DUFFER.......... My recent experience at a ‘redneck’ sports event
I recently attended my first-ever NASCAR event, thanks to some free tickets I managed to snare.
Motor sports are not my cup of tea, and I must confess the only reason I went was because the price was right. I have always considered NASCAR and other forms of motor sports to be “redneck” sports. I’ve never been able to sit through any more than a minute or two of these events on television because, frankly, I find cars going round and round a track to be painfully dull.
Motor sports have a strong following for reasons I’m unable to fathom. Maybe it’s the anticipation of a violent collision involving two or more cars in which one of the vehicles becomes ablaze and the shaken up driver escapes from the cockpit window in the nick of time before the car explodes.
I appreciate purity in sport. The skill and finesse of baseball, hockey and golf are what makes those three my personal favourites. When a hockey game goes off the track with a fight or two, I lose interest fairly quickly. The same goes with a bench-clearing brawl in baseball when a pitcher beans a batter.
I’m just not a bloodthirsty guy, and I don’t want to see a racecar driver risk life or limb for the sake of providing the “thrill” of a spectacular crash. If there are no crashes in motor sports, what’s left? You’ve got cars going round and round a track. Maybe someone will explain to me one day why that’s supposed to be exciting.
So why do I consider motor sports as redneck sports? Any fan of the genre I’ve ever met has struck me as being somewhat redneck-ish. Of course I’ve met only a handful, but what they seem to have in common is tattooed-up forearms, a love of country music, a seeming disregard for the Queen’s English and the ability to use rope as dental floss.
Maybe I’m stereotyping a little bit here based on my own preconceptions of what constitutes a redneck.
So, I wondered, what should I wear to this NASCAR event? Should I be attired in clothing I would normally wear to watch a baseball game or golf tournament? Or should I throw on a “wife beater” and a pair of cowboy boots and position a ball cap backwards on my head?
I opted for a middle-of-the-road approach: jeans, running shoes, golf shirt and hat with the brim facing forward. My real concern was the possibility of bumping into a rabid NASCAR fan whom might have asked me whose chance of winning I thought was most likely, to which I would have been left standing there looking like a slack-jawed yokel. Come to think of it, my look would have fit right in, I figured.
OK, OK. I’m getting carried away with all the redneck references, I admit, or at least my own personal interpretation of a redneck.
So now I’ve arrived at the track, wondering if my preconception of a NASCAR fan matches the reality of one. My first thought was, “Wow! There must be several thousand cars parked here.” Yes, cars and not broken-down pickup trucks, and with hubcaps to boot!
Walking through the grounds amongst the countless thousands of race fans, I also took note that few were tattooed, almost all had full sets of teeth, country music wasn’t blaring over the sound system, and… well… everyone looked fairly… normal.
The most blatant observation I made involved many of the fans’ attire, but it wasn’t cowboy boots or hats worn backward or even those sleeveless shirts that have somehow been christened as wife beaters. They were jackets or tee shirts emblazoned with the logos of automobile manufacturers, fuel companies, motor oil products, tire brands and other auto-related businesses or products. At least a dozen or so of these logos seemingly covered every square inch of fabric.
There were vendors situated in the infield selling these shirts and jackets. For about 80 bucks a jacket, one could be a walking billboard to promote these various brands. I don’t get it. The jackets should be given away free while the companies whose logos are sewn all over the place should be paying you to wear them and promote their products. Instead, these companies are laughing all the way to the bank, knowing a bunch of saps are going to be flogging their brands for free.
I suppose the owners of these jackets likely think it’s “cool” to wear them at motor sports events, but let’s face it. They’re about as garish as it gets, and you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb if you wear these things outside of a motor sports venue.
Personally, I found the action on the infield was more exciting than that taking place on the track. I was summoned over to a promotional booth where I was coerced into an archery competition, but, instead of firing an arrow at a target, I loaded the bow with what looked like a small toilet bowl plunger. I hit the edge of the bull’s eye three consecutive times and won a $10 Canadian Tire card for my efforts.
In spite of the freebies, and learning that NASCAR fans aren’t really rednecks, I have no desire to attend another event anytime soon.
Rod Perry, aka Duffer, is a Niagara-based freelance writer.
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