Sam Burnham, Curator
I want to do a little follow up from the last post, not as a sequel or a continuation of the same story but to expand a few of the responses I received from readers. It was reassuring to see how many others out there were thinking the same way. It was another one of those moments when you realize that it isn't just emotional nostalgia. It's the conviction in your gut telling you this is the way things are supposed to be.
In his 1910 book What's Wrong With the World, the great thinker and philosopher G.K. Chesterson said "Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back." It is easy to shift to newer, fancier, shinier, more sterile environments. It's easy to make everything more comfortable. What is hard is grit. What is hard is authenticity - not the buzzword, but the real thing.
An old friend of mine, Eddie Staggs, who many know better as “Animal” commented on Twitter, ”I compare today's NASCAR to bro- country music. There is real racing and county music out there, just not what the mainstream is trying to sell you.”
His comment touches on the fact that this isn’t just a problem in racing. It’s ubiquitous. It’s in our music, our businesses, our food, everything. The commercial entities are trying to sell us the flashy and fancy - the easy. The real thing is not currently the most profitable option but that doesn't mean it is the wrong option.
Reddit user ElectricPeterTork commented “Funny part is, today, a North Wilkesboro date would likely draw double the crowd of a race at Loudon or Texas. If nothing else, it would be infinitely more entertaining than Snooze Hampshire or the cookie cutter. But we'll never know.”
Is he right? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But it hints at a hunger for the real, the tried, and true. It may not be the wish of the masses but there’s a remnant who want to experience the real thing.
One of our readers, Milion Forbes, commented on Facebook, “this goes along with the fans NASCAR left behind when they said they weren't concerned about the fans from the South that got them where they were. They said they had big new venues to go to, new fans to sell tickets and souvenirs to, and lucrative television deals. They said they didn't need us anymore. That's fine, I don't want or need them now. I am now a passionate sprint car racing fan.”
Again, is this an opinion of the majority? Maybe, maybe not. But it is the perception of a lot of fans, particularly in the South, who feel betrayed by a sport they helped build. Some of them are quenching their need for speed elsewhere.
So while our modern tendency is to reach for the ability to watch our sports from behind the protective glass inside the controlled climate of a luxury box, reality is needing a shower to clean off the debris that comes from sitting in the elements up close to the grit of competition. While our tendency may be to tap our toes to the catchy tunes of tales of pickup trucks, dirt roads, and girls in Daisy Dukes, reality is sitting in Folsom Prison listening to that lonesome whistle.
The choice is ours. The market will follow the forces our choices create. Choose the future you want. Choose wisely.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire