Sunday, July 30, 2006

TAS: Stock cars and fisticuffs

February 17, 1993

Let's conduct a little thought experiment today, okay? I'll say a phrase and all of you shout out the first thing that comes to mind.

Professional auto racing.

If you shouted, "Boring--except for the crashes," "Fat guys with huge beer guts," or "Pointless!" you are all wrong.

If, however, you shouted, "Fights!" you would either be clairvoyant or a fat guy with a beer gut who happened to see the Daytona 500 last Sunday.

Here's what happened.

The Daytona was nearing its completion when a caution flag came out. Immediately, the cars began to slow. But, Bobby Hillan and Al Unser, Jr. managed to get in each others way and their cars bumped. Unser managed to stop his car on the edge of the grass and away from danger, but Hillan rolled off of the grass and back onto the track.

Kyle Petty tried to avoid Hillan's coasting vehicle by slowing down considerably and driving near the outer wall, but he could not guess correctly what Hillan was trying to do and plowed directly into Hillan's car.

Petty leaned out of his window and gave Hillan an opinion on his driving skills, then began to walk away. Hillan obviously took offense with Petty's words and chased him down. They again exchanged words and again Petty walked away. Then Petty turned around again and let Hillan have a few more angry words.

By this time Hillan had enjoyed just enough of Petty's opinions and decided to give Kyle some of his own. They began pushing and a fight looked imminent until the race officials arrived and broke up the forthcoming punches.

According to Petty, he only asked Bobby why he had not used his brakes to avoid entering the track. Hillan countered by saying that he brakes were not functioning, or he would have used them.

Hillan summed up his feelings by calling it a stupid accident. Petty obviously saw it differently, because he was in contention to win when the accident occurred. Petty did manage to complete the last twelve laps to finish in 31st place.

What a breakthrough! I mean, come on, auto racing is by far the most boring sport televised. Anything that can make it the slightest bit more interesting would be a godsend.

Why don't the auto racing gurus take this precedent and expand upon it? Sure! Can't you see it now? Pretty soon we can combine two equally mindless sports--auto racing and boxing--into a huge pay-per-view event!

Riddick Bowe and his challenger get in their cars and race around the track until they run into each other. Then they exit their vehicles and beat the hell out of each other until someone eats the asphalt.

As the craze catches on they can expand the matches into some sort of all-star event. Sports stars known to have a habit of wrapping cars around lightpoles like Jose Canseco will be invited, and the last one who can drive away in the car he arrived in wins.

The only reason we watch auto racing anyway is to see cars flip end over end, right? The problem is, the cars are built so safely, no one even catches fire anymore. At least following my plan, spectators might get to see a little blood now and then.



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