Race Weekend Central

Holding a Pretty Wheel: After 25 Years of All-Star Races, 1 Really Stands Out, but Not for the Racing

With the 25th running of the All-Star Race coming up Saturday night, I was supposed to write a column about memorable All-Star races… or something like that. You know, standard rundown of the big moments. But the problem with that reared its ugly head in oh, about 30 seconds.

I don’t really remember any.

Sure, I could go to the highlight reels, but considering that everyone and their brother has done that, and on TV, with film to back it up – well, suffice it to say that didn’t do it for me. There have been moments for sure. I’ll admit a small measure of something like, oh, say complete and utter glee following Kyle Busch’s spin a couple of years ago at the moment I realized that he was going to take Kurt Busch with him. But I’m not proud of being happy that someone wrecked, and besides, I couldn’t tell you who actually won that race, which is, after all, the point.

One of my favorite reads of all time is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s description of his 2000 All-Star win in his book, Driver #8. But that’s not really an All-Star moment, it’s a book moment – though I will never look at Mr. Peanut or Mr. Oreo the same way again. Thanks, Junior.

But really, I like points racing. The All-Star Race is just filler between a great race (Darlington) and a race that should be much more prestigious than it has become (Coca-Cola 600). Sure, it’s exciting because everyone can go for broke, but the format is better suited to a short track than to the 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Cars can get pretty strung out on 10 laps on a big track.

But I do have one All-Star memory that I will forever cherish. It was the night the power went out. I don’t remember the year – I think it was perhaps 1999, but it could have been 2000 or even ’01. But I was at my dad’s house, and just before the race, the power went out. And didn’t come back on. I called the electric company. They knew about the problem, but were apparently not in a big hurry to fix anything on a Saturday night.

So, Dad and I got in the car with the notion of watching on the TV in my grandmother’s basement. She lives in the next town over. But it turned out that the power outage was rather widespread – she didn’t have any either. So we got in the car again, turned the race on the radio and drove over what must have been half of the state of New Hampshire listening to the race broadcast. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember that drive. I never enjoyed an All-Star Race more than the one I didn’t see.

I’d trade the other 24 to have that one again.

About the author

Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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