Know What You Are Getting Into…

RELOADED by Jared Echo

I didn’t think I’d be back with another RELOADED until a week or so after the big money, $17,500 to win Mr. DIRT USA event at Lebanon Valley Speedway, but after what transpired this past week I felt there was a need and it’s not what you’re thinking either.

The conspiracy and corruption issue in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Championship was already covered so I’ll point you all in the right direction in case you missed it.. “Corruption or Confusion?” by Langly Austin and “Kieth Rocco Reacts to Greenville Controversy” by Andy Marquis over at Race22.com as well as “Keith Rocco Hot Over NWAAS Point Drama at Greenville”  by Matt Kentfield and Brandon Paul at Speed51.com were three absolutely outstanding investigative reports that covered the whole subject solidly.  They all did their homework and got the interviews this past Monday, August 4th.  Very informative and MUST READS.

This week’s subject is about last week’s republishing of a May 1980 NERF’ers Corner column titled “NASCAR Changes Rules In Mid-Stream” as it definitely had a reaction amongst readers.

Some compared Robert Echo’s column “NASCAR Changes Rules In Mid-Stream” to what is still going on today.  Others enjoyed the history, educational side of the 34 year old column.  Then came a few emails from those who failed to read the bold print that it was a column from 34 years ago.  Yet these folks took the time to type lengthy emails?  Not being familiar whatsoever that sadly Charlie Jarzombek is no longer with us or that Maynard Troyer and Bob Polverari both climbed from behind the wheel for the final time many moons ago is excusable for the new generations of fans.  So benefit of the doubt..

What concerned me was the empty and baseless anger these folks had towards what they believed was a new column that bashed today’s NASCAR.  In my opinion it’s a reaction by uneducated, kool-aid drinking NASCAR fans who neglected to read the two lines in bold that bordered the logo of a racing publication that has long since ceased operations.  It not only had me laughing, but brought me back to a similar situation that arose when Indianapolis Motor Speedway built a road course and opened it’s doors for the first time to Formula One.

Formula One 2006 US Grand Prix at Indy. Jared Echo photo.
Formula One United States Grand Prix at Indy. Personal photo collection.

In 2000 myself along with my better half, four friends, and 250,000 fans sat in the grand stands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway awaiting the inaugural Formula One United States Grand Prix.  The skies had been steadily opening up with showers all morning.  Behind us a group of fans were talking about the weather and how, “..it would suck if these guys traveled from Europe only to get rained out.”

My fellow English speaking fans and those foreign fans around us, who understood English were completely aware that the Formula One show moves on rain or shine, started chuckling under our breath.

“When is the rain date anyway? Tomorrow maybe?” The second gentleman asks.

“Don’t know.” The first answers

“Does it say on the ticket?” The third inquires as he stands up and reaches in his pocket.

“Nope. Nothing.” The second says, while looking at his ticket through his transparent, outta’ sight, ticket holding necklace. (Oh yes, it most certainly did state it on the stub)

“What about the program?” The first asks the fourth, “I thought you picked one up?”

“I didn’t buy one. I’ll go get one and see.” The fourth said and he and the second proceeded down the steps.

A slight sighing chuckle drew up from our section again. The first turns to a young Italian fan to their right, who appeared to be sitting next to his father or uncle.  These were the two whom took their seats not 20 minutes before, opened one of their coolers and passed a beer down the entire row until the cooler was empty and instantly gained friends, “What happens if it rains? When’s the rain date?”

The young Italian looks at the native fan and starts to grin wide as if Mr. First is kidding; “They race in thees’. It is good when they race in thees. Good racing when it rains!”

Mr. First looks over at his buddy and says laughing; “He said they race in this shit. No way in hell.”

The Fifth in the group, whom until now remained silent, rejects the Italian fans words and proceeded to not only disagree, but belittle the foreign gentleman as if the foreign fan didn’t speak English and made a horse’s behind out of himself in the process; “No, no, that’s not right at all. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He can’t even speak English good.”

With that our little group looked around each other and my wife mouths with a smile, “’Speak English good?’ Did he just say that?”

The friends, Mr. Second and Forth come back up without a program. “Hey, we asked around. They do race in the rain! What the hell?”

Mr First and Third both reply in unison, pointing at the kind Italian fan; “That’s what he said!”

