Are Nascar drivers athletes?

Discussion in 'Sports Zone' started by Achilleslastand, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. Achilleslastand

    Achilleslastand Well-Known Member

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    McNabb stands by comments after pace car ride

    FONTANA, Calif. -- An hour before the start of Sunday's Auto Club 400, former NFL quarterback turned FOXSports Live analyst Donovan McNabb snaked his way through the Auto Club Speedway garage area and headed to a pre-arranged meeting with six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

    It was the first time they'd seen each other in person since McNabb made inflammatory comments on his FOXSports show last November when discussing Johnson's latest NASCAR title.

    His opinion that Johnson, and NASCAR drivers in general, weren't athletes ignited a firestorm of passionate debate.

    "He's not an athlete," McNabb said of Johnson. "He sits in a car and he drives, so that doesn't make you athletic. I give credit to what he's been able to do."

    Further, McNabb said days later, "Athletes are people who train, who do physical things, who are on strength, endurance and stamina. But most importantly, get out and do athletic things. Now, sitting in a car is not doing athletic things.

    "They can work out, they can go run on a treadmill, they can run triathlons, but that doesn't make you an athlete sitting in car."

    So would a trip to Johnson's playing field -- the super fast two-mile Auto Club Speedway -- a face-to-face meeting with the triathlete Johnson and a pace car ride from Toyota driver Clint Bowyer change that impression?

    "I respect what they do," McNabb said Sunday. "I think it's a skill. They obviously put time and effort into their ability, but I stick by what I said."

    To his credit, Johnson took the high road in the immediate aftermath of McNabb's original comments and he was just as gracious Sunday morning. Agreeing to disagree.

    "My reaction at the time helped keep it positive,'" Johnson said Sunday. "I could have turned it in a different direction. It is an argument and something I've been defending since I started racing and something that's been going on even before that.

    "We'll just keep fighting the battle one at a time and see what happens."

    Johnson, who had been visiting with good friend Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, came out of his motor coach to shake McNabb's hand and immediately asked him with a smile, "You wanna go for a run?"

    McNabb laughed and said no.

    Then the two caught up with each other, mostly small talk about their children, Johnson's motor coach, and the rigors of the NASCAR schedule. There was no mention of athletic capabilities.

    "We've known each other a long time," Johnson said. :We talked after he was on air saying what he did. But like I said way back then, it's an opportunity to use this experience to help change the perception.

    "It wasn't easy to hear and our industry got pretty fired up over it, but hopefully we can change him and with the spotlight on him he can talk about that and change others.

    "If not, that's OK. Everybody's entitled to an opinion. But again, I'd love to get him in a car and put him through the paces. The pace car isn't gonna do it."

    Apparently so. McNabb was still adamant in his stance even after taking a ride with Bowyer early Sunday morning, reaching speeds of 120 mph in a Toyota Camry pace car.

    "It was a fun experience," McNabb said. "Not everyone has that opportunity to ride with a professional NASCAR driver. He didn't scare me, though. Remember, I've been hit by 300-pound linemen.

    "But you want to learn more about the sport. For me, it's an experience. On FoxSports Live we talk all sports so you want the hands-on training of why, when, where. I didn't know races were different lengths or mentally how you approach different areas on the track. That's interesting."

    After the meeting, McNabb walked back through the garage to watch the opening laps of the race on top of Johnson's pit box. As he made his way through the fans, some shouted out their support of Johnson.

    McNabb just smiled.
  2. jcollins28

    jcollins28 Well-Known Member

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    This coming from the same guy that puked during the supper bowl and his coach had to slow down the offense because he didn't have the stamina to keep up.
    Wheeltax and TheCowboy like this.
  3. RastaRocket

    RastaRocket Sanka, Ya Dead Mon? Ya Mon.

