There are a variety of phrases that I have discovered rarely elicit a positive response: I’m a student. I enjoy poetry. I ran over your infant daughter. But these pale in comparison to the statement “I am a Nascar fan”. Reactions range from bafflement to incredulity to genuine offense. One person sighed so loudly I feared that they were going to orally expel their own lungs; another rolled their eyes so hard that the momentum left them spinning for three days. But I am here today to stand tall and proud and tell you why it’s not quite as shit as you probably think.
In the first and possibly only attempt to intellectualize the “sport” of Nascar, I’ll use a literary metaphor; let’s compare the drivers to the tale of Macbeth. First, there’s Dale Earnheardt: the master of the racing dominion, tragically killed before his time and leaving the throne for the taking: clearly Duncan. Dale Earnheardt Junior is Malcolm, the ineffectual but lovable Prince who never quite does as well as everyone hopes. Macduff is Jimmie Johnson, a self-satisfied, do-gooder twerp who everyone knows should win, but who has the personality of a damp fart. Banquo is the hilariously titled but dimly lovely Greg Biffle, while Fleance is Trevor Bayne. Despite having the name of a rejected Batman villain, he may well be the nicest man on earth; he trundles along, saying things like “Gosh darn it”, occasionally wins races, and then presumably goes off to heal the blind. Macbeth, the once-honourable but horribly misled hero, is the crashing nonentity Kurt Busch. His wife, the immensley disturbed, psychotic, manipulative and widely loathed Queen, is Kyle Busch. I think this is particularly applicable as Kyle looks like someone interrupted him halfway through a sex change and he never got round to finishing it, with his intersex drone and slightly curvaceous body.
The appeal of Nascar isn’t in the forty or so cars driving around a track for 500 miles; it’s the spectacle. This season of Nascar (beginning today with the Daytona 500, if anyone cares a jot) kicked off with live music, legions of screaming fans, frantic pre-race interviews, and more fireworks than one could comfortably shake a stick at. Every season has it’s own cast of heroes and villains that seemingly every fan buys into wholeheartedly. It’s a pantomime of an event, but it’s what America does best: noisy, glossy, speedy, slightly guttural and really quite beer-stained entertainment. Once you’ve bought into that, the whole thing becomes a thrilling fiction made up of caricatures and champions. And that’s why I spent the last two hours wearing a baseball cap, drinking beer and watching people drive round and round in a circle. I am a Nascar fan, and I am proud.