The Frontstretch: Driven to the Past: Some Thoughts Before Going Into Hibernation... by John Potts -- Thursday November 19, 2009

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Since I voiced the opinion a couple of weeks back that NASCAR should consider going back to stock bodied cars, I think it behooves me to comment on the introduction of the new Nationwide Series car.

They’ve definitely taken a step in the right direction. The cars they tested look much more like those you see on the street than their upscale CoT counterparts.

No doubt they were working on this long before I and others put forth the idea that the CoT’s chassis with all its safety modifications could be put under a stock-appearing body, but it makes me feel like they’re headed the right way.

The new Nationwide Series car, seen here in the shape of the Ford Mustang, gets the stamp of approval as a step in the right direction of a return to real stock cars.

And I love the idea of working with a spoiler instead of a wing. As others have noted, none of NASCAR’s “approved” body styles comes that way. Maybe none
have spoilers either, but they’ve been with us in stock car racing a little longer.

I suppose a return to bias-ply tires would be asking for too much “Driven to the Past.”

We can only hope that this trend continues and that it will help put the driver back into the equation, as it was in the days we remember.

- – - – - – - –

Speaking of those days we remember, I was impressed with Mike Neff’s commentary on the possible retirement of Sterling Marlin.

Sterling is one of my favorite characters, and maybe I’ve followed him because I remember his father, the late Coo Coo Marlin.

I recall once one of the ESPN crew telling me that Sterling had approached the announcers and asked that his name be pronounced correctly.

They asked for clarification, and his response was classic.

“Sterlin’ – Just like it’s spelled, S-T-E-R-L-I-N-G. Sterlin’.”

One of Mike’s quotes from Sterling echoed something all of us OF types have felt for some time.

He remarked, “The sport has changed. It’s not much fun anymore.”

Too bad we might be losing one of the guys who has made it a little fun nowadays, even if it’s just by listening to him.

A frequent poster on one of the internet racing chat boards I frequent says, “If Sterling Marlin and Ward Burton are the only drivers you can understand, you might be a redneck.”

I suppose you could add Bootie Barker and the Sadler brothers to that list.

One year in the week of our Busch race at IRP, our receptionist came back to my office and said there was someone out front who she thought wanted to talk to me, but she didn’t understand him very well.

I asked if she could understand his name, and she said, “I’m not sure, something like ‘Wad Button’.”

No doubt at all who it was.

- – - – - – - –

As an old PR guy, something’s been bothering me about the way the commentators and reports describe the two top NASCAR series.

Not that I care, but it seems to me that the Sprint people should be a little concerned about it.

Back in the day, it was “Busch Series” and “Winston Cup.” Cars were described as a “Busch car” or “Winston Cup car.”

Now it’s “Nationwide car” or “Cup car.” Been that way since Winston left and Nextel came in.

I have a feeling NASCAR should be a little concerned about this, too, if they really want to see the sponsor mentioned more. Isn’t identification and association the primary idea?

I understand that dropping “Cup” from the title and saying “Sprint Series” would create some reference to a completely different type of racing. “Sprint car” would bring an image with a car that doesn’t have fenders.

Got to be some way if they really want to do something.

- – - – - – - –

With the NASCAR season now coming to an anticlimactic end, this is the last regular “Driven to the Past” until February. I want to thank Tom Bowles and the editors for giving me this opportunity, and the readers for caring, particularly those who have been so kind in their comments.

Those who want to wake me up can try by e-mailing my winter cave at

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 John Potts and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

11/20/2009 07:36 AM


THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES! Do you have to hibernate? Your column is the only one that I read faithfully.

SIGH, I guess that I can make it through the next two and a half months by re-reading your columns.

Have a nice nap- but know that we’re waiting for you to “wake up”!


the Turnip!
11/20/2009 08:56 AM

Hey John, big thanks for trying to keep us happy and entertained during this most boring and anticlimactic season!

WOW! a few months with no hilarity and info!

Well, you have a good one, not sure what part of the country you live in, but have a good winter!

11/20/2009 10:20 AM

John, you are the ONLY thing that I will miss over the winter…Your glimpses of the past wake an old man up and make him remember the “good old days”. And I just know someone will hammer me for that remark. You, Sir, have a great winter!!

Josh Corder
11/20/2009 10:41 AM

I agree. The Nationwide CoT is a step in the right direction. Too bad they won’t make those changes in Sprint Cup.

Sterling will be missed and he’s right, it can’t be much fun for him any more.

11/20/2009 11:55 AM

Thanks for a great year of articles, John. It’s been a blast reading your stories of racing years gone by, and commiserating on the live blogs. I wasn’t even a twinkle in the old man’s eye when most of your stories took place, but I’m glad you’ve shared them, and hope you’ll be back with more in February.

11/20/2009 12:34 PM

Regarding your PR topic – what I don’t understand is the flip side to what you stated. That the announcers mention that Jeff Gordon has won four Sprint Cup titles. Ooookay!?!?!

Thank you for your contributions to the FS for this past season. You were the bacon bits on the salad that made this crappy meal palatable. Hope to see you next year.

RA Eckart
11/20/2009 07:45 PM

Great story about Sterling Marlin. As you are aware, the name on his birth certificate says ‘Sterlin’.

Kevin in SoCal
11/20/2009 08:08 PM

I’ll echo everyone else and say again thank you John. Its been a pleasure to read and learn about years past with your hilarious spin on things. I look forward to reading your columns again in February.

the Turnip!
11/20/2009 09:54 PM

Hey Kevin in SoCal, DANG! now you dun it for sure!

The mere mention of “February” brings hackles to the back of my neck!

So, with apologies, I use your “see you next February” as a way to once again state: do you know that the starting lineup for the 2010 “SUPER BOWL OF RACING”, aka, The Daytona 500, is already set?

In what other sport is next years “super bowl”, have the majority of the starting field guaranteed positions based on the previous year?

I know you know all this, but I just can’t let an opportunity to pass me by to once again spell out just how STUPID NA$CRAP really is!

11/20/2009 09:59 PM

Before you go into hibernation, I am hoping you can answer a question for me. Now bear with me.

Dick Trickle was the White Knight and Tom Reffner was the Blue Knight. I remember there was a Black Knight but I cannot remember his name. I keep thinking of Jim Bickerstaff but I don’t think that’s right. Do you know who it was?

John Potts
11/20/2009 10:15 PM

Took a while for the hard drive to kick in, but I believe it was Johnny Boegeman, car number was 61.

11/21/2009 12:10 PM

Thanks, John. I had the initials right. It’s so nice to read about the past and remember what brought us to racing in the first place.
Have a great hibernation and thanks again.