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Okay... Someone Explain This One To Me
by Steve Wingate, TCGOB Publisher
Perhaps I'm being irretrievably dense here, but someone needs to explain the concept of "the gate" or "silly sticks" in victory lane.
Thanks to Jayski, I now know what this contraption is called, but I was dumbfounded when I saw NASCAR officials place what appeared to be a sweater dryer on Sterling Marlin's car when he pulled into victory lane at Charlotte this Sunday. I thought, How nice... they're giving him something on which to dry his sweaty uniform. When it became obvious that this "doodad" was not a sweater dryer, I thought they were going to get Sterling to do the "victory limbo" as he clambered from his car. But no... the device was intended to keep him from climbing on top of his car. Did I miss something?
As I said, perhaps I'm being dense, but wouldn't it be much easier just to tell them in the driver's meeting not to hop up and down on the roof when they win? NASCAR drivers are pretty smart fellers and therefore perfectly capable of following simple verbal instructions. It seems that NASCAR is insulting the intelligence of the drivers by forcing them to crawl out between these two sticks on a frame in the same manner that vets put those cardboard collars on dogs to keep them from gnawing their stitches out. Come on, NASCAR, give Sterlin' and those other ol' boys a little credit.
Don't get me wrong, I understand why NASCAR wants the drivers off the roofs.... I still think they're being a bunch of fuddy-duddies, but I understand their reasons. If these good ol' boys get up there and pound their rooflines down a few inches, the car won't fit the templates. Fair enough... but NASCAR went as far to say that they mandated the sticks for "technical and safety reasons." Safety reasons? Are they really afraid that some driver is going to take a header while doing the victory boogie on the roof? Is that really the greatest danger facing the drivers today? Are they afraid that someone is going to sue them if they fall? I can just hear the deposition now:
NASCAR Driver: Yes, your honor... see I was doin' me a little victory dance on top of my race car, and I tripped over that damn four foot tall beer bottle up there and fell face first into Miss Winston's cleavage.
Judge: Were you injured, Mr. Racecardriver?
NASCAR Driver: Yessir, see... that Miss Winston is a pretty strong little ol' gal an' she belted me a good one.
Judge: Mr. Racecardriver, did NASCAR, the sanctioning body of your sport, do anything to prevent you from climbing onto the roof of your car?
NASCAR Driver: No sir, but they coulda poked me with a stick or something to keep me from gettin' up there or had some kinda contraption to put on the roof.
Judge: This court finds for the plaintiff. The sanctioning body of NASCAR shall pay damages in the amount of...
Really, guys... loose the sticks. If you want the drivers on the ground, just tell them. You're dealing with grown men here, you're not housebreaking puppies. What's next? A little flight of steps with a handrail? Let's concentrate on the real safety issues. And if those "sticks" actually do serve some other function, somebody please write and tell me so I won't continue to make a spectacle of myself by writing these little gripe columns.
2001 Car Guy of Benchfield