The Frontstretch: Best of That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Sometimes, it's Personal by Amy Henderson -- Thursday December 22, 2005

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I am not feeling too serious this week.  Maybe it’s the heat, or too many exhaust fumes from my recent foray to Gateway International Raceway and Tri-City Speedway, or perhaps it’s simply too much sugar.  For whatever reason, I got to thinking about racing (OK, not like it takes a lot to make me think about racing, but I digress.) and the fact that every race, every lap, every comment on the radio, every commercial on the television means something different to every fan watching.  That made me think seriously pretty fast.  After all, I write a column about NASCAR history, and if you really think about it, every fan out there has a slightly different perspective on it.  Amazing thought.
Thinking in terms of the current season, that means that its story could be written in a million different ways, depending on the author.  To me, so far it is the season in which we have had a false champion reigning supreme, the season in which the words “tire issues” are heard more than “gentlemen, start your engines,” and the season that may not see two of the sport’s most polarizing personalities vying for the championship.  It’s been the season of a new sponsor and a top-ten run for my favorite driver, and of seeing another driver that I support being demonized again and again. 
But to another fan, perhaps seeing their driver as champion, no matter how it was won, is a satisfaction that they will always carry as a race fan.  Some may think that the new tire compound adds excitement to races, that not having Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Junior in the championship hunt doesn’t matter; their guy’s in, so it’s all good.
To someone, somewhere, hearing Kenny Wallace laugh after a good run is not a factor in determining how the weekend went.  Someone else thinks that Jimmie Johnson is a dirty driver who deserves every crash, every engine failure, every bit of bad luck.
Even watching other NASCAR coverage, everyone sees through different eyes.  There is a certain clothing commercial that makes me laugh every time I see it because it tosses in a totally random butt shot, but I’m sure several fans enjoy that part immensely.  And while I take some commercials as a cue to visit the restroom before the race comes back on, I’m sure that others linger to watch them before heading to the fridge.
While I’m sorry to see some of NASCAR’s great drivers heading rapidly toward the twilight and inevitable nightfall of their careers, I know that some people are looking toward the future instead of at the past, and are looking toward younger, more marketable drivers to fill their considerable shoes. 
And the list goes on and on.  One thing that I truly love and respect about other race fans, friend or stranger, is that while opinions vary as widely as the seven seas, we all agree on one thing, that we have a passion for the roar of the engines over the roar of the crowd.  We support our drivers and are concerned for them sometimes as if they were family.  While we are bound by a common history, it’s sometimes the history that plays in each of our souls that’s the most important one.  That’s history, and a fine legacy it is to the memories we all have.
Author’s Note:  I’m working on putting together a column of “personal histories,” that is, other race fans’ stories from the track, from days old and recent, from the serious to the downright silly.  If you have a personal history to share, please email me at:  Thanks!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.