April Fool's Day? It feels more like April Fool's Month.
Since Texas, strange things have happened. My life, NASCAR and the stories surrounding it have all seemed a little weird.
It all started in the wee hours before the Samsung Radio Shack 500 when I was blinded by the light. Well, sort of. At 3 a.m., I woke in my Fort Worth hotel room to an awful reality: I could barely see.
It felt as if my eyeballs were being used as pincushions. Light was my worst enemy.
The sun wasn't up yet, so as I stumbled to the hotel lobby looking disheveled, wearing dark sunglasses and shielding my eyes with my hands, I can only imagine what people were thinking.
ESPN producer Leah Siegel drove me to the ER for a uniquely Texas experience.
Doctor: "Suhn, you have lah-teral abray-sions in both eyes."
Siegel: "Mike, maybe you got some schmootz in your contacts and that caused the scratches."
Doctor: "You two aren't from Texas are you? Around here, we don't call it schmootz."
As it turned out the diagnosis was flash burn of the corneas. Basically, sunburn to the eyes.
Evidentally, it's a common injury for welders. But unbeknownst to me until now, it's also an occupational hazard for television reporters who are exposed to too much stage lighting.
Now I'm not writing this for sympathy. In fact it sounds a lot worse than it is. Believe me, I'm fine. The point is that this event was the first in a series of oddities that have occurred over the last 10 days in the NASCAR-dominated world that I live in.
Take for example the big promotion in Martinsville this week, "NASCAR Ballet." What do you think the Texas doctor would think of that?
The Roanoke Ballet Theatre has put together a production where dancers, dressed in colorful logoed spandex, will represent stock cars. There will be three different performances this weekend with three different pretend winners. Let me guess, the 24, 8 & 20 dancers? That's where my money would be.
Anyway, is it me? Or does this seem like an unnatural marriage? I'm a firm believer in the Arts but the premise of this performance is asking me to suspend my disbelief a little more than I am willing to do.
Seriously, NASCAR Ballet? Honestly, there should be separation of dance and motorsports. A couple of examples why immediately come to mind. Darrell Waltrip's Icky Shuffle after winning the 1989 Daytona 500 truly was icky. And Mike Bliss' victory dance, truly pathetic.
NASCAR has Bur-tons not Ber-ishnikovs. Race car drivers wear fire suits, not leotards -- although I will admit racing shoes do resemble dance slippers.
As described on the Roanoke Ballet Web site, "Dancers gracefully careen around the track, collide and are rebuilt." Rebuilt? What are they doing to these people?
Undoubtedly there will be pirouettes. But it will be hard to match the one Ryan Newman did in last year's Daytona 500, or Elliott Sadler's at Talladega. At 180 mph those were very elegant maneuvers, but unlike this weekend's staged performance, they were not choreographed.
No drivers will actually participate on stage but Ward Burton will play the role of color analyst during the, uh ... race-dance. Now I realize Ward is tough to understand sometimes, but there's a clear difference between him telling the organizers, "I used to drive the 22," and, "I used to wear a tu-tu."
All this has seemingly weighed on Ward's mind and kept him up at night. Which may have contributed to another odd occurrence when he fell asleep at the wheel. Around 7:30 on Monday morning Burton nodded off -- and as visions of lycra-clad racers danced in his head -- he flipped his SUV. Luckily, he was uninjured.
It's been one weird event after the next. Scanning through the channels later that night I saw Jeff Gordon among the judges at the Miss USA contest. First ballet, then beauty pageants, what's next -- NASCAR and figure skating? I suppose it could be worse, a Nextel Cup driver could be "The Bachelor."
This weekend we get back to racing -- and hopefully normalcy -- because the last week has really felt like a bad prank.
That brings me to my final topic. There's been a lot of talk about a possible 40-race schedule in the future. Please tell me that's not true. Not because I don't love the sport but because I think it would actually hurt it.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't NASCAR just change the point system in order to energize the final 10 races? If the schedule needed a boost with 36 events, imagine what it'll need with 40. What will NASCAR do to make the latter stages of the season exciting then?
Maybe they'll add more NASCAR ballet.
Mike Massaro covers NASCAR for ESPN and ESPN.com.