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NASCAR raced at Daytona, then changed the rules. Then it was Atlanta, and then the rules changed the next week, and so on.

Passenger cars don’t offer as many options, and I just figured out how to find the gas mileage in my new truck the day before yesterday.

At some tracks, such the one in Richmond where the current week’s races are, the cars run full power. At most, they don’t. They’ve got high downforce and tapered spacers, not to mention “cowboys and outlaws and right guys and southpaws, good guys and all kinds of cats.” Merle Haggard couldn’t have sung it better, but, alas, he died. Now NASCAR has “rich kids and second generations, engineers and reincarnations, stage points and all kinds of rules.”

It’s sort of like Mario Brothers Kart, where banana peels show up all over the track because the gorilla is a litterbug.

My gosh. I’ve been speculating about NASCAR’s fall for more than a decade, and I wasn’t alone. Even from the sidelines and through the rose-colored glasses of television, I don’t understand what happened other than the simple notion that it went out of style. Fans get tired of talking about it, and I get tired of writing about it, but I remember when races at Bristol Motor Speedway had crowds of over 160,000 and waiting lists for more. The best estimate I’ve seen of the recent race was 38,000. It’s not like everyone is staying home to watch on TV, either. A man on a local commission told me he was watching one of the recent races until he found out an Andy Griffith rerun was about to come on the CW.

I keep hearing there aren’t enough motel rooms and the ones there are charge too much. The problem is that nothing true now was untrue when the crowds were 160,000. Bristol has little room for lodging but plentiful room for camping, and not many fans seem to camp anymore. Those campers have disappeared over time as if they were honeybees.

What happened to the campers? What happened to the bees? The mystery is equivalent.

I just don’t know. Other sports have fans who have proclaimed, after some mindless labor strike or some favorite player traded, never again would they darken the aisles of their favorite ballpark.

Race fans are apparently the only ones who ever meant it.

Old timers always remember the old days when men were men and hotel maids were nervous. It doesn’t matter whether the man is Wendell Scott or Randolph Scott. Kids come along and discover Rusty Wallace and Tom Hanks, and their kids find Bubba Wallace and Kit Harington. Being an old timer, I still know little about Game of Thrones, but I still like racing even though Carl Edwards walked away, and Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., hung around but quit driving.

At this point, the only thing I can think of that might work is if Tom Brady learned how to win Daytona 500s instead of Super Bowls.