By Peter Turford – First off- Thanks to everyone who responded to my latest jottings with so many positive comments, it was most gratifying. This time around I am continuing on the same line, the various racing divisions – but more from a fan’s perspective.
I am not a racing fan, I’m a snob- there, I said it – I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth and I have grown to accept it. I first realized it a few years ago – but the point was underscored one day while I was spending too much time on Facebook. I came across a posting that included a picture of what I considered a horrendous looking dirt modified of some description – I thought to myself, that is one of the dumbest looking racecars/tanks I have ever seen. Then I read the comments – everybody noted how “bad-ass” and “cool” the thing looked. I thought to myself – “How can I be so right while the rest of the world is so wrong?” The remainder of what you read is from my perspective and I do try to be open minded, but I am afraid my biases still come through loud and clear…..
You see, I’m a sprint car snob- and pretty much all other forms of racing too me are “not worthy”. To further underline my snobbiness winged dirt sprinters are more fun to watch than non-wing sprinters (all other sprint car snobs disagree with me on that one) both are far superior to pavement sprinters, but in a real piece of convoluted logic I prefer non winged pavement sprinters to winged (don’t ask me how I got like this). The point of all this being, for a lot folk, we are not race fans we are fans of “divisions”, and like I said previously, nothing divides like divisions. I did switch from being a supermodified fan to becoming a sprint car fan when the SOS came along in the 90’s and filled a void in the Ontario oval track world that the supermodifieds had ceased to fill. If you get me in the right mood I will watch TQ’s, Supermodifieds and Indy Cars on an oval, but that is about it. I truly envy many of my friends that when they talk about racing their general attitude is, “It’s all good”. Even my sprint car obsessed son rolls his eyes at my lack of love for dirt late models.
What I don’t know is how in the hell I got this way. I always find it curious that when there was not a lot of racing on TV I was quite happy to watch mud buggies race through the “Sippy hole”, I’d watch NASCAR Garage, hydroplanes, ISMA Kelly Girl series, basically just about anything motorsports related. Now that there is so much racing on TV and yet all that I will watch is the odd World of Outlaws show. But in the early days of Wide World of Sports and later TNN and the American Sports Cavalcade I’d watch anything and everything (figure 8’s from Islip, NY anyone?). When Speedweek came along I was in heaven and couldn’t get enough.
I believe with racing it is all about perceptions – you ask a late model or modified fan why they aren’t into supermodifieds or sprint cars, in most cases, their first comment is because they need to be push started and it is slow monotonous and boring watching cars be pushed off. For me that is all part of the rush, part of the build up that something awesome is about to unfold – I always thought the cover of the October 1977 issue of Stock Car Racing magazine showing an Oswego Supermodified Feature push off said it better than anything I could ever write. Conversely, as a sprint car fan, nothing ticks me off more than watching a fender car with a starter spin out – sit there – wait for the yellow to come out – then the car “magically” gains the ability to restart and tag the end of the field.
But it still begs the question, why do we like what we like? I think in a lot of cases it goes back to what we grew up with. For me it was supermodifieds, so that meant to me a car should have an open cockpit, the widest tires possible, the loudest, most powerful engine possible and while not mandatory, the engine should in all good conscience be in front of the driver. I also think that means, in my case at least, I would rather see cars go lightning fast and give up a little as far as close tight racing. When the late models came on strong in these parts a lot of people felt it was more competitive racing – I would watch and be amazed that anyone found this entertaining, it all seemed so “slow” to me. My other strong belief, that is rooted in my early love for supermodifieds, is that I have never bought into “Rubbin is Racin”. There is no skill or bravery required in running into a fellow racer when there is a ton of tubing and tin protecting the wheels– BUT – Have 2 guys banging wheels when there are no fenders for miles around and my hair stands on end every time!!!
In general, I don’t really know why I like what I like – I love speed – and by that logic I should be a straight line fan – and I certainly enjoy Nitro funny cars and dragsters , but drag racing never grabbed me and refused to let go. I love racing that when I watch it – I go “Jeez, I could never do that” – which to me means I should love motorcycle racing of all forms – again I enjoy it, but I would never jump through hoops to attend a MOTO GP or Supercross/Motocross race. I like technology – but only to a degree – so I have no real love for sports cars or F1. Enough with the self analysis – what I am trying to say is that I TRULY don’t know why I like what I like – but, I know it when I see it – and damn, I am picky.
One thing I do know – No matter what the car, what the division, I fully understand that the guy in the seat is probably pooping his pants because he is still going into the corner waaaay faster than a sane person would ever think of going – whether it is in a 1200 lb sprinter or a 2 ton bomber. For that reason I never look down my nose at competitors in any division when they are going about the business of racing – unless they do something dumb – like yanking their helmet off and hanging it on the roll cage hook specially installed for this purpose, before they drive back to the pits, so they can look like “Cup” guys – that is dumb (I’ve got lots more of these).
So enough with the self absorbed, self analysis, next go around we’ll try and get into something a little more fun and positive. I will say I enjoyed Indy and it is nice that all the local tracks are now up and running – but I am sure saddened by the announced retirements of Dr Dick Bergren and Bob Jenkins, two guys that have given their all for the sport – no matter what division….
The opinions reflected herein are solely those of the above commentator and are not necessarily those of OntarioOval.com. Please direct comments or concerns to Peter Turford at email@example.com.