I bid you welcome gentle readers and a warm welcome as well to our NASCAR-assigned reader, thought to be nestled somewhere within the confines of the Fan and Media Espionage Center in the lovely Queen’s City of Charlotte, North Carolina… or maybe not.
This has been a strange week for “news”, has it not? While I was writing about the joys of racing on the roads, most pages last week were filled with this person or that person’s thoughts and/or feelings on flying the Confederate Flag here, there, everywhere or nowhere. Someone even managed to resurrect Dale Earnhardt from the dead to spin a tale of how he stood four-square against the flag. All that supposed animosity stemmed from his cutting the flag from part of a bumper sticker of the time, which read “American by Birth! Southern by the Grace of God!” That part stayed on the car. He took off the flag because it wasn’t to the liking of his housekeeper. That was an act of friendship and consideration; no more, no less. Dale was like that.
Some others, realizing that we would indeed be going “on the road again”, concerned themselves and their readers with why we no longer see “Road course ringers” when this twice-a-year phenomenon occurs. Is that really so difficult to figure out that it deserves an entire column? Here’s the scoop folks… today’s NASCAR drivers, for the most part, are far more comfortable on the road courses than were those of twenty or thirty years ago. In short, they’re better. Actually, if you look at the entries for Sonoma… remember, as I write this on Saturday, the race has yet to be run… there are a couple of what once would have been called “ringers” in the lineup.
One of the old familiar names, Boris Said, will be in the race on Sunday. However, he will be driving in a car with almost no funding, and will be extremely lucky to finish the race, never mind in what place or on what lap. Said himself is now a greying and chiseled caricature of his old self, though still witty and loveable, I’m sure. We don’t see much of him on track anymore, for the same reason we don’t see much of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and a host of others. I was about to drop Ken Schrader’s name on that list, but if one looks around, Kenny is on a track somewhere, two or three nights each week, God bless him! Kenny will race until the day they bury him… in a Chevy.
The team that Boris will be driving for is #32, Go-Fas Racing, formerly FasLane Racing, and is now a collaborative effort between one-time crew chief Frankie Stoddard and Archie St. Hilaire. It’s a very small team that started out a few years ago on a shoestring and some prayers. One of those prayers was mine. All through the “Start and park” era, that team never did. They seldom if ever ended up on the lead lap, and have a history of many, many changes in whose fanny filled the seat, but they finish if they can… every time.
The other “ringer” would be Justin Marks, who will fill the seat of the #34 team owned by Bob Jenkins… the one that owns restaurants, not the one from TV. This seat became something of a revolving door when David Ragan was tapped to sub for the injured Kyle Busch and later signed to fill the seat of the #55 from Michael Waltrip Racing in place of the ill and unable to drive, Brian Vickers. Regular driver now for the #34 is soon-to-turn 23 years old, Brett Moffitt. The 34-year old Marks has but one start at the Cup level, and it was at Sonoma in 2013, driving for Tommy Baldwin racing at the time. He finished 30th. Marks does come with road-race credentials from the GT division of the Grand-Am series, having 8 wins to his credit between 2001 and 2011. By the time you read this, you’ll know how both “ringers” fared on Sunday. My guess would be, not too well.
Folks, we’re in the heart of racing season, with only ten more races to decide our Champion… that being the Champion recognized by a large number of fans we like to call “Patty’s Kids” in these parts. Anyone else is free to have fun with the ten more races that will be run in a totally meaningless fashion, with rules that Albert Einstein could not decipher and a conclusion that would confound Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Plato and Socrates combined. But enough of the tangled mind of Brian France.
As to the Flag of Contention, we’ll be running a group article here on Race Fans Forever, along about Wednesday I’m told, and one of the questions put forth to each of us concerned that flag. I’ve no idea what line was taken by anyone else here on site, but my answer… never the popular one for some reason… will be among the others. Be sure to come check us out for that one. Oh, and speaking of checking us out… you do realize that there are other writers on this site, don’t you? Also, we have a Home Page unlike any usually found on a site that manages to inform without a single annoying ad flashing at the reader from there or any other page on site.
You are now viewing our Home Page, assuming you clicked on the link. At the top you’ll see a lot of Red, White and Blue, as both Jim and I are flag-waving Americans, which comes directly after being God-fearing Christians. Next in line, we are Race Fans… Forever! God, America and Stock Cars… not a bad parlay. Acronym = GAS!
