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NASCAR, Daytona 500 & Dale Earnhardt


SalG (Sal Grenci)
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Years ago I viewed stock car racing as a red neck sport, not much above the jalopy racing that I grew up with. I was into sports car, Formula 1 and Indy racing. As stock cars evolved into NASCAR I started to see the beauty of 200 to 500 mile races where any one of a dozen or more cars could win. And those pit stops under the yellow - pure racing pandemonium. I believe it was Dale Earnhardt, who about 15 years ago got into a duel with Bobby Allison and they wrecked each other's cars at the end of the race to prevent the other from winning. Then they got out of the cars on the track, started arguing while Donny Allison drove up got out of his car and the three of them duked it out. Great stuff!<P>

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To say that the tragic ending of the Datona 500 cast a shadow over an otherwise thrilling race is an understatement, particularly here in the South where NASCAR racing is a major sporting event and Dale was at the top. Dale, his son Dale, Jr. and Mikey Waltrip ran an absolutely fantastic race with a magnificent demonstration of teamwork.<P>With Mikey winning the race (his first NASCAR win in 462 starts) and his legendary brother Darrel calling the race in the Fox booth, it was indeed a heart warming event. And then the crash on the last turn of the final lap just made it tragic.<P>This type of racing had its beginnings with moonshine runners and certainly qualified for the accusation of being the ultimate redneck sporting event. But it's come a long way from that and the engineering technology, craftsmanship, and sheer skill and courage of the drivers and team members now goes far beyond that. <P>Not only in the South, but I'm sure everywhere that there is a NASCAR fan, we mourn the death of Dale Earnhardt.<p>[This message has been edited by ronbarn (edited 02-19-2001).]

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I've already spent myself on this topic with the little I've put into the BCA thread on Dale Sr. NASCAR is hardly a redneck sport anymore, although it's fan base certainly is very Foxworthy-esque. These are guys that compete mainly with class and integrity that the NHL or NBA couldn't mandate with automatic weapons. <P>I keep coming back to the same thought. Sometimes it's very hard to be a race fan. frown.gif <P>I wasn't a big Earnhardt fan, although I just bought a #3 backpack for my kid on Friday. I'll probably miss him more at the next race for that reason. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Dave@Moon (edited 02-19-2001).]

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NASCAR competitors often show far more sportsmanship than any of the other major sports. It is also extremely demanding both physically and mentally. Although it had its beginnings in moonshine running it has evolved way beyond a redneck sport. I was not an Earnhart fan but mourn his passing.

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i HAVE HAD THE PLEASURE OF SPENDING SOME TIME AROUND DALE AS WELL AS A GROUP OF OLD TIME NASCAR GUYS. I CAN TELL YOU THE OLD TIMERS WILL KEEP YOU IN STITCHES FOREVER. AS FAR AS DALE GOES...I HAD A PRE-CONCEIVED NOTION ABOUT HIM THAT DID NOT FIT THE MAN I MET. HE WAS GRACIOUS, WARM AND EXTREMELY INTERESTING. ALTHOUGH I AM MORE INTERESTED IN THE IRL AND OPEN-WHEEL RACING I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF RACE DRIVERS ARE INCREDIBLE AMBASSADORS TO THEIR SPORTS. NO CHARGING FOR THEIR AUTOGRAPHS, ETC. I OFTEN HAVE MARVELED AT THE TIME THEY TAKE FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS DURING RACE WEEK WHEN THEY ARE REALLY TRY ING TO FOCUS ON THEIR JOB. SPEND SOME TIME IN THE PIT AREA DURING RACE WEEK...IT REALLY IS AMAZING. DALE WAS A THROW BACK AND I REALLY DO NOT SEE ANYONE LIKE HIM IN NASCAR TODAY. A LOT OF GREAT AND TALENTED DRIVERS BUT HE WAS UNIQUE. THE SPORT WILL DEEPLY SUFFER FOR A LONG TIME...VERY, VERY SAD.

