by: PattyKay Lilley
Good day race fans, and welcome to RacersReunion, a site we know for a fact is read by the folks that matter… and a warm friendly greeting to my designated reader in the new Charlotte Fan and Media Espionage Center. I trust your day has been a good one so far, and I’ll try my best not to change that; but things do happen sometimes.
Where to start, where to start? It’s Speedweeks and so much is going on, I swear my head is doing its best Linda Blair imitation, just spinning round and round and gathering momentum as it goes. When in doubt, I usually pick a bone or two with the Legend, but I’d hate to spoil his thunder this week; he was ever so sweet when talking about the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I however, have a serious bone to pick with that organization. No, not anything like whatever you’re thinking. It’s just that they are interfering with my livelihood here.
At least two weeks ago or more, a reader asked me a simple question… NOT! I remembered instantly that I’d run into this problem last year with the same question. Not to disappoint, they are running true to form over there and not updating their information. Would someone please alert Mr. Kelley and Mr. McKim that their list of voting panel members is at least one year out of date? Last year, when asked who was on that panel, I apologetically had to give the list from 2011, as there was no list for the 2012 members. Sometime in the intervening 12 months, the 2012 list was added, but it was the 2013 class we saw inducted last week. Who voted on them?
How can I be so sure the list is out of date? Well, for openers, I’m quite sure that Doc Mattioli and Cotton Owens are both still dead, and they are on that list. Aside from that, it is clearly dated. To the reader that asked, Mike, I can give you last year’s list if you like, and as the new nominations draw closer, I may have to resort to that as I did a year ago. One would hope not, but this seems to be the speed at which most things operate within that establishment. Makes one wonder if the website for the Hall is done by the same team of master craftsmen that designed and launched the new NASCAR site, doesn’t it? www.wehiditallwhereyoucantfindit.com. In defense of the Hall however, I do have to concede that their Home Page proudly proclaims, “The NASCAR Hall of Fame Members-Only Fantasy Racing League is back for the 2013 season.” Some things are kept up to date. I guess it’s all a matter of priorities…
So… as long as we’re on the subject, did you enjoy the Induction Ceremonies? I know you think I’m going to take a negative tack somewhere here, but I’m not. I really did enjoy them, as they took me back to other times and places… one of those being a time and place called “youth.” Often, that can be a fun place to visit, don’t you know. Seen from my end of the telescope, I watched Buck Baker race; now his son Buddy, whom I dearly miss, is retired and some of you reading this never even saw Buddy race. Memory Lane for me is a long and winding road, but almost always an enjoyable trip.
I found the acceptance speeches, by both Inductees and family members, very stirring. I didn’t even mind that Rusty Wallace almost broke DW’s record length in that category. I’ve had the thought long before that night that if one put the two of them together in a room and supplied food, they might never emerge again. They could no doubt spend years just discussing the 1989 “The Winston.” There were a couple of things that left questions in my mind though. I didn’t bring them up earlier in the week, thinking that Tim surely would include them in his Legendtorial, but he did not. The first point, probably not important in the grand scheme of things, but very noticeable, was the way that all speechmakers referred to the Cup series. I don’t believe I heard even once, any of these terms… Grand National, Winston Cup, Nextel Cup or Sprint Cup. It struck me as strange to hear so many diverse folks all calling it “NASCAR’s Premier Series.” Were there talking points given out with the nominations?
The other thing that left me wondering was one of those “elephant in the living room” situations, where everyone has to see it, but no one is saying a word. Well then, while the angels nurture their fear to tread these waters, this old fool will wade right on in. Where was Brian France? It was Induction night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Everyone that is anyone was there in his best bib and tucker… whatever that means… and the ladies at their loveliest. All night long, the camera spanned the audience. It rested several times on Mike Helton, but no Brian. One would think that if he were ill, something would have been said, but it was not.
The absence of the CEO of the host organization echoed loudly through the room, growing louder because no note was made of it. Mr. France Sir, I do hope this finds you safe and well. Please know that though no one said so at the time, you were missed at the induction ceremonies, at least by one old lady.
Alright then gentle readers, let’s leave the past and move to the future. Are you all set to watch and enjoy the “Sprint Unlimited?” Yes, I know… “Huh?” But I get it. It’s supposed to make your mind flash to the “unlimited” data that Sprint claims you get with your phone, along with a two-year mortgage called a contract. I am currently making mortgage payments to Verizon. I have never used Sprint, but what I hear from friends is that it is no better or worse than the others. Unlimited? Maybe… but try going past that 4G mark and see how slow a phone can suddenly become.
It’s a race… for pole sitters… the fastest of the fast, at least for one lap. Personally, I’d rather it were the “Sprint Unrestricted.” That would make sense to me, and I’ll bet it would to you as well. It’s a short, fast race, or in other words, a Sprint. Unrestricted needs no explanation. Put the two together and we’ve got ourselves something really worth the price of admission, don’t you think? No, it’ll never happen. It’s that insurance thing… but what an idea! The fans are voting on everything else. Where do we go to vote on that?
Oh yes, voting. This year, there is no set format, lineup or anything else that I can discern. It’s all up to the fans. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I find the rules and eligibility for voting on this, that and the other thing to be confusing to the point of intimidating. The details of who can do what, when, can all be found here on Jayski’s page on the race, just unveiled this morning. You’ll find it’s longer than this column. At what point do we turn around and ask that burning question, “Who cares?”
Sunday however, will bring Daytona qualifying, and that I await with great anticipation. Now that we no longer have that *&@^^#* guaranteed top-35 rule in place, qualifying and those wonderful Twin races really mean something again. For my younger readers that have heard me cussing that thing since 2004, in the upcoming week, you’ll see what you’ve been missing, as we once again see the field for the Daytona 500 set pretty much the way that Big Bill France did it all those years ago. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Well, I do believe that will do it for this week. Please don’t be shy with your thoughts and comments. They don’t have to agree with mine… and sometimes it’s more fun when they don’t. Just remember to check your bad attitude and all name-calling at the door. Suddenly, I am reminded of something from my childhood. My best friend, June’s Dad had a picture hanging in their finished basement. The picture was of a snarling grey wolf and the caption simply read, “Keep your temper; nobody else wants it.” Words of wisdom in any situation.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!
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