Monday, June 08, 2009

Big Deal? I think not

In NASCAR, something always seems to happen to make headlines, just in case the race wasn't exciting or interesting enough. In recent weeks, we have had the Jeremy Mayfield story, the Carl Long Saga, and, of course, there's always the What's Up With Junior ? story line.

This week also brought us plenty of good stories. Todd Bodine was the first Truck Series driver to win five times at TMS. The defending championsip team in the Truck Series has shut its doors, leaving the defending Champion, Johnny Benson, without a ride. NASCAR implemented the double file "shootout style" restart for the sake of the fans. Tony Stewart became the first owner/driver to win a points race in the Cup Series in over ten years. Stewart also became the first Cup driver to win a race at Pocono starting from the fourty-third position. Robby Gordon won the Baja 500 for the fourth time in his career. That isn't NASCAR news, but it does involve a NASCAR driver. Kyle Busch performed the best burn-out ever in his celebration of his Nashville victory. It had smoke, explosions, and flames.

But the big story of the week, the one that everyone wants to talk about, involves the smashing of an $800 guitar by Kyle Busch in Victory Lane. Gibson Guitars, Inc is ecstatic over it--they got over $300,000 in free advertising at the cost of one guitar. Sam Bass, a mediocre artist at best, stayed in the spotlight by changing his reaction to the act twice, and by getting commissioned by Kyle Busch to paint two new guitars.. Dave Despain set himself firmly in the ranks of propagandists like Chris Wallace, Bill O'Reilly, and Bob Beckel by telling only half the story, or, only the part of the story that served him best.

When Kyle Busch shouted over the radio, "everybody gets a piece of the guitar," as he ran the final lap of the race, we should have had a clue as to what was about to happen. Members of the #18 Nationwide Series crew had asked Busch, back in April, if they could have a piece of the guitar if he won it. He obliged them, and now each and every member of his crew has a signed piece of the trophy to commemorate their first Nashville victory. It wouldn't have been the same if it had been one of the replacement guitars that had been cut up, nor would it have been the same if Kyle had just taken the guitar to the shop and cut it up there, without the Victory Lane performance.

Bottom line is, no one should have been as apalled as they pretend to be. The artist, Sam Bass--who backed into notoriety by painting NASCAR themed pictures rather than Elvis on velvet or pictures of household pets playing cards or billiards--said at first that he was shocked, then that he understood that Kyle's action was actually a tribute to the guitar and to rock and roll, "as someone who appreciates rock and roll."

It is perfectly understandable that an artist would cringe at seeing his work destroyed, and, artists are supposed to be sensitive. On Monday, Bass claimed that, though he understood that the trophy was Kyle's and he could do what he wanted with it, he was appalled at seeing "his baby...destroyed seconds after it was awarded." As if the Nashville trophy is his life's work. Anybody who is familiar with Bass' paintings knows that he only has four basic drawings, on which he only has to change the colors of the cars or the uniform, and facial and hair features of the driver. So Bass isn't complaining about the commision he gets from Busch, nor is it going to be any matter of creativity for him to paint the new guitars. He's had plenty of practice at it, like Elvis on velvet.

The story may have been different if, as one caller on "Wind Tunnel" pointed out, it had been Dale Earnhardt, Jr who had smashed the guitar, it would have been the greatest victory celebration ever. But it was the much hated Kyle Busch who performed the dastardly deed, and that did not win him any fans, nor did he expect it to.

In the results of the ESPN NASCAR Now poll on Monday, seventeen percent of the respondents said they loved Kyle's VL performance, forty-seven percent said they hated it, and thirty-six percent said they didn't care. To be honest, I'm with that thirty-six percent. There are many more stories that don't deserve to be overshadowed by this one.

For example, did anybody see the significance in the car number that won the fourteenth Cup race of the season?

1 comment:

Mandy said...

Thank you! Finally, someone who agrees with me! The guitar was already ruined just by having that cheap, cheesy art on it. It looks like a collector's plate from the Danbury Mint catalogue.