Debate: Which sea creature would be the best NASCAR driver?

2021 July Head2head Intro

This weekend, NASCAR marks its 50th visit to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As always, the winner of the race will win the coveted (assuming you’re not Denny Hamlin) giant lobster in Victory Lane. This got us thinking – which sea creature would be the best behind the wheel of a race car? Thankfully, Steve Luvender and @nascarcasm are here to discuss. Let’s take a deep dive into this hot-button issue!

MORE: Memorable moments at New Hampshire

@NASCARCASM: I have done the Googles on many sea creatures, and so many would make excellent drivers. The shark would be aggressive, but would depend too much on the spotter when its eyes rolled back into its head. The jellyfish would be smooth, but it lacks a brain. I have settled on the octopus. The octopus would make the best driver.

STEVE LUVENDER: The octopus! A solid choice. Hard to think of a downside for so many tentacles. I, too, searched so many times on Google for sea creatures in the past few days that my suggested searches are probably now damaged beyond repair. But, alas, our job is to answer the question at hand, no matter the cost. So, my esteemed colleague, while I’m interested to hear why you’re leaning toward an octopus driver, I’ll have to argue there’s a better creature who calls the ocean its home: the dolphin.

@NASCARCASM: I love dolphins. Everyone loves dolphins. For real. Have you ever met anyone who saw a dolphin and was like “F— you, dolphin”? No, dolphins are beloved. I do, however, challenge your insinuation that it would be better than an octopus. The octopus has (Googles “octo-“) eight arms. The dolphin has none. That alone should end this discussion.

LUVENDER: Ah! Darn! Looks like I’ve been bested. Discussion over.

Or not. I’ve already carefully considered such an argument-that a lack of arms means a lack of ability to drive-and it’s simply fallacious. Dolphins have flippers (think the adventure/family movie by a similar name), and they’re more than sufficient for navigating a car. If a trained dolphin can wave at people with its fins, it can steer and shift gears, too. An octopus, on the other hand … I don’t think so. You need quick movements when you’re making split-second decisions in a race, and those suction cups aren’t doing you any favors.

@NASCARCASM: The octopus can have two tentacles on the wheel, one on the shifter, one on the radio knob, one on the brake, one on the gas, one on the clutch and one out the window giving other drivers the finger ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It’s literally a deep-sea Swiss-Army knife of motorsports domination, Steve. Your flipper statement may have a modicum of truth but comparing a tentacle to a flipper is like comparing Jimmie Johnson to Casey Atwood, bruh.

LUVENDER: How dare you invoke the name of Casey Atwood! He didn’t get a fair shot in the Cup Series and you know it. Of course the octopus guy would make such a comparison. All that aside, let’s put this discussion to rest once and for all. The dolphin, unlike the octopus, is a mammal. That means dolphins breathe air. Care to head back to your precious Google and type in “How long can an octopus survive out of the water?”

@NASCARCASM: Instead of cool air, we simply pump saltwater into the helmet eliminating the need for oxygen. Problem solved. You’re just sitting back and envisioning the octopus signing eight autographs at once and becoming a fan favorite right now, aren’t you?

LUVENDER: Oh, you want to talk fan favorites? Close your eyes and picture this: a theme park, where the theme is ocean creatures. Fun ocean creatures that everyone loves. Open your eyes. It already exists, and it’s called SeaWorld. The dolphins are the stars of the show. Not some octopus with evil in its eyes and vengeance in its heart. Dolphins squeal and shriek with delight, and they have the gift of echolocation to see with sound waves or something. I don’t know the specifics; I only read the first page of Google. Tell me echolocation wouldn’t come in handy on the race track. More than the basis of your argument that seems awfully tentacle-heavy.

@NASCARCASM: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT AN OCTOPUS CAN’T DO TRICKS? Maybe they can dance. Maybe they can grenade-toss beers out to friends, eight at a time. And that echolocation thing is a lie perpetuated by marine biologists. What’ll they say next – if dolphins swim really fast in a circle they can keep hurricanes away?

LUVENDER: Sure, there’s that video where an octopus trapped in a jar frees itself, but how often are NASCAR drivers faced with opening a jar at 200 mph? And I don’t want to get into the Vortex Theory discussion since we both know that’s scientific fact. Let’s recap how much I’m winning this argument.

Dolphins: super smart, friendly and communicative, air-breathing. Can balance a ball on its nose and do tricks for its trainers (think crew chief) in exchange for dead fish.

Octopus: Intelligence unknown since it can’t speak. Can open a jar. Might toss beers to friends.

I’ll give you this: for tailgating, the octopus wins, eight-tentacles-down. But for a driver, I don’t think so.

@NASCARCASM: OK to answer your first inquiry, that would be the third race of the 1954 season when Gober Sosebee, in desperate need of a mid-race snack, opened up a jar of delicious pickled eggs while soaring down the beach at Daytona (Source: Internet).

Hey, want me to further win this debate by adding this schematic which demonstrates how the tentacles advantage of the octopus means that a pit stop could be performed by ONE octopus? Four tentacles remove and replace the tires, two operate the pit guns, one adds fuel and the other uses suction to clean the grill more thoroughly than a human hand. GAME. SET. OCTOPUS. OR SOMETHING.

LUVENDER: Typical ‘Casm, moving the goalposts and changing the rules. Since you know the octopus would make for a worse driver, you’re now talking about their performance as a pit-crew member – and, to your point, they’d excel. And, unlike dolphins, people eat octopus, you know. Sort of like the New Hampshire Motor Speedway lobster trophy.

@NASCARCASM: THE OCTOPUS CAN EAT LOBSTER TOO. I just Googled it. Many interesting albeit disturbing videos exist on YouTube of this happening. It’s not quick. It’s a weird confrontation that takes a while. It’s sort of like if John Wes Townley was the octopus and Spencer Gallagher was the lobster. With that, I have won the argument. I step atop the aqua race car and raise my eight arms in the air for I have triumphed.

LUVENDER: Twenty to 30 minutes. That was the answer, by the way, to the question I posed earlier about how long the octopus can survive above land. Meanwhile, the dolphin’s already on its way to Victory Lane to enjoy its lobster dinner. Apparently, both dolphins and octopi eat lobster, so even if we can’t agree to which of the two would make for a better driver, there’s one clear loser – and it’s the lobster.