NASCAR’s Brad Keselowski is now known for more than tweeting from his race car during a race stoppage at the Daytona 500 in February. He’s now the Sprint Cup champion of the racing association’s top division.
For those who don’t follow auto racing, the brash 28 year old from Michigan bested perennial champ Jimmie Johnson in the last race of the season Sunday, another year when the championship would be decided after the nationally televised final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He was applauded by fellow drivers and NASCAR fans after Daytona for using modern social media to let them know his thoughts when the event was stopped, not while he was driving. Little was said about the incident from the racing association. He wasn’t fined. There was little mention of it.
But Keselowski was fined $25,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation through 2012 for breaking the rules: having a cellphone in his No. 2 Dodge and for tweeting during a red-flag stop at last week’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.
We have to admit that it’s untested territory from the sometimes-archaic NASCAR. And we were pleased to see auto racing get more involved in the real-time social media phenomenon. However, that was before NASCAR weighed in after the Phoenix race.
Tweeting has taken off in the past year with celebrities, sports personalities and others from every corner of the world, including this newspaper, getting involved in microblogging, the term used for tweeting because it only allows the sender to use just 140 characters per tweet.
However, NASCAR says it doesn’t want cellphones in the race cars. It’s a rule. And they stand behind it. The reasoning? Perhaps officials are concerned about cellphone signals affecting the cars’ on-board computers. Or perhaps they think it gives the race-car driver an unfair competitive advantage over others. Who knows?
We can’t believe it’s a safety issue, as it is with motorists who tweet and text while driving. There’s enough going on in the race car during competition to even think about using a cellphone. And to think that the drivers are sometimes going 200 mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Not only that, many NASCAR drivers in all three race divisions have in-car video cameras to record drivers’ reactions to almost everything during a race, from frustrations to accidents. There are just too many other things a driver has to focus on during a race.
Interestingly, one of the first things Keselowski did after winning Sunday’s race was to tweet, “We did it,” to his thousands of followers, seemingly thumbing his nose at NASCAR.
Change the rules.