While open-wheel racing (read: Indy Racing League) is my first love, I still follow NASCAR, though not as closely as I used to. Like many an old-school racing fan, I think elements such as the Lucky Dog, green-white-checker finishes (my biggest gripe) and weekly Bushwhacking of the so-called "developmental series" might be more fan-friendly, it takes away from the fact that the race is a competition and moves it more towards a race as reality-television entertainment.
I live with it, because racing is racing, and watching cars go really fast is a lot of fun. Well, at least to me it is. That and Tony Stewart, warts and all, is one of the most talented drivers I've ever seen, and since he drives in NASCAR it means that I have to watch it.
But I have a gripe -- every time we see a driver get into a serious crash, one of the talking heads drones on about the series and all of the safety procedures put into place. We won't talk about the fact that their hand was forced the day Dale Earnhardt died, but I digress.
It happened again this weekend in Texas. After Michael McDowell walked away from one of the most violent crashes I had seen in any racing series in a long, long time, everyone started once again patting themselves on the back and giving NASCAR credit for putting in saftey innovations -- mainly the SAFER barrier -- that saved his life.
I can't hold my tounge any longer! Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and any other interested party that reads this, listen up: NASCAR had absolutely nothing to do with the development of the SAFER barrier.
For the 1,000th time, the SAFER barrier was developed by engineers at the University of Nebraska with help (and money) from the Indy Racing League, Tony George and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was the first track to put up the barriers in 2002. For the record, NASCAR was invited to participate and declined, and while they were the first series to make the barrier mandatory at all of their tracks, they had nothing to do with its developent.
Since I know most of the racing world sees the IRL as a red-headed stepchild -- which I hope changes with the IRL-Champ Car unification -- I would, just once, like to see credit given where it was due.
Think it might happen? I don't, either.