Through the Years Something Went Wrong
Note: My articles are based solely on my thoughts, observations and sometimes experiences. Normally I do not offer statistics, although at times I may reference what different broadcasters, among others, have said or alluded to.
Remembering back to 1959, as I attended my first major stock car race at Daytona International Speedway, I knew I would be a fan for life. It was then I started trying to learn all I could about the sport, from who started it to who participated in it. I listened and learned. At that time, I lived in Orlando and worked with the local track promoter at a Pontiac dealership during the week and then at his track on Friday nights. My interest in racing grew and I became a very devoted fan. I especially liked Curtis Turner and cheered for him when he was racing. I also liked Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.
For the next 10 years, I attended almost all the races at Daytona. I met a lot of people, including some who were drivers. I never had the privilege or opportunity to meet Bill France, Sr.
Everyone knew who Big Bill was and it was very well known that he ruled the sport. At that time, very little about the racing was printed in the local newspapers, but there were specialized papers available at the tracks and at some stores. As other fans did, I read all I could about races at other tracks
For years, NASCAR was basically a Southern sport and we were all proud to call it our own. All was well and the sport was growing in popularity as more and more people became fans. Some became fans of drivers while others were brand loyal and just wanted their brand to be first, regardless of who the driver was. As many have heard, the big saying was “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” That was because the cars being run at the time were the same body style people could purchase and drive. We also called them “Souped-up street cars” which meant it was something (usually the car’s engine) that had been modified to provide performance beyond the limits of the original build. There were many innovators who knew and were constantly learning how to enhance the cars so they would perform better. I still smile when I think of Smokey Yunick and all the innovation he was capable of.
All was right in our NASCAR world. In 1972, Bill Sr. turned the reins over to his son, Bill Jr who kept everything right in the NASCAR world and we were all happy.
During this time, technology changed quite a bit, as did the cars. Rules became complicated, but the competition was good, and fans grew in number as the sport became more popular.
Somewhere along the line, starting in 2003, after Bill Jr tuned the reins over to his son, Brian, something went horribly wrong.
This sport many of us have loved so much started to change. The sport became more of a business and lost the very thing - racing and competition - that had made many of us follow it most of our lives. The cars not only changed, but so did the tracks. The drivers seemed to change. The broadcast announcers also changed. It appeared that it had become a “me” show rather than racing.
No matter what made the sport change so much, each of us has our own ideas and thoughts about what made it change and why. Many of us older and longtime fans are feeling sadness because of what we feel we have lost. We also feel sad and afraid that the newer and younger fans will never have the experiences we have had and will only have a distorted picture of the history we lived, experienced and enjoyed. Most information being passed down to newer fans is not always first hand, but usually some type of report on what has been heard on television or read on the internet. Some of those who have lived through the history and recorded it for posterity have tried to correct some of it, but many times it is to no avail. Sadly, many of us give up because we feel we are fighting a futile battle.
On Sunday, August 5th, the battle seemed to have gotten more futile. Brian France was arrested for DUI and oxycodone possession. Although a lot of fans feel he was responsible for NASCAR’s struggles since he took over, most of us feel much sadness that this has happened. There have been rumors for years that he possibly had a problem, but it had never come to the public’s attention until now. He has apologized and is currently taking an indefinite leave of absence.
Jim France, Brian’s uncle, will be taking over now. Many of us are hoping that perhaps some of the NASCAR we once knew and loved, will be back. At this time, it is a wait and see what happens situation. We can only hope for the best with patience.
Thank you for reading and commenting here. Your thoughts, ideas on the subject and opinions are very welcome. I remind you to keep them clean and no bashing, please. You may also email comments to me.