The Italian looks back with a scowl then looks over at us, smiles, rolls his eyes, and raises his beer to us.  We raise ours back with smiles included. 

The rain picked up and the Unprepared-Uneducated Five started to mumble, grumble, and moan.

At this time a deep, gravely southern voice, coming from under a beat up cowboy hat littered with pins of every track on Formula One’s schedule and then some (also wisely dressed in rain gear), cries out loud, “Yeah baby! Let it rain! I love it when it rains! Best racing when it’s raining! Yeah! We’re going to see some real racing today boys! Woo-Hoo!”

The section lets out a giant roar of laughter that was littered with a few moans by the remaining folks in our section who just realized these million dollar machines could care less if it’s raining, because as the saying goes “that’s how they roll”.

Scuderia Ferrari, Michael and Rubens race into turn 1 at the USGP and Indy.
Scuderia Ferrari, Michael and Rubens race into turn 1 at the USGP and Indy.  A “still” from personal video collection.

The lights went out, the race went on, and Michael Schumacher ran away and hid from the field in his Scuderia Ferrari.

On the way home, my friend, my wife and myself were laughing about Mr. First through Fifth and how they each purchased $85 dollar tickets, drove 300 plus miles and bought a weekend’s worth of hotel stay all the while being oblivious that Formula One ran rain or shine. It was a joyful, hysterical, joke filled ride home to say the least.

Once my wife and I settled in at home we flicked around the local channels and came upon the stations out of Terre Haute, Indiana and Indianapolis. The reports came across involving fans who were extremely upset with giving away their tickets as they headed out of the speedway grounds during the down pour 2 hours prior to race time.

One reporter was doing interviews at the airport. An infuriated gentleman with a group behind him had a meltdown, “This is an outrage! I purchased $150 tickets on the front stretch for my friends and myself.  It started pouring out and we left and gave away our tickets at the gates.  It was raining for heaven’s sake!  Any delay would have caused us to miss our return flight home.  We didn’t know they actually ran in the rain. Who does that?  –(Formula One pal. It says so on the ticket..)–  They should have informed us in advance that they race in the rain.  It’s absolutely ridiculous!  We were ripped off!”

Another woman and her family were caught outside the gates, “We gave our tickets away when it started to dump out and headed to the car. We had the local radio station on as we were driving away and the announcer said cars were lining up on the speedway and they were getting ready to start the race in this crap. So we came back and went to the gates and tried to get back in, but the speedway staff wouldn’t let us back in –(No common sense. “No tickey. No laundry”)-.  $500.00 ON TICKETS AND GOT SCREWED!”

Each interview that followed was similar and when it came back to the on the spot reporters they too were appalled by Formula One and Indianapolis Motor Speedway running the race in the rain..

What’s my point?  As I’m sure Formula One, IMS, and the city of Indianapolis were very appreciative to both loyal and new fans coming to watch the race, as am I for those who read my late father’s columns and the RELOADED’s that I have written, it’s still about education and paying attention.  In the case of last weeks column, it’s paying attention to the bold print before just skimming through and unjustly taking offense and looking silly.

At IMS it was knowing what to expect when attending a sporting event.  Neither these fans nor the local television reporters bothered to educate themselves prior to blowing gobs of money on tickets, travel and lodging nor reporting accurately on the entire situation.  I was angered at the news reports and equally on the verge of tears from laughing so hard as well.  Really.  The mere thought of fans blowing hundreds to thousands on a sporting event without any knowledge of the simplest rules about the division was sad yet made my stomach hurt and eyes water from hysterical laughter. To top it off they cried to the heavens on the air waves how wronged they were, blaming the speedway and Formula One for their own shortcomings and lack of doing their homework!  Sound familiar?

As for those who angrily emailed about the 34 year old Robert Echo column “NASCAR Changes Rules In Mid-Stream“, well like those angry F1 fans back in 2000, what’s left to say except KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO.

Next week is another 33 to 36 year old NERF’ers Corner column.  I’ll be back with another RELOADED in two weeks time with hopefully much to report on the Mr DIRT USA event at Lebanon Valley and other happenings around the sport.  Until then, enjoy the racing wherever you may roam and safe travels!  Keep on Trackin’!

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