The End of the Road

Something happened recently to a truly great sport. A new leader came in; this was soon followed by a new sponsor. Pretty soon rules that had been around for years started changing and tracks that had been around since its inception disappeared. Older veterans that everybody loves have been replaced by younger drivers who don't have the skills and have bad attitudes to go along with them. This sport has changed basically over night and this sport is NASCAR

A few seasons ago when Bill France Jr. stepped down as leader of NASCAR and turned his duties over to his son, Brian, nobody could have guessed how much the sport would change in just a few short years. Brian France, NASCAR's new leader, has all but tried to kill the sport, a sport that his grandfather, the great "Big" Bill France Sr. built single handedly and made into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Pretty soon after Brian France took over as the new leader of NASCAR, the sports longtime sponsor Winston stepped aside and the sponsor that seemed so perfect for an auto racing organization that started in the Deep South and was brought to the forefront by wild, southern good ol' boys was replaced by the cell phone company, Nextel. As soon as Nextel stepped in as sponsor for NASCAR's biggest series NASCAR decided to make yet another change.

 The points standings that had been the same for over fifty years of NASCAR existence was to be revamped to include a playoff type system for the Nextel Cup series. The new points system rewards the guy who can score the most points within the final ten races in the top ten, rather then complete season consistency. Many rules have been changed within the past few seasons in NASCAR.

 For years in the sport when a caution came out it was customary to race back to the caution flag therefore drivers could make a last second jockey for position or attempt to get a lap back. That was thought to be a big safety issue and has been changed to a new rule referred to as the "lucky dog." When a caution comes out now in NASCAR the field is automatically frozen in the position that they were at the exact moment of the caution and the first car who is one lap down is awarded a free pass to get back on the lead lap.

 In the past few season some of NASCAR's most historic tracks and traditions have been completely thrown out the window. Rockingham, a track in North Carolina, which brought great racing to the sport for many years, has been done away with.

 The Southern 500 which was essentially the second biggest race of the season, after the Daytona 500, was first moved from its annual Labor Day weekend date, then it was done away with altogether the following year. Darlington Raceway, were the Southern 500 was once held, may not have a race date come next season on the Nextel Cup. This has led many fans to wonder which tracks will go next, Martinsville or Richmond maybe.

 If NASCAR gets there way all the tracks on the NASCAR circuit will probably look identical one day in the future. Older veterans that everybody loves are constantly getting sick with all of the changes in NASCAR.

 Guys like Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte have already left the sport full time and others like Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace are on there way out. The other veterans who are still hanging on like Dale Jarrett and Sterling Marlin continue to grow increasingly disgruntled with a sport that they once dominated.

While NASCAR is seemingly pushing out the veterans of the sport it seems to be encouraging the young punks who are taking over the sport. Guys like Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers  and many more are making their way into the sport acting like they own the circuit and show their bad boy attitudes every change they get.

 Sure, there are younger drivers who are hard workers and keep their nose to the grindstone and race the way NASCAR should be raced like Kasey Kahne, but NASCAR is quickly being overcome with younger drivers who really have no business being behind the wheel in a stock car race.

 NASCAR is continuing its many efforts to gain new fans to the sport, but many of these new fans are just like the sports new drivers. While NASCAR is gaining new fans at a rapid rate, they are also losing fans at a rate just a rapid.

The fans who once were very loyal to the sport of NASCAR are now looking for other series of racing that continue the kind of racing that NASCAR once offered, like the Hooters Pro Cup Series or the ARCA Remax series. Unless some drastic changes make there way into NASCAR in the very near future the sport as we know it will be dead. Something happened recently to a truly great sport, and now that sport is neither great nor true anymore.

By: Julian Spivey

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