Thursday, June 22, 2000

Race fans give columnist an earful




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        Racing fans let me have it for last Sunday's column on NASCAR at the Kentucky Speedway.

        People said I put too much emphasis on beer and sunburned necks, not enough on the diversity of the fans or the nuances of the sport.

        They also objected to my comment that NASCAR fans have “blue-collar sensibilities.” For many readers, this translated to “low income.”

        “When I go to these races, there are people who are not so well-off financially and there are multi-millionaires,” said Jim Cammack of Florence.

        Two readers said they liked the column's irreverent tone. A dozen others think I need an attitude adjustment.

        “You sound like an up tight stuck up narrow minded twit!!!” was one person's memorable comment.

Other views
        “Your article reeked of uninformed opinion and was an expression of ignorance about the sport that bordered on insulting.

        “I am a racing fan and even occasional driver and, yes, I work with a NASCAR team as a driver and spokesperson. I am not a redneck or a gearhead and I've never eaten beef jerky at the track. Some of my multimillionaire friends who paid several hundred thousand dollars for corporate hospitality suites at the Kentucky Speedway might disagree with your allusion that rich people don't attend these races.” —Ed Dasso, M.D., West Chester

        “Good article on NASCAR, but please remember that it also has many, many women fans like me who know all about it, too. It's definitely an experience that grows on you. When you begin to learn personal information about drivers and what kind of people they are, versus the "thugs' of other professional sports, you're hooked!” —Kimberly Douglas, Bardstown, Ky.

        “To sit there and say the race was boring is a joke. That was a very good race. The track itself is absolutely designed for maximum viewing of a race.”

        About the ban on bringing coolers into the Speedway: “I said, "This is a mistake. There's no way (owner) Jerry Carroll can handle all those people and get everybody beer,' and it's true, they ran out. I don't think they'll get a Winston Cup race if they don't let people bring coolers in.

        “I've been to four different tracks for Winston Cup races and Busch races and you're always allowed to bring a small cooler in that will hold about a twelve-pack of beer. I think the facility's wonderful but the way he's running it is atrocious.” Roger Wren, Mount Washington

        “You kind of portrayed us all as being rednecks and racists ... Some of the best mechanics who build those engines are black men.”

        As for the lack of African-American racing fans, “It's probably not their bag of tea. I wouldn't pay a nickel to go watch a basketball game.” — Ben Walden, Wilmington, Ohio

        “Do you drive a truck? Do you know what NASCAR stands for? Do you understand that drivers — Winston Cup, Busch, Craftsman truck, ASA, ARCA, etc., are athletes? They are in better shape than you can understand. They are conditioned to withstand heat, dehydration and G-forces from a 300- to 500-mile race and come out smiling, not grabbing a beer to guzzle ... ” — Margaret Epperson, Fairfield

        Karen Samples is Kentucky columnist for the Enquirer. She can be reached at (859) 578-5584 or ksamples@enquirer.com.