By David Poole
The hardest thing in the world to
change is culture. But sometimes
it's worth the effort.
After 12-plus years of covering
NASCAR, I believe that the sport of
stock-car racing badly needs a culture
change. And there's really one way to
make it happen.
Here's the problem: Cheating is
more than accepted in the sport " it's
revered. People who've spent a big
part of their careers trying to outflank
the rule book are held up as the great
examples, the heroes who should be
I have never, ever understood that.
Why celebrate those who waste "
and that is precisely the word I want
to use " their time, effort and money
working on things that aren't legal?
Why revere those who decide to take
paths outside the rules to try to get
ahead of those who have the integrity
to play by the rules?
I am not against innovators. In
fact, I am standing up for them. The
true innovators are those who find
new ways to do things
that are legal, that do
get approved through
proper channels and
who don't have to live
their lives worrying
about what an inspec-
tor might see.
I have said this
before, but the exam-
ple still holds. The
engines in a stock car
are, by a huge multi-
plier, more powerful and more
durable than they were 20 years ago.
But how many times in the past 20
years have engine builders been sus-
pended and/or fined for breaking the
Not many. The engine departments
have worked to find better ways to do
things and generate more power that
They've done it, in nearly all
cases, within the rules and
within the processes that
have been established for
bringing new ideas into the
So why shouldn't people
who work on suspension
elements or the cars' bodies
be held to the same stan-
If you're messing with
the rear-wing mounts, as
NASCAR said the Haas
CNC Racing teams that got penalized
last week were, even if you complete-
ly get away with it and race for 100
straight races, what have you truly
Where's the pride in that? There
wouldn't be any if integrity and honor
were cherished as much in stock-car
racing as they should be.
That's the part of the culture that I
think is off-kilter. But it could be
changed, and I don't think it would
take a whole lot of time.
Simple. Start sending cheaters
If you come to the racetrack with a
car that doesn't pass inspection to the
point that NASCAR rules it will not
be allowed on the track, that team
does not race. Period.
Send home a couple of teams for
not playing by the rules and you will
begin to change the way that kind of
foolishness is regarded inside the
Until that happens, you're never
going to change the culture. And
that's where it all needs to start.
Originally posted on David Poole's
blog, "Life in the Turn Lane," available
online at turn-lane.blogspot.com.