Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Letters to Sports Illustrated about its recent NASCAR cover:

- Thank you for your article on the booming interest in NASCAR (NASCAR Nation, July 1). After I started following NASCAR in 1996, I found I did not miss talk of collective bargaining agreements, lockouts and strikes, inflated egos, trade demands, salary caps, athlete arrests and drug use. NASCAR is about real people. The drivers are great role models, and their accessibility to the fans is unmatched in any sport. Can you imagine being able to listen to Shaq's thoughts during a game the way fans can tune into their favorite drivers, via radio scanners, during a race? DEE DEE MULLENIX Las Vegas

- NASCAR may yet replace baseball as America's national pastime, but I wonder if this is necessarily a good thing. In your picture of two bikini-topped fans, I can make out at least five Confederate flags in the background. Somehow I doubt that those flags are being flown only to commemorate the tradition of gentility and charm that the South is known for. How many drivers in NASCAR are nonwhite? NASCAR races are fun to watch, and the drivers are certainly very skilled, but until the sport acknowledges its lack of diversity, I don't think NASCAR deserves all the fawning adulation that it gets. MARK JEANFREAU, New Orleans

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