Looking Ahead: The Next 200 Years of NASCAR

Three cheers for NASCAR, hip hip huzzah! Like most Americans, my family and I are huge fans of NASCAR. For 200 years, they've delighted folks young and old with the exciting yet predictable formula of going as fast as possible around a circular track. Genius! But as I wrap up my weeklong celebration of their 200 year anniversary, I can't help but feel like NASCAR is passing up on some opportunities to modernize the sport. In the spirit of looking ahead, here's some ways NASCAR can bring itself into the 21st century:

1. Something stinks. A work colleague of mine recently wrote on the dangers of bad breath in football. The problem doesn't end at the zero yard line, unfortunately. NASCAR, like any honorable sports organization, is not immune to bad breath in the ranks. A few days ago, I have the privilege of sneaking onto the racetrack during a high stakes NASCAR session. What I smelled appalled me: burning rubber, gasoline, motor oil, and old ham filled my nostrils. The smell was so bad that I couldn't bear to eat the discounted ham sandwich I had brought in my lunch pail. Brush, guys. Twice a day. It's gross.

2. Stop the pit stop. This has always angered me. Why does NASCAR allow any racer at any time to just take a break in the middle of the race?!? No one else seems to think it's weird, which is bizarre. It's the only sport where it's somehow okay to pull over, get out of your car and use the bathroom. The solution is simple: go to the bathroom before the race. To add insult to injury, NASCAR seems to promote the practice by providing free on-demand tune ups to any racer who needs to take five.

2. Put horse racing, dog racing, and car racing together for a 3-in-1 racing extravaganza. It's a pretty simple idea: they're all racing sports, so what are they doing being separate from each other? Because they all involve the element of competitive racing, there is a huge crossover between the fan bases (see chart below). Bottom line: it's more convenient and saves so much time to condense these needlessly separate sports.

A rough outline of what that might look like.

And, finally, number 2: Go green, turn off the machine. Climate change is turning out to be a real bummer, and NASCAR can show it has truly become a future-oriented sport by shutting everything down now.

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Nate Odenkirk is ready to move on from NASCAR week. 

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