”Viva Montoya!” screamed a euphoric Mexican crowd of 70,000 as Juan Pablo Montoya zoomed past 20 cars in 17 laps and became the first Hispanic driver to win a Nascar race.
”This is huge for the Latin community,” the Colombian star said after he climbed out of his No. 42 Dodge and cracked open the champagne.
Montoya’s win last Sunday in the Busch series Telcel-Motorola 200 was seen as a victory for both the aggressive, fearless driver who switched from Formula One late last season and for Latino drivers and racing fans in general.
NASCAR officials hope it will open the flood gates to the budding Hispanic market it has been trying to court.
Most Nascar drivers have their roots in Southern small towns, and their fans are far from PhD.’s, so an interloper, especially a “furriner” who not only enters, but wins a race is a disgrace to the Confederate flag and the good old boys from South Carolina.
Adding additional outcry is the entry of Toyota into a sport formerly featuring only U.S.-built cars. Although the fans in the grandstands think they are watching the same Fords and Chevys they own, in fact the only resemblance is the nameplate on the front. These custom-built from the ground up, million dollar, creations bear little difference from one another and certainly have no resemblance to their street models except purporting to be representative of the name tacked onto the front.
Between swigs of his Budweiser, Dennis “Bubba” DeWayne of Ponder, Georgia, sits bleary-eyed in front of his TV as the cars complete their 123th loop around the small circular track.
” I can’t unnerstand why them permoters are allowing those Jap cars into a good ole American sport, and I can unnerstan’ the good old talk that the local boys speak when they win….but, they allowed that Mex or whatever he is, to drive….and he beat all those fine upstanin’ American drivers and I can’t unerstan’ what he is sayin’. …T.J,, bring daddy another beer. like a good boy.”
David Leiser, a psychologist at the University of Texas, explained the attraction of Nascar to some, while others are at a loss to understand how someone could sit in a damp and windy grandstand for hours and hours watching cars endlessly going round and round in a circle.
“Most sports require a modicum of intelligence…football, soccer, baseball…. to understand the rules, as well as their ever-changing scenarios.” he said, “Nascar fans, on the other hand, are the huge, not-too-well-endowed-intellectually segment of our population, and the appeal of this sport is that it requires absolutely no thinking processes whatsoever. Remember the Lionel trains you got for Christmas? The ones that went round and round a small track? Same thing. These guys have an emotional attachment to their Fords and Chevys and actually think that they are watching them compete…. and they identify with the Southern-bred, school dropout, drivers who speak in familiar southern regional accents. If Dale Earnhardt,Jr. was running for president, he would be a shoo-in.”
( Leiser has received death threats after his statements above, and is in hiding in a northern state)