Saturday, December 27, 2008

Be Careful What You Say. Someone May Be Listening.

I first started attending races at Nashville's fairgrounds speedway in late 1974. My family became regulars in 1975, and we attended pretty often until around 1980.

Every Saturday night, the track gave away a boy's and a girl's bike. I never did win one of those things even though I sat on the edge of my seat awaiting the names to be drawn.

We invited two of our friends to go with us one Friday night in July 1977. The Winston Cuppers were in town for the Nashville 420. I didn't get to go to the 420 Cup race, but we did go to watch the Cup guys qualify on Friday night along with the local boys who ran their late model, limited sportsman, and mini-stock features. Incredibly, one of the friends who went with us won the bike - on his first visit! That stroke of luck and the memory of the evening has stayed with me for many, many years.

What I don't recall was I apparently suggested to my friend he become a full-fledged race fan and even join the Richard Petty Fan Club. Because I was a member in good standing, I figured EVERYONE ought to be too.

Unbeknownst to me, he apparently did join. I haven't seen him in about 25 years. However, his parents and my parents - who have been friends for about as long as I've been alive - do see each other from time to time. They visited over the Christmas weekend, and the friend from years ago was in town to join them.

My mother said she reminded him of the bike story - including the resentment and bitterness I harbored for a while that a "rookie" could win the bike. He then told her he not only joined the Richard Petty fan club back then at my suggestion - but that he also still had his membership card! He never developed into a race fan, but he had an affinity for fast cars like almost all red-blooded American males. In recent years, he dropped hints to his wife that he'd like to test drive a race car one day. For this year's Christmas present to him, she bought him a ride-a-long to the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Orlando.

He was pleasantly surprised to get the gift, and he told my mother he plans to take along his old fan club membership card in his wallet when he goes!

I've still got a couple of my cards from back in the day - including this one for the 1979 championship-winning season.

Goes to show you the power of The King.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Michael Waltrip...SUPERSTAR!

I've been wearing out Google, Firefox, Photobucket, and my hard drive today looking for and saving racing photos of all kinds. I stumbled across this one of Michael Waltrip with Kyle Petty from February 2008 while searching for some Kyle photos.

Michael's struggles - both as a driver and car owner - in his long career have been well documented elsewhere. Yet he still continues as a fan favorite, and sponsors keep throwing money at him like Pacman Jones making it rain in Club Minxx.

Surely to goodness, Mikey knows he is just not in the same league - driver-wise, owner-wise, or bidness-man-wise as the upper crust of the sport. Some TV interviews lead me to believe he may just well be humble enough to know it. All too often, however, he also leads me to believe he thinks he really is a superstar. If so, perhaps he was parroting Molly Shannon's infamous SNL character.

The more I think about it, Mikey and Mary Katherine Gallagher have more in common with their tendency to crash into "safer barriers" than I originally thought. Watch & compare this one... this one (FF to 4:30).

Favorite Petty Enterprises Paint Schemes

After sharing my favorite overall NASCAR paint schemes, I figured I'd might as well craft a list of favorite Petty Enterprises schemes. I'm sure other favorite schemes list will follow (Earnhardt, unique/obscure, frauds, etc.)

But for now, how about a "best of" list from those Level Cross Legends.

#7 - 1970 Plymouth Superbird - A long hood, sleek nose, huge wing in the back, all Petty blue - what's not to like?

#6 - 1979 Kyle Petty #44 Dodge Magnum - Richard bailed on the Magnum in 1978, but PE dusted it off in the off-season. They dressed it in Valvoline colors, and Kyle drove it to a win in the Daytona ARCA 200 - his first win in his first ever race. The sponsor decals aren't that striking, but all that Petty blue on that long hood really looks cool. Not sure I've ever understood the significance of that seagull, dove, pigeon, or whatever fowl that is on the front fender, but its still one of my faves.

#5 - 1982 Kyle Petty STP Pontiac - Richard & Kyle had matching-yet-inverse schemes on the 42 and 43 Pontiacs. But I generally liked the look of the 42 more than the 43.

