August 06, 2008
It's almost Olympics time, a time when every sport not in the Olympics makes its bid for inclusion. And while there may be people out there who honestly think that bridge, bowling, or ballroom dancing belong in the Olympiad, I can say this: back up. If there's anything the Olympics needs, it's auto racing. (Come on, you don't want to see Dale Jarrett there run in a race, do you?)
How would NASCAR work as an Olympic sport? I can think of a few ways:
• Run an IROC-style competition where every driver has the same car set up the same way. IROC floundered because it was too similar to NASCAR and drivers from other series turned up their snooty Euronoses at it; making this an Olympic event could bring 'em back.
• Multiple styles, multiple cars. Why not have a whole raft of races -- NASCAR, open-wheel, Dakar Rally-style, go-karts? Every driver runs in every car, and you total up the times, Tour de France style. (Somewhere, Robby Gordon is weeping with joy at the idea.)
• Allow everyone to tune their own car to a set of specifications. Shoot, the Olympics doesn't mandate equestrian teams must all use the same horse, do they? (Do they? I really don't know.) And if somebody gets caught cheating, well -- this is the Olympics, which makes baseball seem pharmaceutically pure and innocent.
• Go straight jingoistic -- American drivers have to use American-made cars, and so on. This would rally the America-first crowd, but could pose a few public relations problems should, say, the Japanese Toyota team run the table.
I'm sure this year's Olympics will be fine; thanks to China's wonderful censorship policies, we'll probably have no idea if they aren't. But there's nothing over there that couldn't be improved with the addition of a little more horsepower ... and NASCAR fans.
Aside #1: For a look at what's going on in the real world, take a look at Yahoo!'s brand-new Olympics blog, Fourth Place Medal. Good stuff!
Aside #2: NASCAR has already caught the attention of some Chinese business leaders big on ambition but short on cash. If you've got a spare $35 million lying around, you could be the Brian France of China! (Thanks to Trouble in Turn 2's Mike Maruska for the tip.)
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