I Think I’ll Pass On Bristol

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First of all, I’ll get my disclaimer out there. At the very best, I’m only a casual fan of NASCAR. I usually watch about ten races a year. I’ll always watch the two Daytona races, the last race of the season, and the Brickyard 400. That’s four. I’ll generally find another six races somewhere in that massive schedule of theirs to fill up a rainy Sunday afternoon. While I sit intently to watch an IndyCar race, then catch it again on the DVR later that same week – I’m either half dozing during a NASCAR race or just keeping it on so I can catch a quick update as I pass through the den.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention Bristol in the few races I try to watch. Although it takes place in my home state, I usually find better things to do with my time than sit and watch Bristol. I did not see a lap of yesterday’s race. I worked in my yard and made a trip to Home Depot for landscape timbers. Then I watched the NCAA Selection Show before checking the web to see who won and to make sure it was completed without any serious injuries. There were none and Kasey Kahne won the race.

I have a co-worker that is a die-hard NASCAR fan. Since he and I have been working together, I’ve done my best to bring him over to our side. At least he now watches all of the IZOD IndyCar Series races, but his allegiance is fully with tin tops. This past Friday, he was almost giddy with excitement that Bristol was running this weekend. I told him to have fun, but don’t expect me to watch it.

I know I’m in the vast minority on this, but Bristol absolutely drives me crazy. If I had never seen a race before and tuned into a NASCAR race at Bristol, I would write off the possibility of ever watching another race, no matter what the series. I would assume all races were like this and that would be all I’d need to see.

The “Rubbin’ is Racin’” mentality rules at Bristol. I’ve never cared for that saying, nor the philosophy behind it. Bristol seems like nothing other than mass chaos. I’ve watched many race telecasts from Bristol in the past, mainly because I felt like it was something I needed to do as a race fan. I assumed it was an acquired taste and I would grow to at least like it. It never happened.

Instead, I found myself getting agitated and irritated with every race I watched. There is no flow or rhythm to most races at Bristol. They run a few laps before someone gets punted from behind. They fun a few more laps under yellow, before repeating the cycle over and over. Forty-three cars on a half-mile oval is too many. By the time the last car takes the green flag, he or she is already a half-lap down. Proponents of Bristol say there is action all over the track all the time. That “action” generally turns out to be some driver retaliating for being wronged a few laps ago. At such relatively slow speeds (another dislike of mine) drivers feel safe in their payback methods.

I get it that it takes a lot of skill to get around the place at speed. But it’s the disarray of watching drivers try to do this with all the other cars on the track that gets on my nerves.

I’m glad to say that there is no track on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule that drives me crazy to watch like Bristol. Belle Isle and Mid-Ohio can be boring, but they don’t get me in a frenzy like Bristol does. The whir of all the cars circling the track like a swarm of bees is about as pleasing to watch as an American Idol episode from this season and listening to Nicki Minaj drone on and on about some obscure observation. I would rather pass.

I know very few race fans, if any, agree with me on this. Most IndyCar fans I know were watching Bristol yesterday – except me. Perhaps I would feel completely different if I were to see a race there in person. But I’m curious, am I the only IndyCar fan out there that feels this way about Bristol, or am I just an oddball? Regardless, I think I’ll pass on Bristol.

George Phillips

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23 Responses to “I Think I’ll Pass On Bristol”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Was watching F1…. Bristol is a farce…

  2. I actually watched some of it, but only because I was in a sports bar for a birthday party. Once the ACC Championship game was over there was little else to watch. Too many cars on too little track for me.

  3. I really have a hard time thinking of a reason to watch ANY NASCAR race. It just has no appeal whatsoever for me.

    IndyCar, however, is a different story. I always record those and watch them a couple of times.

  4. Bristol is too small a track for so many cars. It is the closest thing oval racing has to a road course. Which is why I am not a fan of Bristol.

  5. I enjoyed Both the Nationwide race AND the Cup race this weekend at Bristol. I was impressed watching Sam do well on Saturday because it hasn’t been one of his best tracks and I thought that there were a lot of great racing duels on Sunday. I have been several times to the Spring race and for me, it is NOT Indianapolis, but it doesn’t have to be. It is BRISTOL and a Bristol weekend is awesome. Ilike short track racing as well and I am looking forward to Iowa which, of course, is IndyCar’s short track. YMMV.

