TweetThat's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Another Matter of Perspective
Amy Henderson · Tuesday March 7, 2006
I wasn’t planning on making this a two-part series when I wrote last week about the different perspectives of history. But then I picked up a racing magazine, and one of the articles was entitled “The 10 Most Memorable Moments of 2005.” I read through them, and realized that from my standpoint, they were exciting, significant moments…but that is all they were. In fact, the most memorable moments for me were not all moments shared on television, nor were they even moments that someone else would remember tomorrow. I wrote before about the different perspectives of a single event. But I forgot that sometimes, the significance of events is open to interpretation, too.
Sure, some events are historically significant no matter how you slice them. Records and championships, for example, fit perfectly within the context of sports. But what is “most memorable” in anything is hardly for a magazine editor to decide. It’s for the fans"¦and every fan will have a vastly different take on the events in racing over the years. My top ten most memorable moments are probably not yours; I know some of them aren’t, because they were personal. But, for what it’s worth, my 2005 “Most Memorable” list includes the following:
- Getting a tour of Arnold, Missouri from native son Kenny Wallace, including such highlights as where Kenny taught his future wife, Kim, to parallel park. Whenever we have someone visit our hometown, we want to do the same, show the places and the people that influenced how we grew up. It was a reminder that people are people, no matter how well we know their names"¦
- Walking through the garage area at Gateway. Racecars, they are a beautiful thing.
- Watching in something akin to abject horror as Jimmie Johnson’s tire shredded, shredding his championship hopes with it. It’s not a good memory, because even though I tend not to like drivers like Johnson, I like Jimmie. And this was personal. Sometimes things that we remember clearly are not the best things"¦ But Jimmie winning the Coke 600 also make the list for the opposite reason. And because I love when someone does something that nobody has ever done before.
- Tony Stewart winning at Indy. This was just great to watch as a fan, because it was so obvious that it meant so much to him. For a few minutes, he was just that kid from Columbus again. Stewart’s fence climb at Loudon makes the list too, because I was sitting on the frontstretch, and it was another moment in which the kid took over from the man.
- A 2 AM visit to Taco Bell with the aforementioned Wallace, after a late-running dirt race"¦because, well, who wouldn’t remember that? I used to watch those commercials about open late pick-up windows and wonder who ate fast food at that hour. Well, now I know! Seriously, it was my first dirt race, and the whole night amazed me.
- Ted Musgrave winning the CTS title, because he worked so hard for it and overcame so much. It was a championship richly deserved.
- Last, but not least, on my list of most memorable moments from 2005 is…the truck ride home from NHIS with my perpetual race buddy, Kathy. We found a new shortcut. We made it home in record time. And I almost drove off the road laughing at our off-color comparison of NASCAR to the stick and ball sports.
What it boils down to is this: what is most memorable to each of us are the moments that touch our hearts in some way. They might not be historically significant, but they could be part of the record books. It’s all about perspective again. NASCAR is very much a history of oral tradition, and the stories are wonderful. Some you always remember, while others fade away. But that’s just history.
Author’s Note: This article begins a new project for That’s History. I’m going to spend some time tracking down your most memorable moments of racing. The fans, the team members, the drivers…all have something to tell that makes the tradition richer. Please, fans, email me your most treasured memories…the ones you’ll tell your grandkids, or already do. I’d love to make them a part of racing’s great oral tradition. If you’re interested, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to tell your story!
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