1. NASCAR promotes family values: In 2002, the wife of racing legend Jeff Gordon filed for divorce, citing “marital misconduct.” When the alleged “other woman” began speaking publicly about her affair with Gordon, the four-time NASCAR champion never specifically denied the allegations.
2. It values fair play: In 1990, driver Mark Martin was poised to win the Winston Cup championship, only to be hit with a 46-point penalty for using illegal equipment on his car in the last race of the season. It has become an accepted part of racing lore that NASCAR officials trumped up the infraction in order to hand the title to Dale Earnhardt Sr., whose growing notoriety was putting NASCAR on the map.
3. Its drivers are just a bunch of “Average Joes”: NASCAR drivers used to haul their battered cars from one dirt track to another on the backs of flatbed trucks. Now they fly from one venue to another in private jets. The practice is so commonplace that the teams have formed as association to deal with the airport congestion on race weekends caused by dozens of NASCAR jets.
4. It reflects America: As of the 2000 census, black people make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, while women comprise 51 percent of the population. As of this writing, there are no black or women drivers currently racing in the Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR’s premier division. NASCAR driver Robby Gordon has even gone so far as to suggest that a lighter female driver would enjoy an unfair advantage over heavier male drivers.
5. More on that “family values” thing: It is openly debated in NASCAR circles that marriage is a distraction that can cost a young driver a shot at the championship. While it would be impolitic to come out and say it explicitly, some veteran drivers have implied that it would have been better for younger drivers like Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson to have postponed their marriages for the sake of their budding careers.
6. NASCAR takes care of its own: In 1988, the NASCAR world was rocked by the news that winning driver Tim Richmond had contracted AIDS. Even though the circumstances of how Richmond contracted the virus are still in dispute, he was immediately shunned by the homophobic racing establishment. He died in seclusion in 1989.
7. NASCAR is family friendly: A sampling of prominent NASCAR sponsors: Budweiser, Miller Lite, Jim Beam, Viagra, Bud Lite, Hooter’s, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Busch, Smirnoff Ice.
8. NASCAR drivers are solid family men: NASCAR widely promotes the notion that its drivers are a bunch of red state squares, but anecdotal evidence suggests they are just as fallible as the rest of us. Legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr., for example, was twice divorced. Tim Richmond was (see No. 6) was famous for his hard partying lifestyle. NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will not hesitate to punch you if you get in his way. See also Jeff Gordon (No. 1)
9. NASCAR drivers settle their differences on the track: Among the major professional sports, few have cultivated a culture as whiny as that of NASCAR. When they aren’t jumping out of their cars and throwing their helmets at each other, NASCAR drivers are bitching to anyone who will listen about some perceived slight. In a well-publicized catfight straight out of the film “Beauty Shop,” for example, drivers Kurt Busch and Jimmie Spencer went at it after a bumping incident at the Brickyard 400, culminating in Spencer calling Busch “a jerk” and the younger Busch dubbing Spencer “a decrepit old has been.”