NASCAR fans say crashes add to fun
LOUDON - Andie Hosmer said she doesn't ever watch NASCAR races to see the crashes.
Hosmer, of Pittsburg, explained her point Friday as she and some friends sat outside their RV at New Hampshire Motor Speedway's RV Park. They came from the northernmost town in the state to see the races, particularly today's Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
"Of course I don't watch to see crashes; I don't want anyone to get hurt," she said.
Her close friend, Verna Bartlett of Pittsburg, interrupted.
"I love to see crashes!" she piped in.
Bartlett said that she, too, doesn't want to see drivers injured, but crashes add to the excitement of the race.
"I like to see some action," she said. "It's exciting when they crash, I love it."
A few RVs away, Raymond Saucier of Pelham backed Bartlett's view.
"Anyone who tells you they don't like to see crashes isn't a real race fan," Saucier said. "I don't want to see anyone get hurt either, but it definitely adds excitement. It's part of the sport."
A neighbor of Saucier, Ginna Hogan of Calverton, N.Y., said she agrees completely.
"Everyone wants the excitement of the crash," she said.
"If something happened to one of the drivers, it would be terrible, but most of the time they're OK; they just blow a tire in the air or something."
Jerry Gappens, the track's executive vice president and general manager, said crashes "are part of our sport," and race fans are not unlike fans of other sports who like to see exciting things happen in their sports. Downhill skiers, for instance, crash spectacularly sometimes, he said.
He said drivers today are a bit like the Roman gladiators.
"People get an adrenaline rush at live sporting events, it goes back to the gladiators," he said. "They love their drivers, and they like to see them driving on the edge sometimes. It's pretty natural."
Gappens noted that Hogan is correct: Most often, crashes don't lead to serious injuries, which is one reason fans like them.
Driving in NASCAR races is much safer than it used to be, he said.
Since Dale Earnhardt died in 2001 at the Daytona 500, the sport has made drastic improvements in the area of driver safety, he said.
As he walked from the RV Park to the track, Kevin Lukasik of Clifton Park, N.Y., explained that he and others like watching crashes because, "it's part of racing, and it makes the races more exciting."
He said drivers have always engaged in "rubbin' racing," a term that has been used by drivers since the earliest days of the sport.
In the 1990 movie "Days of Thunder,'' Robert Duvall's character, Harry Hogge, admonishes Tom Cruise's character for whining about his car being bumped by another driver. Hogge says: "No, no, he didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you, he rubbed you. And rubbin', son, is racin''.'
Lukasik said: "That's the reality, the drivers do it all the time. It causes spinouts and crashes, and that makes it more exciting, there's no doubt.
"Rubbin' racing is a big part of these races. I don't think anyone comes here hoping someone crashes, but it's hard to deny that it adds excitement, and everyone likes it."