This past weekend, I went to the NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway with my brother, my nephew and some friends. We had a lot of fun hanging out and, in general, acting like a bunch of guys. We traveled on a luxury bus. You know, the kind that famous people rent to take on tour. Our bus had recently been used by John Cena, the WWE star. Considering that the NASCAR fans surrounding us are probably WWE fans, I thought it was a fitting coincidence.
Wait, did I just stereotype NASCAR fans? I didn’t mean to do that. In my mind, NASCAR fans represent a subculture within the larger framework of society. Numerous subcultures exist in our country, and each one of them can be stereotyped by those who do not understand it or do not want to understand it. Heck, we are all part of one. I am a fan of a Southeastern Conference university. That’s a subculture. I am a blogger. That’s a subculture, too. My dad used to be in the cattle business, and I can promise you that cow people are a subculture.
As I said, NASCAR is one of many subcultures, and all subcultures lead themselves to be stereotyped and parodied. I started thinking about this somewhere around the halfway point of the race. The beginning of the race is always cool, and the end is always exciting. However, the middle gets to be somewhat tedious. After all, it is just a bunch of cars going around in a circle.
Anyway, I began to analyze my surroundings and came up with some thoughts.
1. NASCAR fans embrace the stereotypes and parodies. They have to because they cheered for the Wonder Bread car, which was the car driven by Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Surely, they realized that this car represented a movie that made fun of them and their sport.
They must also embrace the stereotypes and parodies in what they wear to the race. Surely, someone who wears a white t-shirt with a hole cut in the front so their beer belly can hang out is doing it for laughs. Surely, they realize that this is what non-NASCAR fans assume they wear and, in turn, are making a statement by embracing this unrealistic view.
2. NASCAR has abandoned its fan base, and ticket sales have suffered because of it. At one time, Talladega was packed. Now, a good seat can be bought on the day of the race. I believe it is because NASCAR has become too corporate, and the drivers have become too slick.
Drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and many more could fit in with the fans. Now, drivers marry supermodels and live in New York City. Fans can’t relate to that. They also can’t relate to the fact that races have been ripped from historic tracks and placed in Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Wine Country. Wine and moonshine don’t mix.
3. Most of the crowd cheers for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. because he is a link to the past. He’s not just a link to his dad, the last of the great southern drivers, but also a link to all of the other great southern drivers. Ironically, Dale, Jr. is one of the few drivers who grew up wealthy. He may look and act like the fans, but, in reality, he has less in common with them than the other drivers who came up through the ranks.
4. Barack Obama didn’t get many votes from NASCAR fans. On Saturday night, we went to a karaoke gathering where beer and moonshine were flowing. Songs were sung badly, but something more interesting happened. When people had the microphone, they took the opportunity to bash the president. They told jokes about him. They cussed him. The First Amendment was alive and well.
I don’t like the president, either. I don’t like his politics or his policies. However, I believe that it went deeper than that with the people on stage. They don’t like him because they believe he is a Muslim who was born in another country. Oh yeah, they also don’t like him because he is black.
5. Many fans of University of Alabama football are ridiculous. This guy behind us yelled “Roll Tide” every time the cars went around the track. I looked for a car that was driven by Nick Saban but couldn’t find it. My only conclusion was that he wanted everyone to know that he cheers for a great football team on Saturday. This was on Sunday. I am sure he does it on every other day of the week, as well.
He, and many others, wear the school colors all of the time and brag about national championships that they didn’t actually win. Admittedly, I cheer for a rival school, but I am glad that my greatest accomplishment in life is not watching a group of other people accomplish something. Last time I checked, the guy yelling “Roll Tide” at the NASCAR race did not win a damn thing.
6. We met a guy called Big Little, and he was a top-notch grill man. According to him, women surround him just to get a taste of his Brisket and Boston Butt. I have to admit that it is funny to hear a big guy from Mississippi say Boston Butt. The fact that he was wearing overalls made it even more funny. I know he embraced the NASCAR stereotype.
That’s all I thought about. The rest of the time, I was keeping an eye on Danica Patrick’s car. First, because its color scheme makes it stand out. Second, the other fans were booing her. If the “Roll Tide” guy was against her, then I needed to be for her.