I was very excited, as one might guess, to learn that the History Channel was going to air a documentary (docu-drama) on Bowman-Gray Stadium. The advertising for the show before it aired, boasted that 61 years of tempers and hard racing made Bowman-Gray part of the “holy land” of racing. And it does. And it is the oldest sanctioned track. The stories, the rivalries and the feuds which are a part of the track can be traced back through the history of stock car racing in North Carolina..
Which they totally and utterly ignore.
Madhouse completely disregards any history that the track represents and instead focuses on the lives of two racers and their bitter rivalry. Which is fine. Except that it is the History channel. I don’t think that I could be anymore disappointed in the series. Rather than focus on a part of America that is still stereotyped and exploring the contributions of stock car racing to American history and rather than celebrating a real American institution (61 years is not that far off from 100 years of stock car racing!) the program focuses on what can only be perceived from the outside as a whole bunch of rednecks.
Stock car racing is a passionate, intense sport. And yes, there is the cultural element that most people negatively stereotype as rednecks. But you know, all these elements can be explored in such a way which actually examines what makes stock car racing exciting and what makes such a unique and important part of American culture.
The second episode is tonight. I will catch it on the second roll through at 11. I wish that I could say that I was excited to see it. Other than the racing clips which feed my need for the racing season to start up again, there is very little that Madhouse can offer.