I remember in the late 80's and early 90's when the likes of Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, and Harry Gant were hanging up their helmets. Then some of the tracks were dropped of the circuit. I couldn't figure out why my dad was so down about it. I mean after all these guys were washed up or injured and couldn't race anymore and the tracks I found boring. I couldn't figure out the big deal about. The face of his Nascar circuit was changing. I understand fully now what he felt.
First, Winston announced that they were leaving Nascar. For my whole life, all twenty-four years, it has been Winston Cup racing. Winston and Nascar just went together. Now it will be the Nextel Cup. It doesn't even sound right. Now I can see a few perks to the change. Now, kids and teachers a like can wear their gear to school because it no longer is promoting smoking. I also know that Nextel can probably throw a few more dollars Nascar's way, but what about the No Bull contest? Is it now going to be the No Busy Signal contest?
Then there are the rules. These seem to be changing on a weekly basis. I like the no racing back to the line at a caution. I have seen the plus side of this with Elliot Sadler's wrecks. I'm just not sure about the "lucky dog pass". There needs to be some tweaking done to that. That's Nascar's problem not mine. I do however think that Nascar needs to come out in December with a rules package that is not going to change. These are the rules for the next year, if you don't like it tough, we will work on it for next year.
Then there is the talk of dropping tracks or taking races away from them. I understand places like Darlington are not big crowd drawers, but Darlington has such a big place in Nascar's history. I know Nascar is trying to pull in the twenty-something crowd and bring in people from larger markets. Here is a word to Nascar from a twenty-something. Leave places like Darlington on the circuit, newcomers to the sport need to understand this sports history. I like Darlington it's one of my favorites.
Speaking of trying to reach my age demographic we don't need to be trying make Nascar this ultra hip sport. Did Mike Helton and the others at the head of the sport forget what the sport was built on? Guys, who used to run moonshine built it, fights broke out on a regular basis. Now we are fining guys for cussing. Cussing is not an action detrimental to the sport. If Mike Helton sat in my living room during a race I would be forever suspended from watching a race again. I like it when two guys fight it out with fists and words. I love it when the guys use ain't and other ‘southern' words. This is supposed be a ‘good ol' boys' sport. It's supposed to be about horsepower and fast cars. It is not however supposed to be about whom is the best corporate spokesperson.
Finally there are the guys who are leaving the sport. Bill Elliot has announced that this is his final year. I find that very sad. I grew up watching Bill Elliot and I even had his Nintendo game. It makes me wonder who is next. Will it be Terry Labonte, or Dale Jarrett, or maybe even Ricky Rudd? What about Rusty Wallace or Mark Martin will they hang their helmets up soon? The point is my heroes are leaving. The guys I grew up watching are no longer the young guns they were when my dad's heroes were leaving. I don't have children but I hope a few of these guys wait to retire until I do. I want to pull my child on my lap and point to a car and say, "Well, that Sterling Marlin may not be doing so well right now but I remember when…" Just like my dad did with Richard Petty and others.
I guess my whole point is this. I understand we have to make changes. Racers get too old to drive anymore and they want to spend time with there families. Racetracks no longer bring money to the sport and need to be retired too. The rules have to be tweaked to make it fair. Sponsors have to change when the money runs out. I also know that the face of things have to change to suit the people spending the money. I just don't like it. I guess though it just gives me that many more I remember when stories.
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By: Melissa Meek