If you’ve ever watched any NASCAR racing (and if you haven’t, you can catch the Daytona 500, this Sunday, the 17th—which is now causing you to wonder what the hell this has to do with music: Good question, but be patient; we’ll get there), you may have noticed certain things about those cars that aren’t quite, well, right.

Although the vehicles have the same names as cars rolling on thoroughfares across the land (e.g., Taurus; Monte Carlo), there are certain peculiarities. For example, consider the headlights. They’re not incandescent, nor are they halogen. They’re stickers. Just like all of those sponsorship logos. With regard to the interior, the vehicles are Spartan to an extreme. First of all, to get into the driver’s seat—the only seat, incidentally—it is necessary to clamber through the window opening. Or that might be “opening opening,” because where most of us have glass surrounded by that door frame, there’s just space in a NASCAR vehicle. Webbing is snapped in place instead of a window. One thing that seems oddly absent is the lack of a speedometer on the instrument panel; perhaps the thinking is that if you need to know how fast you’re going, you’re not going fast enough.

Which leads me to wonder about Sirius Satellite Radio’s February 13th service launch in Jackson, Mississippi. Sirius, if you’re not familiar with it, is radio’s version of cable television. Buy a subscription ($12.95/month) and get “60 original channels of completely commercial-free music in virtually every genre, and 40 world-class sports, new and entertainment channels.” In other words, rather than being surreptitiously hit up for cash by listening to commercials, or overtly hit up during public radio pledge drives, Sirius allows you to pay up front (along with your cell phone bill, ISP charge, car payment, car insurance payment, rent, groceries. . . .).

The kick-off in Mississippi sounds like it will be quite an event: Randy Travis, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, and more. Presumably a point is that you’re not going to get that sort of music on your AM dial. . .although I suspect that in places like Jackson, Mississippi, you do.

Anyway, here’s the thing that is exceedingly odd. In addition to the musical guests, there will be, and I am quoting from a news release, an “Appearance by the No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T driven by Casey Atwood on the NASCAR circuit.” An appearance by a car? Is someone going to drive it in to the lot at “Famed Jackson Retailer Cowboy Maloney’s” and then simply allow the vehicle to make a cameo?

And while I may be wrong about this, I suspect that the vehicle in question will not be equipped with a digital quality radio system. Fire extinguisher, yes. Radio, probably not. No matter how many channels it pulls in.

11 thoughts on “Telstar”

  1. I believe that the cars’ exteriors are adorned with things like headlight stickers and Taurus logos as a way to promote the manufacturers product. How anyone would think that driving a Taurus off the lot would somehow make you as cool as that NASCAR driver, I don’t know. But it must work. Look at the parking lots at those events. One million mullet-headed white trash bubbas can’t be wrong.As for the “appearances” that are often scheduled for different NASCAR vehicles, it’s all fake! I’ve set-up events like this with several large manufacturers who have their names on these cars. Each NASCAR team has show car versions of their race car. These showcars are shaped, painted and stickered to look identical to the car driven in the races, but they never make it to the oval. Sometimes a sponsor with deep pockets will pay to have as many as three or four of these fake cars made. They’ll park it in the parking lot of a new grocery store, then promote it on the local radio as a way of getting people out to the location and to try their product. They’ll say that it’s Jeff Gordon’s car, but it’s more likely that Jeff Gordon never touched that vehicle. It’s all fake, just like those headlights.

  2. What about an extended Econoline Van that’s driven by a mountain biking/rock&roll superstar? Would that attract a crowd of hillbillies to a new Meijer opening?

  3. Well, if this car is a “show car” like Scotty is saying, then it’s *gotta* have a tricked out digital sound system. The Sirius digital radio people will take full advantage of the fact that their product sounds hella cool when it’s coming out of a brightly painted NASCAR auto-mobile. The only question is what channel will they have it on…my bet is on the Malaco Records channel. That fucking show car will be throbbing to the best of Clarence Carter, strokin’ the bubbas to sign on the dotted line, to sign up for music they could just tune in on that warm AM band and get for free…

  4. Your super secret Indian spirit name is. . .Scotty5000!Now go forth unto the world young man and conquer the hordes of single women that cross your electronic path.

  5. God, NASCAR is the motor sports equivalent of wind sprints! How I despise the hordes of pinks who find this monotonous spectacle fascinating! I mean, how can you possibly enjoy watching cars go around and around a damn CIRCLE, for fuck’s sake?! Arrgh!Give me Speedvision/Gran Tourismo/rally racing any day, where there’s hairpins, hills, s-curves and whatnot. That’s good old-fashioned, Speed Racer-type action.And as far as Sirius goes, I say clip those mullet-heads good! Those NASCAR boobs deserve to be parted from their money.

  6. Is it just me or does anyone else find the concept of “pay radio” a little scarey? I love listening to cool new songs over the internet, but the whole satellite thing is something I just started hearing ads for.

  7. I actually appreciate the idea of cable radio, especially on a commercial sense. I’ve managed a coffee house and a bar and have utilized it in both environments. It’s great because mostly the music is there as background noise so it’s not like you need to hear that specific song. Yet, you don’t want to hear some radio dj/dildo yammering on and on like he’s the next Jerry Seinfeld. Cable/pay radio stations allow you to set a mood without having to scour your cd collection for the perfect music to suit the ambience. Even when you find a great mellow disc that would suit the coffee house, there would always be that one track that makes it unplayable.I.E. Sparklehorse’s Good Morning Spider would be great except for when Mark Linkous is screaming “I wanna fuck a cop!” in a part of the chorus.Just my thoughts. Hell, it’s better than Muzak, right?

  8. I will be writing about XM Satellite Radio soon–I tested it in a Cadillac over New Year’s holiday. Was going to write the story for my day job, but fuck it. Here’s a preview: Unfortunately, for those of you who “don’t want to hear some radio dj/dildo yammering on and on like he’s the next Jerry Seinfeld”, XM is even worse than commercial radio. More soon, I promise.

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