Friday, March 24, 2006


If you can't understand how anyone could be a NASCAR fan, because the sport is so cerebral, then this is the week to put your apostasy to the test. The race is in Bristol Tennessee, and the track has two distinguishing features: high banking (basic physics: you don't have to slam on the brakes in the turns, so speed is maintained) and it's the shortest track on the circuit, only about ½ mile around.

The fact that it is the shortest track means that all the cars will stay bunched (in single file they will extend halfway around the track, so it's not really possible for them to spread out, even if they wanted to.) There will be no huge leads, period. No time to relax for any driver, regardless of position.

Although NACSAR’s smallest track, it has one of the largest seating capacities, something like 180,000. The joint looks like, smells like, and feels like the Roman Coliseum on homecoming. The seats are sold out well beyond even the most conservative expectation for the rapture. Why, a seat in my Sunday School class is far easier to come by.

The cars are reinforced in the front-end, because bumping is inevitable. In fact, the accepted way to pass at this race involves bumping. If a slower car won't yield, you bump him from behind, get him aerodynamically "loose", and whoosh! He goes sliding up the track while you fly by. On the way he might hit the wall, or another car, or beaucoup other cars, but hey, that's Bristol! Collisions there often involve cool multi-car pileups (because the cars are bunched). The proximity effect also causes drver tempers to flare. Way, way cool!

So watch. And then, if you still don’t like NASCAR, you are unsalvageable. (Although you still may want to give the race at Talladega a try.) If God hadn't intended NASCAR to be fun, he wouldn't have given us levigation.

Last year's winner: the 29 car driven by Kevin Harvick.

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