The Lighter Side of NASCAR ~ What's in a Name?
you welcome gentle readers, and as always a warm and cordial “Hey there” goes
out to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this not overly warm spring
day in the hills of North Georgia. In weeks past, The Lighter Side has
presented stories and quotes from the very beginning of NASCAR up to and
including some of our young guns of the present day. Today, I thought we'd take
a slightly different tack and talk about some of the nicknames that have become
My alter ego, the Lady in Black, dealt almost exclusively in nicknames, but for today, we'll put aside her farcical name-calling and delve into nicknames that have been commonly heard in the garage over the years. (Though in fairness, I've been told that some of hers actually made it to the garage) Originally, I'd thought of presenting these in the form of a quiz, but in deference to our new fans, they'll be presented in what hopefully will be a more informative manner. Here then, in no particular order whatsoever, is a smattering of some of the more memorable nicknames of drivers, crewmembers and tracks in NASCAR.
King" or "King Richard" is probably the most widely known
nickname in all of NASCAR, and refers of course to seven-time Champion, Richard
Petty. Ah, but did you know that becau
perhaps not so complementary nickname of "Jaws" belonged to Darrell
Waltrip and was bestowed upon him some 40 years ago by fellow driver Cale
name "Iron man" has been bestowed at various times upon
know that Buck and Buddy Baker shared identical first and middle names? They
were Elzie Wylie Baker Sr. and Jr., which might be an indication of why both
went by nicknames. Buddy was known as well as "The Gentle Giant",
which describes the big man with the big heart very well. Two others who have
earned gentle nicknames are "
before four-time Champion Jeff Gordon became known as "Wonder Boy" or
"The Kid" as he was dubbed by
most popular driver several times over, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has long been
referred to as "Little E" or simply as "Junior", but the
nickname given to him by his Daddy is "June bug." Joe Weatherly was
known throughout his career by two nicknames, "Little Joe", for
reasons of stature, and "The Clown Prince of Racing", referring to
his numerous antics, both on and off the track. Now, before I am corrected on
Roberts was known simply as "Fireball" throughout the racing world.
He said the nickname came from his days as a baseball pitcher, but it was well
suited to his driving style on the big tracks of NASCAR.
racing had a pair of gentlemen, it also boasts a pair of Misters;
Big Left Turn" was the name not too affectionately allotted to Langhorne
Henry Yunick, as any of my regular readers know, was called "Smokey" for most of his racing life, stemming from one of the first races he ever drove, when the old car he brought to race began smoking on the track and the announcer, unable to remember the youngster's name, called him "Smokey" and the name stuck.
Junior Johnson was tagged "The Ronda Road Runner" in early days, alluding to the area of North Carolina that he called home and his avocation of running moonshine through "Them thar hills." Conversely, DeWayne Lund, a man that stood 6'4" tall and weighed some 270 pounds, was dubbed "Tiny" by someone with a sense of humor, no doubt, but he was "Tiny" for his entire racing career.
Everett Owens was known to the racing world as "Cotton" and in truth, I had to research him to learn his real name, as I've never heard him called anything else. "Lone Star JR" was and is Texas-born Johnny Rutherford, who more prominently figured in open-wheel racing but made several forays into the stock car ranks as well.
Crew chief "Suitcase Jake" Elder earned the name by never staying with one team long enough to settle down, but by the same token, his brief stays were welcomed by every team that was lucky enough to benefit from his knowledge. "Duffle bag Doug" Richert arrived at his name in much the same way, and Doug was also the crew chief for Rod Osterlund’s Championship winning team in 1980, featuring a young driver named Dale Earnhardt.
David Pearson, who probably should have been near the top of the list, has been lovingly known for years as, "The Silver Fox", an allusion to his early greying hair, but hey, he kept all of it! The title, "Master of the Restart" goes to Ron Hornaday Jr. and needs no explanation. He was simply the best.
of the best brings me to
last character of the day was known as "The Hat Man of NASCAR." His
name is Bill Brodrick; if you don't remember him then
watch for him in Victory Lane the next time you tune into an early race on YouTube.
He is the tall blond man that for years on end
That only leaves us with a few track nicknames, and though none of these is as snotty as the Langhorne track, it is safe to assume that a track does not earn a nickname unless it presents the drivers with a distinct challenge, so this is actually a list of the best.
"The Rock" aka North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham NC is the one-mile high-banked track that NASCAR saw fit to close. RIP Rock!
Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" (Sometimes
abbreviated as TTTTTT): This track of
Bermuda Triangle" applies to Pocono International Raceway in
we come to Dover International Speedway, affectionately (Or not) known as,
"The Monster Mile." By its very name, you can tell that
That concludes our session for today. If I managed to share a name or two that you didn't know or bring back a pleasant memory, then I am happy to have been your guide.
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and like last week, I have another collection of Grand Ole Opry stars from the 1950s for your listening pleasure. Please enjoy…
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!