I may have to do this in multiple entries because (1) I'm not sure I can remember everything in one setting and (2) I'm not willing to sit here and type it all at one time anyway.
Let the weekend begin!
- As has been the case as just about every race I've attended since the 1992 Winston 500, the weekend with race friends began with a Schaefer brew. Yes, they still make it. The tradition of pounding a Schaef likely merits its own blog entry...another time.
- I had a couple of brushes with celebrity. First, I ran into Bruton Smith - Speedway Motorsports, Inc.'s CEO - in the Holiday Inn lobby where we stayed. And Saturday during the Busch race, I saw saw Linda Vaughn, former Miss Hurst Shifter. She may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but she still has the big, bleach-blond hair, tight britches, and high-heeled boots. And in her day, she was something else.
- I've heard and read many complaints about the new transitional Bristol surface. Fans and others who cover the sport in multiple forms of media complain Bristol has lost the infamous bump-and-run. The gouge-and-go is no more. No more helmet or HANS tossing. No leaping over hoods to take a crack at another driver who wronged you.
- As someone who has watched a lot of racing over 30+ years, I'm OK with the new surface. Its aged well over the last 2 or 3 years. Bristol finally has a bit of mojo back with multiple grooves. The drivers can actually race there now. Admittedly, those additional grooves are only meaningful if your car can keep up with the #18 Snickers Toyo - which no one else could.
- Because so many fans started following NASCAR during the peak of Earnhardt's career or in the Gordon era, many of them only know the concrete, 1-groove Bristol. But old Bristol was more like it is today - find some footage from the 60s and 70s (perhaps Dale Jr's Back in the Day series and you'll see 3 and 4 wide racing from the apron to the fence.
- We stuck around after the Saturday race to watch the old timers put on a show. Clearly, Bristol's management tried to put a fun event together to sell tickets and (hopefully) reconnect the fans of today to the drivers of yesterday. For that I applaud them. SMI promotions dance circles around ISC tracks year after year.
- The #11 Busch Beer late model prepared for Cale Yarborough looked every bit as good as his cars from 1979-1980 did. Unfortunately for Cale, he couldn't RACE it like he did in 79-80.
- I grew up as a kid going to local late model sportsman races at Nashville Speedway. Three or four times a year, the national LMS touring series came to town for 200 lap features. My dad liked the LMS series far more than he did Cup. He was a much bigger fan of drivers like L.D. Ottinger, Harry Gant, Butch Lindley, Sam Ard, and Jack Ingram than he was of Petty, Pearson, the Allisons, Cale or Buddy. What a neat opportunity to have several of those guys still with us - and with enough competitive fire in their bellies and a glint in their eyes to give it another try for 35 laps.
- I also grew up watching Sterling Marlin from the time he was a late model rookie. While I'm sure he had fun leading every lap and winning the race, it was pretty silly to have an "old timer" like Sterling in this special race when he had a starting spot in the Cup race on Sunday. Seems to me former drivers like Dave Marcis, Buddy Baker, Lennie Pond, or Buddy Arrington might have been available & could have added to the fun.
I'll leave you with a slideshow of selected pics from the weekend.