National Association of Stock Car
Auto Racing :
An easy sport to make fun of it surely is, but a sport nonetheless with athletes who race machines. That shouldn't be abhorent to a bunch of geeks. At its top levels like the Winston Cup series, stock car racing is the highest tech sport in world right now. They dump so much money into design and R&D, and you should see how wired a pit crew is. Industrial laptops everywhere. I read about one team that had employed a cracker to sniff other teams wireless LAN packets. If horse racing is the "sport of kings", stock car racing is the sport of the masses.
Now on to the athletes... yes athletes. Do you have the guts to drive a car 195 MPH? Ok guts alone don't make an athlete. Do you have the endurance to drive a car at 195MPH with a track temperature of 140 degrees and an air temperature of 98 for four hours while drinking less than a gallon of water? Rare birds those guys.
As for the appeal... easy, vicarious midlife crisis solving-- can't afford a new red convertible how about watching someone else's car go real fast. Or like Tom Skerrit in Singles, "People like their cars." I am not a wrenchhead, but I appreciate high performance in most of its forms. The appeal of the actual racing events no longer has much to do with the race. They are basically giant tailgate parties with free (well it's an $80 ticket) cigarettes, chew, and beer for everyone. A buddy of mine came home from his last NASCAR event with six cases of Budweiser, and 15 cartons of cigarettes that he didn't pay a dime for.
Finally NASCAR on television just doesn't capture it. Much like baseball and soccer you gotta be there to get the effect. The cars are the loudest thing you've ever heard. Way louder than a rock concert. You can actually feel the cars go by. On some tracks you'll see no one sitting in the first few rows. Part of its because of the poor view. Part of its because the blast of air from each passing car is like a Lennox Lewis body blow. Everybody is a NASCAR fan after going to their first race.