Sure, it’s the name of a song, by Cinderella, or Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and probably a few others, too, but today, it’s the topic of this article…
I was caught so unaware
When you made other plans
Promises you swore to keep
Were more than you could stand.
Well, kids, I have to tell you, my ears are open and the satellite dishes are receiving. I’m picking up a lot of static out there, but some of you are coming in oh so clear. I always wonder why our sport lends itself to so much scrutiny and complaining by its fans. Is it because it is still, compared to other main stream sports, fairly young and hasn’t paid its dues like pro football or baseball? That’s a possibility, but I don’t think that’s the real reason. Is it because our season, longer than most by the lay of the calendar, has fewer events than any of the majors? Sure, the NFL only plays a 17 week schedule, compared to our 36…okay, 38 weeks, but in each of those weeks there are at least 14 games, and often 16. We still have one race per week, with all of our teams playing on the same field, if you will, so the opportunity for us to sound off is less and the topics are more condensed. As for the reason of the scrutiny, that’s also a possibility, but I don’t think that’s it either. So, what’s the story?
It’s probably the fact that our sport evolves on almost a yearly basis. There’s nothing static in NASCAR, and it’s probably the changes that folks have the most problems with. Trust me, I’m with you. I change my underwear slightly more than NASCAR changes things in the sport. When things are going to be different, NASCAR fans have the tendency to do one of a few things. The first is speculate. “How is this going to work? What effect will it have on the points? How does it affect Dale Jr?” That last one is not a stretch. The second thing NASCAR fans tend to do is panic. “Oh, this is it…they have finally killed the sport. There won’t be a single butt in the seats.” Kind of farfetched, don’t you think? NASCAR is in business to make money, and as long as they can, they will, so stick around. NASCAR’s not going anywhere.
They make you think though, all these changes (Ch-ch-ch-changes…Thanks, David!). I’m about to do one of those things, and justify myself with my length of fandom in NASCAR. (Why do we do that?) Anyway, I watched my first race in 1989, went to my first live one at Dover in 1991. Lot of changes in that time…
I miss Winston. What an honorable sponsor they were, and they helped transform NASCAR from the regional sport it is into one that reaches multiple parts of the globe. I miss North Wilkesboro. I miss The Rock, too, but not as much as Wilkesboro. It went up the hill on one side of the track and down the hill on the other. I miss more brands of cars on the track. When I started there were five. We had Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. My timing and dates might be a little off here and there but I think the Buicks were the first to go, followed by the Oldsmobile. We were left with three, but then Dodge came in. The Pontiac was no more, but Toyota came in, and here we sit with three. I miss cool nick names. I miss names like Smokey, and Buddy, like Chargin’ Charlie and Smut. I miss guys with tough names, like Rusty and Stick. Yeah, Stick. Stick Elliott piloted a No. 18 car in 1963. Do you want to know who else we had in 1963?
We had an A.J., an Augie, a Banjo, a Bubba, a Buck, a Bud, a Buddy, a Bunkie and a Buzzie. We also had a Cale, three Chucks and a Clem. WE HAD TWO GUYS NAMED “COTTON!” There was also a Crawfish and a Cy, three Dicks and a Doc, we had an E.J. an Earl and two guys named Elmo. We had an Emanuel, a Fireball, yes I know he was Glenn, but he was Fireball, we had four Franks and three Freds. We had two Genes and a George, and don’t forget about the H.B. and H.G. as well. We had a Henley, a Henry and a Herman, a J.D., four guys named Jack, a Jerome and eleven guys with James, Jimmy or Jim. A Junior, a Major and a Mal, a Mario, a Marshall, and two Marvins. There was a feller named Nace, and one named Oren, and we had a Pedro a Perk, and even a Possum. We had a Reb, a Red, and a Rex, with three Roys and a Sal, a Sherman, a Smokey and the aforementioned Stick. There was a T.C., a Wendell, a Whitey and a Worth, and let’s not forget about Neil who we all knew preferred “Soapy.”
Now that, my friends, is a time lost, and I miss it, and I wasn’t even there. No disrespect to any of the guys we have today, but there were no less than five guys named “Ryan” who turned laps last season. At least we had a Boris, a Jeb, a Dale and a Tony. I guess it is part of the turning world. It’s why there are rarely new Mildreds or Judiths or Hesters. Brittany and Brianna and Sara have taken over. Do you know that the top ten female baby names of 2014 all ended with a vowel? Apparently everyone wants a Princess for a child. The guys are no different. Look at the student body of any elementary school. The Marks, Roberts, and Johns have been replaced with Aiden, Jaden and Braiden.
I guess I stepped into my own weird little zone there…sorry. But think about all of that change, and of everything you ever complained about, especially for today’s purposes, in our sport. You 20+ year fans out there who booed Jeff Gordon…he’s gone, kids. You probably won’t see him race in NASCAR again, and he made so much history. Do you think I don’t have regret about the days that I booed Earnhardt?
I’m just saying, just like the song, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
If you really want to have a discussion about something being ruined after it was changed, let’s talk about the Government’s war on Trans Fat. Pop-Tarts, Oreos, and Doughnut Holes…all ruined. NASCAR will be fine.
Until next time, my friends...
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The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Race Fans Forever are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of Race Fans Forever. Race Fans Forever is not affiliated with NASCAR or any other motorsports sanctioning body in any form.