RICHMOND, VA —The Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway was cut short Saturday night as the entire field of drivers slowed to a halt on lap 244, shut off their engines, exited their cars, and walked off the track, saying that driving cars very fast for a living is absolutely ridiculous.
"I can't do this anymore," said Kevin Harvick, winner of two of the last five Sprint Cup races, who then added that his recent success had put his life into "sickening perspective." "I'm disgusted by what I do, and if I don't quit now, it's only a matter of time before I'm disgusted with myself. There has to be a better way to live my life."
"Quite frankly, when I'm driving around like that I feel like an idiot," he added.
Calling professional stock car racing "silly," "absurd," and "pretty dumb when you think about it," the drivers received a standing ovation from the crowd as they walked toward the raceway's exits, wearing only T-shirts and jogging shorts as they left a colored trail of sponsor-logo-emblazoned coveralls in their wake.
The professional racers told reporters they didn't plan beforehand to all quit the race at the same time, but said that at lap 244 the field simply experienced a mutual realization that they could be spending their time doing something that wasn't very stupid.
"I couldn't complete another lap of a NASCAR race and still live with myself," said former five-time Sprint Cup champion and current El Cajon, CA grocery store assistant manager Jimmie Johnson. "For 13 years I have been driving a car so I could earn points for the sole purpose of receiving a trophy. When it's framed like that, it sounds pretty goddamn ridiculous, doesn't it?"
Of the 43 drivers in the field, many cited the increasingly artificial and corporatized nature of the sport, the possible ecological issues posed by racing, and the length of the NASCAR season as reasons for quitting.
"There's also the fact that we could die," Jeff Burton said. "I don't want to die doing this. I really don't."
Following the abrupt conclusion of the race, the response from the entire NASCAR community was largely positive, with officials and fans alike thanking the drivers for ending their misery. Sources confirmed that this might be the best thing to happen to American auto racing since NASCAR held its first stock car race in 1948.
"I was getting tired of people criticizing NASCAR by saying it was just guys driving in a circle," said Houston, TX carpenter Pat Hardigree, a longtime pretend NASCAR fan who had brought his son to Saturday's race. "I mean, actually, physically tired. Because saying 'It's not a circle, it's an oval' can really take a toll on your self-respect after a while, believe me."
"I hate NASCAR," said NASCAR chairman Brian France, adding that he hopes the drivers never return to Richmond to pick up their cars. "I think the only thing comparable to spending a Sunday afternoon watching a NASCAR race would be ripping your fingernails out with a pair of pliers."
Although NASCAR offices were running with a skeleton staff Monday, a press release from the sport's governing body claimed that efforts were underway to liquidate the sport's assets as quickly as possible. Famed racetracks in Daytona, Talladega, and Darlington, the statement confirmed, will be converted to landfills, parks, or housing developments, or altogether completely dismantled, to ensure that no one races another stock car ever again.
"Can I just get a few things on the record?" Harvick said. "Stock cars are actually terrible cars, they're not really stock, and they're really fucking ugly. God, it feels good to finally say that."
"Actually, a couple more things while I'm at it," he continued. "Budweiser tastes like crap, I wouldn't feed Armour meat products to my dog, and I have no idea what the fuck Ollie's Bargain Outlet even is."