Bridging the Generation Gap -- by J. R. Andres 
Monday, April 20, 2009, 05:52 PM
Posted by Administrator
It seemed unlikely that Mark Martin would ever stand a real chance of winning. After all, he’s 50 years old. Sure he has had a noteworthy past, sure he knows how to negotiate his way around the high banked turns of Talladega and Charlotte, sure he has the desire and sure he has some Hendrick prepared equipment to work with now but was all that really going to be enough to pave his way to victory lane, even once? The testosterone level alone that’s omnipresent in the NASCAR garage on any given day would seem sufficient to move those of his ilk to the back of the bus and keep them there with the rest of the field fillers like Cope, Marlin and Andretti.

Money can buy a lot of things and in the case of NASCAR; the coin of the realm is speed. After leaving Roush, Martin retired and then returned on more than one occasion to race with equipment that was marginal in preparation and short on funding. For a lot of fans it really didn’t matter, though. It was just good to see him back once again mixing it up with the kids. Little did they know that there was still a tiger lingering in the tank, waiting for a chance to reassert himself once the planets were in alignment and the moon was full and bright.
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Make Mine Chocolate -- by J. R. Andres 
Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 03:13 PM
Posted by Administrator
. . . Danny “Chocolate” Myers that is. I don’t always agree with the things I hear on Sirius NASCAR Radio but today “Chocolate” had some comments worth repeating from this afternoon’s call-in radio show. Once again, there was a controversy during this weekend’s Nationwide race in Nashville and it was no surprise that Kyle Busch was at the center of it. Keep in mind that Busch’s 19 year old teammate, Joey Logano, came in first and Busch, a dismal second or that’s the way it seemed during the post race interview, when Busch the Younger demonstrated his complete lack of charm, sportsmanship and social appropriateness. It was glaringly apparent that the driver of the #18 car was majorly “ticked” about coming in second and he made it abundantly clear that Logano didn’t deserve the win as much as he did.

Many of the callers today felt that Busch was out of line as well and “Chocolate” took up their cause, saying that if he (Busch) is going to accept the millions he’s paid and if he’s going to live in the house by the lake, then he owes it to the fans to live with the ups and the downs the wheel of fortune bestows upon him. Sure Busch has a right to his opinion and sure he has to live with the results of his behavior but if you can’t, won’t or don’t have anything to say that’s going to further your own career, zip it, and don’t do your best to minimize your own teammate’s accomplishments. Accept the fact that the kid flat out drove you and leave it at that.

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Petty on Fox -- by Sandy Christiansen 
Thursday, April 9, 2009, 03:26 PM
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Richard Petty had a few words to say on Fox’s “Sean Hannity’s America” program last evening when he appeared as a member on the show’s Great American Panel segment. When asked about this country’s desire to become independent from its ties to foreign oil, he stated, “It’s not that we don’t already have enough oil here to be self sufficient ... if they’d (the government) just turn us loose, we’ll do it” ... “It’s hard to change what we’re doing now because we’ve got used to doing it that way”. In regard to the deep bow Obama made (which the White House denies) when meeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the G20 conference in London, Petty added, “it took a lot to get us where we’re at, and the U.S. got to be where it is by not bowing down to anyone ... we’re not going to give that up just to be friendly”.

Petty presented Sean Hannity with one of his signature cowboy hats at the conclusion of the program at which time the host said he was going to use it as a fundraiser for his favorite charity, Freedom Alliance, which benefits children who have lost family members through the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was a welcome change to hear from an individual who views the world in terms of simple logic and common sense. The “experts” might learn a thing or two if they were willing to adopt this approach the next time they gather to address the issues this world faces.
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The Checkered Flag of Texas -- by Ira Ostenheimer 
Monday, April 6, 2009, 12:53 PM
Posted by Administrator
It was a long time coming, 47 races in fact, since Jeff Gordon was last able to drive into Victory Lane. Never before was there such a lull in his career; never before did he have to listen to waves of criticism about him losing his focus and his commitment; never before did the champagne taste so good.

His victory today at Texas has quieted those who were forecasting that his shooting star was slowly being consumed in the atmosphere on its way back down to earth. One victory doesn’t make a season but it was clear that 2009 is going to be very kind to the kid from Vallejo California. The skill, mastery and preparation that has always been the hallmark of Hendricks Motorsports came together once again through the restructuring efforts of Steve Letarte who made sure, during the off-season, that this year wasn’t going to be a repeat of 2008. The star that was once threatened with extinction has assumed a new orbit, one leading it even closer to the place of prominence it once occupied.
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NASCAR’s Abandoned Past - The Fallacy? -- by J. R. Andres 
Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 04:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
David Caraviello’s recent article, “Fallacy of an Abandoned Past” on made some interesting points regarding his contention that there’s a sizable contingent of race fans who have been wrongly “hammering NASCAR for abandoning its past”. Caraviello then goes on to express his belief that this is not necessarily the case because there are still many time honored tracks in operation today, like Martinsville (NASCAR), Darlington (NASCAR), Rockingham (ARCA/formally NASCAR), Indianapolis (IRL/NASCAR), Bristol (NASCAR) and so on that represent preserved time capsules of the past. According to his figures, 14 out of the present 22 Sprint Cup Series tracks were built before 1970. No one can dispute the fact that NASCAR, unlike MLB, NHL, MBA and NFL hasn’t held onto a preservationist stance, steering clear of the fickleness other major professional sports organizations have displayed by jumping towns and tearing down revered stadiums and arenas for reasons that appear, on the surface to generations of fans living there, thoughtless and arbitrary at best.

Caraviello’s points are well taken but he’s missing the other half of the equation, one that has nothing to do with the venues in which these races take place, one that has nothing to do with better food concessions, mega parking lots or luxury suites. It has everything to do with the people that pay the money to see these races.

NASCAR’s roots are deeply imbedded in the lore and the mores of the South, predicated upon non-elitist ideals. It was a sport for the common man and his family, one that embraced an acceptable connection with the hard edged reality and craziness that characterized the “shine” industry, practiced on country roads throughout the southeast. On weekends, it took the place of the radio, later the TV. It was a place to go to see friends and to be seen in rural areas that often offered little more. Local heroes played to the crowds on Saturday night and went back to their mundane, repetitive minimum wage jobs on Monday.

Over time, a sport that was mostly an afterthought on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” became the stuff of dreams for sponsors and investment companies who were no longer color blind to the green that grew wild in them thar hills and before long, fans found themselves squeezed out by fences, staggering ticket prices and hard aluminum benches. Sure, most of the old racetracks still looked the same. You could even close your eyes for a moment and imagine Fireball or Petty or Pearson or Mantz or Yarborough blasting by but when you opened them, the reality was that you weren’t going to get an autograph, the food you ate was going to stay with you for a day and any attempt to say a word to your hero was going to be met with a rebuke from a security guard that probably didn’t share your passion for the sport.

The present financial downturn has been catastrophic in so many ways to so many people but even these clouds have a proverbial “silver lining”. It has forced all of us to re-evaluate and take a look at what’s really important in our own lives and to find ways of doing more with less. Not being the exception, NASCAR has had to do the same and it has become clear that continued growth in the racing industry hinges upon not just keeping the old tracks in operation but upon redirecting energies toward re-engaging and celebrating the fans and their families in a way that will make every race for them the stuff that will be passed on for generations to come. From 1948 onward, this approach came natural during NASCAR’s infancy and adolescence. Looking back to what made it so appealing then can provide the means to make it even more appealing in the future.
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