It's hard to believe now, but NASCARr used to be cool, I swear. The origins of the sport can be traced back to Prohibition when a bunch of bootleggers used to soup up their cars so they could outrun the cops. Eventually, these drivers would meet up to race each other. These races evolved into stock car racing. The first NASCAR sanctioned race was in 1948 at Daytona Beach. The first drivers of this burgeoning sport were outlaws, rebels, badasses. Unfortunately, the sport now consists of a bunch of goons whoring themselves out for their sponsors, which range from Viagra to Red Bull. The only reason any sane person would ever take a break from their poker games and catch a glimpse of a race is in the hope of seeing a spectacular crash of biblical proportions, with flaming chunks of steel and rubber littering the asphalt.
To NASCAR fans the Bristol Motor Speedway is synonymous with mayhem and destruction, and rightfully so. In 1990, during Budweiser's 250 Busch Grand National, an access gate near turn 2 wasn't properly secured. This mistake nearly killed Michael Waltrip when he rammed his car into said gate at over 100 mph. His car disintegrated upon impact. The resulting wreckage resembled a cockroach that had been recently stopped on. Rescue workers quickly rushed to the scene expecting the worse. Surprisingly, they found a stunned but relatively unscathed Waltrip. A nearly identical crash happened to Mike Harmon twelve years later in 2002 when the gate was once again left unsecured. Harmon, like Waltrip, survived miraculously. You think NASCAR would have learned their lesson...
Michael Waltrip's brother, Darrel, was also involved in another brutal wreck in 1980 and nearly killed a king in the process. The race was at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Richard “The King” Petty collided with the concrete wall right after the second turn. The collision sent the right front tire flying down the track and nearly flipped his car. Petty's car was spiraling backwards but Petty was still relatively ok until Darrel Waltrip spun into Petty, hitting the driver side door. The force of that collision broke Petty's neck and nearly ruined his career.
Four years later at the 1984 Busch Clash in Daytona Ricky Rudd suffered a devastating crash that totaled his #14 Wrangler Jeans Ford. The incident happen on turn four when another driver touched the rear end of Rudd's car. This sent Rudd's car hurling to the center of the track. Somehow compressed air got trapped under the Ford and sent it airborne, spiraling out of control. Rudd's car resembled a bucking bronco as it flipped nearly a dozen times and sent debris flying in every direction. Not only did Rudd survive the crash but he went to race at the Daytona 500 the following week even though he had a concussion and two swollen eyes he had to tape shut.
Millions of fans watch and enjoy NASCAR for the thrill of the sport and the skill of the drivers. I am not one of those fans. I enjoy the carnage and mayhem that could potentially occur at any turn.