Scrolling down just a bit, you’ll find pictures of each of our writers, with our last three offerings listed below them. No, it bears no resemblance to a beauty contest, but with each article, you’ll find a capable and knowledgeable offering from the writer. That is our pride and joy. You will also find a link to “50 Years of NASCAR Racing”, a comprehensive compilation of the history of the sport as written by Matt McLaughlin to coincide with the 50th anniversary of NASCAR in 1998. We are both honored and humbled to call Matt a part of our site and one of the Race Fans Forever.
Keep scrolling… next up you’ll find “Fast Forward.” Clicking on that link will take you to a staff article filled with information and conversation about the next race to be run. I’ve come to call this one the “Orphan Page”, as so very few seem to find it. Please, come look it over. We also play our own little fantasy game, and welcome all input from fans on that as well. Spread the word! Tell all your friends. That page needs help, and it shouldn’t. It’s fun and chock-full of race information.
Next up (Or actually down) is our RACE CENTER. There you’ll find countdowns to the next 2 races and directly below them, the Weekend TV Times. That’s a listing you won’t find anywhere else. It is carefully compiled by these two loving hands each week, and contains times for all three NASCAR elite series, Cup, Xfinity and Trucks, ARCA, IndyCar, F1, TUDOR USCC (Sports Cars), NHRA and Global RallyCross. Sorry, no 3-wheel stuff here. Folks that have found this use it religiously now. It’s all there, and it’s all for you, our readers.
Now you come to something we have dubbed, “Roar of the Crowd.” This is another under-utilized feature, I’m sorry to say. It is a wide-open forum that welcomes your comments on all things racing, and if you occasionally want to discuss the weather, well, that’s OK too. Just remember, it is primarily a racing board. As I said, it is wide open and all are welcome. It is also well monitored, and that monitor would be me, so keep it clean and not too derogatory. You all know the limits of decency and we do have children that read here.
One more feature… the blue bar along the left side of the page. It’s there on every page, and will assist you from page to page. If you click on my name (All names work the same) it will take you to a short bio and links to all of my articles, by year. If you hover over the name, it will take you to the current year, and beyond that is a dropdown menu with titles of all articles from this year. There are links to Fast Forward and to Matt’s 50 Years of NASCAR Racing there as well. Another lists our “Season Previews” which give readers a list of who will be where in the upcoming season. That one is done in the off-season of course. There is a link also to a page of videos done by my friend “Tiger” Tom Pistone, with permission granted by Tom to show on our site. His intent had been to make many more of these, all of which would be showcased on Race Fans Forever. Sadly, the death of his dear wife Crystal almost 2 years ago put an end to those plans, but we’ve kept the page intact as it was then. Tom, if you’re reading, you are really missed dear friend. Chrissie, my darling Bestie, you are always in my heart, thoughts and prayers.
The last link is an individual story written by Frank Buhrman, whom we hope will be back to write many more. Then he will have his own page and links like all the rest. And that concludes our tour of Race Fans Forever. Not bad for a site without a single ad anywhere it sight.
When next we meet, the race in Sonoma will be history and we’ll be on our way to Daytona for a 4th of July race on the night of July 5th. Will your scribe have something to say about that? Quite likely that will be the case, but for now, let’s get on with our Classic Country Closeout.
I could open it with a song about the General Lee, but that would be a cheap shot, or at least would be seen as one. Instead, while looking for last week’s songs, I stumbled across something that I tucked into the memory bank as a good idea for another time. Well, this is another time, and what I’ve planned for your enjoyment this week is a small collection of great Country stars, doing imitations of other great Country stars.
First up is one that I’ve loved for years. This is Merle Haggard doing Marty Robbins, with on-stage help from… Marty Robbins. Not only does Merle manage to sound so much like Marty, but watch the expressions on Marty’s face. That makes the entire video just priceless!
Next up is Merle again, but this time doing several of his friends, Marty again, Hank Snow, Buck Owens and Johnny Cash. Gotta love that!
This one is just a hoot. The singer is actually Ferlin Husky, but it is done in his comedic alter ego character, Simon Crum. Simon then goes on to transform into Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, Red Foley, Kitty Wells and Roy Acuff. This guy is GOOD!
Finally, here’s the one I found last week. I’d never known that Jim Reeves had this particular talent, but this is Jim, doing imitations of several of his contemporaries. When he gets to the Red Foley part, I have to say that Ferlin Husky was much better there. He sounded as much like Red as Red did, but Jim isn’t bad, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I’d love to hear him doing these today.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!