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Ah, the good old days. You know, when things were better. I’m not even talking about the wayback machine. Sometimes the good old days are as recent as last year, before we handed billions of dollars to greedy bank executives. More importantly, I’m speaking of those thoughts that bring a smile to our faces and make the present minute a little more tolerable.
On Saturday night, Bristol Motor Speedway held a little extra something for race fans across the nation. The Scotts Saturday Night Special entry list read like a NASCAR history book: Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough and Harry Gant were only three of the drivers that brought us all back to better days. For the first time in an eternity, these legends got behind the wheel of a stock car and made some noise in Thunder Valley.
Now, it wasn’t a race that saw side-by-side battles for the lead. There was a moment where Jimmy Spencer found Rusty Wallace’s bumper, the No. 33 machine of Gant’s looked more like a modified with its missing hood, and the cars weren’t really going all that fast.
But let’s face it. It was just plain fun. With Sterling Marlin taking home the massive trophy by leading all 35 laps and 70-year old LD Ottinger showing a gritty third-place finish, it brought us all back to moments in the past where our personal NASCAR memories were made.
And that’s what keeps me turning on that TV every Sunday. There’s always a possibility that something really spectacular might happen this week.
Sunday’s Sprint Cup race may not have delivered the same ballsy, fight club sort of entertainment that I have come to associate with the venue, but just hearing the blistering rumble of the field and watching the 160,000 fans rise to their feet took me back… to my good old days.
Bristol’s that kind of track. It’s the place that solidified my love of stock car racing. I’ve plenty of reasons to hate it as well, but when your hero, Jeff Gordon, in 1997 made an established veteran whine and complain about the use of fenders in the corner, only happy memories are conjured. So, when Mr. Wallace climbed into his blue No. 2 on Saturday night, I smiled. I didn’t expect somebody to pull the bump-and-run on him, but the possibility was enticing.
Sometimes, we tend to grumble that celebrity races are for the birds. With nothing truly at stake for the competitors beyond bragging rights, it can make you wonder why we bother.
Well, when the oscillating stock market gives you hives and the family vacation has been canceled due to the lack of a job, sometimes it’s important to revisit the times when life made you smile.
The Scotts Saturday Night Special was filled with names and faces that spanned the decades of our sport. These gentlemen grinned at the cameras, laughed with each other, and shared a little of their “best moments” with America. Fans across the nation each responded in their own way to the driver that sparked their own special NASCAR memory. All in all, it was a night of smiles.
As Marlin said in Victory Lane, “I had a great time. I’d like to do this again.”
I couldn’t agree more.