Oh my gosh. They’ve done it. They’ve finally done it. This is—once and for all—the worst idea in the history of motorsports.
NASCAR is considering turning down the volume on its iconic V8 roar, reports Sports Business Journal. The idea is being considered to allow fans to be able to talk to each other during the races. The idea is among 15 to 20 initiatives NASCAR is studying on topics including competition and fan engagement. Some of those, such as shortening select race weekends to two days and breaking races into stages, are already in use.
Yet this terrible idea would ruin one of the reasons you go to NASCAR in person to begin with. The sound of a NASCAR race is what makes it a near-religious experience. You don’t just hear the cars. You feel them in your bones. Experiencing the earth-shaking roar of a NASCAR field echo off the banking of an oval track is among the top experiences a car enthusiast should have in their life, as it is an auditory spectacle like nothing else on earth.
Look, having stage breaks eat up race laps this season is bad enough. Reviving the sexist, outdated practice of having spandex-clad grid girls stand around everywhere for no reason this season is downright trashy. But making the cars quieter?! That goes all the way past ex-Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone’s old track-sprinklers-for-mayhem idea into the Hall of Fame of Terrible Motorsports Ideas.
Formula One is exactly the example NASCAR should look to when considering this idea too, right before they promptly round-file it into the nearest trash can, set that trash can on fire, nuke it from orbit just to be sure, and never, ever think of it again. Ever since Formula One switched to quieter V6 hybrid engines in the name of innovation and road relevance, fans have bemoaned losing that visceral auditory experience of the louder V8s and V10s that predated the V6 era.
While it sounds somewhat silly for such a tech-heavy series, fans still blame the loss of volume as a reason why they’ve lost interest in F1—after three years! Even the nicest sounding V6 F1 engines today get compared to hot vacuum cleaner action by fans who are still mad about F1's move to quiet down its engines.
NASCAR, for better or for worse, shies away from extreme innovation in favor of being the more human-centered series, as The Verge recently described in their lengthy examination of technology in the sport. As such, NASCAR doesn’t share F1's tech-centric motivation for going quieter, so even the fans who feel as if NASCAR should become more modern would likely be angry at the change.
The V8 itself is one of America’s defining sounds, having been the defining roar of everything from Mustang burnouts in your high school parking lot to Corvettes winning Le Mans to—of course—NASCAR itself. It’s the engine we’re best known for as a country. Making them quieter is practically un-American. Ask yourselves this, whoever’s responsible for this proposal: why do you hate America?
Worst of all, this is a problem that doesn’t really need to be solved. Fans have so many ways to be social without having to use auditory speech now that it’s asinine that this would even be proposed in 2017. Text, tweet, Facebook or whatever all the eggplants that properly express your reaction to the cars as they go by.
Complain with the wider, worldwide audience online with that magical mystery device—some call them a “phone”—in your pocket when your driver hits the wall. Lest we forget, there’s plenty of quiet time to chat mid-race with NASCAR’s new breaks in between stages, too.
Look, I can understand the frustration of not being heard. I have older parents and have to repeat some things at least three times, even when there’s dead silence. But you can always talk aloud to your buddies and be heard after the race. Feeling your gut shake at 40 loud race-prepped V8s passing right next to you, not so much.