#4 - 1996 Bobby Hamilton STP-Petty 25th Anniversary Silver Pontiac - Petty Enterprises rolled out a set of "throw back" paint schemes in 1996 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the relationship between STP and Petty Enterprises. This silver car was run at the Daytona 500 in addition to the other schemes run that year.

#3 - 1978 STP Monte Carlo - As noted above, Richard finally said he'd had enough with the sled of a race car that Dodge had available in 1978. Petty Enterprises dropped Chrysler and switched to General Motors' 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (and Oldsmobile 442) for the remainder of 1978 through 1980.

#2 - 1997 Bobby Hamilton STP Pontiac - Petty Enterprises opted for a pretty radical change to the STP scheme for 1997 with the yellow nose (run infrequently during the year) and the arched lines on the sides. Bobby raced the car to a popular win in the fall Rockingham race.

#1 - 1975 STP Dodge Charger - Petty Enterprises tweaked the STP scheme a bit on the 1974 Dodge Charger body from 1974 through 1977. But that magic mix of STP competition red and Petty blue had the perfect mix in my opinion in 1975. After all, with 13 wins to its credit, the 43 must have been happiest dressed like this.

Honorable mention to Hershel McGriff in the Petty 04 Dodge Charger and Kyle Petty's 1983 7-11 Pontiac.

Richard's 1984 STP Pontiac Grand Prix rated as my #1 overall favorite NASCAR paint scheme. However, Richard raced in 1984-1985 for Curb Racing. So that car lost out on this list due to a technicality. But hey, rules are rules, right?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

These are a few of my favorite schemes

With apologies to Julie Andrews' tune from The Sound of Music.

NASCAR silly season bores me anymore. Especially this year since my favorite 43 team is in the mix but for all the wrong reasons.

So I thought I'd instead focus on some of my favorite paint schemes from over the years. As we near the end of 2008, "best of" and "top ten" lists tend to dominate the landscape in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. Letterman also has his nightly Top Ten list, and I'm a big fan of his. So I'll start Not sure any of these qualify as "best of", but 7 doesn't have a magic ring to it when it comes to NASCAR. It represents the number of championships won each by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. The number also signifies the number of Daytona 500 wins by Richard Petty. (Good thing I didn't use the # of D500 wins by Earnhardt as my basis because I'd only be able to share ONE picture.)

Disclaimer: I've tried to focus on paint schemes used on a regular basis vs. those used once or twice.

In order to draw out the suspense, here we go in reverse order. (drum roll please).

#7 - Smokey Yunick-prepared cars. Officially, he prepared Pontiacs, Chevelles and Ford Torinos. Maybe others too. But with the way he poured over the details and modified the bodies of his entries, no one can say for sure what he put on the track. Here's one of his #22 Pontiacs driven by Fireball Roberts. Later, he entered his patented black-and-gold colors on #13 cars - immortalized of course in that award-winning race movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

#6 - Cale Yarborough's Busch beer sponsored Olds 442 from 1979-1980. Other than his 3 consecutive championships, Cale is perhaps best known for wrecking this beautiful car on the last lap of the 1979 Daytona 500 along with Donnie Allison.

#5 - Tim Richmond's early season Folger's Coffee scheme from the early part of 1986. About a third of the way through the season, the team began using regular white letters vs. the black-backed gold numerals. It changed the whole look for the worse, but apparently it was a good change for him. After the change, he ripped off seven wins in the second half of the 86 season.

#4 - Darrell Waltrip's original Budweiser sponsored Chevy from 1984.

#3 - Bobby Allison's Miller High Life Buick from 1988. He won the Daytona 500 in 1988, and his son Davey finished 2nd. His career was violently ended at Pocono that same year when he spun and was t-boned in the driver's side.

#2 - Davey Allison's original Havoline Ford from 1987. He ran the same scheme at the Daytona 500 but without the sponsor name or logo because the sponsorship deal wasn't finished. It was, however, completed by the time they got to Talladega in the spring for the Winston 500. First I watched as Bobby Allison tore the fence down. And then I watched as his son, Davey, won his first ever Cup race.

