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The Daytona 500! It’s the last race with the old rules!

Next up? Atlanta. It’s the first race with the new rules!

On to Las Vegas. It’s the first race with even newer rules!

As they (most often, Tommy Roe) sang in the late ’60s, “I’m so dizzy, my head is spinnin’.”

Dizzy and NASCAR go hand in hand. The cars race in circles, laps, circuits. It can be dizzying in the best way. Being dizzy over the rules is not the best way. Boredom does not normally elicit dizziness.

This morning I looked up a video on YouTube. Honest to gosh, it was a short highlights tape of the local high school soccer team. Undoubtedly, I have some “autoplay” feature turned on, so that, when the soccer ended, racing highlights videos commenced, most likely because YouTube knows what I like.

Both videos showed old highlights of rivalries and on-track vengeance. The former had a lot of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano in it. The latter highlighted the tiffs between Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine in the ’80s.

Nobody fights anymore. I don’t condone violence. In the heat of battle, however, regardless of the sport, people suffering from overdoses of adrenaline are prone to act in ways they wouldn’t if cool and relaxed. I was in some fights as a lad. Most were on a football practice field. Once I was responsible for the whole team running wind sprints. I wasn’t notably popular with my mates for several weeks.

Get all self-righteous if you want, but very few people turn to another channel when SportsCenter shows a brawl. In the stands of a NASCAR race, when, uh, “things get out of hand!” it’s almost like a chorus of “uh-ohs” breaks out.

“Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Gon’ fight! They’s gon’ be a fight!”

In the face of civilization, culture and the higher angels of our nature, fights sometimes break out. Words are insufficient. All men and women are ultimately responsible for their own actions. Racing may have gotten a wee bit too responsible. Nowadays, NASCAR officials police drivers and teams as if they were, oh, I don’t know, detainees.

Usually, all the fans get is talking points. Occasionally, sarcasm or a well-worded tweet.

“Guess what, wise guy? You keep pushing me around and … I’ll tweet about you!”


Many years ago, at a Georgia short track, I was interviewing the winner when skirmishes broke out all around me. No one hit me. In hindsight, I rather enjoyed being in the middle of a melee. Most importantly, it gave me something to write about.

The best aspect of sportswriting is the raw human emotion. An athlete either makes the play to win the game, or he doesn’t. Public officials choke at the free-throw line, too. It’s just that most of the time, it’s behind closed doors and out of view.

How many times a year do I think of the words that introduced “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” years ago? “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat … the human drama of athletic competition.”

Human drama is on the wane, and I doubt I’m the only one who’s noticed.