The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: The NASCAR Untouchables by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday June 8, 2005

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Voices From the Heartland: The NASCAR Untouchables

Jeff Meyer · Wednesday June 8, 2005

 

I’ve never been accused of pulling any punches in this column, and I’m not about to start now. Not that any of them ever landed anywhere, ‘cept maybe my unceasing hounding and ridicule of NAMRF, the likes of which even my editors got tired of, but I keep swinging.%

In light of the recent events surrounding Shane Hmiel’s 2nd suspension for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy, I must say that Shane was an easy target. He might as well have driven the #41 Chip Ganassi entry sponsored by Target with that big red bulls eye on his back.

To be brutally honest, in the world of NASCAR, Shane Hmiel was still a nobody. He was just an up and comer who showed some talent, a new media ‘young gun’ who had yet to establish a firm toe hold in the NASCAR world. In all reality, as the years pass by, Shane will only be remembered whenever his father (Steve Hmiel) is mentioned or whenever some other poor sap fails to study for NASCAR’s golden cup test. Like I said, Shane was an easy target. There are others though, starring in this soap opera we call NASCAR, that will NEVER have to worry, clean or not, about passing this particular test.

Now I’m not saying that I think there are other ‘dirty’ drivers out there, actually the opposite is true. What I am saying is that there are certain icons in this sport that will never have to worry about NASCAR dropping a UA (urine analysis) on them.

Now it is a known fact that Shane and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are close friends. It is also well known that Jr. likes to party. Do you see where I’m going with this? As the old saying goes, “You run with the dogs, you’re going to catch the fleas”. Again, before all you Jr. fans out there start grabbing your pitchforks and torches and form a caravan towards Iowa, I’m NOT saying that I think Jr. is ‘dirty’. What I AM saying is that NASCAR would NEVER want to even take the chance of finding out!

What would it do to the bottom line of NASCAR’s ledger, if the son of the man that arguably made NASCAR what it is today, had to be banned from the sport? Imagine Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart or a host of others suddenly GONE! Not because of some tragic accident, but because NASCAR threw them out. It will never happen; the consequences would be too devastating to the profit column.

While it IS good that NASCAR must now stand up to the plate on this issue, it will always be someone like Shane Hmiel, who is expendable, which will bear the brunt of NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. To the real money makers, NASCAR’s official response will be, “I know nut-ting…!” (You know – Sgt. Schultz – Hogan’s Heroes – work with me here! Ok, I’m dating myself, I know…) Anyway, till next week…

Stay off the wall (and the drugs!),

Jeff

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Lew
06/08/2005 05:49 AM
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I agree 100%. If Nascar is going to survive in the long term things have to change. Every thing that Nascar does is based on how much money they can make with no regard fairness.With regard to drug testing every driver needs to be tested . There can be no question but that there are other drivers are usung drugs.All other pro sports use randon drug testing[hockey?] and Nascar drivers should be no exection. Lew
glenn
06/08/2005 06:18 AM
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I disagree with your assement of NASCAR not wanting to look at the “stars” of the sport. Curtis Turner was huge in the sport when he was banned in the 60s.
Loren
06/08/2005 10:28 AM
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Jeff, you are right on, why did they not check Kurt Bush after he threw his fit a few races ago. His actions speak loudly of someone on speed.
dh
06/08/2005 12:20 PM
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I just found that Shan Hmiel has hired an lawyer and they are going to to a hair, urine, and blood drug test to prove Nascar that there test was wrong. I am not a Hmiel fan but I am glad he is not letting them just push him around.
skool
06/08/2005 02:48 PM
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Glenn,
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my article.
Yes, you are correct about the banning of Curtis Turner, however, there are at least two major differences as I see it.
1.This whole country had a lot more morels back in the 60s than it does now, and
2.NASCAR was an infant then compared to what it is now. There was nowhere near the marketability of a person or the sport in general then as there is now.

The banning of Turner back then was only a concern to a handful of people compared to the numbers now, say if Jr. was banned. The whole entity of NASCAR and the sport is just sooooooo much bigger now.