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No one deserves to end up like that. Racing is a dangerous, and, for the most part, worthwhile pursuit,...and it never fails to sadden everyone when something like this happens. There is no consolation for the many friends, and family,... when you are involved in a sport, you know the risks, and the pitfalls,... When you are involved in something you enjoy, something you love,...you make trade-offs,....I still dislike the fact it happened. But things like that do,... Maybe it was preventable, maybe not. That is not up to me to decide. Let's just ask for a little compassion and mercy for the friends and family. They must be suffering greatly right now.<P>RS

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I'll admit I was never a Earnhardt fan other than for him to drop out of the race. I feel that even those NASCAR fans that didn't like him, feel the loss and their hearts,thoughts, and condolences goes out to the Earnhardt family, Dale Earnhrdt Inc. employees, Richard Childress employees and the rest of the NASCAR family. As a NASCAR fan, and am invloved in racing for a living (although drag racing, which is still dangerous)I know the dangers of racing these drivers face each week. It's in their blood the compitition, the thrill of the speed. It's what they live for. In times like this, we need to show support for the families involved and to mourn the loss of a driver even if his isn't your favorite. He was still part of the racing family.<P>

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Being a Ford man, I could never have been an Earnhardt fan. Like Novaman, I use to cheer when he dropped out of a race. Having said that, I'd like to say I have a lot of respect for him. He was a very good driver, and after seeing some interviews with him, I feel like he was a really nice guy, as well. Dale was somewhat of a villian to some, they guy to beat. Not because he was a bad guy, on the contrary, because he was so good. He will be greatly missed by all.<P>My son had just recently put a "No Number 3" (the number 3 with a circle and slash through it) sticker on the back window of his truck. He intends to remove it now. It now seems pretty distasteful.

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I did not start this tread to discuss the pros and cons of being a redneck. I started it to find out more about the sport. I have heard of Dale, Richard Petty, AJ Foyt, the Uncer's, Waltrip's and even the France family, but that is all I know. But, since it is not a big sport in Metro NY I thought some people could educate us. I know calling these men rednecks would be like saying every resident of NY City is a criminal. SalG

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SalG<BR>From what I have been hearing you may have Nascar in your backyard soon. With the growth of nascar new tracks are being built and added yearly to the schedule. You already have one in Watkins Glen, but they are looking at adding a second track in NY. Nascar has become a business and not a sport anymore. I think this year they added 2 new races which brings the schedule up to 34 or 35 races. 21 of those will be in straight weekends towards the end of the season. Talk has it they are going to have to do away with some of the races. The first ones to go will be the short tracks and smaller purse races. I leave less than an hour from the martisville speedway and I'm sure there future with Nascar is running out. They just can't compete with the Daytonas and Charlottes.<BR>I to would like to say what a loss it was with Earnhardt. For those who seen him run in person it was a thing of beauty. One year at Martinsville he ran just about the whole race with one hand on the wheel and the other layed across the rollbar, even in the turns. Everybody around me was even talking about how he could do the impossible.<P>Rock

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If Redneck is the word then welcome to Redneck Pittsburgh. The first totally indoor NASCAR track is under design and scheduled to be started in about a year. It sturred more interest than both of our underconstruction Baseball and Football stadiums. It's my understanding that the average NASCAR fan spends around $500.00 a day to enjoy their sport. Yep, it's good to be Redneck in Pittsburgh.

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Hey SalG, about your rednecks... Ever heard of the Bodines. Geoff, Brett, and Todd? they have been invovled in the Busch, Winston Cup, and craftsman truck series. The are from Chemung, NY. I watched Geoff race modifieds at the race track in Williamson, NY when I was growing up. There was another several years ago from up around Watertown , NY. The name Jimmy Spencer ring a Bell? The K Mart car. He's from Berwick, PA. <P>Remember Alan Kuwicki (not sure on spelling) if I remember correctly, he was from Washington state. <P>Racin' ain't jus' a redneck sport. Maybe years ago but not anymore. There are colleges that now offer courses in fabrication and design solely for the people insterested in getting into the racing shop job field.

