The view from my couch

This Is the Season of Our Discontent
by Cheryl Lauer
December 28, 2004

Sometime in mid-September while driving to work and thinking about NASCAR, the opening line popped into my head from a Shakespeare play, "Now is the winter of our discontent." Why my mind would be relating Richard III to NASCAR, I'm not really sure, but for some reason that line just seemed appropriate to the 2004 season. Now I could barely get through reading the required Shakespeare plays in high school and then only with the teacher explaining what the author was really trying to say. So please don't take me for some kind on intellectual. Trust me, I'm far from it. The attached "poem" may be a little high toned for most NASCAR fans, and if so, please indulge me a bit. But that opening line has been swirling in my head over the last four months (coincidentally through the highly touted "Chase " races that ended the 2004 season.) I decided rather than write my typical "State of the Sport" diatribe, I'd come up with a twist on old Will's tale of an ill-fated king. For some reason, old Richard seems to remind me of Brian France. Hopefully, some of my feelings will come across loud and clear with the use of prose instead of my usual verbose writing style. I've already stated my views about cookie-cutter tracks, free passes, and a made for TV championship system, so I thought a new twist on the presentation of my feelings might be appropriate. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind during the long, cold winter and I don't plan on becoming a poet anytime soon. Besides much of this doesn't rhyme anyway. But I still wanted something to round out the 2004 race season. I did look up the lines from the opening scene of Richard III, and tried to stay true to the original text as much as possible. So, with sincere apologies to William Shakespeare, I dedicate the following to all the fans like myself who have felt forgotten and left behind by Brian France's brave New NASCAR:

SCENE I. North Carolina. A street in Wilkes County. Enter a NASCAR fan for more than four years...

Now is the season of our discontent
Made miserable by this grandson of France.
And all the clouds now brought upon our sport
Rockingham and Darlington's tradition buried

Now are our drivers bound by unheard of wealth
Their bruised ethics pushed aside for trophies and endorsement deals.
Our stern racers changed to merry models.
Yes-men who march to delightful measures.
Ratings battles have smoothed the wrinkled fenders.
And now, instead of mounting steel steeds
To fight the souls of fearful adversaries.
They follow happily in single-file parades
To the glee only of advertisers and stockholders.

But I am not shaped for boring tracks,
Made only to court TV ratings.
We fans, that are rudely stamped, want close racing.
But must settle for glitter instead of substance.
I, that am denied this simple desire.
Feel cheated of this feature by France's dissembling nature,
Disappointed, ignored, discarded before my time
Into this New NASCAR world, with rules half made up.
That are so lamely devised and unfashionable
That fans jeer at them as weeks go by.
Why, I, in this weak time of "growing the sport,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
While TV barks about "the Chase," I flip my remote in distaste;
Hoping to spy real racing on ESPN Classic
And lament the days of old.

Therefore, since I cannot prove a lover of today's NASCAR,
To entertain these fair-weather fans,
I have been determined to be a villain to the France clan
Because I disdain the boring races of these days.

Plots has Brian laid, treading dangerously on loyal fans.
To set NASCAR above football and court the mainstream.
Setting long-time fans and new fans one against the other:
And if recent changes prove true and just to stockholders goals,.
As France proves not subtle, but false and treacherous,
With loyalty lying only in the almighty dollar.
From this day shall competition see more decline,
With a prophecy of disenchanted fans
Of Bill France's heirs the murderer of NASCAR shall be.
Who strive to drive thoughts of real competition out of our heads:
Here comes the New NASCAR...

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