  6. George, I think you missed one hell of a race. While there were many cautions, it was not the demolition derby you describe. Most of them came from tire failures or poor handling race cars. However, unlike you, I don’t mind the “rubbin’ is racin’” aspect of short track racing. What I do mind is the “I’m going to put you in the wall you cuz you were mean to me” Jr. High bullsh$*t. I didn’t see too much of that yesterday, (except Logano and Hamlin which mostly happened off track) so I thoughly enjoyed the actual race.

    It also might of helped that I watched it on the DVR, so I could FF through the comercials and the talking heads (boggity-boggity) which turned the 4 hr. broadcast into 1 1/2 – 2 hrs of actual racing.

    • Kyle Busch working on Kyle Larson at the finish of the Nationwide race was great and I didn’t see anything at all dirty about it. Keep an eye on Larson, he was sharp on Saturday and went for it against a tough as nails Kyle Busch.

  7. billytheskink Says:

    I generally like Bristol and Martinsville because they’re relatable to the racing I can see locally on Saturday nights.

    The past two repaves of Bristol have the cars running single-file much less often, so there’s quite a bit less carnage than there used to be… not that I don’t appreciate a properly executed bump-and-run in the old Bristol style.

    • Yeah, I don’t get the dislike here at all. I mean, if you don’t like short track racing, that’s fine, but that doesn’t make it somehow “not racing.” I’ll admit there are probably too many (and too big) cars on the track, but it’s totally worth it to have see the NASCAR drivers try their hand at something different a few times per year.

      Dang elitists! :D

  8. I ceased watching the nascar hype machine about 13-14 years ago. I’m happy to say that I don’t miss it in the least. Bristol is a train wreck….like watching a Saturday night Bomber race at any dirt track in the midwest.
    Thankfully there was plenty of F1 and Sebring to make this a great sports weekend.

  9. Bristol is kind of like a Roller Derby with cars.

    Kyle Larson was a hot shoe, as they used to say, in USAC. However, with no rear engine car experience and no experience on the twisties, NASCAR and not IndyCar is the logical place for him to move up. Same with Brad Sweet and other USAC stars these days.

    • Ballyhoo Says:

      It is a shame that there was not a spot for Kyle Larson in IndyCar this year. I think Kyle can drive anything

      • Kyle has never beaten Bryan Clauson for a USAC driver’s championship and Bryan had his hands full keeping his car off the wall at Indy last year. It would be naive to think Kyle could just jump into anything and do well without a period to learn

        • Ballyhoo Says:

          JP – I think you have a very good point. I think I just shelfishly want to watch Kyle grow as a driver, but in open wheel racing. Great potential.

  10. George I tend to agree with you. However I have never seen a race on the oval at Bristol. I saw the oval in the spring of 1974 when I covered the IHRA Spring Nationals. I might be tempted to watch go-karts on that oval but it is way too small to produce any reasonable facsimile of racing with large cars.

  11. I largely hated the 1992-2007 “classic” track configuration at Bristol where it was indeed a single-file wreckfest, but I think the racing’s been better albeit more generic in the years since. I think Bristol is the most overrated track in NASCAR besides the plate tracks which are in a league of their own in that regard, but Martinsville and Richmond are great and far greater than any plate race. 43 cars on a half mile can work (it usually does at Martinsville) and besides, given the start ‘n’ parks (of which there are fewer this year admittedly) the field is almost as small as the 36-car fields in the mid-’90s.

    Having said that, racing at Bristol is quite similar to a lot of single-file, wreckfest street races that IndyCar has (remember the 2009 and 2011 Toronto races…most Bristol races aren’t that dirty). For some reason, I enjoy Toronto more, but it’s really the same kind of racing… And I would take Bristol over most of the weak street courses on the IndyCar schedule (basically, everything except Long Beach, Toronto, and St. Pete…)

  12. Not that it ever would happen, but before they took the progressive banking out, would have been fascinating to have seen the Lights and ProMazda RTI cars on that oval.

  13. You come across as the typical snooty IndyCar fan. You usually are better than this George.

    • The Lapper Says:

      Either you like it or you don’t, but George is giving an opinion, not reporting. If you want cheerleading you’ll have to find it somewhere else.

      With that noted, I thought the Bristol weekend was a blast and the best dollar spent in NASCAR.

  14. It always occurs to me that Bristol is basically a poor substitute for a dirt track race, which I actually enjoy watching. It’s like they wanted to keep their dirt tracking roots but were desperate to prove they evolved beyond racing on them thar dirt tracks. I get why it is popular w/ that crowd, it is just not enjoyable to me. Out of this whole article the one thing that struck me as the most shocking is not your view on Bristol but that you knew who Nicki Minaj was…of which I also agree w/ your viewpoint.

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