NASCAR, An Olympic Sport?

Alright, while it may sound a little strange, I have been pondering the idea of auto racing becoming an Olympic Sport. I must admit that I am a bit biased since I’m a huge fan of NASCAR. Anyone who follows stock car racing gets the question from non-fans all the time; how can you call them athletes?I’ll answer that question clearly by stating, that a person who drives a vehicle pushing 200 mph for almost 4 hours must have some athletic ability. Racecar drivers are manipulating a vehicle that is constantly vibrating, bouncing and at times almost unmanageable. These vehicles are nothing like what we drive everyday on the highways with power steering, navigation systems and shocks that keep you from feeling the road. Driving a stock car can sometimes feel like riding a ten-speed bicycle over a pile of rocks. Anyone who denies that a stock car driver is an athlete just doesn’t understand the demands of the sport-this is most often the case.

So as the Beijing Olympics approach I thought to myself, could racecar driving ever become an Olympic sport? Only time will tell, but over the past few decades, we have seen the expansion in the sport of racecar driving. In fact, we have more international names associated with NASCAR this year than ever before. Just to name a few: Juan Pablo Montoya, who hails from Bogotá, Columbia, Patrick Carpentier, from Quebec, Canada and Dario Franchitti who’s from Edinburgh, Scotland. As you can see, the all American sport of NASCAR has reached its way across the oceans and has brought with it some of the most talented individuals to ever sit behind the wheel of a racecar.

You can see why I would be optimistic about the possibility of NASCAR or any form of car racing making it to the Olympics. We have seen NASCAR hold its first race outside the United States in Mexico and we can be sure that talks are underway for a European appearance. When the international lobby starts its campaign with the Olympic committee you can be sure there will be plenty of evidence why this sport should have its place on the world stage.

While it may be a few years until we see the dust of rubber and smoke in the air at an Olympic event, I hold out hope that in the future more people will understand the sport of racing. It is so much more than cars going around in circles, but more of the challenge of man versus machine. It is not just the challenge of running out of gas, but how to do it while only filling up twice in 500 miles. Maybe someday people will get that changing four tires, pulling out a spring rubber and adjusting your shocks in less than 14 seconds isn’t your average day at the corner oil and lube! So I salute all the racecar drivers who I sincerely recognize as some of the great athletes in sports-maybe someday we’ll see some of them wearing gold!

Nathan Taylor

Saturday, July 26th, 2008 Sports

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