Lets Talk About NASCAR
What People Are Saying About the Sport?
So here it is, April 24, 2011 and its Easter or it could be Mothers Day it really doesn’t matter which one. That just means, a no NASCAR Sunday again, and to me and most of the people I know, we really don’t care like we used to anyway. You used to feel excited about watching a race, watching Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and Darrel Waldrip “go for it” the entire race. There were rivalries among drivers and teams and winning meant more than cars being cautious not wipe out their team mates for 499 laps or less.
So what do you really know about NASCAR and the fans? Are you a recent fan? Or, are you like me, someone in their forties or fifties who has followed racing and NASCAR for most of their life? Did you watch the first televised Daytona 500 and pray for the time when they would show some of the races, must less all of them.
Throughout the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, thing got pretty damn exciting around the NASCAR scene. We had new comers that had character and personality. People like Dale Earnhardt, and Darrel Waldrip who showed up and ran off at the mouth about people who had already made a name for themselves. These rivalries were started off of pure talk. Then there were the other types of rivalry, the brand rivalry, the brands were at the very heartbeat of the sport. A man would pull for a guy who drove a Chevy that he couldn’t stand when he was driving a Ford. Didn’t matter anymore, he was driving a Chevy now and winning, that was all that mattered now. Oh yeah, one more type of rivalry that would show up on Sunday, the kind where you pulled for the guy you didn’t like to help the guy you do like. Like when D.W. would be in between Elliott and Earnhardt with two laps left at Darlington. You don’t
like D.W. (because of his mouth, not his driving ability), You dislike Earnhardt even more, because he would do anything to win, even spin someone out on purpose, and call it a racing accident, he drives a Chevy and has put his fender against your favorite drivers car door, Bill Elliott, country boy from Georgia. You watch the race, you watch Elliott lead a few laps fighting off Earnhardt then it would change up and be vice versa.
We watched the first independent car owner/driver of the modern era win a NASCAR championship, Allen Kulwicki won the 1986 Winston Cup. A proud man from the northern mid-west who refused offers to drive from people like Junior Johnson approached Kulwicki at the beginning of the 1990 season to ask Kulwicki to drive one of his cars. Kulwicki declined, stating that he was more interested in running his own team. A lot of people around the sport really questioned this, give up ride for Junior! Are you nuts! Not so nuts after all, more car owner drivers would try it, Bill Elliott tried it, right now even Tony Stewart is trying it, and Allen did it.
We watch as track records were shattered by drivers try to prove a point, “We have the fastest car” watch this. Then go to Talladega with a car called a Thunderbird, a family effort, to get to the track every weekend. These people from Dawsonville, Georgia we making a name for themselves and Ford fans from all over Georgia were claiming as theirs. Bill Elliott in The Winston he tangled with Dale Earnhardt in what has become known as "the Pass in the Grass". However, Elliott's most lasting accomplishment that year was setting two NASCAR qualifying records, which stand to this day. At Daytona, he set the NASCAR speed record with an average speed of 210.364 miles per hour (338.548 km/h). He broke his own record at Talladega with an average speed of 212.809 miles per hour (342.483 km/h); the previous record he set in 1986 was 209.383 miles per hour (336.969 km/h). In both races, he used a Ford Thunderbird which contained an engine built by his brother Ernie Elliott in their family shop up in the woods of Dawsonville, Georgia.
I guess what I’m getting at is that these were all independent teams coming up thru the ranks or putting their time at short tracks learning tricks of the trade. Taking pride and recognition and the entire team on their way up the latter, never making it a one man show, but a team proud of effort that put in on the car and the team to get to where they are at, and they aren’t even at the top yet, still even more to shoot for.
Drivers like D.W ran their mouth all the time, they could piss off anyone, and even the announcers got a little tire of the diatribe that would his mouth. But, he won races. He won lots of them. Waldrip also became the first NASCAR driver to win $10 million (February 18, 1990). He is a 2-time winner of NASCAR most popular driver award and is a 3-time NASCAR Cup Series champion (1981,1982 and 1985), 3-time runner-up (1979,1983, and 1986, winner of the 1989 Daytona 500 and 5-time winner of The Coke Cola 600 a record for any driver. He is the winner of 84 Cup Series races, the most of any driver in the modern era of NASCAR and tied with Bobby Allison for third on the all-time list. I guess you could say that he could back up what he spewed out.
Or how about when we all saw Earnhardt spin Terry Labonte on the last lap at Bristol and we all booed at Earnhardt for doing it, while his fans celebrated, in the pits the teams were ready to go to war. Teams were pissed and didn’t hide from the press, drivers weren’t afraid to go after one another on or off the track.
Is it me or does anyone remembers what real racing was all about? More than just fast cars going around in circles, it was personalities, rivalries and feuds.
Maybe it is too late to save NASCAR, it’s been pacified to the point where it beyond saving or even worth saving. The great Bill France has let it slip through his fingers, and all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t put the show back together again. About the only thing that is left to be done is change the name from NASCAR to NAFBAR (National Association of Full Bodied Auto Racing). There isn’t anything now that even resembles a stock car anymore, none of the cars production models have rear wheel drive. If they pulled the decal off a Ford and stuck it on a Chevy you couldn’t tell the difference and the driver wouldn’t care.
Some times I wonder if it couldn’t be done all over again the right way. Go back to build it, bring it, race it and collect the check. No more phony baloney teams with 5 and 6 cars to race to place just so they can collect more of the winners’ pot. Local sponsors to help the teams with the tire and gas bill just to get their name on the hood of the car. We can make into different series foreign (4cylinders). These would be shortest wheel base cars and the lightest. Safety will number one no matter series you run in. As the size of the car are determined by manufacture, If they build a midsize rear wheel drive car, build it, bring Your Comments are welcome and wanted, they have to know how we feel!!
it and drive it,
No more team mates, it’s ok to ask for help in the pits if you need something and it’s ok to offer help if you have it to spare. But no more bring two and three cars to the track to run the same race.
This would put the fun back into watching again; at least you would know that everyone who was out there would be trying to win. No just qualifying to start and Park. Which in my opinion should be illegal to do anyway, I you qualify you run the race until you crash or blow up, or you don’t collect any lap money or start money at all.