Cartoon Wednesday: NASCAR and Bicycles

7_29_09_the_Onion.jpgNASCAR: Why Is It Not Done on Thousands of Bicycles

Last week The Onion had a running gag that it was "sold to the Chinese" and all articles were written by staff as though they were official Chinese government proclamations about American culture.  While there were several things to chortle about, my favorite article was of course NASCAR: Why Is It Not Done on Thousands of Bicycles.

While the Onion is clearly taking a satirical pot-shot at the idea of bike commuting in large numbers, it also raises a side question about why is bike racing not nearly as popular a sport in America as car racing? 

I wish I had an answer, but I honestly find both events boring as all heck.  Feel free to drop your opinions in the comments section.

  • M

    Both are pretty boring to me too. I’d rather be outside doing something!

  • Marcotico

    The large scale popularity of any sport comes down to its potential as an advertising channel. If it supports advertising, then it will be played on television. If it is played on television more people will watch it. I’ve had this conversation with many people regarding why the world’s #1 support remains unpopular in the US. Advertisers have never been happy with the work-arounds necessary to show television commercials during a sport that has continuous play. They even approached FIFA about introducing some sort of stop in the action when the World Cup was hosted in the US.

    So Nascar has lots of space on cars to advertise, and since the races take forever there are plenty of opportunities to cutaway to action. Also the race takes place in one locale so there are even more opportunities for on-site advertising. Bike racing is not as interesting to american advertisers (except niche advertisers like Garmin, and Columbia clothing), and the race takes place over long 100 mile stretches of road, so the people are only exposed to the jerseys for a little bit, and at the beginning and end of the race.

    Long story short: the answer to any “Why is X not as popular in the US?” question in…Money.

  • I couldn’t get enough of watching the Tour De France this year, but I have also become an amateur bike racer my self and now understand the tactics involved a lot more. Bike racing actually used to be a very popular sport in America, but the popularity of bike racing followed a trajectory that closely followed bicycle commuting. When the automobile hit the scene, slowly velodromes for bike racing were abandoned or turned to race tracks for cars. Even some of the greats of bicycle track racing became race car drivers. Major Taylor, the first African American athlete to enter the world of “white” sports, and dominated bicycle track racing, died as a poor auto mechanic. Many people do not realize Madison Square Garden used to be the premiere venue for bicycle racing housing one of the best velodromes in the world. To this day there is a team track bike racing event called the Madison, named for the former Madison Square Garden Velodrome.

  • angle

    NASCAR crashes are much more horrific.

  • I’m with Gary. I watched most of the race this year; then again, I used to watch the old Rd Zinger/Coors Classic race in person back in Colorado, and followed le Tour ever since before LeMond became the first American winner. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the LeMond bike I now ride. Just a coincidence. Really.

    On the other hand, I can think of few things more tedious than watching a bunch of cars go around and around, over and over and over. Give me Formula 1, where the drivers have to be able to do tricky driver-type things, like actually slow down and make turns — in both directions! — instead of just going all out all the time.

  • On random sidenote, and totally off-topic, I was riding my bike around the other day and wondering why there isn’t a break-away Formula 1 style bike race series.

    You know, a race that allowed the racers to do away with the technical restraints placed upon them by the UCI. On the spring days, they could race recumbent bicycles, on the hill races, something else that is insanely light weight with amazing brakes on it.

    I was thinking up a few technical specs:
    -Two wheels only
    -Foot driven pedals only
    -No fairings, but crazy body suits and aero positions are okay.

    Sorry to hijack things.

  • Sorry … “on the SPRINT day” not “on the spring days”.

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