Drivers, Please Start Your Engines
I bid you welcome gentle readers, to a short dissertation on the soon to be ended winter doldrums and the start of a new stock car racing season. That statement right there should signal that there isn’t all that much to talk about this week. My guess is, if you are one of my road-race loving friends, you already know that Wayne Taylor Racing won the ROLEX 24 at Daytona, with drivers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, Jeff Gordon – yes, that Jeff Gordon – and Massimiliano “Max the Ax” Angelelli. The 50-year old Angelelli had announced that this 24-hour endurance race would be his last effort in motor sports. Retirement seems to be in the air of late, doesn’t it?
For this current week, auto racing takes a break as the NFL rules the airways with that little game whose name we are not supposed to mention. All well and good. It’s on Sunday; it’s on FOX. Game start is listed as 6:30, but for most of the week you can find pre-game hype just about everywhere you look. By the time the game gets here, most folks have eaten or drunk or both, their way into a stupor and don’t much care who wins or loses… but the party was fun.
For this scribe… I have a stake of sorts in the game this year. (Does that make me a “stakeholder”?) The Atlanta Falcons have to be considered my Home Team, since I moved from Northeast Georgia to Northwest Georgia and no longer get to see the Carolina Panthers. No matter this year, as the Falcons are in Sunday’s game and the Panthers fell on their kitty-prats this year.
The weekend following the whatever-we’re-supposed-to-call-it game, February 10,11,12, the auto racing season is awakened once again by the thunderous roar of NHRA Dragsters at Pomona, California, where their season always starts. May the Force(s) be with you!
On the following weekend, the stock cars move into Daytona to do business on the high-banked oval. First up as is usually the case will be the newly named… again… Advance Auto Parts Clash, scheduled to run circa 8:00 PM on February 18. Next day will be what they like to call “Qualifying” for the Daytona 500, but it really only sets the front row. Don’t ask. I’ve explained it a hundred times, but every time I do, they change the rules and it’s all out the window again.
Then it’s practice for two or three days, which for some reason is said to have been shortened by an hour per day… like no one needs practice after sitting on their backsides in the sun somewhere for a couple of months.
Then come the Can-Am Duels (I hope I’ve got the right sponsor there) that we knew for years as the Twin 125s and later the Twin 150s. They used to run on Thursday afternoons, but have now been promoted to Prime Time and start at 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM respectively. That used to set the rest of the field, but with 36 cars now holding charters that guarantee them a spot in 36 races, the Duels have once again been rendered almost useless. Ah, but NASCAR to the rescue! As they used to do back in the Stone Age, when I was young, they now pay points for top finishing spots.
On Friday evening, the Camping World Trucks come out to play at 7:30, and on Saturday the Xfinity Series bows in at 3:30 for their season-opener at the big track. And then… on Sunday, February 25 at 2:00 PM… finally… those big 8-cylinder powerhouse engines roar to life and mean it in the 59th (If I managed to count backwards correctly) running of the Daytona 500, “The Great American Race!”
Let the good times roll and let the season begin! I’ve always told you that January is three months long, and right about now, I’ll bet you believe me.
Because I had some time on my hands recently, I’ve spent more time than usual perusing the offerings on YouTube and I’ve brought back a little treat for all the history buffs I know are out there. This is Volume 1 of a 3-part history of Stock Car Racing. Obviously, there is more to come in later installments, but if you really like this presentation, feel free to jump the gun and get ahead of me. Turtles and snails are ahead of me these days too. This is “American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR Vol. 1.
I hope everyone enjoyed that wonderful trip down Memory Lane, and that antique banjo signals it’s time for our Classic Country Closeout. This one is an old TV show hosted by our own NASCAR Balladeer, Marty Robbins with guest star The “Singing Sheriff”, Faron Young. Check out the checkered piano!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!