A Look in the Rear View Mirror ~ Keith Jackson
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and as always, a cordial Howdy to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR today. It’s been a very sad and somber week in the world of auto racing, having said our last goodbyes to Keith Jackson, the voice behind the racing on Wide World of Sports and many other varied sports, and then to Dan Gurney, the consummate racer and winner of anything he chose to drive. May each of them rest with the Lord in eternal peace.
It was when Keith passed away that I put up this race segment on our Forum Page here on Race Fans Forever.
Immediately after having viewed it in its entirety, I posted the following on the Forum:
I am keeping this one in my
larder. I know I can make a great column out of this race, from both points,
announcers and even more importantly, the "Product" on the track!"
Lord, what awesome racing… between many of our “Midterm" heroes! Remember
this was plate track racing BEFORE that dang plate thingy! They passed and
passed and passed. The fast cars outran the slow cars and raced among
themselves. Ever hear that before???
Check out the ground clearance on those babies… and these were the cars that did NOT fly!
My last article was devoted to the “Product” on the race track and what is needed to improve it. I unwittingly stumbled upon the perfect example of what racing used to be and could be again. The racing you see in this short segment is so very different from what we see on track today… and very close to 100% better! There is absolutely NO aero-push. This one short segment validates all I’ve been telling you for years. The ability of the older cars to pass each other is evident. Without passing, there is essentially no race.
The older cars were heavier, for the most part due to the fact they were constructed with steel, not “composite” which is a code word for sawdust and glue in many instances. They also ran on a much wider wheel base than do today’s cars. Those cars could take a licking and keep on ticking! (Thanks Timex) There was no need for a 5-minute clock, as the steel cars didn’t fall apart after a little bumping and banging. Today’s cars resemble the composition of an old 78-rpm record… very fragile and breakable.
Then of course, there is the elephant in the living room. Look under those older cars. What do you see? Daylight, all the way around! Ground clearance! There is no splitter to rip apart in the grass; there are no fender skirts down to ground level… just air… flowing over and under the car.
Another important point is that in 1974, and all of the years before 1981, it was almost impossible to make a car go “airborne.” The big steel cars did not fly. The Gen-3 cars and forward seem to be in competition with Boeing in that respect, despite roof flaps and other attempts to keep ‘em down on the ground.
Seriously gentle readers, which would you personally rather watch… a race where cars could pass and race for the entire duration of the race or a pack of 40, being artificially pasted together because of lack of horsepower? Yes, I know that some folks really do watch for the wrecks. Sorry, but that is something I cannot understand. When they start wrecking, I am in that car with every driver, willing him to walk away unscathed. The cars are definitely safer than they were in 1974, and I wouldn’t change a thing that’s been done to assure every driver of going home to his family at race’s end. (It’s safer with SAFER!)
The point is… the racing stinks! The product is flawed! It’s fixable, as you can plainly see, yet the sanctioning body makes no move to fix it. If there is a reasonable explanation, I wish someone would tell us, the lowly fans, the great unwashed… why they don’t want to improve a product that no one is buying.
But wait; there’s more. The entire reason for posting this piece was in memory of Keith Jackson. As you listen to the coverage of the race, you have to notice that there is absolutely no conversation about anything but the race you’re watching. Along with Keith is racing Legend Jackie Stewart, and the two are the only voices you’ll hear until the winner is in Victory Lane. There is no “Hollywood Hotel” or its equivalent. No one is reading notes from a legal pad. There are no buffoons interviewing drivers and/or fans. There are two announcers, enhancing your racing experience and each is dedicated to doing just that.
When we go to Daytona next month, pay close attention to what I’ve just said and make a mental comparison between these two announcers and the crowd that you’ll hear from various places around the track. Today’s announcing just overflows with drivel and the voices all seem to blend together in a cacophony of sound closely akin to fingernails on a blackboard. To this end, I have one more very short video that says it better than I ever could. This is a video of an interview with Keith Jackson in which he explains one of his famous phrases, “Whoa Nellie!” The very last line on this video is classic in every sense. My fondest hope is that some of today’s announcers might stoop to read this missive and hear the sage advice from one of the very best.
That’s all folks… offered of course, in my best imitation of Porky Pig.
That’s all except for our Classic Country Closeout. This week it’s another old TV show, “Pop Goes the Country”, featuring Jack Greene, Sonny James and Jeannie Seely. Please enjoy!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!