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The subject of new tracks brings to mind the design of Daytona and virtually all other tracks. After the Irvin and Petty deaths there was a call for the installation of "soft walls" at Nascar tracks. These are track walls that come apart on impact and dissipate energy in collisions. They are common, though not necessarily required in CART, IRL and FIA racing. Often they are tire barriers, styrofoam structures and water-filled barriers.<P>In today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an artical titled <I> NASCAR Idles While Driver's Die </I> (which was written some time ago) was quoted as follows:<P>"It is telling that the most resounding call for improvement has come from NASCAR's most notoriously macho driver, seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. He has a terse rebuttal to the long-running excuse of racing moguls that soft walls would fragment and require too much cleanup time during races:<P>"I'd rather they spend 20 minutes cleaning up that mess," says Earnhardt, "than cleaning me off the wall."<P> frown.gif<P>I live about 5 miles from the proposed indoor track in Pittsburgh (don't hold your breath just yet, the land in that area has many serious environmental problems that need to be addressed, i was a strip mine and a landfill in the 1950's and 1960's). Let's hope the architect reads the Post-Gazette.

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Sal,<P>To your original question... NASCAR got its roots from good ole boys in the mountains of North Carolina who "ran shine" (hauled illegal whiskey). This profession often required them to out-run and out-drive the local and probably federal law enforcement officers. Pretty soon, these fellows starting getting together on the weekends to see who and who's car was best. These early races took place on dirt tracks. The race in Daytona was actually held on the beach, back then. I think that the first paved track was in Darlington, SC. This has evolved over the years into what it is today. <P>As in all types of racing, the cars have evolved and gotten faster. There is absolutely nothing "stock" about a stockcar anymore. As a matter of fact, all of the present Winston Cup cars are based on front wheel drive vehicles. The lines of the cars closely resemble that of their namesake, but have additional spoilers and air dams to make them handle at 200 MPH. The frames are custom built. The engines, though normally aspirated, put out in excess of 700 HP. The transmissions are 4 on the floor.<P>The majority of the races are held on oval tracks, although there are a couple of road courses on the circuit. The tracks range from less than a mile to over 2-1/2 miles in length. At the really big tracks like Daytona and Talladega it can take over a lap to get up to full speed. When they get it there, they keep it there until they have to pit or a yellow flag comes out. No slowing down for the turns. They don't have to. The curves are banked at over 30 degrees.<P>A lot goes into setting up a car for a race. Depending on the track and even weather conditions, the gearing and suspension set up varies. The tire pressure is set different for all four wheels. If a car is not handling properly, adjustments to the suspension can be made in seconds. <P>This is probably more than you bargained for, but if not, ask some more questions.<P>You could debate the redneck thing 'till the cows come home, but I can assure you that the in-field at Talladega is no place for children and most women. We'll have to go to private e-mail if you want the details on that one! wink.gif<P>Hal<BR>

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It's come a long way since my first exposure to stock car racing in the Raleigh area in 1951.<P>I suspect some of those guys were still in the moonshine business at the time. It sure was readily available if you were looking for it. I kept a jar of the stuff, with a rusty nail in the bottom for effect, in my room in college cool.gif <P>Ah youth. ~ hvs

