Monday, September 2, 2013

Tell racers to start engines ... then shut up

Sacramento, California -- Is anyone else getting tired of the relentless commercialization and trashing of the traditional command to start engines at auto races?

Amazing to see how many people can't say four simple words: Drivers start your engines.

Instead, they mug for the camera like frat-boy idiots ... Or hold up some useless product most of us can do without ... Or deliver a speech that even Fidel Castro in his prime would have considered long-winded.

I have a particularly irrational dislike of all this as I'm extraordinarily wrapped up in the history of motor sports.

The original "traditional" command originated decades ago at the history drenched Indianapolis 500.  It was a somewhat formal command to kick off an event that would essentially be a war among pilots of four-wheel monsters: Gentleman, start your engines.

Simple, direct and historically significant ... heard by a long, gray line of race drivers living and dead.

You'd think that something stretching that far back, honoring the heroes of the sport would take on a sacred quality.  You'd be wrong.

Now, comedians ham it up and shriek into the microphone, doing everything but bending over and dropping their pants.  Others do a full commercial about their wonderful product, their terrific company and the incredibly wonderful people who work there.

Arguably, the topper came recently at NASCAR's Irwin Tools Nights Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Las Vegas fight announcer Michael Buffer was brought into wail his usual "get ready to rumble" rap, but wait, that was just the warm-up.  He then threw it to a bunch of Irwin employees grouped together, and we had to sit through another Irwin commercial before getting the words to get the engines started.

Enough already.  And for those who think it's just me and motor sports, imagine the simple words to kick off a Major League Baseball game being similarly polluted.  Instead of play ball, the umpire might break into something like ...

"HEY Y'ALL, LET'S PLAY SOME BALL ... AND DON'T FORGET TO BUY BARDAHL" (cue to ump holding up an automotive lubricant).

Is that what you want?   Not me.  Yes, with the welcome addition of more female racing drivers, I have no problem with DRIVERS START YOUR ENGINES.  Being a traditionalist, I would personally prefer to have the original phrase preserved, as Indy has done in the past, with LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES.

How tough is that?  Seems simple to me.  And yes, I can wait for the commercials to come later, like the hundreds or so that I'm bombarded with trying to watch a race on television.
Give the command, fire up the engines, let's go racing.  And while you're at it, how about respecting the sport and its long-standing traditions.

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