Already the hype has begun. And so have the lies. And once again America has bought into it.
Next week, some 40-something souped-up family cars will take to hot-roddin' around in circles at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500, that venerable race that traditionally begins the NASCAR season will draw its millions of viewers and try to draw a few million more with its perfect lie of "the world's greatest racing drivers!"
Excuse me, but world's greatest?
Well, NASCAR does have a driver from Columbia, the versatile Juan-Pablo Montoya, so that gives some credence for an "international" field, but world's greatest?
I wonder how current world champion Lewis Hamilton feels about this. Heck, I wonder how seven-time race winner "The King" Richard Petty feels. Does this mean he has to turn in his cowboy hat crown?
Now the "good ole boys" know how to run fast (on restrictor plates) and go 'round in circles, but that's inside the boxes they race, American (and now Japanese) manufactured cars that indeed look like the ones mom and pop take on the Sunday afternoon drive to church and the local Cracker Barrel. Some of those drivers are actually purty good too, with Indiana's favorite Hoosier, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards among the greatest. But world's greatest?
NASCAR will have you believe the lies. Back in December, Edwards was invited to take part in the annual Race of Champions event in England. Edwards was one of two Americans in the race, the other being little-know stunt and rally driver Tanner Foust. Edwards won his first round event against an obscure teen-aged Spanish driver which even NASCAR kept its tongue in it's cheek at the news. But then when Edwards beat retired-seven time world champion Michael Schumacher, the news was delivered world-wide with lightning speed--never mind the fact Schumacher hadn't raced competitively in a few years. It was glory days in Daytona and throughout NASCAR forums all over, but in his next match, Edwards couldn't beat the recently-retired F1 racer David Coulthard, who finished the race on three wheels.
Three wheels. Apparently Coulthard had such a huge lead on one of the "greatest drivers in the world" that he could hit the wall before crossing the finish line and take the win. Yep, NASCAR's the greatest, but they can't think outside of the box when it comes to bad news like losing to a "furriner" racer.
In the past, many top-name open-wheeled racing stars have crossed over into Dixie and beat the good ole boys at their own game. Johnny Rutherford, Jim Hurtubise, Dan Gurney, Mark Donohue, A.J. Foyt and some Italian-born driver by the name of Mario Andretti, came, saw and kicked NASCAR butt. Current drivers with vast open-wheel experience like Montoya, Stewart (who can't fit in an Indy Car anymore) Jeff Gordon, John Andretti (Mario's nephew), Robby Gordon and Casey Mears (nephew of Rick Mears) have had success.
But please name me one NASCAR driver who crossed over to open-wheel and won. I'll give you all day to answer that one.
Not even the "King" himself was the world's greatest, and he won 200 stock car races--but he never raced in the Indy 500 nor anything without fenders.
Perhaps NASCAR really believes in its own lies, propaganda, fables and deceit.
It's just too bad the American public has to listen to it. Fortunately, not everyone is buying into it.