Las Vegas Sun

January 19, 2018

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Point-counterpoint: Busch strikes a chord, and discord

Racing front-runner won the race, then smashed the prize


donn jones / associated press

Kyle Busch poses with Sam Bass, right, the artist who painted the guitar that Busch accepted and then smashed after the Federated Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race.

Beyond the Sun

This behavior is right for bad boy — and NASCAR

Call out the instigators

Because there’s something in the air

We’ve got to get together sooner or later

Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right

And you know that it’s right.

— “Something in the Air,” Thunderclap Newman


NASCAR has an instigator and his name is Kyle Busch. Although the stock car sanctioning body will never admit it was right for him to smash the Gibson Les Paul custom guitar he received for winning last weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 300 into tiny bits (and pieces) in Victory Lane, it sure was a lot more interesting than watching somebody named Ricky or Rusty getting up there and thanking his sponsors.

Kyle Busch is an iconoclast, man. He’s Pete Townshend in fireproof coveralls. Rock on, dude!

Another driver, Carl Edwards, says Busch was being disrespectful to the artist who painted the guitar and the artisans who constructed it. Carl Edwards should look in the mirror. He should stop posing for beefcake photographs without his shirt on before he starts complaining about the way other people act.

Who does he think he is, Matthew McConaughey?

The artist said if Busch had only come to him and said he intended to smash the guitar, he would have made him a cheap replica.

Do you think Pete Townshend warned the producers of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” that he was going to smash his Vox Cheetah on national TV? Do you think Keith Moon warned them he was going to blow up his drum kit?

They black-flagged the establishment. That’s what made The Who famous.

Were it not for smashing guitars and blowing up drum kits, The Who might still be playing at Arizona Charlie’s. Then what would Herman’s Hermits do?

Were it not for his bad boy image, Kyle Busch might still be running around with Carl Edwards and Michael Waltrip at the back of the pack, listening to Air Supply and signaling before making left-hand turns.

Meet the new boss, NASCAR. He’s not the same as the old boss. Not by a long shot.

And don’t get fooled again into thinking his bad boy image is detrimental to a sport in which TV ratings and attendance are significantly down.

Hate him or hate him, Kyle Busch puts rear ends in the seats.

And you know that it’s right.

Musical artistry to be appreciated, not destroyed

There ought to be a law with no bail

Smash a guitar and you go to jail

With no chance for early parole

You don’t get out till you get some soul

— “Perfectly Good Guitar,” John Hiatt



Shame on you, Kyle Busch.

You thought you’d inject a little rock ’n’ roll spirit into the festivities after your win at the Nashville Superspeedway.

But that was a Gibson Les Paul that you tried to smash on Victory Lane.

How would you like it if somebody took a tire iron to your engine?

The artist who hand-painted the guitar said he was “stunned.” Then Sam Bass tried to be diplomatic. “In the spirit of rock ’n’ roll and, as someone who appreciates rock ’n’ roll, he put on a show.”

Rubbin’ is racin’, that’s a show. A slingshot pass on the final turn, that’s a show. Leading from the pole to the checkered flag, even that’s a show.

But a race driver dressed like an advertising billboard cracking a beautiful guitar isn’t much of a show, at least not for me.

As a musician, I never understood the guitar smashing bit.

Look, I love Pete Townshend, saw him destroy his SG once. It didn’t make the music better.

I stood on the stage in Monterey where Townshend had smashed another guitar, and you could still see the burn spot where Jimi Hendrix flamed his Stratocaster in 1967. It’s a bit of history.

But what I cherish most are the memories of The Who and Hendrix playing music.

I’d have to side with John Hiatt when he sings “Oh it breaks my heart to see those stars, smashing a perfectly good guitar.”

Hiatt’s a motor head. He may record in Nashville (home of the Grand Ole Opry), but he grew up in Indianapolis (home of the Motor Speedway). He even raced Legends cars on ovals when he wasn’t writing hit songs. (You might not recognize Hiatt’s name, but I’ll bet you know the songs he writes, like “Thing Called Love,” “Riding With the King,” and “Angel Eyes.”)

Although Hiatt once said NASCAR had become “too polite,” I’ll bet he appreciates the way Kyle Busch puts the pedal to the metal.

The 24-year-old bad boy from Las Vegas has won nine races this year and more than 50 times in his short NASCAR career. And I’d love to see the hometown hero keep going ’round in circles for years and years to come — ignoring the siren call of “My Generation.”

Don’t burn out like all those rock stars, Kyle.

Keep burning doughnuts like Jimmie Johnson.

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