The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Tomorrow's History by Amy Henderson -- Friday April 8, 2005

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As I was sitting pondering he current NASCAR season so far, I got to thinking, oddly enough about the sport’s history. OK, maybe it’s not so odd, this is a history column, after all, and history must inevitably intertwine past, present, and future. Sometimes I hear my 7th grade students complain about how “boring” it is to read the newspaper and study current events. I sort of inwardly laugh at this notion as I outwardly tell them to read it anyway, because several years down the road, their kids or grandkids will mention that they studied events like terrorism and the Iraqi conflict, and my students will say to them, “I remember when that happened!” If any of you are reading this, yes, you will, and yes, we still have to read the newspaper.

As race fans, we often see history in the making. Sometimes, it’s right there, like a new record of some kind. Sometimes, though, it sneaks up on us, or at least the context that makes a moment important doesn’t become immediately clear. By way of example, take the 2000 Winston 500. Because of a new aerodynamic package, there were about three million lead changes (OK, more like 47 but you know what I mean) and Dale Earnhardt came from 18th to win in the last four laps. You just knew, watching, that that in itself was amazing, something you might never see again. What you didn’t know, of course, was that it would be the Intimidator’s last victory. While some events are clearly significant as they unfold, the context of what happens in the future is often necessary to tell us just how significant.

So, I’m wondering how future race fans, and our future selves, will look back at the 2005 season. Will it be the season when the Daytona 500 winner defies history and wins a fifth championship? What kind of effect will the sanctioning body’s increased penalties for rules infractions by teams, cars, and drivers have on the sport as a whole? Will either of two veterans in the twilight of their careers find a championship? Will May mark the last time the drivers dance with the Lady in Black? What will happen if Dale Junior doesn’t make the Chase? New records will be set and old ones will fall. What will happen, and what context it will fall into, remains to be seen. It’s the future; it’s not history. Yet.

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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

04/09/2005 09:06 AM
Amy great article. The reason you tell your 7th graders for reading the paper is why I read the paper and watch the news. I know my kids will want to know about it from someone who was here when it happened.

As far as looking back on the 2005 season…I have to say that you brought up many interesting possibilities all of which are probable. I’m interested to know how this season will pan out for Dale JR, Matt Kenseth and other normally top runners that are having a rough start to the season.


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Fans To Decide Format of Sprint Unlimited at Daytona
UNOH and Kentucky Speedway Extend Sponsorship Agreement
Earnhardt Out For Charlotte and Kansas After Talldega Concussion
Piquet, Jr. Wins K&N East Opener

Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.