Back in the Day is a look back at the only coverage available to the NASCAR fan in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Back then, the only show available for fans to watch was a half-an-hour program called Car and Track, hosted by Bud Lindemann. The show filmed NASCAR races, condensing them into the 30-minute format to give fans a tiny glimpse of the series if they weren’t able to attend that weekend’s event. Once a lifeline for thousands of diehard fans, these shows had been gathering dust in the tape archives… until one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers decided to take them back off the shelves.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been a fan of the sport since his youth. When he was young, he was friends with an author who wrote for several racing publications, allowing him to borrow the videotapes of Car and Track and give him a look back at how the sport developed into what it is today. With Junior’s love of history and the creativity of his production company, the seed was eventually planted for what would become the Back in the Day show on SPEED.
In the DVD, you get a full collection of these special programs, enhanced by the beauty of modern production. Junior’s personal spin on the original Car and Track shows includes quick facts about the year in which the race is taking place, facts which flash on the screen right as Bud Lindemann talks you through the on-track action. These pieces of information range from information about the Oscar-winning film of the year, to the price of different items such as gas and milk, to the fads that were predominant at the time and which television shows were the most popular. Presented in a fashion similar to VH1’s popular Pop Up video show that hit the airwaves a few years back, you can be sure to learn little tidbits of American pop culture history every time you turn on the program.
Some samples of things that you might not remember, all included on various episodes within the DVD:
- The game Pong was introduced in 1972.
- Nike shoes were first introduced in 1972.
- Mood rings were first sold in 1975 for $2.99.
- All in the Family featured the first toilet flush on TV.
- Disney World opened in 1971.
- Starbucks opened its first store in 1971.
- Donnie Allison drove 21 different numbers during his career.
These facts are presented throughout the show, keeping the viewer involved with the program and reminding them just how much things have changed over the history of NASCAR. It is amazing to see how different the series is back then compared to today: there were no speed limits on pit road, and pit stops take around 20 seconds. The outfits that people wore in the ’70s are outrageous, too. There is nothing like Coca-Cola pants with big red and white checkers and the Coke logo on them.
In watching the actual video, you’re reminded of how incredible it is more people weren’t killed in the early days of the sport. The pit board was held by a man standing in front of the car. Crew members crawled under cars with no jackstands to protect them. Gasoline spilled everywhere while people were smoking in the pits. Photographers and fans would stand right next to the track behind fences that could barely contain an angry Chihuahua. It is also interesting to see how much the facilities have improved over the years: the pits, the garages, and the stands have advanced steadily over their humble beginnings 40 to 50 years ago.
The DVD episodes are slightly longer than what you might have seen on television during the first season. Each episode on the DVD runs approximately 23 minutes, giving the viewer a little extra time to savor their favorite races. Still, the one thing that could have been removed for the DVD is the introduction to each episode, as the exact same intro to each race gets a little monotonous over time. The added length to the episodes does offer a little more race coverage, though, so that is a definite bonus.
Perhaps the biggest bonus on the DVD for race fans is an interview with Dale Junior. He explains where the idea for the show came from, as well as his philosophy on filming. He also shares inside information on the making of the show. For example, Junior reveals that all of the episodes were filmed on his property in Mooresville. There is also a Three Doors Down music video that features Dale Junior and Tony Stewart that may keep younger fan’s interest as a bonus section.
All in all, this DVD is a definite must have for a Back in the Day fan. The extra coverage of the races and the interview with Junior are very informative and entertaining, with the only additions that would have been nice being more race coverage and a longer interview with Junior in the bonus section. In the end, I would rate the DVD a strong four stars out of five.