NASCAR’s Historic Influence for the Future

Historic is a term widely used within the realm of NASCAR – A sport known as the only truly American-based sport that’s gone from a southern regional influence to having a global presence. 

Paludo and Piquet Jr
at Daytona Feb. 24, 2012
Photo – John Harrelson/Getty Images
Today the global presence of NASCAR includes drivers from Brazil with Nelson Piquet Jr and Miguel Paludo; Columbia with Juan Pablo Montoya and as far away as Australia with Marcos Ambrose. And although they represent present day NASCAR, at the same time they represent another chapter in the history of NASCAR’s on-going evolution. At some point in the future they will be seen as part of NASCAR’s storied history. 

Although the word “historic” is freely used, it seems there is a common misconception about what the word truly represents. We all know those fans that relish NASCAR’s past, sometimes condemning changes that are taking place and proclaiming NASCAR’s demise as a result. They love the NASCAR of yester-year and recall those days with nostalgia, often wishing NASCAR today were more like the past. Everyone is entitled to their perspective, and there’s a great deal of respect for their of love of the sport and its days long gone. But there is reason to believe this group may also resist change in other parts of their lives as well as having a misguided understanding of the term ‘historic.’ 

According to the online Free Dictionary, “historic” means “having importance in or influence on history.” The word of note here is “influence.” Again, the Free Dictionary definition indicates that “influence” means “A power affecting a person, thing, or course of events…” 3.b. indicates, “An effect or change produced by influence.” And there it is – that dreaded word to some – “Change.” 
Consider for a moment all the significant changes this sport has experienced throughout it’s history. Changes that have influenced the NASCAR story, from compacted sand and dirt road racing to paved short tracks and super speedways. In the early days and one of the reasons the sport was limited to the southern region, was because there was no exposure, no avenue for others beyond that region to experience the sport. So, what about the advent of radio, television, trackpass and race buddy all used to enhance our race day experience at home and expanding the sport world-wide. There are also changes of race cars being the family vehicle driven to the track, raced on the track and driven back home again -to sponsored racing machines engineered for aerodynamic performance at super speedways and engineered for the safety of our favorite drivers. 

Changes in the world around the sport of NASCAR often dictate changes within the sport. Changes are not always welcome and often shunned as big mistakes within the world, as well as within NASCAR, taking us in what is perceived by some as the wrong direction. And for those feeling that way today, there is little comfort in knowing, people throughout the ages have not always welcomed the historic changes that have culminated at the crossroad of today on its way to the future. 

Just for a moment, take the time to imagine the historic significance of NASCAR without change, keeping in mind the meaning of historic – “having importance in or influence on history.” Can you imagine NASCAR even existing today without the influences of change? 

Can you imagine your world without modern conveniences of electricity, running water, computers, cell phones, washers, dryers and other conveniences we take for granted and enjoy? Yes, people lived without those conveniences at some point in our history, and in some cases there’s nostalgia associated with those times. But it’s not where we want our historic significance to end. The same is true of NASCAR’s historic significance. Thankfully, the visionaries of our favorite sport have inspired and influenced changes that allow us to experience this sport all around the world today. 

Now it becomes clear, that without change, there is no historic NASCAR to embrace. Quite frankly, NASCAR would have become non-existent long ago without important changes that have influenced the sport as we know it today. And why? Because without change, there is a lack of ability to transcend the past with the future. Change is the crossroad that brings us from the past to the future. Without it, we stagnate without moving forward – without historic significance to influence a new generation. 

We can certainly celebrate NASCAR’s rich history with a passion and love for where this sport started, and for its growth as we know it today. The changes that transpire within NASCAR today will indeed continue to take us away from our past. And at some point today will become the past, remembered with fondness as more changes take place as part of NASCAR’s adaptation to the future. 

As fans of NASCAR, understanding that change is necessary to influence the historic significance of our favorite sport into the future seems elementary on the surface. But as has happened in the past, there will still be nay-sayers resisting change wanting to hold on to the past with every fiber within – it’s all part of the process. 

But also as in the past, change will happen within our world that will influence changes within NASCAR. So there is little doubt, change is on the horizon of our favorite sport. Changes that will create today’s significance on the historic path of NASCAR. 

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