I read a really nice piece today by Bob Margolis at Yahoo! as he did a little “Q & A” with Jim Hunter of NASCAR. The Vice-President of Corporate Communications at NASCAR has a perspective unlike any other, with a history that dates back to the days of Richard Petty, Junior Johnson (the driver), David Pearson, and a time when Darrell Waltrip wasn’t “old” D.W.
Here’s what jumped out at me: when asked if there ever really was a “good old days” in NASCAR, Hunter replied there wasn’t. (Gasp!) I know you “Prince Brian” bashers and CoT haters think that Hunter is committing heresy…..
BUT HE’S RIGHT!!!
You can laugh me off as a “newbie”, because you’re right about me. I haven’t followed the Great American racing sport nearly as long or as seriously as many of you old schoolers. I won’t deny I can learn something from you fans who’ve followed NASCAR since the days Cale Yarborough.
But Hunter’s a different ballgame.
Hunter started out with the Darlington track back in 1968, when Kyle Busch’s parents were still little kids and your truly was 4 years old.
In Margolis’ interview, Hunter recalls a day when races weren’t won by seconds, they were won BY LAPS. You think racing is one-sided these days? I recall reading about years when “The King” and “The Silver Fox” were winning virtually every race! Hunter said, really, there were only about 6 cars in the field on any given Saturday or Sunday of winning a race.
Racers aren’t dying on an annual basis. Technology is producing a better car and challenging crew chiefs and engineers as well as the drivers.
Don’t tell me you don’t enjoy the Edwards- Busch rivalry, or the budding team wars like Gibbs vs. Roush, or GEM vs. HMS, or RCR vs. MWR.
NASCAR has grown from a regional sport to a worldwide phenomenon. Folks, I’ll also submit that because of the expanded popularity, we’ve been able to settle a few debates. the money and the challenge inspired drivers from the open wheel ranks to try NASCAR, and guess what, many of them couldnt’ do it!!! Compare that to the 60s and 70s- when A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti ran some races, and actually did reasonably well.
I’m with the old sage. by and large, the change is good! If you aren’t going forward, you’re going backward. Oh yeah, the teams are in a learning curve with the new car, and the racing isn’t always what it was a few years ago…but give it time. We needed the changes. If not for the CoT, Jeff Gordon and Michael McDowell may have missed parts of the season due to injury….or worse.
The teams will eventually catch up to this car. They’ve done it before. Don’t blame falling attendence on a bad product. This is a tough economy and it many folks can’t afford going to a NASCAR event. It’ll come back around.
Thinking of where the sport would be if it hadn’t taken in drivers and fans from outside the sport. you old schoolers need to stick around regale is with stories of Rusty Wallace and “The Intimidator.” You love the sport enough that you’re still here aren’t you?
Stick around. With exciting new rivalries, rising stars, and the thrilling roar of a Sunday race, the best is yet to come.