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NASCAR tone-deaf if it wants to silence roar of engines

Tribune News Service • Mar 11, 2017 at 10:30 AM

A moment of silence for NASCAR, please.

The sport presumably wants to hire librarians to monitor the noise at all of its tracks. “Drivers…start your engines…but quietly please!” Don’t be surprised if Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets whacked over the head with a rule for breaking the rules of engagement.

In what very well may be the worst idea in modern sports history, NASCAR officials are considering dropping down the noise level of cars. That’s among a series of 15-20 changes under consideration, and reported by The Sports Business Journal earlier this week.

My counter-point:

SHUT THE HECK UP!

Can you hear the death knell of NASCAR? We’ll administer last rites and let Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and other greats be the pallbearers at the funeral.

Somebody in the home offices in Daytona Beach or Charlotte must have dropped the memo: Noise is the heartbeat of NASCAR. The roar, the rumble, and the rush of 40 stock cars joining in perfect harmony to create a soundtrack that can reach over 130 decibels during a race.

The noise can be deafening, but in a get-your-heart-pumping adrenaline rush kind of way. There is nothing quite like the first lap at Daytona or Talladega, after the pace car drops into the infield, and the race cars crank up to full-speed with 725-horsepower engines under the hood.

The only opening act in sports that comes close to that exhilarating rush is the anticipation before a championship boxing match, as modern-day gladiators take to the ring and try to beat each other senseless.

Sadly, boxing is on the ropes, and NASCAR is wobbly as well, with sagging attendance and TV ratings and changes to its playoff formats that have driven many traditional fans away. This new idea would pretty much take out every last man and woman left standing.

And even if NASCAR officials took it to the next level and gave serious consideration to this, an immediate deal-breaker is that any tweaks to engines and the exhaust systems are likely to be very pricey. If anything, NASCAR is scaling back on costs, not trying to ramp them up.

What’s next? Bringing in a Prius as part of the Toyota brand? Serving only light beer at the tracks? Signing New Coke as a sponsor?

Who came up with this lamebrain idea? My guess is Jeremiah. He was one of our former foster children. Whenever things got loud, he would say “a lotta noisy.” It was sweet and simple logic for a 20-month old. Not so much for adults looking for a speed rush.

The convoluted logic here is that officials want fans to more easily communicate during races. Here’s a thought: Press you lips against somebody’s ear and holler if necessary.

If someone has concerns about hearing loss, ear plugs and headsets are readily available. In fact, I’d advise everyone to make that investment. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health estimates that a decibel level of 85 sustained over an eight-hour period damages the ear. NASCAR races typically last three hours, but the risk remains.

NASCAR’s 130-decibel high range is louder than a rock concert (115 decibels), unless you happen to buy a ticket for KISS. The band raised the rock-’n-roll-all-night roar to 136 dB during a show in Ottawa, Canada, in July of 2009. The band was forced to turn the volume down after complaints from neighbors in the area.

There’s no anecdotal evidence suggesting NASCAR fans are peeved, too. Nobody is storming the garage area demanding that the cars crank down the volume so they can read mean tweets out loud during races.

(Hashtag)Lamebrain.

Kill the noise. Kill the sport.

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