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!