Monday, February 19, 2018

Musings From the Weekend: Grid Dogs

We now like in a world where Austin Dillon is a Daytona 500 winner. In other NASCAR news, it's timing and scoring needs to add a few more zeroes and maybe cut down on the number of green-white-checkered attempts. Drivers are either getting worse or can no longer see the bigger picture during a race. In non-NASCAR news, World Rally had some fun in the snow. A few Formula One cars have been unveiled. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Grid Dogs
Late-January was taken over with the news that Formula One decided to drop grid girls. Both ends of the debate fired off. Those against the decision blame political correction. Those for the decision celebrate the message it sends to women. It is hard to find middle ground on anything in 21st century. You not only have to pick a side but get all the way to the end of the spectrum and dangle your toes over the edge. Both side hang over insanity.

I am in the middle. Here is why.

I don't believe grid girls do anything to grow a series. Think about how little grid girls are shown on television. For a Formula One race, you see an isolate shot on a grid girl for all of what, 15 seconds?Then you don't see them for the hour and 40 minutes of the race and then see them for another 15 to 30 seconds when all grid girls line up, clap as the drivers walk to the podium and then three of them present the drivers with hats and microphones on the podium. If you believe anyone turned on a television, saw a beautiful woman on television for 15 seconds then stuck through a motorsports event for close to two hours just to see another few beautiful women for 15 more seconds and have that person then decide he or she is going to continue watching that series for the rest of eternity because of 30 seconds of beautiful women each week who are full of shit.

However, I think if a person, regardless of gender, is offered a chance to make money and know what it entails and chooses to do it then they should be free to do so. If a series or track or team wants to use grid girls, compensates those hired fairly and treats them with respect then fine. Some women have lost a source of income because grid girls will no longer be used at Formula One races and if all series follow suit than many will have to find new lines of work.

I understand why people are uneasy when they take a daughter to a race and the most notable women work there are grid girls but I do believe we should and I bet most of us are teaching our daughters that there is more than one option should she want to get into motorsports. It isn't a long list but Cara Adams, Leena Gade, Sarah Fisher, Monisha Kaltenborn, Andrea Muller, Simona de Silvestro, Christina Nielsen, Pippa Mann, Danica Patrick and Katherine Legge are some of the names that can be role models and hopefully these ten names leads to more women behind the wheel, under the hood and on top of pit stands making decisive calls to win races.

A series dropping grid girls will not decide whether I watch or not. It is not why I am there and I am sure the people who go for the grid girls, all 23 of those hyper-heterosexual males, will be missed but think of the absurdity of letting something auxiliary to an event dictate whether people watch or not. It has nothing to do with whether or not you are a fan or not. If baseball teams stopped doing dizzy bat races between the third and fourth innings I doubt fewer people would show up at the gate. If basketball teams stopped letting fans try to make a half court shot for a chance at a large sum of money few would notice. And to address the apples to apples comparison, if an NFL team decided it no longer wanted to have cheerleaders there would be pushback but if that team went 14-2 and made a run to the Super Bowl it would quickly be forgotten.

If there is one thing Formula One should do over is not made a grand announcement and acted like they were taking the baton and leading some kind of social movement. First off, no one really believes Formula One will be some kind of crusader with grid girls gone but no women close to being taken seriously for a race seat. Second, Formula One would have been better off by quietly phasing this out. Eventually people would notice but most would not realize and come to the conclusion that it must not have been that big of a deal if they had not noticed the change.

And any series using grid girls, talking to you Formula E, shouldn't act like it is hot shit. Big deal. You need more than that to be a successful series and grid girls can't make up from dull races.

If we need something on the grid that takes up space and people don't want women willingly doing it for a living and if people are against the idea of kids doing it then why not have grid dogs? Few people are against dogs and that would be more effective in drawing people to the series than women or children. Look at any one of the number of social media accounts dedicated to dogs. Imagine if a race had two-dozen grid dogs, sitting in front of cars or in the cockpit of cars and each dog wearing a shirt for the car that dog is stationed to hung around. Imagine how many people would be posting photos with the dogs on the grid in front of the cars. Imagine all the hits from people who would have no idea what IndyCar is if the series had grid dogs at St. Petersburg and one dog was in the cockpit behind the wheel or just being a good boy and lying in front of the car or sitting on some tires.

That might be the one way you might actually get people out to the races. Someone might see it in St. Petersburg and live in Phoenix and then see IndyCar will be in Phoenix the following month and decide to go. Hell, if I were running IndyCar I would allow people to bring their dogs to race. Have you seen how empty the grandstands are at Phoenix and some of these races? If 1,000 people brought dogs the stands would at least look a little more crowded. And there is nothing wrong with being dog friendly. People-friendly hasn't gotten IndyCar or any motorsports series anywhere but if these series become dog friendly then a series might just explode in terms more people attending and more people paying attention even if who wins the race is second fiddle.

Although, you could bring the dogs into victory lane and then people would care about the winner. If posing Scott Dixon or Alexander Rossi or Josef Newgarden or Simon Pagenaud with four dogs in victory lane gets them a larger following and makes them more of a household name than do it because it would be more effective than having four scantily clad women standing around them.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Austin Dillon but did you know...

Tyler Reddick won the NASCAR Grand National Series race. Johnny Sauter won the Truck race.

Thierry Neuville won Rally Sweden and took the championship lead in World Rally Championship.

Eli Tomac won the Supercross race from Arlington.

Coming Up This Weekend
NASCAR moves north to Atlanta for week two of the season.
World Superbike and World Supersport head to Phillip Island, which produced three races decided by paper-thin margins last year.
Supercross returns to Tampa Bay for the first time since 1999.