The New Face of NASCAR

The Buzzword all last night after the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 was without a doubt, “Trevor Bayne”.   The 20-year old Kentuckian and Wood Brothers Driver made history yesterday when he became the youngest winner (20 plus one day) in the history of the race, and the only driver to score a win in his first appearance (Lee Petty, not withstanding, in the very first Daytona 500).

It was a magical win for the Wood Brothers–one of NASCAR’s oldest and well liked family run teams.  Bayne who was running the un-sponsored Ford painted in Donnie Allison #21  livery was a cool throwback to an era when you could go to the showroom and buy the Sunday winners on Monday.  This young, outspoken Christian showed immense skill and maturity as he ran with the “old guard” like a seasoned pro.  In post race interviews he committed a portion of his winnings to friends in missions!  We will be hearing much from this young man in the days and years to come and it is my prayer that fame and fortune do not spoil this sharp champion and his attitude vis-à-vis Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordon.   We have seen outspoken praise to a higher power many times before in Sport–NASCAR seems a hotbed of this due to its home base in a notch in the Bible Belt and pitlane church services on raceday morning.

Certainly I do not want to come across as pessimistic on this young man’s faith.  I applaud it!  This coming weekend, I am handling Media Relations for The 4th Annual Sports Faith International Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Halas Hall, presented by Patrick McCaskey.  Honored at this event will be Pittsburgh Steelers Patriarch, Art Rooney, baseball star Jamie Moyer and Major Leauge coach, Rich Donnelly–along with a 20 member High-School All-Star Team and dedicated Coaches.  As a trend, I hope that we will see more role models coming from a faith-based or less tarnished background as opposed to the morally bankrupt people that we find on MTV reality shows…

Now let’s talk about the race.  Firstly, on Sunday I slept in.  It was quite nice.   Then, over a leisurely breakfast of Chorizo and eggs, got on my iPhone 4 and programmed my DVR to capture the 500 from the Xfinity App…  Ahhhh, no pressure to race home from 11:30 Mass.  As a matter of fact, once church ended the whole family made a trip to the Super Wal-Mart.  My reasoning for this trip was simple:  I assumed it wouldn’t be crowded ’cause NASCAR was on.  Well I got the Wal-Mart assumption wrong–but did find a good parking spot….

The two by two racing was really wild.  It was like watching synchronized swimming–or “Dancing with the Racers”.  Where was good old Hélio Castroneves when we need him.  This type of racing is actually pretty fun to watch.  Further it could be said that in a retro kinda way, NASCAR has again made its racing like our everyday driving.  Imagine Daytona Speedway as the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago  or the 101 in LA during rush hour–bumper to bumper with everyone jabbering on the phone.

The ability for drivers to talk to one another, and strategize how to dance the first 199 laps of this race was almost comical.  Add in the spotters shouting n their ears throughout and you have pure confusion.  But consider that they only have to worry about turning left, so perhaps the task was simpler than the distractions.

Kudos to Juan Pablo Montoya who saved himself and his car from a one way trip to the garages three (count ’em: three!) times–each time flat spotting the tires and slipping right into pit lane.  Despite my personal feelings for this over-zealous, spoiled brat, Colombian rich boy, he really showed his stuff a’la Danny Sullivan circa 1985.  Consider the only person who can employ this brat is someone who can relate on a multitude of levels–Chip Ganassi.

Over all, pretty good race.  Glad I tuned in–or DVR’ed rather.  If Ford and the Wood Brothers can get Mr. Bayne a ride for the rest of the year and we can see more of that bumper to bumper “blind” driving, I think I may check this sport out again.  Well done NASCAR!  Good Show!  Now if F1 can get its season off the ground where their tracks aren’t set in the middle of a War Zone (no, not the Ardenne Forest, silly) we can truly say that 2011 is off and running!

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