I worked quite a few races indoors in my officiating career, and each one was an experience in itself. Just like outdoor tracks, each venue has its own personality. The first time was with the United Midget Racing Association TQs in the coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the ’60s. We’d run some pretty …
Once again, one thing leads to another. In trying to explain how easy it is to misjudge a slower speed after you’ve been traveling really fast, I mentioned that I first heard the phrase “You lose your reference to zero” from Dick Trickle. He said that after the first ASA race at Milwaukee, on May 7, 1978. We had never run on anything bigger than a 5/8-mile track, so it stands to reason that most of our guys had never seen the kind of speeds they were experiencing on that big ol’ mile. Neither had I from the flagstand, actually. When the first car went out to qualify, I threw the green flag and then told the tower to wake me up when he got to turn 3.
While surfing the web, I ran across a video of the big wreck they had at Daytona in the Sportsman race back in 1960. They started 68 cars. Speeds were a then-incredible 150 mph. Banjo Matthews and Fireball Roberts were one-two at the start-finish line when the trouble started behind them in turn 4. At the end of the first lap, there was only 31 cars left in the race. That’s right, 37 cars in all damaged or destroyed without completing a full lap. As I understand it, miraculously, there were no serious injuries, just cuts and bruises. This is still known as NASCAR’s most spectacular accident. Sure gives a new meaning to the “Big One.”
1. Belt Tightening – It is a safe bet that not all the economic dominoes have fallen for the NASCAR community quite yet, as financially slumping General Motors attempts to identify cost-cutting measures while seeking to generate $15 billion in savings through 2009. This past week, the automaker has informed both Bristol Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway that they will not renew promotional agreements with them for 2009 and beyond, and rumors persist further cuts will be forthcoming within their motorsports program. Oh, well… before you get all upset, remember it isn’t just NASCAR “fat cats” feeling the GM pinch.
In ASA’s first appearance at Michigan International Speedway, I was in the flagstand. This was a very big deal for me, to be handling the flags on a superspeedway. It was one of those “companion” shows with CART. With just a few laps to go in the ASA race, Dick Trickle was leading and Bob Senneker was running second when somebody blew an engine in turn 4. The clean-up seemed to be rather quick to me, and I said so, thinking the track wasn’t ready yet. Rex Robbins said, “Coach said to go ahead and throw the green.”
With an off week in the schedule, the Frontstretch staffers decided to take a second look at a series of drivers looking for that lucky break. Our writers voted in the top 15 drivers who have never won a Sprint Cup race in their careers; and while these men might have been special in other forms of stock car racing, they were never special enough to make it to Victory Lane at the highest level (at least, not yet).
The whole thing made me think of the first time I met Dick Trickle — when he first came to what was then the Dri-Power 400 at Winchester, Ind. with ASA. Of course, that led to an endless recollection of Trickle stories. Lots of folks have Trickle stories, and I’m no exception.
1) Takes One To Know One! – Megastar comedian and TV personality Jeff Foxworthy talked NASCAR in a CNN interview this week, attempting to persuade host Glenn Beck that instead of taking in a race at Daytona, he would be better served going to Talladega, Ala. for his stock car racing experience. In fact, Foxworthy claimed that five minutes in the Talladega infield on race day gives him about two hours of standup material. How would he know? The folksy Foxworthy was actually the Grand Marshal of last April’s Aaron’s 499 at the superspeedway. The Georgia native described the infield scene for that race as “wild,” and anointed the NASCAR enthusiasts that habitat that area of the track as “Redneck Royalty.”