Rev. Jerry Falwell has his Moral Majority. NASCAR has its “Moron Minority.”
Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, a small percentage of NASCAR fans put the vast majority of us to shame once again, showering the track (and winner Jeff Gordon) with trash and debris after Gordon’s win in the Aaron’s 499. It’s impossible to know exactly what they were upset about; Gordon winning the race, the event ending under caution, or Gordon topping the late Dale Earnhardt on the all-time NASCAR wins list. It doesn’t really matter, though, since there is no excuse that could possibly justify the latest outbreak of post-race NASCAR boorishness.
Sunday’s fusillade was the most disappointing yet, since virtually every driver in the NASCAR garage spoke out against it prior to the race. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., arguably the most influential driver in all of NASCAR, pleaded with fans to keep their cans to themselves, adding that if they felt compelled to throw something at a car, they should go out in the parking lot and toss a brewski through their own windshield. His appeal fell on deaf ears, however, prompting him to remark after the race, "It don't look like it's something you can control."
"It’s terrible," agreed second-place finisher Jimmie Johnson, surveying a minefield of exploded beer cans on the Talladega frontstretch. "I can't believe that people who love this sport would take the chance to hurt a kid; hurt another person. I'm disappointed to see that, and it's getting worse and worse every week."
Speedway President Grant Lynch talked tough immediately after the race, saying, "We warned our fans about throwing debris on the racetrack and the consequences of such actions. Additional security was brought in for the grandstands, (and) we enforced our policies and took appropriate action on individuals we were able to accurately identify." However, independent reports later revealed that that less than 10 people had been detained for throwing objects Sunday.
Tuesday, officials announced that 14 race fans who threw objects onto the track will not be allowed to purchase tickets there again. The fans were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, according to Talladega County Sheriff Jerry Studdard. All posted bond at jail facilities located at the speedway and were released. Disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor in Alabama, punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
We can hope that a $500 fine will knock some common sense and decency into those Schlitz-for-brains neanderthals, but it's not likely. They probably too dumb to understand the magnitude of their actions.
Lynch said Sunday that no injuries had been reported, though a caller to Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway said his son received more than 50 stitches after being hit in the head with a flying beer can. That report could not be immediately confirmed, but common sense indicates that when hundreds of 16-ounce projectiles are hurled skyward, someone’s going to get hurt when they land.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was right Sunday. The "Moron Minority" is out of control. And in my opinion, there’s only one way to prevent what happened Sunday from ever happening again.
Take away their ammunition.
It’s time for tracks on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit to ban cans and plastic bottles from their grandstands. Take away the beer, confiscate the soft drinks and eliminate anything that could potentially be used as a projectile. Do what every other professional sport in this country does; require patrons to buy their beer in 12-ounce, abuse-proof plastic cups. The profit margin will skyrocket, and the embarrassment factor will plummet.
The "Moron Minority" will protest the loss of its God-given right to get drunk and show its collective backside to the world. They will declare the move "another attempt by NASCAR to fleece the working man," and threaten to boycott the sport forever. The rest of us won’t miss them at all.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.