Saturday evening, after the Nationwide race at Bristol, the fans were treated to an extra special event for the second year in a row. The Scott’s EZ Seed Showdown pitted 12 former NASCAR drivers in a 35-lap race, driving equally prepared race cars painted to match historical paint schemes from the drivers’ pasts. The cars were prepared by the USAR Pro Cup Series, which will return to Bristol September 11th for a 200-lap race. The event offers fans the very unique opportunity to see famous drivers of yesteryear competing in a genuine race on an old-school track, just like they did years ago.
This race took place last year but involved late model stock cars prepared by different people. The platform that they raced with this year offered the ability for the sanctioning body to easily tech the cars and minimize the amount of overhead associated with putting on the race because the cars were equally prepared. The field of 12 drivers ranged from the second winningest driver in Cup history to the man who always raced in wing-tip shoes. Harry Gant, Charlie Glotzbach, Jimmy Hensley, Tommy Houston, Jack Ingram, Dave Marcis, LD Ottinger, Phil Parsons, David Pearson, Larry Pearson, Rick Wilson and Cale Yarborough all took the green flag and put on a great show for the fans.
ESPN deserves a huge kudos for putting this race on television live. The race was on tape delay last year and didn’t have near the appeal that a live race does for fans. Assuming the two-year practice continues, it would be a wise decision to air it live each year.
Wilson led the majority of the race, but was passed on a late-race restart by Parsons. Similar to Wilson’s Nationwide victory at the track in 1989, he spun the tires on a late-race restart and was passed for the lead by Parsons. Waiting for just the right moment, the two-time Nationwide Series winner passed Parsons with two laps remaining to seal the deal. Along with other drivers, Wilson’s only regret about the event was that it wasn’t long enough, saying “I wish we could have gone 200 laps.” Yarborough echoed his sentiments, noting “It was fun, just not long enough to do what I wanted to do.”
The race was unfortunately marred by a frightening crash near the end when Larry Pearson spun in turn 1. As his car slid down the track, Glotzbach rounded the turn and ran directly into the driver side door of Pearson’s car. Glotzbach was helped from his car but Pearson had to be cut out of the wreckage of his machine.
Both drivers were transported to Wellmont Regional Medical Center for further assistance. Pearson underwent surgery for a compound fracture of the left ankle; he also suffered a fractured right wrist and fractured pelvis. He was released from the hospital on Monday and transported to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Glotzbach remains hospitalized in Bristol in good condition with no further information on his condition.
Aside from the wreck, the race was a fantastic event and will hopefully continue on for years to come. It was extremely cool that the USAR folks painted up the cars with schemes that were made famous by the drivers during their careers. That said, it is unfortunate that the accident occurred, and certainly some people will feel as though men of advanced age should not be putting their bodies at risk in full size stock cars. But, as with any form of racing, there is inherent danger and all drivers understand that when they climb into their cars.
Should the races continue, I hope to see more great names of the past climbing into the seat. It would be fantastic to see the Allison brothers racing Yarborough, with Darrell Waltrip running side-by-side with Rusty Wallace. And of course we can’t forget Junior Johnson and Red Farmer.
Thank you to our heroes for once again strapping into your seats again and putting on another fantastic show for us. Thank you ESPN for putting the race on television live for all of us to enjoy. Thank you Bristol Motor Speedway and USAR for orchestrating the show for us to enjoy. We look forward to seeing it all again next year.