#1 - Richard Petty's STP Pontiac in which he won his 200th race at the 1984 Firecracker 400 in front of President Ronald Reagan.

the Nascar Network ?

it's a rainy Saturday in Tennessee. too wimpy to hunt in the rain. already ran this morning. Christmas shopping done. mall allergies in full swing. maybe there's an NFL game to watch, since college is done until bowls. where is the sports section...

oh cool, Cowboys host Ravens tonite. final game in Texas Stadium. Ravens are tough, Cowboys vying for a wild card spot. plenty of drama with them lately. what time? NFL Network? what?

no i dont have the NFL Network. no i dont ever plan to. i already cant stomach paying $50/month (not including a laundry list of taxes) for regular cable (which used to be $35 a few years back, a compound rate of increase at least twice that of the rate of inflation but dont get me started).

so i got to thinking, hmmm, if the NFL can have their own network and you have to pay to watch a few games, cant Nascar too?

if this sounds like Brian France thinking, with apologies to a certain green animated Christmas character: Then Brian got an idea. An awful idea. Brian got a wonderful, awful idea.

and all the Whos down in Raceville will not be joining hands in a circle and singing. any more than they were when Nascar veered off onto fx for some reason, or TNT. but I can see this happening since Nascar seems to suffer from a case of sports envy with the NFL. like a younger brother who tries just a little bit too hard.

i hate to miss tonights game, but i will. just like i will miss any races on the Nascar Network.

my Christmas wish list

my Christmas wish list for 2009
1. that our economy doesnt sink into depression, that by some combination of Federal Reserve and Treasury Department intervention, we "only" have a deep recession. that by this time next year, the light can be seen at the end of the economic tunnel. that capitalism survives this watershed crisis, although it's a given it will be a much more regulated form of capitalism.
2. that before half an hour after sunset January 11, 2009 i am making a trip towards the taxidermist with a Tennessee whitetail buck worth mounting. if not the deadline can be extended to December 31, 2009.
3. that my tendons joints and muscles survive so i can successfully compete in the Scenic City Half Marathon February 28, 2009, my first half.
4. that in light of the 2006 and 2008 elections Evangelical Christianity will take stock of itself and refocus its efforts on advancing the Kingdom which is not of this world, instead of the fleeting makeshift kingdom of Washington DC whose foundations are built on sand.
5. that Rich Rodriguez will beat a trail down those country roads which take him home to the place he belongs West Virginia and someone can restore Wolverines football to the competitiveness we deserve and have come to expect.
6. that Lord Stanley continues his reign from his throne in Hockeytown for another year starting in June.
7. that some combination of heroes and villans emerge to give Nascar fans something to be excited about. that we dont have to waste an entire Sunday afternoon each week only to see 48 and 18 win. that something will pique our interests besides driver sponsor and team changes. that the enduring legacy of the Intimidator at DEI isnt squandered by bad business practices, inferior equipment, and inferior talent. that Mark Martin will finally retire. that someone will tell Larry Mac that "hisself" is not a proper third person singular masculine reflexive pronoun.

merry christmas (not merry nondescript nonreligious unoffensive winter holiday) from the scenic city.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In the beginning...

In the beginning, there was plant life - a lot of it. Then it decayed. Then it underwent pressure - a lot of it. Eventually we got oil - a lot of that too. And then someone figured out how to find it, get it out of the ground, and refine it into gasoline. Once you had gas, you needed something to put it in. So some poor sap invented the car, and likely some rich guy stole the idea and made himself even richer. Then someone built the second car. And boom - just like that - the need for racing was invented.

Welcome. For the most part, I've got a feeling I may be one of only two folks reading this blog for a while. But we'll see. Two of us - BankTruck being the other - hope to offer our 2 cents on the world of NASCAR. You likely only offered us a penny for our thoughts. Feel free to keep the change.

Sometimes we'll be right. Mostly we'll be wrong. Sometimes we'll be original. Occassionally, we'll create fictional race scenarios just to entertain ourselves. Believe us - Jayski will not be posting our ideas. Often we'll just borrow ideas, videos, photos, links, etc. from others. (We'll do our best to give props where appropriate.) Our observations and 50 cents...ummm...$4 will get you a cup of coffee.

NASCAR stuff will be front and center. But hockey will always be nearby as will general observations about topics as varied as politics, Christianity, news of the weird, etc.

Let us hear from you so we don't have to be the only ones to chime in on the other.