After 60 years of racing, Darlington Raceway celebrated this past weekend. Cale Yarborough was the pace car driver. The walls of the track were painted in red and white like the old-school days. David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Buddy Baker, Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty were all there being celebrated during the pre-race ceremonies. The vast history of the Speedway’s racing was laid out in front of the stands for everyone to see. Looking at all of those legends stirred a thought that would be worth pursuing: A NASCAR legends race during the All-Star weekend.
Earlier this year there was a late model race held at Bristol that allowed many of NASCAR’s past stars to get behind the wheel of stock cars again to compete. And no one that saw those heroes climbing back into those cars can say they were not moved. It was a tremendous sight, watching the pillars of the foundation of our sport back behind the wheel again. It would really be an appropriate tribute… and a great event… to celebrate them during the All-Star weekend at Charlotte.
Major League Baseball has an old-timers game during their All-Star weekend. Likewise, the NHL has put on a legends game where the heroes of yesteryear take the ice once again. Certainly their skills are diminished, and it won’t be the wide open, pedal to the floor, win at any cost racing that they were known for, but there is no doubt that NASCAR’s legends are still racers in their hearts: They’ll go after it as hard as they can.
Mind you, many of these gentlemen are in their 70s, so having them race on the big track at Charlotte would be unrealistic, as one mishap could take their lives. However, the small track that runs on the frontstretch and down pit lane, used by the legend and bandalero cars during the Summer Shootout series, would be ideal. They could put on a 50, or better yet 100, lap race between the Open and the All-Star Race. The heroes of the sport would be able to showcase their short-track skills in front of the main grandstand while adding to the hype and excitement of the buildup to the event’s feature race.
NASCAR has said they want to get back to their roots, to harken back to the old days. It would be a prime opportunity to bring those roots back to life on the biggest of stages during All-Star weekend. Who knows, the fans might even get to see someone elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame compete on the same track where the heroes of today are taking laps as well.