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Gentlemen, start your engines!
by Mark on 6/14/2004 (0)

Gentlemen, start your engines!
What is the meaning of NASCAR?

Timeline: December 16,1944. An audaciously brazen, completely unexpected Nazi air and armored assault against dozing American forces occupying newly liberated France begins. Thousands of German Panzer tanks cross through the densely forested Ardennes region, just as they successfully had done 4 years before, with the strategic goal of trapping four American armies in Antwerp and forcing a peace settlement with the Allied forces.

The first several days of the offensive went well for the Nazis. Hundreds of allied tanks were destroyed, and tens of thousands of prisoners taken. The city of Bastogne, along with the 101st paratroop division, was encircled and besieged, prompting the famous reply 'Nuts!' from commander General Anthony McCaulliffe in an obstinate, hastily scribbled response to German demands to surrender.

Several hundred miles to the south, General George Patton thrust into action.

His Third Army, with its hundreds of Sherman tanks, cranked to life, their massive aluminum block Ford 'Grand Blanc' 410 h.p. 12 cylinder diesel engines roaring in viscous protest against the icy December chill.

Patton turned his gun turrets North.

His column of Shermans sallied forth toward the Bastogne maelstrom with calculated, dread determination. Along with the Shermans must go the supply and support columns. As the Shermans race along at top speed they eat up fuel and caterpiller tank treads at an alarming rate. Supply trucks race to keep pace, refueling the Sherman's mammoth 126 gallon dry tanks in the blink of an eye. A crack Sherman crew could pull a shattered caterpiller tread off and replace it with a new one in a matter of minutes.

In order to deliver an armored column to its goal, one must carefully calculate the troop demands, distances and supply logistics involved. Gasoline, spare parts, ammunition must all be measured and allocated before the offensive starts. It makes little sense to send an Army forward, only to have it run dry before it reaches its primary objective. This demands impeccable planning and communication.

9 days later, Patton arrived to relieve the desperate siege of Bastogne, crushing the poorly supplied Panzer divisions with his clockwork Shermans. Within a little more than a month, the Battle of the Bulge was over. The primary reason for the Nazi defeat? The Panzers had run out of gas.

That is the meaning of NASCAR.

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