Actually, just the number of Jr fans that probably never even heard of Turner out number the persons who took notice when Turner was banned!
Leah
06/08/2005 03:55 PM
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Hey Jeff…quit bagging on Junior fans. Not all of us are muffler sucking groupies. I do know who Curtis Turner was and why he was banned (and eventually reinstated). It’s always good to know lots of trivia…

Frankly, if you looked at all the NASCAR guys who fit your “lie down with dogs, get up with fleas” analogy, there’d be a bunch of testing going on. Tony Stewart is friends with Kid Rock, Shane has other friends besides Junior, and don’t even get me started on some of the women company that is roaming around the garages that could be considered “hard partying” if you get my drift.
Richard Irion
06/08/2005 04:04 PM
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Jeff;
This was really an unfair statement from you about the other drivers in NASCAR! Shane Hmiel dug his own hole and fell into it and that is his problem. However, to even lump in Jr., Gordon, Johnson in fact anyone else in NASCAR is ridiculous. Maybe the reason NASCAR doesen’t test these guys is because they aren’t doing anything wrong! I am sure you can do better than this when you give us your thoughts!

Richard
Dave
06/08/2005 06:04 PM
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Jeff, the country also had a lot more MORALS back when Curtis Turner was banned.
skool
06/08/2005 06:08 PM
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Why, what did I say? Morels!? Must have mushrooms on the brain! Thanks for clearing that up!
ikster
06/08/2005 09:35 PM
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bullseye or not shane should have known what was gonna happen!!!!!! he had the chance to be a bizzionare!!! he chooses to be a crackhead!!!! being a recovering crackhead myself, i know what he’s going thru!!!!!!!!!!! those of you who are smart and never got into it don’t know what that drug has a power over you!!!!!! i have battled this thing and so should he!!!!!! so i am disin’ you both, don’t talk about something you know nothing about and shane get off the stuff!!!!! beer is just fine if ya got to have a crutch!!!!!

thanks

ike
Shayne
06/09/2005 07:31 AM
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Jeff, what the hell have you been smoking? Do you have some privy of
information that NASCAR targets
“nobody’s” for random drug testing?
I think the owners,drivers, and crew members in NNC police them-
selves well. There are still some “good guys” in NASCAR. If any driver and/or crew has a problem, then it’s going to be dealt with. Ask Shane Hmiel. I remember, not long ago, there was a certain jackman that was more “twisted” than a bag of pretzels. NASCAR doesn’t need people like that. If Shane Hmiel tested positive…”SEE YA”. Who’s to know who or when NASCAR randomly tests? Think some drivers are “off limits”? Maybe, just maybe, those “real money maker” drivers are keeping the
sordid secrets of Jeff and Jimmy’s
motorcoach crack house a closely guarded secret…Who the hell knows or cares?
dh
06/10/2005 09:08 AM
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My numbers may be off because I read the article a few months ago on Nascar.com but they had done only 22 drug test in the last 2 yrs and about 14 were on Hmiel. No one can say Nascar does not singal someone out.

Nascar did not even instate a drug policy until Tim Richmonds life style came into quesion.

Ike where did you find what drug he tested postive for? I’ve looked everywhere and haven’t seen it.
Mike
06/13/2005 03:11 PM
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Jeff,

Living here in Curtis Turner’s home town made me want to add my two cents since I saw the remarks about Curtis. The reason Curtis Turner was blackballed was because he tried to unionize the drivers. That would’ve given the drivers medical, dental, and a retirement plan. This didn’t settle well with Big Bill and it still doesn’t settle well with the France family nowadays. It had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.

Personally, I think everybody, from the owners of NA$CAR/I$C all the way down to the gopher fetching bags of ice to the officials in the pits should be tested. No exceptions. With everyone being tested, it sets the example for everyone and shows no favoritism to anyone. It would also set an example for the rest of professional sports.

BTW, thanks for supporting the save the NWS effort Jeff.

 

Contact Jeff Meyer

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