Austin Phil Austin's

I've got one real important thing to say: how 'bout that Ernie! I mean, NASCAR racing to me is just the most interesting sport man ever invented, for a number of reasons.

Number One: The advertising is just intense! When you come out of my world and you try to be funny a lot about advertising - and in fact my wife Oona works in one of the most comically amazing parts of advertising, in which she does the food for what you see on televison; one has to prepare that food and make it look nice, and that's what Oona does - it's real interesting to be dealing with cars in much the same way. We look at cars as if they're food. They need to be prepared for the camera.

Number Two: It's real stupid if you're rooting against anybody in that sport. You'd be really a dumb person. You want everybody to survive the race, that's the deal. So it becomes like a team of guys who are competing against their own equipment or something. And over the years you get to know everybody and to have your favorites. And Dale Ernheart is something like a Rembrandt of automobile racing. There's something that's so amazing about the way that he and the guys who are really good at this can pilot what I like to think of, on the big tracks, piloting these bubbles of air around. Bouncing off each other's bubbles of air, and not killing each other.

And how 'bout that equipment, folks? They roll these things twenty-six times in the air and the drivers still walk away, unlike the stupid little insect Indy cars. So that's my whole appeal about them. How 'bout that Ernie? Ernie's gone for a gurney. My god and he doesn't even have that black patch on anymore. It really is quite a story. Ernie Irvan was beat up real bad back in '94, nearly dead, yeah. He hit a wall in Michigan. I love the guy. A Californian, I might point out - Ernie comes from a town just up north. I grew up in Fresno California, and he comes from up north of there a ways, and now there's a Mrs. Ernie, and an Ernie Jr. or something. So now we really worry about these guys getting killed. It's not funny.

NASCAR is a sport entirely built on a myth, which is that the cars are real stock cars like you could buy right off the floor at your local neighborhood Chevrolet dealer. It ain't gonna happen good buddy, they each cost about $300,000 a piece. The tires alone cost over $1,000.

I'm a big NASCAR fan. You can tell I'm a race fan because I use the word 'deal' a lot. I'm really upset. I hate to say this but I'm a big fan of the # 3 car. I've been a Dale Earnhardt supporter for a lot of years, but I really do like Terry Labonte and it's really nice to see him No. 1 in the points league right now, in the old Kellog's car. Because you got to love a man who's driving a cereal box among all of those cars. Him and Ricky Rudd. How Ricky Rudd gets that Tide bottle around that track is unbelievable.

I don't know enough about NASCAR to know the tracks. Pocono is a track that I don't understand. I think you have to use a transmission there. That's where people really get good is where they can tell you, "Oh yeah, you've got your Jericho transmission there at Pocono and you've got to gear down at turn 3 and come wailing out of there." Those people really know what they're talking about. Them and the people who know personally, engine builders.

I'm just a fan. I watch on TV and enjoy my ESPN broadcasts. I hate the CBS broadcasts, I mean, get rid of those guys. Get rid of the guys that refer to automobile racing in terms like, "He's stout out there Bob!". The MRN (Motor Racing Network) does a real nice job. That's the other thing about NASCAR of course, the broadcast team of Benny and Ned, and even Bob, on ESPN, have turned out to be one of the most entertaining things since Bob Costas' Sports Report. They just do a wonderful job. Most people, where I come from in the west here and in the Northeast, consider that anybody who talks with at all an accent identifiable as south of the Mason-Dixon line, is a complete idiot. And you have to really listen to Buddy Baker, and Benny who have really strong accents of the regional part of the country where they are and listen to how fast these brains work. And how fast these mouths have begun to work now that they're out of their race cars and old and retired and sitting up in the booth. And you realize how much of the sport is based on quick talking and what the spotters really have to do. Listen in on some of the spotter channels once in a while when you can hear them on the broadcasts, and you begin to realize that, guess what folks, these are not dumb people, these are real smart people.

We've got a yellow on the track now and Austin's gonna stretch it out. First he got up into the marble spun and now he's gonna talk for a minute and a half. I'm writing a racing novel, that's another one of my projects. It'll be called The Domestic 500, when I eventually get it written. It's just a whole novel that takes place over one day in this race. It involves a sport, slightly different than NASCAR, called The National Association Of Domestic Vehicle Racing, which you have to have children in the back seat of the car. And you have to have a wife. They're not actually in real life their children, they're race wives and race children. It's a team. And you have to have the pit crew get a signature for you on a credit card when you come in for a pit stop, stuff like that. Eventually I'll get this written and I'm sure it will be Hellishly entertaining. And of course NASCAR fans, being the readers that they are, are going to really enjoy it.

So... how 'bout that Ernie?