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Posted by on Mar 6, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Rants and Raves | 12 comments

Driving Me Mad: Auto Racing is Not a Sport




There’s an auto race happening in Las Vegas this weekend.

I hear that it’s a pretty big deal.  Something like 100,000 race car enthusiasts have rolled into town and pretty much transformed the city into Talladega West.  Full Confession:  I had to Google search the mecca of auto racing and someplace called “Talladega” came up instantly, which sure as shit doesn’t sound like it has many good French continental restaurants.

My casual and admittedly unscientific observation on Friday and Saturday night along The Strip revealed a disproportionately high percentage of mutton chops within this so-called auto racing demographic, including the women.  There was a desperate shortage of electric razors.  Confederate flags also seemed to be a popular fashion accessory.  The only perk which might have boosted race attendance higher would have been an impromptu appearance by Donald Trump railing against the Mexicans and Muslims, who are responsible for tearing down America and ruining the economy.  But last I saw, Trump busy attacking short people while bragging about his manhood.

I just don’t get it.  How can anyone claim auto racing is a “sport.”  Auto racing is a sport in the same manner a grown man talking to a sock puppet gets classified as “entertainment.”  I mean, one presumes this has to be classified somehow, so auto racing and Terry Fader somehow get grouped among legitimate family attractions.

Listen up redneck folk and liberal elitists, alike.  Wanna’ know what auto racing is?  It’s driving a fucking car.  It’s sitting in a seat and moving your hands a couple of inches back and forth.  There’s the added mechanical complication of pressing once’s foot onto a pedal.  That’s basically it.  Big deal.  I can do that.  You can do that.  A 16-year-old can do that.  A 95-year-old can do that.  Hell, animals have even been trained to drive a car.

If driving a car is a sport, then I’m Tom Brady (without the stigma of a cheating scandal, of course).  Let me put it in more simple terms:  Any activity that can be performed with an iPhone in one hand and a cold beer in the other, isn’t a sport.  Got it?

Let me tell you what is exciting about driving a car.  Last week, I blew out a front tire and then drove five miles to the auto place that sold me the tire, until so many sparks had flown that the rubber had burned clean off the rim.  Good thing the tire was still under warranty.  Otherwise, I might have had the tire repaired across the street from where it deflated.  A month earlier, a radiator exploded on me out in the middle of the desert.  I drove the car until smoke was pouring out the back end and the engine was pinging louder than a WW-2 submarine.  Now, that’s what I call excitement.  That’s a sport.  The prospect of a car leaving me stranded out in the middle of nowhere past midnight — that’s what I call action.

Before I went bonkers with the neck beard, which was more a manifestation of laziness as opposed to any conscious plan or personal decision, I frequently shaved while driving.  Last time I checked, there’s no actual law against this.  Later, I converted to an electric razor with the battery charger plugged into the ash tray because the shaving cream and blade got to be way too much of a mess.  So, what kind of “sport” allows you to participate in it while shaving?

Even in poker, you can’t do that.  You can’t shave at the poker table.  No wonder every young guy in poker wears a beard nowadays.

Let take this a step further.  Not that I’ve ever done what I’m about to suggest — but I’ve even heard that some people have engaged in sex while driving a car.  Really, it’s true.  Use your imagination.  I suppose the driver sits passively while the passenger does all “the work.”  Now, you’re going to have a really tough time convincing me there’s a sport you can engage in while receiving oral sex.  Then again, perhaps I’m naive.  Maybe I need to engage in more research (as the driver, of course).

Indeed, auto racing requires the same skill set performed by 200 million drivers here in America every day, unless you happen to live in New York City where the only drivers own taxis and they all have weird-sounding names from Pakistan that no one can pronounce.  Think of it this way:  A typical soccer mom barreling down I-70 in the passing lane with a minivan full of screaming kids is exerting the same mental and physical dexterity as the winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500, or the race happening this weekend in Las Vegas.  Only difference is, mom doesn’t have to pass a drug test, which is probably a good thing since that would probably be a close call given our national opioid epidemic.

Question is — why would anyone watch car racing?  A bigger question:  Why would anyone pay to watch car racing?  Finally, a bigger question, still:  Why would anyone travel to Las Vegas to pay money to witness the same view they’d see on any major expressway?  What’s interesting about a bunch of cars swirling around a track going in circles?  Horses running around the track in a circle?  Okay, I totally get that, especially if you’ve got money on the race and it’s the Kentucky Derby.  But who watches a scene that resembles every rush hour in every big city in America?  What next, a sport called “Traffic Jam on the Inner Beltway?”

If an auto race lasted a couple of minutes, I might be able to appreciate it.  But some of these car races last for hours, even days.  That’s right, days!  And these sickos just stare at the track as though something exciting’s about to happen.  Unless there’s a car crash and some part of a fiery fuselage flies into the crowd, the rest of the day seems pretty much like working at a gas station along the exit ramp.  Get a job at Chevron of that pops your jollies.

