Legends of Stock Car Racing Talk Racing
NASCAR is what it is today because of the legendary drivers of the sport that built its solid fan base. A few months ago I had the privilege of going to Martinsville Speedway for a race and afterwards, NASCAR brought out some of the legends and had a little discussion on stage for all the fans. Besides being a good way to give the fans a place to stay and ease traffic congestion, it was a great way to end the weekend.
As I stood there and listened to the stories it became clear to me that the honesty, integrity and passion that these drivers had were simply amazing. Hearing Richard Petty tell about how they use to fix their cars at the hotel rooms was indeed a treat for a racing fan. He had the crowd rolling with laughter when he explained how they use to clean out carburetors in the bathroom tubs at the various hotels along the circuit. He talked about how each driver's kids grew up with each other like one big family. He also told a really funny story on how he had to break the news to Mrs. Petty that their son Kyle Petty was going to become a race car driver.
What made this event special was the drivers' true honesty, and their quick and timely sense of details for the actual events: Hearing Junior Johnson talk about how he use to bump draft people and get away with a lot of wins because of it. Hearing about how Ned Jarret raced everyone clean because he knew the other drivers had bills to pay and families to feed.
Of course we can't talk about legends of NASCAR without hearing about "The Fight" that helped put NASCAR on the map. If you are a racing fan I am sure you have seen the fight on television between Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough. I have heard the story 25 times over the years from each drivers point of view but listening to Bobby and Donnie tell the story was really amazing. Even though it all happened in the late 1970's they have a clear memory of it and those drivers can really make you laugh.
One of my favorites Harry Gant really brought the house down with a few of his stories. Buddy Baker explained what it was like to race among the greatest drivers in the world. I enjoyed the bantering as these guys discussed in a gentleman's manner some of the crashes they had amongst each other. Even though at the time it cost someone a win and a good paycheck they all seem to laugh about it now.
What made the weekend great was the fact that these drivers were available for autographs basically the whole weekend. They mingled among the fans and signed everything they could. In a day and age where Legends of any sport are kind of pushed out of the way, the sport of NASCAR realizes that it is events like this that the fans love to see.
Photo Credit: Vinny O'Hare
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