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To All, If NASCAR is a redneck sport then I resemble that remark.<P>My wife and I are educated, live in a nice home, have two beautiful daughters (17 & 11, both of which are NASCAR fans), and my wife and I both have decent jobs in professional settings.<P>We rarely miss a televised Winston Cup race. There have been times that we have been torn between going to a local car show or watching the race! Yes, we can enjoy the show and tape the race, but it is never the same.<P>Cindy and I live in Western PA. We have season tickets to the NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway. We look forward to the 7 hour trip twice a year. We join the other 150,000 rednecks for the weekend.<P>I have followed Dale Earnhardt for at least the past 22 years. If Dale were able to make a statement just prior to his death, it probably would have been: "It was just another one of those racin deals".<P>Cindy and I never met the man in black. But after following his career, his family, his history, and cheering for him week after week, year after year, it feels as if we have lost a very, very, very, close friend. We are not ashamed to admit that we have shed a tear or two.<P>Racing will go on....Cindy and I will go on....But NASCAR will never be the same. I offer the Earnhardt family, DEI, and RCR my condolences! They all new the risks, but that doesn't make it any easier.<P>During many of my wishful moments of what I would like to do some day if I had the money and opportunity...I would like to have had the opportunity to sit and eat lunch with Dale. One hour of the man's life to just talk. He seemed so down to earth. On the track, Dale always lived on the edge, flurted with disaster. He died doing what he loved. We all should be so lucky.<P>Proud to be a northern, educated (still need the spellcheck), redneck!<P>John<P>------------------<BR><UL TYPE=SQUARE><BR><LI> 1974 Monte Carlo S<BR><LI> 1986 Monte Carlo SS<BR></UL>

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NASCAR is as American as applie pie, baseball and the 4th of July. The sport has given us a lot, and Dale was a big piece of it. There arent any bigger fans than in my family - even my 4month old grandson has #3 socks and was wearing them on race day. The sport gave us Dale Earnhardt and the sport took him from us. We hurt, the sport hurts, but it will go on. <BR>Terry

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I have a few seconds, so I'd like to throw my two cents in. I am not an "IRONHEAD" fan, but I have the utmost respect for Dale and his organization. If you've ever had the opportunity to attend a race and possibly go in to Hospitality Village, you will never forget the experience. When that first lap starts and 43 cars coming thundering past, you'll wonder if you're still standing on solid ground. The percussion will rattle your entire body. What a tremendous display of raw power. Now, just think what it would be like to be driving in that train; talk about nerves of steel. They all deserve a lot of respect just to put on the show for our enjoyment. SalG, take the time, cross the border and go to Long Pond, Pa. It's not one of the favorable tracks, but it's nice and close for you. It will be an experience I guarantee you will never forget.<P>Dave@Moon, don't worry about those minor details. Remember, they built a sports complex just down the hill from you in that toxic waste dump at the edge of Neville Island. You, Cirilli and I need to get together to go to some of the meets.<P><BR>If you don't think that Earnhardt's death is such a deal, look at the response it has caused. You didn't see anything like this when Kenny Irwin or Adam Petty died last year. To race fans, it's similar to Kennedy's assassination.

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Alan<P>You are so right about being there in person. You can watch them all day long on TV, but you will never have a real appreciation for what 200 mph is really like until you see it in person. <P>The seats cost more the higher up you go. Granted, you'll have a better view from up there, but the "experience" is on the front row (all I can afford). Feel the wind, hear the noise, then go home and wash the dirt and rubber off your sunburned body. Don't forget some sort of hearing protection. If you don't wear it, your ears will ring for three days and that's no exaggeration!

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novaman, I have heard of Bodine, but if one was sitting in the front row of my meeting I would ask 'who is that guy?'<BR>Hal, Just because I am a Yankee, don't mean I don't know what shine is. Hell, the Dukes boys, General Lee, Boss Hog & Cuter(future US Congressman in real life) were on TV.<P>We do have racing on Long Island, in Riverhead. The do have a few races, and demolition events. Once, long ago race tracks for midgets were in Freeport and Islip. Our resident former race driver/museum owner Marty Himes is always hosting the clubs to his place, I just saw him 2/12/01 at my region's indoor flea market.<BR>SalG<BR><p>[This message has been edited by SalG (edited 02-21-2001).]

