NASCAR News / Notes 1

I have a feeling many of you will read the title of this post and decide to move on; it’s understandable, but IMHO you’ll be missing something. I have many passions in life, and the most surprising to people who know me is NASCAR.

It’s not THAT surprising when you take a closer look. Many do not know this, but NASCAR is not a “redneck” sport, it hasn’t been for a long time. One look at the NASCAR Glossary Page will tell you that NASCAR is, in fact, a sport for engineers and tech geeks. Besides Dale Earnhardt, Jr, can you name anouther high-profile driver who has a defined southern accent? All the big stars sound like Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon. The most redneck part of the sport these days is in the stands:

(sorry about that)

Anyway, here’s what’s happening:

First and foremost, I’d like to offer my condolences to the family of Bobby Hamilton. Not only was he a hometown boy, he was the epitome of class and humility. The way he built his teams, from the ground up, mainly for his son, should be an example to us all. RIP, Bobby.

Benny Parsons, one of my favorite announcers, is currently in the battle of his life against lung cancer. He was recently checked into intensive care. He is worthy of the prayers of us all.

Now, the lighter stuff:

NASCAR’s governing body is apparently going to change the field of the “Chase” to 12. For those of you who don’t know, the “Chase for the Cup” is the Nextel Cup’s version of the playoffs. With 10 races to go in the season, the top 10 (soon to be 12) are locked into “the Chase” and their points are bunched much closer together to make the chase more exciting. First is still first, and 10th is still 10th, but everyone in The Chase has a chance with 10 races to go. Anyway, some of the drivers don’t like this change. Pretty Boy Kasey Kahne:

“There was as much pressure for me going into the final five races as I’ve ever had,” said Kahne, who was on the bubble going to Richmond despite having a series-high five wins. “It was exciting. I think 10 guys is pretty good. From sixth to probably 13th was pretty close. If you put more in, there won’t be quite so much on the line.”

I remember hearing the same things said when the NCAA tourney field was expanded to 64, the baseball playoffs were expanded, as well as the NFL. Having more teams “on the bubble” makes things more exciting for everybody, IMHO.

Now, dear readers, if you’ve made it this far, you get rewarded. I’ll let you in on a full bore soap opera going on right now, worthy of a Lifetime Movie of the Week. It involves Dale Earnhardt, Jr – from now on refered to a “Junior” – and his stepmother Teresa. A little background: Junior is the son of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, from his first marriage. Teresa married the Sr Earnhardt in 1982. To say that Jr’s relationship with Teresa has always been rocky would be an understatement. I have no doubt at one point in his life, he called her “stepmonster”.

Here’s the deal: Teresa, upon the death of Earnhardt Sr, got the “empire”. She is president and CEO of DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc). Jr, in effect works for Teresa. I’ve always said: NEVER work with family! Junior’s contract with his late father’s company is up next year. Negotiations are ongoing. It ain’t going so good. Here are some of the things Teresa and Jr have said publicly about the matter:

Teresa: “Right now the ball’s in [Earnhardt’s] court to decide on whether he wants to be a NASCAR driver or whether he wants to be a public personality.”

Earnhardt takes the high road: “I don’t know, she might have just been having a bad day or something when she said that. I really don’t know where that was coming from. I didn’t want to comment to the press. I really didn’t appreciate it whether she was taken out of context or not.”

But then he adds this:

“I don’t want to get too personal. Teresa is my stepmother. I have a mother at home I have a very good relationship with. Mine and Teresa’s relationship has always been very black and white, very strict and in your face. It’s gotten no worse the last couple of years or last couple of months. The way I felt about her then is the way I feel about her now.”

Yowee! Teresa has left the negotiating up to others, in order to get them moving along. Something tells me Jr won’t talk if she’s in the room. Anyway, to get an idea of what a big deal this is, you have to know how BIG Junior is. He’s Micheal Jordan, Tiger Woods, Darek Jeter COMBINED, as far as popularity within the sport is concerned. In about half the races, over half the fans are there to Dale Jr. Talledega is a sea of red (his color). He is HUGE.

On the other hand, so is DEI. That means all the licensing for the “3” and “8” stuff you see everywhere. And Junior wants a piece, and that’s where the biggest sticking point is in the negotiations. Besides, of course, his relationship with his step-mom.

Anyway, I’ll fill you in as this develops (certainly they’ll work it out – can you imagine Dale Earnhardt NOT driving for the company with his own name on it?)

One final thing: NASCAR is the only sport that STARTS the year with its Super Bowl. The Daytona 500 is only 40 days away!

Posted in NASCAR. 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “NASCAR News / Notes 1”

  1. newscoma Says:

    I must tell you this story.
    I decided to try to watch a NASCAR race several years ago for the first time. I had my little cooler of beer, my dog on my lap and had asked many folks about the “soap opera” quality of the ongoing drama I had heard about.
    Well, I watched and tried to get it and was actually kinda digging it.
    There there was this wreck and I asked my roomie, who is a sports editor, what was happening.
    I was like “Darnit it all, this is exciting” as people ran to the Number Three car going nuts.
    “Does this happen every week” I asked.
    Her family are big NASCAR fans and, in all honesty, I wanted to fit in.
    She just stared blank faced at the TV screen. She used to go to the races (she says its really hot and loud. She is more of a football/basketball fan.)
    “I was like, wow, this is dramatic. Sorta like Shakespeare with more shake.”
    She didn’t say a word. See, she knew and I didn’t but I learned shortly thereafter.
    You see, I had heard about Dale Earnhardt my entire life but had never seen him race.
    But the one race I watched was the one were he died.
    I went out on the porch because I knew that this was big just by the look on her face.
    I haven’t watched NASCAR since.
    I sorta feel like I jinxed it.
    So there you go. My NASCAR story. I know it’s morbid, but I thought I’d share because it really, really creeps me out.
    I really shouldn’t leave the house.

  2. Slartibartfast Says:

    Our stories aren’t so far apart. I had started watching racing just the year before, and I hung my hat with semi-local boy Sterling Marlin. You could tell he was on the verge of greatness (and 2001 WAS a really good year for him)

    But wouldn’t you know, Sterling was the one who put Dale into the wall.

    We NASCAR fans live vicariously through “our” drivers, so naturally I have been guilt-stricken ever since.

    However, I always remind myself that there have been who-knows-how-many lives saved since Earnhardt died. New safety features like the safer barrier and that neck-collar thingie that keeps the helmet attached to the seat (I can’t remember it’s name).

    But I understand how you feel you’re jinxed. Heck, ever since I started following Marlin he’s gone downhill every year. 😉

  3. newscoma Says:

    I hadn’t thought about how many people have been helped by Earnhardt’s death.
    That helps my irrational fear of the “jinx.”
    I realized I sort of hijacked this thread.
    I used to read news at a radio station and they were all about Marlin. My boss used to say to me that I had to read his stories first.

  4. Rough Blogger Says:

    Who would cheat on such an awesome wife?

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