Interpreting NASCAR


On March 9th in the post Hello, is there anyone out there? I made the following statement: “Warning: The creators of (Shea and Paul) have the reserved the right to avoid topics such as the 2004 World Series, PC vs. Mac, life with red-headed spouses, east coast vs. west coast rap music, proper use of clip art, and NASCAR.” This post involves NASCAR. Did I foresee a NACAR post in my future? No way. Am I writing a NASCAR post now? I’m afraid so.

Let me get a few things out of the way before I get to the heart of this post. I am not a NASCAR fan, even though I live in the heart of the south. I’m not here to make fun of NASCAR fans either, which is a really easy thing to do. I do respect the sport (a debate for another post, possibly a second NASCAR post in my future) and can appreciate what the drivers/teams accomplish, considering I have more success working on my computer than my car (again, another post).

As a business, NASCAR is better managed than any other sport. The managers successfully handle an insane schedule, give back to the fans, have excellent television coverage and have purposefully improved their product. As a baseball and a New York Yankees fan, the chance of me getting face time with a starting player is slim to none. On any given weekend, a NASCAR fan at a race will have multiple opportunities to meet, greet, scratch and spit with their favorite drivers. Okay, that was one jab at NASCAR fans.

So, the last reason you came to IBD today is to read about NASCAR. I’m sorry. But believe it or not, there is an interpretive design component to this post. Mark Martin is from Batesville, Arkansas, which is not too far from where I live. Recently he has opened a museum and dealership in that area—the museum to honor his career as a driver and the dealership to sell Fords. I had heard many glowing comments about the museum/dealership from several visitors to the park where I work. Being moderately anti-NASCAR for no good reason except for a bias that developed based on several incidents involving persons wearing NASCAR attire, I wasn’t necessarily interested. However, recently while in the area of the museum/dealership and in the serious need of a restroom break, I stopped in to check it out. Needless to say I was impressed with the interpretation.


The quality and design of the exhibits was excellent. There was a mixture of high-tech and low-tech exhibits. The low-tech exhibits were primarily photo montages filled with a scrapbook history of Mark Martin’s success. I was most impressed with the high-tech side of the museum. The technology and design in the touch panels worked more quickly and efficiently than any other technology-based exhibits that I have ever seen. They all worked too. The layout and design in the touch screens was so simple (insert your own NASCAR joke now) that anyone could use it. The flat screens were situated on beautiful stylistic pedestals. The video clips loaded fast and were well edited to keep even my attention. The cars along with the trophy case were impressive and needed little interpretation. The museum was practically void of text (again, insert your own NASCAR joke now). The technology took care of most of the storytelling along with the scrapbook style panels. The staff was friendly and attentive to answer questions as they diligently polished the cars, exhibits, trophies and glass.


So what did I take away from the museum? A deeper appreciation for NASCAR? Not really. But because of the non-personal interpretation, I did feel an unplanned emotional connection to Mark Martin and the work that he put into his career that has made him successful. Did I buy a T-shirt?  Nope. But next time I come across a NASCAR race on television, I will stop and see where Mark Martin is in the standings.

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