I’ve long been ridiculed as a prophet of doom. Since Brian France took over as CEO of NASCAR, I’ve been saying that this sport’s best days are behind it and the end is nigh. I’ve also put forth the proposition that the “realignment” of the schedule, the Chase and the Car of Tomorrow have been the three heralds of NASCAR’s impending apocalypse.
When people hear “The Man In Black” they think of one or both of two men – Johnny Cash, iconic country singer and wearer of ubiquitous black leather outfits, or Dale Earnhardt, iconic driver of the black racecar with the trademark white number 3 on the side. Both are no longer with us and the world is lesser for it. Cash and Earnhardt both relished the “man in black” role. Dark clothing or a dark car. Black like the night. In Johnny Cash’s case, black like much of his life, even if much of the blackness was self-inflicted by his own admission. In Earnhardt’s case, black like Darth Vader – and to be feared just as much on the racetrack.
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, we couldn’t stop talking about the massive Silly Season upheaval due to Dale Jr.’s imminent departure from DEI. The moment word came down, there was… Chaos! Insanity! Panic in the streets! Entire wardrobes had to be replaced, cars underwent new paint jobs and shrubberies were chopped down. At the family dining table, arguments ensued over lost sponsorships, car numbers and blown engines. It wasn’t pretty… but it was passionate.
Martinsville Speedway isn’t for candy-ass drivers or spectators. And that’s the best thing about the joint. Like Fenway Park, one doesn’t go to Martinsville Speedway expecting the comforts and “amenities” of modern-day event facilities. Racing fans in southwest Virginia don’t go to races to sip lattes and possibly meet celebrities. No one goes to the …
The race was decided in NASCAR’s control room almost a minute after the event itself ended. Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” Apparently sometimes it’s not over even when it is over.
The truthfulness of the legend of the Talladega Curse is lost to time and memories, but certainly there have been enough odd and tragic incidents at the track to give even a sober man pause. As the story is told, there were a bunch of folks none too happy about Big Bill France’s decision to build his racetrack on the property he had bought. Among them were local hunters who said it was the best fox hunting area in the world; but the legend actually pins the curse on a local Native American tribe who considered the acreage sacred ground. The tribe supposedly sent their medicine man to ask France not to build there, but he refused to relocate and instead began construction in the late 1960s. As a result, the angry medicine man then invoked a curse on the new speedway… and no doubt was fined $5,000 by NASCAR for cursing.
a couple of quick points. First, most of those who say today’s racing with the new car and the Chase are better than years gone by weren’t around in the glory days of this sport or, if they were, they were sucking at their mama’s teat — not watching races. Secondly, if the Chase and the new car appeal to you, that’s fine. Your opinion is valid, and I respect your right to feel that way. But I feel differently. And these columns are my opinions, no more or less valid than your own. If you really can’t stand reading what I say, feel free to stop and use the time you are no longer wasting reading this aging hippie’s opinions to write some columns of your own. If you have a way with words and a little luck, maybe one day you’ll be published, too, and then people can comment on your opinions.
With eight laps to go, Greg Biffle finally got around the outside of teammate Matt Kenseth to take the lead.
The bump-and-run maneuver — as demonstrated by Carl Edwards Saturday night in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol to gain the win — is without a doubt the sorriest, most low-rent passing tactic in the book. The maneuver requires very little skill, but lots of brashness coupled with minimal regard for sportsmanship. However, for only the second time in over 40 years of following the sport of stock car racing, I applaud the culprit and simply write it off as poetic justice.
This list of drivers I never saw but wish I had is about as unscientific as you’re going to get. I’ve not restricted myself at all in terms of criteria, and in a couple of cases, I quote from sources that know much more than I. Where relevant, I’ve explained my reasoning, so you know I’m just not pulling these things right out of thin air. Some choices are obvious and others may surprise you; so if you think I’m missing someone, write in and tell me why.