot of focus. Sure there are some guys in the street-stock division that race old junkers, but most of racing in America is high-tech and getting moreso every year.


NASCAR requires thorough knowledge of aerodynamics, computers, engine technology and all the latest developments in a handful of other high-tech fields. IndyCars are the most advanced racers on the planet. Drag racers have logged the highest speeds in all of racing – more than 330 miles per hour in under 5 seconds. That’s no accident, if you’ll pardon the pun.


Tune in to ESPN and watch one of the discussion shows about baseball, football or basketball. The commentators often end up shouting over each other and cutting each other off. Then watch a chat show about NASCAR. The tones are always moderated and gentlemanly. Check it out. You will find that it is surprisingly true.


It is because racing involves a certain type of person, a more conservative persona. Because auto racing is a more suburban and rural endeavor that developed after the more urban sports like football and baseball with all those rude urban people shouting over one another.


Racing is usually a weekend-long event in the warm weather. Since there often is a day of practice and qualifying, and then the day of the race, there are two days to enjoy the fun. Hundreds of thousands of Americans enjoy racing by camping out in their RVs at the big race tracks and partying hard the whole weekend. It is just fun, a weekend away that may not even be that far away, but certainly another world. And while you often hear about the rowdy people, most NASCAR fans are hard-working, modest middle class folks who just love to cut loose with barbecues and heartfelt respect for their high-horsepower heroes.


You rarely hear about scandals in auto racing – betting scandals, sex scandals, illegal drugs, steroids, illegitimate children and all the rest. That is because drivers and teams often are disciplined business people themselves, or are corporate sponsored and cannot afford to be tarnished by scandal. And there is an element of danger involved that requires that drivers and crews focus on getting their charge home safely and hopefully in the winner’s circle. They cannot afford to be diverted like people with less at stake.


Most importantly, however, it is because of the conservative nature of the people and their sport. They are just better behaved. And they often show their patriotism openly.


These races really are the heartbeat of America, to borrow an old ad phrase from Chevy. People at NASCAR events are the soul of our nation – well-behaved, friendly, knowledgeable, hard-working, family-oriented, and oh yeah, they like to let loose when the lettin’s good. Because, hey, we all like to have fun.


Race tracks generally are in rural areas because that’s where the land is. So racing long has been associated with us country bumpkins that the liberals love to hate. No, we do not like to look at ugly art that disparages our values, or read degenerate novels written by psychotic academics or even think about welfare programs that turn people into mush. We like life straight up – no bull whatsoever. Work hard, play hard. And we can tell when we’re being fed a line. And that is what liberals hate about us – we know right away when somebody is pulling our collective leg.


Being conservative in nature, auto racing, particularly NASCAR, has had a long association with Southern Christianity. And thus prayerful invocations and traveling ministries always accompany the big Sprint Cup series, quite a difference from the urban sports that, like urban Americans, seem bereft of faith.


Check out auto racing to see the Heartbeat of America. You will probably end up out in the country under a big blue sky or under the stars. It’s wonderful and the racing is something unique, with a fantastic noise and excitement, and the smell of burned fuel in the air. Your kids will love it too. Even the girls.


Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.