Auto racing sucks.  It’s not a sport.  It’s driving a car.



  1. The cars racing at the big oval at LVMS are frequently traveling at more than 100 miles-per-hour faster than the current top speed limits on Nevada highways. The top speed record on that track (set by an open wheel Indy car) is a little above 150 miles-per-hour faster than the current top speed limits on Nevada highways. Walk across the street to The Strip at LVMS, and you’ll find a drag strip where the top speed record is 255 miles-per-hour faster (330 MPH set in 2014) than the current top speed limits in Nevada!

    Professional auto racing isn’t anything close to rush hour traffic. To survive without crashing and win on a regular basis takes a great deal of physical and mental skills that few people have. It is a sport!

    It appears you have a somewhat short attention span, so maybe, watching drag racing live would change your mind about auto racing as a sport. 2 top fuel cars go from zero to 325-330 MPH in less than 4 seconds. I will be working in the media center (right behind the starting line) at The Strip at LVMS April 1-3 for the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. I would be happy to explain what you are seeing (and feeling – top fuel car launches set off car alarms in the parking lots, can be measured on the Richter scale) should you be inclined to attend.

    Shaving while driving in Nevada could very well see you being charged with misdemeanor distracted driving. It’s illegal to drive using a hand-held cell phone. You don’t need a mirror to talk on a phone…

    • Nolan Replies: Bob, thanks for the feedback, the facts, and the invitation. You make a convincing and impassioned argument.

      — ND

    • Poker IS NOT a sport by any stretch of the imagination.

      “Any activity that can be performed with an iPhone in one hand and a cold beer in the other, isn’t a sport. Got it?”

  2. Are you kidding me? If you think getting blown while behind the wheel is easy, you’ve obviously never had experience. First you’re going 110, then you realize you’re going too fast so you slow down… to about 25 miles per hour, then you realize you need to speed up and you’re going 110. Over and over again. All this in a 45 MPH zone hoping there’s not a cop in sight. It takes years of training to be able to maintain an even keel in this situation. THAT sir, as opposed to throttle down, turn left, should be a sport.

  3. Are YOU TRYING to start ww3 sir? Lol.

    FYI. You can wager on NASCAR.

    Now get out to the speedway and enjoy yourself young man.

  4. Nolan,

    You might prefer Formula 1 to NASCAR. The racing in Formula 1 is probably even more boring than in NASCAR, but it’s easier to be a wine-drinking Euro-snob gourmand in Formula 1 than in the Natural Light drinking, Chik-Fil-A eating world of NASCAR. 🙂

  5. I’m no fan of auto racing, but I do acknowledge it as a sport, which by definition is a competition involving physical exertion. Yes, it is physically draining to operate a vehicle at 150 mph 2 feet off the rear end of the car in front of you, and it was downright exhausting in the days before power steering in NASCAR.

    Even more amazing are the exploits of pit crews who are athletes in every sense of the word. The average human being will never be able to change a tire in under 6 seconds, no matter what the training.

    You open a can of worms, my friend, when you deny auto racing its rightful status as a sport. What then happens to archery, target shooting, curling, and a number of other less active events at the world’s biggest sports hoedown, the Olympics? Or to golf, which is much less physically demanding than a 3-4 hour auto race?

  6. An extension of yourself

    Body awareness controlling the wheel, various other tools-

    spatial awareness of automobile


    start, finish, points



    Could being great at sports help at driving? Depends on what aspects you are great at in sports.

  7. Oh yeah. And weightlifting is just lifting a bar with some stuff on the side. Soccer is just kicking a ball and hoping it goes in. Really bro?

  8. are all drivers then amateur athletes ? all im asking since you think the pro ones are pro athletes . Sports have athletes .

  9. I love all the comments by people who say that because the cars are moving fast that makes it a sport, lol So if you add an arbitrary physical challenge to something it automatically becomes a sport? So, if I mow my lawn blindfolded then I’m an athlete? Seriously? NASCAR is nothing but a bunch of redneck cowboy wannabes with nothing better to do. Maybe they should all get jobs.

    • You’ve jumped to a conclusion.

      It’s hard for some people to get racing, since they think they know all it takes to drive. The only real way to understand why it’s probably the most impressive skill set in all of sports is to actually attempt it, that is, driving on the limit of grip. Driving until the car is actually sliding around on its tires but not spinning off. Just experiencing that once should go a ways to changing your mind.

      After that, or if that’s not possible, play a racing simulator game with all the assists off. You can get a used one for 5 bucks. You can play for minutes, hours, days, or months and never be even close to as fast as the top lap times. And those lap times are set by video gamers. Real race car drivers are even more talented.

      I hate seeing people dismiss something because they don’t know what they’re actually talking about. So either take my advice and put down five dollars and an hour of time, or get used to being plain wrong about this.

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