Life is Simple
I really like NASCAR. And, as I travel around and speak to agricultural groups all over the country, I’m finding that more than just a few farmers and ranchers enjoy the sport as much as I do. I guess it shouldn’t really come as a surprise because when you analyze the similarities, NASCAR racing is just about like farming….
First of all, I like it because most of the stars of the sport don’t come from places like New York City or Los Angeles, but rather from places like Hickory, North Carolina; Batesville, Arkansas; and Owensboro, Kentucky. It’s an added plus, too, because their accents sound a whole lot like mine, lessening the need for me to read the closed captioning on the bottom of the TV screen while they’re being interviewed.
NASCAR drivers make no bones about their affinity for the brand name of stock car they drive. The four choices are Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota, and the loyalties of the drivers and their fans to those brand names are huge. Can a farmer’s loyalty to brands like Deere, Case IH, New Holland, and Massey-Ferguson be much different? And what about the NASCAR folks plastered with logos like DuPont, Budweiser, Home Depot, and U. S. Army?
Just take a look at yourself or your neighbor that farms and you’ll likely see a walking billboard of the feed, seed, fertilizer, machinery, livestock, and credit sources that allow that person to make a living. (I once asked a crop-farming buddy of mine why crop farmers didn’t wear cowboy boots and he answered, “Because seed corn companies don’t give them away as promotions.”)
I once visited in a friend's home and observed that he was wearing a Purina cap, a Farm Credit Services coat, a Garst shirt, Co-op gloves and John Deere work boots. We entered his house and his lovely wife served us iced tea in a complete set of Cargill glassware as we sat on Angus stools. There was also a beautiful Monsanto clock on the bar nearby.
As everyone knows, it’s more than the driver that wins races. The pit crew is just as important and the farmer knows this as well. With the wife racing off to the machinery dealer to obtain needed replacement parts during harvest season and the kids pitching in every waking hour they’re not in school, the support team that backs up every farmer is an essential part of their success.
NASCAR drivers go fast and turn left while most farmers go fast and turn right, unless they are doing the back-and-forth thing. Speed is important to both groups and there are all sorts of tricks to obtaining maximum output. One time while I was traveling through Western Kansas during wheat harvest time, I saw six combines going through a field that had to be a couple of thousand acres in size and, I swear, the way they were lined up and at the speed they were going, they had to be drafting off the combine ahead of them.
About the only difference between racing NASCAR and farming for a living (besides the money, of course) is the absence of media attention to the “sport” of farming. I dream of the day when FOX or ESPN comes out with a camera and sound crew to interview a farmer as he steps down out of his tractor and asks, “Junior (his name would have to be Junior to make the comparison complete), how did you manage a yield of 275 bushels per acre this year?” Slapping on his Pioneer cap and Carhart sunglasses, as he drinks from a supersized bottle of Mountain Dew, Junior drawls, “Well I just want to thank my John Deere, Chevrolet, Dow Agrosciences, FCS, Harvestore and Caterpillar team for providing me with every opportunity to win.”
“And what about your cattle across the fence? They look great too,” the interviewer continues.
“Yeah, I want to thank Cargill, ADM, Citizen’s National Bank, the American Hereford Association, and the pit crew back at the house for takin’ such good care of ‘em.”
Boogity, boogity, boogity. Let’s go farmin’, boys.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him through his website at www.jerrycrownover.com.