Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Steve Earle 'Exit O'

First of all, I want to say that my father is not nuts. But, in most cases, he’ll be the first to argue with you on that subject.

Dad is old school NASCAR. He went to see a race at Bristol Motor Speedway when it only held around 6,000 fans. He went with my Uncle Malcolm to see “Fireball” Roberts.

My father has always enjoyed racing. He took me to my first race at 311 Raceway in Madison. 311 is the “Daytona of dirt”, ya’ll.

I remember it being loud. I remember a red clay track that looked huge to me (it’s only a half mile). I remember the water tanker going around wetting down the dirt so none of us spectators would choke to death on the dust. I also remember the smells of exhaust, hot dogs, and the night air.

I remember catching the wrecks as they were happening and pointing them out before everyone including my father had noticed.

The thing that I recall the easiest is the bike race around the track.

For some reason, they had kids riding their bikes around the track between the heat races. Keep in mind that “The Daytona of dirt” is a mile and a half long.

These kids would start off fast peddling their hearts out on their one speed, self-powered bikes. They were wiped out before they hit the backstretch. It was a hoot!

The older the participants were next and they didn’t seem to wise up from watching the previous races. The older and supposedly smarter ones did the same thing except one biker.

One kid in the last bike race paced himself. He started off slow and steady and remained that way until he crossed the finish line for the checkered flag.

Other kids either walked their bikes to the end or simply off the track to the infield.

That was at least thirty years ago and it still brings a smile to my face every time that I think of it. I’m a big fan of dumb-assery.

Again, I have gotten off track (no pun intended)…

My father goes way back with racing. He’s watched NASCAR on television and listened to the races on the radio before they were televised. He’s watched the sport grow into what it has become today.

He believes that NASCAR plays favorites with certain drivers, teams, and sponsors.

Before the last caution of the most recent Coca-Cola 600, Dad said, “They’re gonna throw a caution and let that Jimmy Johnson catch up.”

I dismissed it.

Damn, if NASCAR didn’t throw a caution!

In my mind, it was called for. In my father’s mind, NASCAR threw it for “you know who”.

Jimmy Johnson went on to claim his third straight Coca-Cola victory for his Lowes Home Improvement team at the Lowes Motor Speedway. It was a rather historic event for NASCAR racing. He was the first to do it. I’m sure the posters will look good in all the Lowes Home Improvement centers across the land.

Johnson was the driver who won last fall’s Martinsville race when his team owner’s family died in a plane crash as the race was being run.

The team owner is Rick Hendrick. He also owns the teams for Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, and Terry Labonte.

When racing came back to Martinsville this past spring, Jeff Gordon won it in memory of the Hendrick family members that died in the crash.

I remember my father saying that NASCAR will throw cautions so that Gordon can catch up to the lead lap and win.

I still cannot agree with that. There are too many variables that can happen to keep a race team out of victory lane.

Dad predicts that Jeff Gordon will win this weekend at Dover. Gordon’s sponsor is DuPont and their headquarters are right down the road from the racetrack.

So there’s your weekend project… To see if my father’s prediction comes to fruition.


  1. Anonymous9:21 PM

    Man, as soon as they threw that last caution, I knew the fix was in! Of course, seeing that Kyle Busch had won the night before, I guess it was only right that the 48 win on Sunday. That makes two years in a row of the Lowe's at Lowe's May sweeps. Of course last year, Jimmie dominated the entire race to the point that it was not even worth watching. At least this year he tried to make it exciting. Hmmm.. if only they would rename a track Alltel Motor Speedway....

  2. Anonymous8:33 AM

    Its funny how it's always a fix untill your own favorite driver wins. Then it was all skill and determination and making just the right call.
    Face it Jimmy and Chad are just that good now,and no I'm not a 48 fan.