There Is No Racing This Weekend
There is no racing this weekend.
It’s just as well.
The season’s first break is here. It’s Easter. You never race on Easter.
All other holiday weekends we race. We’ve even been known to slide a race in on Mother’s Day weekend on Saturday night.
But this weekend the track is silent. There is no racing this weekend.
In some ways the 2018 season reminds me of the 1993 season. When the snow hit Martinsville last weekend and delayed the race until Monday, I couldn’t help think back to 1993 Atlanta. It was the fourth race of the season and scheduled to run on March 14th. A JIM Cantore magnitude blizzard hit and snowed out the race.
There was no racing that weekend. The 1993 blizzard was so huge, it not only snowed the race out, it took teams until Tuesday before they could even get out and go home. They returned the following Saturday to run the race and see Morgan Shepherd in the 21 Wood Brothers Ford take the win.
Twelve days later, April 1st, 1993, we lost five-time Winston Cup winner and reigning Winston Cup Champion, Alan Kulwicki. Mark Brooks, Dan Duncan, and Charlie Campbell also lost their lives in the crash that took place as their Merlin turboprop fell from the sky while on final approach to their destination- Tri-County Regional Airport outside of Bountville, TN.
They were less than six miles away.
There was no racing that weekend... for the No. 7 team. Kulwicki’s “Underbird”, now silent, was loaded back onto the transporter and it took one final lap, took the Checkered Flag one last time before leaving Bristol for the final time.
Twenty-five years ago, on this weekend overflowing with great loss and sadness, each of us dealt with this tragic loss in their own way. NASCAR did what NASCAR does-it raced on.
Saturday saw Michael Waltrip win the Busch race. Waltrip entered Cup the same time as Kulwicki, with Alan beating Michael out for Rookie of the Year award. After the race he honored Kulwicki by doing 1/2 of Kulwicki’s trademark “Polish Victory Lap”, stating he didn’t want to do all of Kulwicki’s routine. He went on to propose to his future wife, Buffy in Victory Lane that day.
On Sunday, they raced again, this time Cup. When the 500 Laps were complete, it was Kulwicki’s closest friend, Rusty Wallace taking the “Checkered Flag” and honoring Alan with a full “Polish Victory Lap”. In a bit of a twist, Rusty was using that same pit stall in his win that Alan used the previous year to take the 1992 Food City 500 win.
This weekend will mark twenty-five years since that fateful weekend when we lost our Champion, Alan Kulwicki. This weekend, the track, like Alan’s “Underbird” is silent.
There is no racing this weekend... on the track. This quiet weekend that fell on the 25th anniversary of Alan’s death gives us a chance to remember Alan in our own ways.
For me, I’m not sure what I will do. If this cold rain that has set up doesn’t clear out, I’ll probably take in some YouTube videos, like “The Day”, TNN’s “Winners” or the 1992 Winston Cup Awards Banquet. Yesterday, I picked up Bill Elliott’s book to see what the 1992 Championship race was like from his perspective. I may just do that.
If the weather turns good I’ll don my counterfeit AK hat, hop on the John Deere and do some hot laps around the yard. With all this rain, that grass needs some serious attention, plus when I parked the JD for the winter it was tight in and loose off and I need to get that fixed. You have to get the handle just right to post good lap times in the Backyard 500.
Somewhere, there will be a Brat and Seven-Up on my menu. I heard Alan didn’t drink dark drinks, so I’ll forgo my Diet Pepsi for this one day. Been doing it since my first trip to Bristol. I’ll try to keep that tradition going.
There is no racing this weekend... on the track. However, the Hooters 7 Ford Thunderbird will be out there on the track again this weekend, just like it has been for the last quarter century, in the hearts of Alan’s fans and in the memories of those who saw him race.
Still missing you, Alan!