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NASCAR memories from the good old daysPosted Wednesday, September 5, 2007, at 10:33 PM
I have no problem with those who feel change is good because I feel exactly the same on many subjects.
NASCAR is one subject on which I have mixed emotions. I have many fond memories of the days when the top division was known simply as NASCAR Grand National. This was before it became Winston Cup and more recently Nextel Cup.
During those Grand National days it was more driver against driver rather than team against team. The driver was out to win over other top drivers, not a certain driver's entire team getting in the act by blocking for him and drafting with him.
Of course it's a huge money deal today. Big corporations are shelling millions out there to get their name before the public each Sunday afternoon and owners and drivers are receiving much bigger paydays.
I wish today's younger race fans could have seen such drivers as Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Richard Petty in his prime and one I always admired that may surprise you. That driver was Ralph Earnhardt, father of Dale and grandfather of Dale Jr.
He wasn't likely to win because he simply didn't have the equipment. I remember Ralph driving a Dodge in the pre-Hemi days and staying with the leaders for a couple of hundred laps or so until his engine came unglued.
And then there was Dale. I recall the time he won the pole position for one of the 500-milers in Atlanta. Would you believe he almost seemed embarrassed by all of the attention he was getting that afternoon.
Some of the sponsors were rather interesting in those Grand National days. A top driver may be sponsored for a given race by some garage in that area and the name was hurriedly painted somewhere on the car. One I always wondered about was a driver, whose name I can't recall, being sponsored one Sunday by a funeral home. But those little sponsors got their name before a big crowd the afternoon of the race.
One of the most appropriate sponsors was Leggs pantyhose for Janet Guthrie, a really talented woman driver from the Indy ranks.
I knew the so-called good 'ol boys had accepted her when I heard a member of one of the pit crews remark, "'Ol Janet is really hanging in there today."
The huge payoffs weren't there, fans couldn't always see the races on television but the excitement and memories of those days will live forever.
I intend for my blog to dwell on many subjects, only occasionally sports, with pats on the back for those I feel deserve it and perhaps a kick somewhat lower now and then.
For instance, do you ever get tired of athletes who can't speak two complete sentences without inserting "you know" one or more times and sometimes twice in one sentence or highly-paid professional athletes or college players, often seniors, who when asked by a television announcer to tell what happened on a given play and he starts his answer with, "Well, I seenů.."?
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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette.