Lost days of NASCAR
Posted 01 November 2001 - 06:09
Gone are the days of independent driver/car owners. Days of late Alan Kulwicki, Darrell Waltrip, Jimmy Means, Dave Marcis trying their hand on building and racing their own team. When Kulwicki won the championship in 1992 and DW was having some success brought few drivers that anyone can do and win with it. Ricky Rudd, Joe Nemechek, Bill Elliot, Brett and Geoff Bodine tried it. Unfortuantly the corporate era squashed them. When Kulwicki died, Geoff Bodine bought the team and race it himself until selling it; Joe Nemechek, he demotes his team to BGN; Ricky Rudd, won a few but sold it two years ago; DW sold his team after 1995 and call it quits two years later; Elliot, after years with little success and no wins despite good sponsorship backing with McDonald's sold the team Ray Everham last year. Only Brett Bodine is left.
Gone are legendary car owners like Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, and Bobby Allison. Johnson is prime example how quick a successful team can be gone. Been in the early days of NASCAR, he seems to had it all with wins and poles. But sponsorship backing was nowhere after 1994 season when Bill Elliot left to form his own team. After a dismal 1995 season he sold both of his cars to Brett Bodine and a lawyer who couldn't get it off the ground. Bud Moore, a guy who been there since the start of NASCAR, fell when the corporate era began. He is famous for helping starting off careers of the late Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd and drivers who drove for him included Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Joe Weatherly, Brett and Geoff Bodine and Morgan Sheppard. After Geoff left when he bought Kulwicki's team, the team been bouncing drivers almost every year. Their last full season in 1996 and when no sponsorship came he scaled down trying to make a comeback race with drivers but never materialized. Bobby Allison started racing his own team in the mid-60's until mid 70's with success. Made attempt in 1985 only for half the races and didn't return until 1990. Made it full in 1991 and at times the car was a winner. Sponsorship problems appeared in 1996 and wound up folding.
Bunch of other things are gone. Any driver can qualify the race no matter if the fans know your name or what. Jackson Bros. cars, both sponsored by Skoal, driven by Rick Mast in a black and white no. 1 car and Harry Gant fans recognized as no. 33 Smokey Skoal car; Stalova Bros. teams who cars help gave Bobby Allison his Daytona 500 win in 1988 and jumpstart careers of Jeff Burton and Bobby Hillin. Recognized cars such as Junior Johnson no. 11 car, Richard Petty STP car, Wood Bros. Citgo no. 21 car, what could be infinity time, Richard Childress no. 3 black Goodwrench car driven by the late Dale Earnhardt. Look at the car numbers back then are now different. No. 11 (Johnson) is now Brett Bodine; Allison no. 12 is a Penske car; no. 17 (DW) is Rousch car; no. 8 (Stalova) is an Earnhardt car driven by Dale Jr; no. 9 Melling car is now no. 92; no. 15 (Bud Moore) is now an Earnhardt car; the once no. 33 (Leo Jackson) Skoal Bandit car is no more two-three years ago, is a sponsorless car after the season and Andy Petree team; no. 1 (Richard Jackson) is an Earnhardt car; Dave Marcis (no. 71) calling it quit and his likely to spend time in BGN next season; no. 43 Petty car has Cheerios instead STP; no. 21 Wood Bros. car has Motorcraft instead Citgo; no. 3 became no. 29 for Kevin Harvick after Dale died; Jimmy Means team (no. 52) is dead for a long while; Kenny Bernstein racing (no. 26 and Quaker State sponsor) is gone as well; what's left of Rudd team is now driven by Johnny Benson Jr.; the old Kulwicki team is now team Mattei and far cry from the success Kulwicki did; Lumina became Monte Carlo.
Few things changed like Robert Yates no. 28 Texaco car and Morgan-McClure no. 4 Kodak car. Rick Hendrick still has no. 5 and no. 25 with him.
I still watch NASCAR but before the corporate era, those were some of the best days of NASCAR and pretty damn much miss them. It took the corporate era changed NASCAR forever. The last time NASCAR was ever the same was in 1995. After that, the corporate era began. That when the overexposure brought in mega-million dollar bucks to the sport. The overexposure became costly years later. Five drivers died including 7-time champion Dale Earnhardt. NASCAR lack of safety prompted concerns from drivers and fans. With the economy going into recession very soon, several teams are still searching for sponsors and it too brought concerns for teams.
Xerex, Hooters, Folgers, Purolator, Sunoco, Alka Seltzer, Levi Garrett were the few that sponsor cars decade ago along with Oldsmobile and Buick car on the track. Those were the lost days of NASCAR.
Posted 01 November 2001 - 07:43
Posted 01 November 2001 - 21:50
NASCAR has always had a strong draw upon me. The first races I saw where stock car races in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. I lived for years within easy driving distance of a number of tracks and watched more than a few GN races on weekday nights. And loved it.
While the current series has lost some of its gloss due to the inconsistent management and policies in Daytona, the remarkable lack of a uniform approach to safety still puzzles me. Also, there have been perhaps too many trips to the well and even the most hardcore of fans are questioning some of the recent moves within the sport which smack more of greed than "...for the good of the sport."
Having said that, however, NASCAR still manages to produce day end and day out the best racing program around. The progression of series from the weekly Winston Series through the trucks to the Busch series to the premier Cup cars allows for a driver and/or a team to keep moving until it hits his/her/its stride. It is system which is understood and easy to follow.
The current Cup cars are experiencing the same basic problem that F1 is dealing with -- a Hero in a Zero car is going basically nowhere. Tenths of a second off the pole time can determine whether a driver races or watches the event on TV. Few series seem immune to the simple fact that the balance has shifted towards the machine and the engineer who helps set up the car -- and the resources which allow for "better" engineering.
I find myself, despite many of NASCAR's difficulties, following NASCAR far more closely than F1 for instance. Generally, I watch the NASCAR, CART, and IRL races whenever possible and I am still pretty conversant with who is who is these series. Despite its attempts to destroy itself or to be at the mercy of too many forces pulling in different directions, I still enjoy and try to follow sports car racing. I miss the fun of IMSA and truly hope that the Grand Am and ALMS guys can sort out their differences -- I have given up on the WMSA ever getting its mind out of the F1 gutter and trying to bring some sense to the sports car scene, a wild hope at best considering the record of the CSI and the FISA with Group C and so forth.
I do find myself far more interested in a few drivers in NASCAR than about any of the other series right now. I am a great supporter and admirer of Kyle Petty and Petty Enterprises. Kyle is a true gentleman and his is the first name I check for when I look at the qualifying results and then for teammate John Andretti. I still think highly of Bill Elliott, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, and fellow Lutheran Dale Jarrett. I am delighted to see Kenny Wallace in a good car at long last. And Jeff Gordon is simply a superb driver.
So, while there is some legitimate doom and gloom on the NASCAR front, it is not a completely hopeless mess. A mess in the sense that the new NASCAR culture has the same collective memory as that of the new F1 culture -- close to zero, a few seasons at best.
Posted 23 September 2009 - 21:01
Yep, you are going to have to register (sorry) to see Mrs. Francis Flock tell about Tim and his monkey racing and how Tim lost his third NASCAR Championship.
While there enjoy the 35,000 photographs.