This has been one of those weeks when racing really took a back seat to other things going on in my life. Last week I had the pleasure of teaching music to 74 kids, ages 4 to 12, at our church's Vacation Bible School. This was my fifth consecutive year of doing that and some of the kids I taught the first year are now teenage assistants working with the kids. Saturday was Salt Air Jam, which, from my interaction with the crowd as they came in the front gate, was a rousing success! That little Eli is a bundle of energy and a pleasure to watch as he plays with the adults. (Video provided by Dustin Gilder: Salt Air Jam 2015.)
Sunday it was up early again to be at the 8:30 church service to see the kids perform some of the songs they learned during the week. I slipped in at the last-minute and sat at the back of the church but some of the kids spotted me any way and had to come give me a hug. I really do love interaction with kids and hope that I'll always be able to do those things that allow me to be involved in young lives. Ann says that's because I'm still a kid.
Sunday afternoon I was busy with a project in the house but I turned the race on for background noise. I would glance at the screen from time to time to see what was going on and it was the same old same old when it came to the actual racing. I did see the Kyle Busch wreck and was surprised to see him lose it. Of course, the reason given was that the track was wet and his Toyota slipped on the wet track. Not quite sure how the other 42 cars negotiated the "wet” track.
Speaking of wet tracks, this scheduled 200-lap race ended up at 138 laps, with less than 100 of those laps being run under green. It was obvious, even to this disinterested viewer that NASCAR was going to get to that half way "official race" status no matter what it took. Did anyone else notice how long it took to put out the yellow when Busch hit the wall? Our old buddy, D.W., even opined for a second that since Busch made the pit road there was going to be no yellow although there were parts of that Toyota on the track. Folks, if that doesn't prove the point that NASCAR cares only about its bank balance, what is it going to take to convince you? In this scenario, it was clear that the fans didn't matter and the drivers didn't matter. Let's just get to half way no matter what it takes.
I did catch a little flack last week about my negative comments concerning the sanctioning body and some of the folks making those comments are folks for whom I have a great deal of respect. However, many share my opinion. In fact, it would appear from the lack of fans in the stands at Michigan my opinion is shared by quite a few. But we've discussed that before. I don't even bother to look for television ratings anymore because it is disheartening to someone who has spent his life trying to bring fans into the sport to watch what is happening now. It is difficult to put a positive spin on the type of "racing" and I've put "racing" in quotation marks here, that is presented by NASCAR these days.
Case in point: Kyle Busch returned to Xfinity racing at Michigan. The number 54 flat black Toyota won. No surprise to anyone. Kyle is back in Xfinity taking "candy from babies" (his words) so it is no surprise that other social media sites have been flooded with remarks about no more interest in the Xfinity Series. Of course, our most competent FOX Sports commentators had to bring up the fact that Kyle has won a total of 124 races over NASCAR's top three series. Every time I hear D.W., or another of those broadcasters compare what Kyle has done to what Richard Petty and David Pearson accomplished, I am disgusted. But that is the state of the sport as believed by those who could care less about the history of the sport.
Speaking of the history of the sport, remember the competition at the Michigan track over the early years? How about Charlotte? Darlington? Daytona? Who could possibly forget the first Daytona 500 was a photo finish? What about the Pearson-Petty duels at Daytona, bumper to bumper and side by side with some really exciting finishes? What about that 1979 Daytona 500 finish which is credited with bringing national attention to the sport? What we have now, for the most part, is follow the leader parades because of the "aero packages" being run now. I found it very interesting that there was actually a comparison between the 2003 season and the 2014 season as to number of passes for position during races. I can't remember when I saw it and can't find it this morning, but I do remember that it was roughly 55,000 passes for position in 2003 and like 55,700 in 2014. Passes for the lead were roughly 75 more in 2014 than in 2003. These were passes for the lead on the track, NOT including passes made as the result of pit stops. I understand this ability to count such non-sense is due to the scoring loops now in place. I can only wonder if the figures had worked out the other way, would such information ever have been made available. OH, and by the way, don’t hold me to the exact figures here as I read that article like two weeks ago and even with my third cup of coffee before me, it is 7:30 Tuesday morning and I'm working on the Legendtorial for tonight. In addition to my busy week last week, I was very sincere when I entitled this Legendtorial "Writer's Block". When I got up early to get something written, I had no idea what I was going to put on paper today.
Speaking of Legendtorials, let me give you a little background on how this segment of the Tuesday night show came about. When the show first started, Jeff was going through the guilt stage of having deleted my entire membership in RacersReunion. He felt as though he needed to give me a spot on the show. I started with the "Meet a Member" section where we would have a member on with us each week. That didn't last all that long because of the lack of members who wished to be interviewed, in part, and partly because I am the worst interviewer in the history of media. Or was until Mikey Waltrip got the grid walk deal.
I have been doing The Legendtorial for a long time. I have written many a page. Shan told me; back when they were considering a book, that in one year I had written over 87,000 words. I'm not quite sure that 87,000 words over the course of year actually makes me "wordy" as Jeff often claims, but I guess it does show I spend a lot of time behind the keyboard. That doesn't count "History Minutes" or other contributions I make to the site from time to time.
When we were considering a name for my segment, "Legendtorial" sounded right because it was more or less an expression of my personal opinions, much like Editorials in a newspaper. Everyone knows I am a very opinionated individual and have used my platform here to express those opinions to anyone who wants to listen or read them later. I have been taken to task many times by those who disagree with me but almost all those dissenters have expressed their opinions with respect and courteously. Of course, some have been crude but then you have to consider the source there.
All of you on chat usually have very positive comments, no matter what my topic. One member, Danny Whitener, will send me a personal note every week complimenting what I wrote. I really appreciate that. But, as I said, this week was a week without ideas. No Wizard of Oz or any of the other "cutesy" intros I have used in the past. Oh, and that brings up the subject of an e-mail from last week asking why I waste so much of my segment on something not related to racing. To that individual I would say this: "This is my segment which I try to make entertaining to those listening. Jeff has steadfastly refused to censor me, even when I cross the line of political correctness. This is my forum to express my opinion as a lifelong race fan. If you agree with me, then fine. If you don't agree with me, that's just as fine because dissenting opinions often lead to better things". The "better things” I would wish for is an improvement in the current status of the sport of NASCAR.
Speaking of political correctness, have you noticed how ridiculous our society has become with this? Have you heard that you can't say, "You guys" anymore because it is insulting to women? Oh, there are dozen other examples, but if you pay attention to comments these days, you know that. I'm beginning to wonder how long we will be able to say we are going to a "race" or we are going to watch a "race" on television without that being politically incorrect. See what I did there? I got in a little bit of an "Editorial" comment on today's society.
I'll wind this up by saying I enjoy being a part of this Tuesday night show. I apologize for the rambling Legendtorial tonight, but, in all fairness, it is at least three minutes shorter than was last week's segment. Also, I guess I should apologize for the writer's block, but after all those 87,000 words last year, I suppose I'm entitled to a little writer's block from time to time. The one thing I want everyone to remember from everything I try to do here is that the true history of the sport of stock car racing is worth preservation. It is up to those of us who have the respect for that history to pass it on down the line. Over the past couple of weeks, we have lost Jabe Thomas and Worth McMillon. I mention these two drivers because I have great memories of interaction with both of these gentlemen over the past four years. Both represent the true essence of the sport we love. Neither were superstars, but without them, and many others like them, there would be no superstars in stock car racing.
When I started the daily History Minutes a couple of years ago, I created the "tag line", "Honor the past, embrace the present, and dream for the future". That appears on my business cards. I mean every word of that statement. No writer's block on that day.