Tales from the Lighter Side ~ Bobby Allison, Ken Schrader and More
I bid a good Thursday morning to all of my gentle readers, and as always a warm and sincere greeting to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this beautiful spring day in the hills of North Georgia… home of Chase Elliott, winner at Talladega last Sunday. Try as I might, I cannot hear the “sirene” from the Dawsonville Pool Room… there is a mountain in the way. Today’s fare will be another installment of quotes or short stories from the “Lighter Side” of NASCAR. These are designed to tickle your funny bone, bring back fond recollections or in some cases give you deeper insight into the mind of the speaker. Your writer hopes that you are getting as much enjoyment from reading these as I am from finding and assembling them for your pleasure.
Quotes are in Italics and my comments, if any are in parentheses.
“He just kept assaulting my fist with his face.”
Bobby Allison, referring to Cale Yarborough in the now infamous fight in the infield after the 1979 Daytona 500
(Bobby, that’s not quite the way that Cale tells it)
“When the car’s tight, you see the wall before you hit it.”
“Loose is when you don’t see the wreck.”
Neil Bonnett on the difference between under steer and over steer
(See Benny, it’s simple when you think about it)
Speaking of Neil, (Lord, I miss that man) this next one was shared with me by a gentleman whose name has been changed slightly to protect the guilty. Thanks John!
Another time, he ran an ASA race at Bristol, and a group of us, officials and drivers, were sitting around having a couple of cold ones together. Neil casually mentioned that he had to get going because he wanted to go fishing the next day. He mentioned his bass boat, and told us how big an outboard it had on it.
I asked him why he needed that much horsepower to go fishing.
He answered, "John, when you hook a bass at 90 miles an hour it takes the fight right out of him."
(Yep, that sure sounds like Neil to me)
“They’re going to have to change at least two right side tires.”
Allen Bestwick, calling a Budweiser Shootout
(I guess that would be two as opposed to nine right side tires on a Semi)
“It’s been a whirlpool week.”
Ward Burton, after winning the Daytona 500
(Ward, might that be “whirlwind?”)
“The Chevrolet has had more nose jobs than Michael Jackson.”
An obviously unhappy Sterling Marlin
(The man does have a way with words, if you can understand them)
“You can take it to the limit, but if you go past the limit, you’re going to go slower”
Dave Blaney’s opinion on Fontana
“When Dale Earnhardt first called me on the phone he was pretty nice, so naturally, I was skeptical.”
Steve Park, describing his first contact with Dale Earnhardt
(Actually, it was the second contact. Steve hung up on him the first time he called, thinking it was a friend playing a practical joke)
“You don’t want to rough nobody up, but some of them boys don’t care.”
Bobby Hamilton Sr. on Martinsville
(It’s tough to play nice with others on a short track)
“The gas mileage was a lot better than the water mileage today.”
Mike Skinner, after “cooking” an engine from overheating
“Every time he drives a Cup car, he’s always chopping and hacking somebody.”
Sterling Marlin, discussing Mike Wallace after an on-track meeting
(Lordy that sounds like he’s describing Jeffrey Dahmer)
“You just do it. You just want to race. It ain’t no big deal. You look at yourself and say, ‘You’re the one that wanted to be the racecar driver.’ You just do it.”
Ken Schrader on racing while hurt
(Now folks, that’s devotion to duty)
“Sell the place to Bruton Smith and let him move the race to Texas.”
Bobby Labonte, obviously unhappy with Talladega
(I’ve often suggested that they plow it under and plant tobacco on it. Hold your fire; it’s only an opinion)
“He’s got a 10-foot ego and a four-foot body and it ain’t working too good right now.”
Mike Bliss, obviously upset with Bobby Hamilton Jr. after a trip into the wall at Loudon.
(Ooh, temper, temper)
"The truth is not nearly as good as what the media is making up."
Ray Evernham denying reports he was leaving Hendrick
(Ray, I hate to be picking nits after all this time, but we were right)
"I ran side by side with him without putting a mark on him. I was trying to put a mark on him but I couldn't catch him."
Randy LaJoie, referring to Casey Atwood
(Ah, sometimes the truth is so refreshing)
"The only way he was gonna beat us was if we wrecked - so he came up there and took us out himself."
Matt Kenseth, referring to Dale Earnhardt, Jr
(I thought those kids were friends)
"I'd say he definitely had the better car and he was probably going to win the race. I killed his chances of doing that.''
Dale Earnhardt, Jr referring to his wreck with Matt Kenseth
(And there you have the other side of the same coin)
“Success is being happy with yourself.”
(I like that)
“Tough times are the Lords way of teaching me to be strong.”
(I like that even more)
“I got a job working for the Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in Forrest Park, Georgia and never got back in it. I made more money selling cars than I ever made racing them."
Winston Cup Champion Rex White
(Rex was Champion in 1960 and the pay obviously wasn’t too good back then)
“Reflecting on the old days, the comradeship is what I miss most. Drivers used to sit around the garage and shoot the breeze. Reporters we all knew by name would join in. If they wanted to do an interview, they’d take out their notepad. Then they’d put the pad away and we’d continue to talk. We can’t do that now. The sport has gotten so big and there is so much going on that we’ve lost the personal relationship with drivers and media members. Now I don’t know many members of the press and sometimes it seems half of the drivers. Of all the sport has gained, comradeship is a good thing we’ve lost.”
Richard Petty, hosting a column for Circle Track
(I make that point often, but it’s somehow much more impressive coming from the King)
"I got wrecked racing for last. That’s Bristol."
(Just how hard does one race for last?)
"We go six times faster."
Bill France Jr., when asked why deaths in auto racing were six times more common than deaths in football.
(There’s some sort of sense lurking in that)
And to close out this week with a bit of hilarity mixed with a modicum of “Fear Factor”:
“Racing lost a true competitor when Junior Johnson retired. He was a go-or-blow driver and as a car owner, he had some teams that were almost unbeatable. I remember going to Junior’s for a cookout one time when we were racing at nearby North Wilkesboro Speedway. They had mountain oysters and plenty of moonshine whiskey. I wasn’t familiar with mountain oysters. I ate some, which had been grilled or fried like chicken. They were delicious--until I found out that they were hog nuts.”
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and today I’ve dug deep into the annals of true Classics and come up with an album now 80 years old… a copy of a radio show on what was called a “Border Station.” On AM radio, when the “sundowners” go off the air, “skip” bands roll across the country from stations on the Mexican border, not subject to the American limit in wattage. Sometimes one will come booming in and you’d swear it had to be broadcasting from the house next door, not Mexico. Then, like as not, it will fade into the distance and give way to another station. All through the dark hours, they vie for your attention as you slowly dial from top to bottom and back again, pausing whenever you find music to your liking. In earlier days, this was a popular pastime and one I learned at a very young age. It’s called DXing. No idea why. Now you know more about AM radio than you ever cared to know. Here then is the Carter Family from 1939, just as they might have rolled in after dark. Please enjoy:
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!