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Sal Pocono and Watkins Glen are a good way to check out this NASCAR thing first hand. It turns out not to be to your liking it wasn't too big of an investment of your time and money. But if you like what you see then you'll be another one of us "yanks" going 7hrs to Thunder Valley or 10hrs to Charlotte for a weekend race. This is a true 'Professional" sport. Todays drivers are coming with engineering degrees rather than "shine making certificates" When my son and daughter are looking for role models someone in racing is usually mentioned. Yes there are a few women in the sport too.<BR>I'm not sure where it ranks now but NASCAR racing will soon be the most watched sport. I enjoy many forms of motor sports but this NASCAR thing is BIG TIME. Check it out.

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Hey Sal, I was a Yankee...I think confused.gif ...I grew up in upstate NY. I was called a redneck by some. Think it had something to do with the confedrate naval jack (the "rebel" flag as everyone calls it)license plate on my car. cool.gif If I'm considered a redneck, so be it, proud of it. Moved to NC 13½ years ago, ain't been back since.

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A COUPLE OF MINOR POINTS...GM IS COMING OUT WITH DALE EARNHART OREO COOKIE DIECAST CARS OR AT LEAST WE GOT THE ORDER BLANK BEFORE THE ACCIDENT. MIDWESTERNER'S WILL BE ABLE TO HIT CHICAGO AREA SPEEDWAYS THIS YEAR TO WATCH NASCAR AND IRL. IN 1997 I RACED A REPLICA OF THE 1903 OLDSMOBILE PIRATE RACE CAR ON ORMAND BEACH FOR CBS TV. THE NEXT WEEKEND WE HAD NED JARRETT, FRANK "REBEL" MUNDY, HERB THOMAS AND A HOST OF OTHER OLD TIME NASCAR DRIVERS TO TAKE A TURN DRIVING THE PIRATE ON THE BEACH AS WELL. AT THE HOSPITALITY SUITE THAT NIGHT THE DRIVERS STARTED SWAPPING STORIES ABOUT THE BEGINNING DAYS OF RACING. THEY WERE HYSTERICAL. ONE OF THE GUYS TOLD A STORY ABOUT RENTING A STUDEBAKER, TAPEING THE HEADLIGHTS AND THEN RACING. UPON TURNING THE CAR BACK IN HE COMPLAINED TO THE RENTAL AGENT ABOUT THE "SUDDENLY BALD TIRES" ON HIS RACE CAR! I ALSO THOUGHT I'D SHARE WHAT I THINK IS A VERY SPECIAL COMMENTARY FROM ONE OF DALE'S CLOSEST FRIENDS AND BUSINESS PARTNERS. HE E-MAILED ME THIS YESTERDAY AND I THINK IT SAYS A LOT. "I CAN'T BELIEVE DALE DIED-HE WAS A BIGGER THAN LIFE TYPE GUY. I REALLY ADMIRED THIS MAN AND THE WAY HE FOCUSED ON OBJECTIVES AND HIS FAMILY. I WILL BE GOING TO A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR HIM AND I THINK THE TOUGHEST PART WILL THAT THE PEOPLE WHO RACED WITH HIM WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FOCUS ON THEIR JOBS AND THAT COULD BE SERIOUS. WE REALLY NEED TO PRAY FOR STERLING MARLIN-THIS WILL BE MOST DIFFICULT FOR HIM AND ALSO MICHAEL WALTRIP. I CAN HARDLY STOP THINKING ABOUT DALE AND HIS FAMILY-IT JUST GOES TO SHOW YOU THAT EVEN WHEN SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE EVERYTHING GOING THEIR WAY-LIFE HAS SOME UNUSUAL TURNS, AS YOU WELL KNOW STEVE, WHAT CAN'T BE FORGOTTEN THOUGH IS THE DAILY KINDNESS THAT WE SHOW EACH OTHER WHILE DOING OUR RESPECTIVE JOBS." I DON'T THINK ANYONE CAN SAY IT MUCH BETTER THAT THAT!

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