That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time · Amy Henderson · Monday April 17, 2006
NASCAR fans are a fun group of people. Anyone is willing to share their wisdom and experiences of racing, whether that knowledge comes from the "good ol’ days" or just last week. Many of the “old school” fans, of course, will surely tell you that racers today aren’t as good as those form a bygone era, that the tracks then were better, and so were the rules. Perhaps they are right. I certainly enjoy watching those precious clips from races run before I was even born; I love the old cars with their distinct styling, the crewmen dressed in white shirts and pants, the rough-and-tumble crowd (both spectators and teams), simply everything about the event.
Sitting in the infield on a hot summer night, you’ll hear stories rich and plentiful that celebrate racing’s past:
"Hey, Joe, remember that Daytona race it took three days to decide?"
"Sure do, Bob. What about that time when Richard/Fireball/Junior/Cale/Donnie/Lee/Red"¦" It could go on like this all weekend and beyond, and it is wonderful.
But then I got to thinking. As NASCAR’s marketing boom continues, more and more new fans are jumping on the bandwagon every week. Even though NASCAR’s history is available to them in any of several formats, some of these fans will never see it. For these newbies, these ARE "the good old days" that they will be telling their grandkids about someday, just as generations of fans have done before.
It was kind of a fun thought: what kinds of things will young fans two generations removed be hearing about NASCAR in 2006? Now, bear in mind that I am not a Psychic Friend. Some of the events you’ll read about are pure speculation. Some of them might even be based more on what I want to happen than on what is likely to happen, and some just the opposite…but here is a glimpse into infield conversation, circa 2026, reflection on the season that is.
"Hey, Mike, remember when Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 after his crew chief got tossed for cheating?"
"Sure, Steve. That was the same year that the Cup drivers took all Top 10 places in the Busch Series."
"The cars almost looked like stock cars."
"Oh, yeah, Sarah’s right. They did. Isn’t that about when "˜ol Kurt started doing those snow angels when he won?"
"Yep. The man’s 48 years old, you’d think he’d come up with something more dignified now. But anyway-Dale Junior won the summer race at Daytona after all those people doubted him. Won five races, as I recall."
"Four, Bill, you’re memory’s slipping. His rookie driver, that Truex kid, won one though, for DEI. I hear he’s gonna retire next year."
"Lotta rookies won that year, Mike. Truex, Hamlin, and Sorenson. And that kid Yeley won three poles, I think."
"Robby Gordon won in his own car at the Glen. Never thought I’d see THAT happen."
"How about three Indiana boys crossing the line three-wide at Indy? Newman only won it by about half an inch."
"I’d forgotten about that one, Sue! Twelve cars in the Chase that year, even after Rusty’s kid brother pulled the bump and run on Stewart to win the night race at Bristol."
"It wasn’t really much of a chase though. Kahne and Kenseth gave him a run for his money, but Johnson sure finished where he started. What did he have, eight wins, nine?"
"Kid retires with more championship hardware than his boss"¦must’ve done something right."
"What about the time when Junior/Jeff/Jimmie/Tony/Kasey/Casey/DJ/Kurt/Mark"¦"
"The racing today, these rules and aero package, it’s messed up. Those were the good old days, everyone."
"They sure were, Rob…they sure were."
To a certain extent, the "good old days" are in the mind of the beholder. The best moments, to some fans, may not have happened yet. We need to pay attention to history, hopefully learn from it. But we can’t experience it, no matter how much we’d like to. So we look to our own best days, and find that they’re history too.
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