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The 7 Words…*
by Sally Baker
May 20, 2004

Over the past 3 years, many things have changed in racing. Recently there has been a lot of concern over the language used by drivers during on air interviews - particularly when the image of NASCAR as the Ultimate Family Entertainment is at risk. I don't disagree with the policy. In fact, I don't think they have gone far enough. While NASCAR has warned the drivers to watch their mouths, I believe they need to police their own vocabulary for language offensive to race fans! With a tip of the hat to George Carlin, I submit my list of “7 Words (or phrases) That Should Never Be Used By NASCAR”.

7. IT IS WHAT IT IS
NASCAR uses this phrase when asked to explain things like revamping the point system, or removing the Southern 500 from Labor Day weekend. It was heavily used when “educating” fans that the chase format is not a playoff, or is trying to imitate football using an artificial contrivance to put more cars in contention for a 10 race (out of 36) runoff…that is NOT a playoff

6. MARKETS
This is the justification from NASCAR (and television) for leaving behind the older, more challenging tracks – and fans. Also the current euphemism for greed. The ones termed “desirable” are near cities of a half million or more, with tracks seating a minimum for 100,000. All others need not apply, and current tracks not meeting these criteria better start packing their bags. Are you listening, Martinsville?

5. DEMOGRAPHIC
The favorite word of NASCAR (and television) used to describe the ideal “new fan” they are salivating over. HE is male, and between 18-34 years old. It appears they are having some success in this area, as demonstrated by the show of enthusiasm of this valuable demographic from the Mosh Pit at Talladega.

4. NEXT LEVEL
This is what NASCAR assures fans it is aiming for. Might be more understandable if we knew what the PRESENT level is. How do we know when we actually reach the next level? Is it attained when ISC kills off all the older tracks and builds on near NYC? Or maybe the next level is when Brain France and Bruton Smith move into the Top 10 on Forbes' “Wealthiest men in America” list. Or is the next level reached when only the people on the Forbes list can afford to attend a race? Is there enough money in the world to get Brian France to the next level?

3. GROW THE SPORT
Aside from making no sense at all (one can grow flowers or tomatoes; you can expand a sport) it's closely related to #4, in that it's another nebulous term with no definition in reality. It sees frequent usage when watering down the degree of difficulty so you can spread racing thinner with cookie cutter tracks and a “chase”. Sometimes used to replace “quantity is better than quality”

2. REALIGNMENT 2004 AND BEYOND
Obviously inspired by Buzz Lightyear (appropriately enough, a cartoon character), NASCAR uses this under the impression that, if it's a cute enough phrase, people won't notice when you pick their pockets. A fair translation would be, “whatever it takes to make television happy, as long as it lines our own pocket”. This justifies leaving any track in a “saturated market” for one in an “under served market”, even if NASCAR has to create the failure by using ISC as the Track killer.

1. TRADITION
The ultimate obscenity when used by either NASCAR or a certain wireless company. It is usually uttered in reverent tones, hat in hand, while stomping all over it wearing cleats. Football type, one would assume. R J Reynolds and Winston, who raised NASCAR from a regional interest to a national phenomenon, is now so politically incorrect that NASCAR spinelessly tries to pretend they never had any connection to tobacco. “Redneck”, a term that used to be proudly associated with anyone who was willing to work hard, no matter what their socio-economic background, is now so abhorrent to NASCAR that they rejected it as a sponsor in hard economic tomes. The Southern 500, a Labor Day staple for 50 years, one of the most prestigious races on the circuit, was ruthlessly shifted to the left coast. Common template cars make manufacturer loyalty a moot point. NASCAR may have a history, but it no longer has a tradition.

* VACATION DESTINATION
I would have included this, but to tell you the truth, I just don't get this one. I hear Brian France use this term frequently in reference to where to award race dates. It confuses me, because my only criteria for attending a race is, well, the race. I have to take at least 2 days off work (unpaid) to allow time to drive to the track. If I'm lucky, I find a motel less than 2 hours from the track of choice that I can afford (at double rates for a 3 day minimum). I get up early so I can arrive before the worst of the traffic, and find a place to park within 2 miles of the track. By the time practice/qualifying/the race is over and I've schlepped back to the car and crawled along with traffic for the long drive back to my motel, I barely have the energy (or money) to get dinner and get to bed so I can do it all over again the next morning. I don't go on a vacation…I go to a race. I guess the people Brian France is worried about have a lot more time and expendable income than I do. But, he's making that pretty clear, isn't he?

As NASCAR censors drivers for words or phrases that might offend fans, maybe they should monitor themselves for offensive words.

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