By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I never cared for auto racing. Mostly I just didn’t understand it. Go real fast, make left turns, don’t crash even though that’s what most people watching only care to see, pour milk or a carbonated soft drink all over your head when you win, don’t endorse a Democrat—I was part of that ignorant mass of nonbelievers.
By golly was I wrong.
Monday night’s Daytona 500 that was supposed to be Sunday afternoon and then was supposed to be Sunday night and then was supposed to be Monday afternoon and then started Monday night and then finished Tuesday morning converted me. Never have I seen a sporting event so magnificently bass ackwards, so splendid in its fustercluckery.
Oddly enough, had the racing gods (and I don’t mean the auto industry executives) not postponed the race until Monday night… and then more so, I would never have seen the pageantry of tomfoolery. Sunday was golf, basketball, and Oscars for me.
Monday morning and afternoon involved teaching, and apparently the powers that be at my school frown upon showing auto racing in English class (and my students probably would have paper-cut me to death had I forced them to watch it anyway—they have yet to see the light). Early evening brought my giving back to the community in the form of pizza delivery (and there was no surge in business because of the race as there often is with other major sporting events—the Southwest Side, too, walks in darkness).
But as the evening rush at the restaurant tapered off, there came a simple twisted Slim Jim of fate, and I found myself staring at one of the TVs rapt in an implausible spectacle I had not seen since Freejack. The multiple delays due to weather were one thing, but once the race finally got going it was a whole other sack of schadenfreude.
A jet dryer, there to dry the track so as to not have hazardous conditions, was struck by Juan Pablo Montoya’s car. During a caution flag. This caused fuel to pour on the track, which created a hazardous condition.
I will forever use this in my classroom when introducing the concept of irony to my students. Thank you, NASCAR.
Then came the cleanup attempts. The glorious, Keystone Cops cleanup attempts. Any sport whose biggest night unexpectedly hinges on the power of laundry detergent is my kind of racket. You could almost hear Billy Mays trying to scream fuel off of the track, as well as the puke and blood elsewhere at Daytona Speedway.
During the delay, fellow writer for 670TheScore.com, Nick Shepkowski, tweeted “This is like a 90 minute #Blackhawks power play.” At least in Daytona, people with mullets were probably scoring.
And speaking of Twitter, a social media sports superstar was born when something named Keselowski live-tweeted the delay from the track. The online world was abuzz and in admiration of a guy doing what everyone commuting on a major city’s road system does on their way home from work! He’s just like us!
The clincher for me, though, was FOX getting a shot of racing darling/respectable webhost spokesdoll Danica Patrick asking where she could find a place to make her own jet fuel explosion during the delay. Poetry, pure poetry.
The incessant advertising being drilled into viewers’ heads like a pit crew changing tires over and over and over was fantastic, as well. Everything in NASCAR is sponsored, from the cars to the pit stops to the plague of locusts that almost came. Even the ads were sponsored—side by side commercials! Coupled with the event falling apart before our eyes, the TV crew doing its darnedest to tell us how “electrifying” it all was and that everything would be country-fried A-okay, fire, and a pretty lady asking directions to use the toilet, never was there a greater American microcosm. I instinctively ate beer-battered-butter just because of it.
And this is your Super Bowl!? Jeez, I’m used to just washed up music acts and hours of program awfulness. You racing people take it to another level.
I’m hooked on your theatre of the absurd, racing fans. I can’t wait for March 4 in Phoenix when I presume the race will involve a chocolate waterfall, flying turtle shells, and Billy Zane for some (likely awesome) reason. The wackiness and unpredictability of your sport has dug its grimy nails into me and won’t let go.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.