Violence — The Missing Part in NASCAR?

By Ron Fleshman On Fri, Feb. 07, 2014

Photo Credit: David Yeazell
Photo Credit: David Yeazell

When the powers that be began to announce what we already know—that NASCAR was going to change the Chase to have excitement equal a “seventh game moment,” but that won’t happen unless there is violence. Americans love violence. They left baseball because there wasn’t enough violence and sided with the NFL. It’s complicated, but the truth rings true.

I’m an old man, but I have a twenty something son. He loves the NFL and cheers when a defensive player nearly decapitates the quarterback if it’s on his team. He loves the WWE. He loves to see the big guy throw the other “rassler” out of the ring. He ignores baseball because the only time anything exciting happens is when the catcher blocks the plate and has a collision or a fight erupts. He loves the dunk, but hates games where teams play and no one gets hit in the mouth or no one talks trash. Richard Sherman’s tirade with Erin Anderson was talked about for a long time while the game was not. That’s why most of the things NASCAR changed will not be enough to bring the multitudes back to the sport.

It’s been a long litany of changes. After the lull of the mid 2000’s, NASCAR thought a change in who won the championship would bring back the excitement. Those of us lifers thought it was silly to have a ten-race playoff. Immediately, one driver dominated the proceedings. Bristol changed its usual excitement by changing the track which was the hottest ticket in sports. No longer is that the case. Tracks that had good racing were replaced with tracks that historically did not have good races. Dominant teams continued to dominate. Where once there were many winners, two teams won nearly half of the races. One manufacturer dominated and the others floundered.

And yet, we fiddle with a championship that really is not the problem with the lack of attendance and enthusiasm. We want violence. We want to see only one lane at Bristol where a faster car has to bump the guy holding up out of the way, We want the “big one” at Daytona and Talladega. We want to see the underdog win. We want to see the participants get hacked like Richard Sherman. We want more YouTube video of the confrontation between Tony Stewart and Joey Logano posted than another ho-hum runaway by any number of drivers. We want more Martinsvilles and fewer races at Kansas, California, Chicago, and New Hampshire. We want more violence.

Many of us are racing purists that want to see a good race, but the masses want that violence. So many still remember the late Dale Earnhardt, who raced like it was his last and made sure that they knew he was coming to the front, even to the point that he was willing to move the one in front of him to get him out of the way. That’s the violence I’m talking about. The NASCAR that kept growing didn’t need a new points system, a Lucky Dog, or a double file restart. They only needed competition and just a little bit of violence. NASCAR is trying to bring back that excitement, but it’s missing the point. Instead of making constant changes, competition needs to be addressed. Maybe, we should quit making the championship the end-all, and maybe putting less emphasis on these drivers being gentlemen. The sponsors want their drivers to be a corporate spokesman, but at what cost?

Tracks are removing seats and fans continue to stay away from the tracks and the television screens. Maybe the competition should be evaluated and the emphasis on the championship should be addressed. I’ll give credit for those that be for trying, but only when NASCAR addresses that thirst for violence, will it be worthwhile. The requirement to do that is to re-think the series, and it appears that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Ron Fleshman (163 Posts)

Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as He can now be found at Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.

The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)
Displaying 6 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. jimmie roan says:

    take away the restrictor plates for the big tracks, quit trying to make all the cars the same, either give them super soft tires that wear out right away or really hard tires that make it a drivers race, the racing today is dependent on the engineers and technology instead of good drivers and big balls. as someone else just posted, go watch formula one for that, most of us want real racing like it used to be. you want rule changes, make it a rule that if you hit a driver before both feet are on the ground then you sit out a couple races, lots of short tracks had similar rules.

  2. KYBOY says:

    Youre dead on. Thats what keeps Saturday Night Short Tracks going! Bump and run, get the he## outta my way. That Left NASCAR with Big E. Too much corporate PC crap. No charisma in Cup Series any more. Boring drivers with sponsorship money rule, while true characters who can drive just as good cant get that breakthrough chance because of $

  3. Nate says:

    Finesse and strategy? Go watch F1.

  4. Dennis says:

    NASCAR needs to seriously address aero issues that prevent faster cars from passing. They need to get away from downforce and rely more on mechanical grip. Bias ply tires let the cars do 4 wheel drifts in the corners and was entertaining to watch. Before front spoilers dragged the ground, you could see the cars bounce which helped you see how hard the guys were driving.

    NASCAR bragging about the level of competition by pointing to the number of cars on the lead lap at the end of the race is actually a reflection on how hard it is to pass. I have no confidence in Brian France. You need former racers to run NASCAR. They know what’s needed to bring back the racing.

    Instead, we have people believing they are in the entertainment business and make changes accordingly. Good racing is entertaining. When NASCAR fixes their racing, then the rest will take care of itself.

  5. dc says:

    Uh…people didn’t leave baseball because of lack of violence (honestly, baseball has it’s share of violence. Look at the bench-clearing brawls and pitchers mounds getting charged by angry batters). Baseballs ratings have plummeted due largely to the whole steroids deal, not to mention it’s still reeling from a strike that happened almost 20 years ago and the constant fear of another potential strike in the future (they’ve come close in recent years).

  6. Woody says:

    Go watch football if you want violence. I want finesse and strategy.

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