Cagle: Don’t change the racing experience

By Andy Cagle - Racing Columnist

Andy Cagle Racing Columnist

People like racing because it is such an experience. Going to the track can be sensory overload and that is part of the appeal. The race track is full of unique smells, sights and sounds: grills and campfires, an abundance of fried food, gasoline, cold beer, brightly colored race cars going at insane rates of speed, and a symphony that is unlike anything anywhere else.

God, I love the sounds of a race track; air wrenches and the generators in the garage and on pit road and, of course, the sound of 40 800-horsepower V8s at full song coming to green. If you haven’t experienced the sounds of a race track, your life is missing something. Even before cars get on track, the sounds are great. In fact, being at the track when the garage opens and crews start working on cars is the next best thing to the sound of the drop of the green.

But now, word is out that NASCAR is trying to make cars quieter so that, get this, people can talk to each other at the track. This is according to Sports Business Daily’s Adam Stern, who contacted someone in the sport.

“Quieter cars could be targeted more toward millennials, who place heavy importance on the social experience of attending sporting events,” Stern said. “For example, many teams in stick-and-ball sports have developed standing areas where fans can gather and socialize instead of being restricted to a standard seat.”

Yeah, no. If it’s too loud, you’re too young. And it’s not like young people actually, you know, talk to each other. They will sit beside each other and text their conversation.

I was OK with the segments. I’ve been OK with the 47 million iterations of The Chase, more or less. But this is too damn much.

Would you go to a Motley Crue concert if they turned the volume down so you could have a conversation with the people around you? I go to the race track sometimes just so I do not have to talk to people, but that’s just me. I went to see Monster Jam at PNC Arena. Monster trucks. Inside a basketball/hockey arena. Those are my I-like-loud-credentials.

Are we not Americans? We like everything bigger and faster and louder. Listening to race cars stirs the soul. From that moment when a stock-car field runs through the gear box at the green (see a theme here) to the feeling of standing at the starting line when a top fuel dragster sees the bottom of the Christmas tree, you just can’t beat that feeling. I have spent more time making my two-cylinder Triumph louder than I care to admit for the same reason.

I get it. NASCAR wants to attract a new crowd. They have broken up the races for those blessed with short attention spans. It is yet to be seen if that will work and attract the younger set. What happens when they fail to attract the millennials, but alienate the fan who has stuck around through all the other changes? That question is rhetorical, because I think we all know the answer.

Being a race fan is about the experience. It’s 100 percent ‘Merica. As Ricky Bobby said, “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” And speed is loud. Not to get all metaphysical, but I think you can taste, see, smell and hear speed (but you can’t touch it. It’s going too fast).

NASCAR, here’s my advice. Work on getting people to the track, not changing the experience. Work on making the racing better (the low-downforce package is helping, regardless of what some journalists are saying). We want loud. We have radios and hearing protection – it’s the same hearing protection we wear to the gun range.

Don’t go changing the experience.

Andy Cagle
Racing Columnist Cagle
Racing Columnist

By Andy Cagle

Racing Columnist


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