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    The mental focus required in any racing event is incredible.
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  4. jimmy40

    jimmy40 Well-Known Member

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    When a 110 pound girl can do it, it really doesn't help your athletic argument much. Now having the guts to drive 190 mph and making turns at a concrete wall for 3 hours is a different story.
    Ntegrase96 and TheCowboy like this.
  5. jcollins28

    jcollins28 Well-Known Member

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    So women are not athletic?
  6. jimmy40

    jimmy40 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, Danica Patrick is a supreme athlete.
  7. BoysFan4ever

    BoysFan4ever Well-Known Member

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    Sure they are.
  8. WPBCowboysFan

    WPBCowboysFan Well-Known Member

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  9. 65fastback2plus2

    65fastback2plus2 Well-Known Member

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    they only hit 120 with no other cars on the track? you can do that going around the beltway in houston
  10. Future

    Future Intramural Legend

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    casmith07 likes this.
  11. HeavyBarrel

    HeavyBarrel Well-Known Member

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    The (relative) ability to run fast, cut, back peddle, stop on a dime, jump, leap, climb, is what I consider athletic, getting leverage quickly and with strength -if you can do most of these better than most, I consider you athletic......
  12. Wheeltax

    Wheeltax Well-Known Member

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    Many NASCAR drivers are athletes of their own accord - they have trainers, work out, etc. That does not necessarily mean that it takes an athlete to drive a race car. It's a cerebral sport more than it is an athletic one, one of quick thoughts and appropriate reactions to a rapidly unfolding situation.
  13. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I think there are some who are athletic however for the most part the sports does not require people with althletic ability. Maybe a better term for race car drivers are sportsmans. :)
  14. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member

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    Always a tough argument because it depends on how you define an athlete.
    By his definition, you would also exclude golfers, bowlers, archers, pool players, and maybe even some of the repetitive one-skill type performers like shot putters, pole vaulters, or even distance runners or straight line sprinters (who are always called athletes, correctly imo, but only do one thing) if you really want to split hairs.
    Race car driving does require amazing mental focus and even physical stamina, besides the obvious skill.
    But as I said, it all depends on what someone thinks defines an "athlete".

    I always thought the best athletes were ones required to do multiple athletic skills vs just one thing. But being the best (or should I say most versatile) does not make everyone else not an athlete at all.
  15. RastaRocket

    RastaRocket Sanka, Ya Dead Mon? Ya Mon.

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    Well said, it really does depend on what you define athlete as. I am not a Nascar fan by any means, but I am a racing fan. One issue I have with people like McNabb taking shots at race car drivers is the fact that they really have no reason to do it. What is the point of McNabb saying any of this? McNabb should just stick to talking about football and leave the racing world alone. It just feels like he is trying to put down somebody else in order to make him look superior. He then goes on to say "but I respect what they do", I found that funny.
  16. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    Different level then an athlete. By the way pole vaulters and certainly shot putters work out a whole lot and weight train and all of that; running, etc. So trying to claim they are not athletes is the kind of ridiculous arguement that makes me shake my head.

    What weight training do you need for driving a car? What endurance training do you need like running to drive a car? What level of basic physical skill do you need to drive a car?

    Bluntly no I don't consider race car drivers athletes. Golfers are another group that to me are real borderline as regards whether they are athletes.
  17. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member

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    Didn't see anyone here say pole vaulters were not athletes.

    It does, however, sound like you think weight training is one the pre-recs to being an athlete...which is in and of itself pretty interesting. That was my point; everyone has a different perspective. Larry Bird or Joe Namath did little or no weight training (at least early in their careers) and he sure as heck wasn't a huge runner....but most on the sane planet would say they were talented athletes.
    BTW, race car drivers in general work out like exceptions among the best ones. A lot of those guys could do triathlons.
  18. Ntegrase96

    Ntegrase96 Well-Known Member

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    It seems petty and unnecessary, but I think his ideas are correct.

    Athleticism is about human feats of the body. Yes there is a physical aspect of racing, but the work is really being done by cars and the mind.

    I respect racers, but they're not displaying any athleticism in their respective fields.
  19. jcollins28

    jcollins28 Well-Known Member

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    I would love to put you in a kart. After a mere 15 minutes you would have the answer to all of your questions.
  20. Joe Realist

    Joe Realist No Kool-Aid here!

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    Athletes? No. Skilled? Yes

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