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If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say...

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Stock Car Racing Topics:  Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say...

Bill Crittenden
The Crittenden Automotive Library
April 24, 2007

This past weekend Dale Earnhart Jr. had one of the cars to beat.  That was, at least until Kyle Busch rearranged the 8 car's rear end when Dale slowed to avoid a spinning Tony Stewart.  Of course, blame is thrown around by fans, and will likely result in some booing of the 5 car and Kyle Busch next weekend by the horde of Dale Jr.'s fans that shows up at every track.

However, it's a sad state of affairs when fans of other drivers are verbally attacked for no reason but the color of their shirt or the number on their hat.  It really does suck when some of the members of the "Red Army" have a few too many Budweisers and feel that since there are more of them that they can get away with acting like fools.  This came about when I read a post in NASCAR World Order, a Yahoo! Group, about a family that had a less than wonderful experience with Dale Jr.'s fans after the 8 was was knocked out of the race.  A woman and her daughter were wearing Tony Stewart colors, and Tony was being blamed for the wreck.  The most baffling comment, however, that "One guy said he couldn't see how my son-in-law could be with us."  Her son-in-law was wearing Dale Jr.'s colors.

That guy is beyond stupid, because of course, we're all going to break family ties and change our wills when someone does something like show up at the family picnic in a Jimmie Johnson shirt, right?  Or not marry someone because she happens to be a Tony Stewart fan, because your love of a NASCAR driver means more than the love for your future wife or husband, right?  Family means more than your favorite driver.  At least, it should.  If your allegiance to Dale Earnhardt Jr. means more than your relationship with your relatives (whether they be through blood or marriage), please seek counseling immediately.

It's been a long time since I've been to a Cup race, but I get around the online message boards frequently.  This is a big country, with millions of race fans.  We're not all the same, and as such we all have different reasons for liking the drivers we do and not liking the drivers we don't.  Everybody's got a story of why they like or don't like their favorite driver.  The short version of mine is that when I was much younger I got to being a Bill Elliott fan because he drove the McDonald's car.

Booing a driver is one thing.  If they can't stand it, they oughta consider a career change, get into something less public, like accounting.  But to take out their frustration on another drivers' fans is ignorant.  The folks wearing the red 8s in Texas just have to come to grips with the fact that not everybody in the world is going to be a Dale Jr. fan.

People just take it too personally.  He's a race car driver.  You like him, but chances are you don't really know him.  You think you know him, you read about him daily, wear his shirt, eat where he's eaten.  But two minutes of face time across an autograph table does not mean you know him.  Sure, he's got friends, but chances are you're not on his cell phone's speed dial, if you know what I mean.  If you're one of those female fans with an e-mail address or Infield Parking name that involves some form of "Dale Jr.'s future wife," and he doesn't know your name, just stop reading now and seek professional help.

It's great that you have a favorite, but you don't need to take it as a personal attack because the guy in the next seat is wearing orange.  Or, god forbid, a DuPont logo.  Dale's a grown man, and is quite capable of taking care of himself, and he doesn't need you to go around harrassing fans of other drivers.  This is America, damn it, and people can wear what they want, and cheer for who they want.  Sure, that means you can say what you want, too, and you can use your freedom of speech to call those Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon fans whatever names you want.  But I've got that freedom, too, and if you're one of those idiots who can't stand that other people like other drivers I'll use mine to call you an ignorant fool that gives Dale Jr. fans (and Dale Jr. himself by association) a bad name.

Remember, when you wear your favorite driver's colors you represent him in a way, just as a driver's words and actions can cause them to gain or lose respect and fans.  Especially to people new to the sport, who are getting their first impressions of the drivers...and the group of fans that they want to be associated with.  Think of negative experiences you've had with groups of people, and how you felt about associating with them afterwards.  Personally, I've had very negative experiences with Ferrari owners and people from New York City.  So chances are the last thing I'll do is move to New York and buy a Ferrari.  A fan new to the sport goes to his first race and sees guys in a red shirt with an 8 on it harrassing people and acting like a fool, and he's probably not going to run right out and buy a bunch of Dale Jr. stuff.

Yes, this is another instance of "The Biffle Principle," as I proposed in another article I wrote.  Most Junior fans aren't the drunken idiots trying to harrass a family of Tony Stewart fans at a race, but then people don't come home from a race and write about the nice ones.  And this applies to fans of any driver, so just because you're reading this wearing a blue Miller Lite shirt or have a Kevin Harvick wallpaper behind this browser window doesn't mean you can act like an idiot at a race.  Especially to Dale Jr.'s fans, because they outnumber you!

This article is an adaptation to a post in NASCAR World Order

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