Carolina Cannonball and thousands (if not millions) of other people believe that it is not. If one were simply looking at the driver and their car as the only pieces of the puzzle then NASCAR might not qualify as a sport. However, car and driver don’t make a NASCAR team. And “team” is the key word here. NASCAR is a team sport.
NASCAR is a TEAM sport!
A NASCAR team is made of many individuals, of which the driver, while a key and important component, is still only one member. A NASCAR team contains a Crew Chief, the Pit Crew and finally the Driver:
the person ultimately responsible for the team’s performance on the track…equivalent to the Coach.
The Pit Crew includes a number of positions including
--Front and Rear Tire Changers—sure you can change a tire, but have you ever tried to change two tires in under 15 seconds?
--Tire Carriers—carry replacement tires to the car, and take the old tires back.
--The Jack Man—jacks the car up, easy you say? Ever try to jack up both sides of your car in under 15 seconds?
--The Gas Man—has to lift gas cans weighing up to 90lbs when full
--The Catch Man—holds a second 90lb can of gas, and holds a catcher to gather any spilled gas from the refueling…spilled gas=fire hazard!
This is just the core of the race day team…there are also Spotters around the track to watch out for debris, wrecks, and lets the Crew Chief and driver know what they can’t see. Then there are the mechanics…car’s gotta run.
For a more thorough description of a NASCAR team go here.
Regardless of what some of the drivers look like (darn Tony Stewart) they are fit athletes that must be in awesome condition to complete a race. Here are some interesting facts:
--On turns, NASCAR drivers can experience 3Gs of force against their bodies—comparable to forces pressing down on shuttle astronauts at liftoff. The drivers will experience this approximately 1600 times during a 400 lap race.
--Temperatures in cars often exceed 100 degrees, reaching as much as 170 degrees near the floorboards, and this is experienced for 3+ hours.
--Drivers lose 5-10lbs of sweat during a race.
--When drivers lose this much moisture its difficult to rehydrate quickly enough and they will begin to experience loss of focus and reflexes.
--During a race a driver maintains the same heartrate, 120-150 beats per minute for 3+ hours, the same as a marathon runner and for the same length of time.
--A study in anticipatory timing (no cf) found that racecar drivers possess the same ability to anticipate as a quarterback or hockey goalie.
Sure, a NASCAR driver is extremely dependent on the machinery of their car, but how can anyone look at those facts and claim that a NASCAR driver is not an athlete?
So, if you put all this together…the team aspect, the athleticism needed by the Pit Crew, the athleticism of the driver…is NASCAR a sport? I say yes! But, that’s not all there is to NASCAR.
NASCAR is about Strategy!
Don’t forget that a NASCAR race is all about strategy…when to get gas, how much gas, when to change tires, how many tires, does the chassis need adjustment, mechanical problems, working with other drivers and teams, avoiding wrecks. And, heck just plain driving….how would you like to drive a manual transmission car in 3+ hours of rush hour traffic? The stress of that alone would kill most people, not to mention the other issues above.
NASCAR is a sport!
So yes! I believe NASCAR is a sport, and yes, some may call it a sport for rednecks…and it’s true that stock-car racing began as a way for bootleggers to compete against each other during prohibition in the south. And while NASCAR is still firmly entrenched in the south, many of its top racers (Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and others) are from other parts of the country. Not to mention that most of the races today take place outside the south in Indiana, California, Nevada, and even in New England (Dover, NH)!
NASCAR is about family values!
How many professional sports do you know that staff chaplains at each of the tracks and have pre-race worship services? Sure, a lot of athletes in a number of sports will come together to pray before a competition, but NASCAR comes together as a family…everyone from wives and kids, to the entire crew and owners…to worship prior to each race. Faith is so important an aspect in NASCAR that even Hollywood sought to make fun of it…
Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let's Go Racin' Boys!
Labels: NASCAR, Nextel Cup, Sport, stock car racing, Talladega Nights