Tuesday June 14 2016, 7:58 PM

The premise of the movie was following the wine and cheese guys (maybe even brie, huh Bopper), particularly four of the individuals who were rivals on the track, busy swapping women around from wives to girlfriends to just women to liven up the plot line because, after all, you can't make a racing movie where there isn't at least one love triangle between competitors.

The movie was full of Grand Prix racing action, in fact, nine races on the Grand Prix circuit.  Oh, and for all you purist, yes I know it is now more widely known as Formula One, but I like the Grand Prix name.  You will be surprised at this, but the one scene I remember the most is when the characters portrayed by Yves Montand and James Garner are having a private moment talking before an upcoming race.  Yves asks James if he ever "gets tired".  Without really waiting for an answer, Yves goes on to say that "lately I am getting very tired".  The underlying meaning there is that Yves, the older driver on the circuit then, was tired of all the traveling, partying, backstabbing, and demands for racing under such pressure.  I should have expected that his character would be killed in a spectacular accident in the next race.

While I don't expect to be killed in the "next race" as I am no longer racing, I have begun to identify more and more with that statement about being tired.  For several years now I have complained repeatedly about the state of the sport I grew up living and breathing.  There were times I wondered if it was I who was changing, other times, was it the sport?  Analyzing these options for the past several months I realize it is a little of both, I suppose.

Let me explain how it was in the 50s.  As I've often said, my Mother didn't like me to let folks at church know I went to stock car racing.  Not that my Mother was a "snob", not in the least.  She just didn't want folks to think badly of me because I was watching a bunch of guys go fast in circles, the same guys who supported their racing habit by selling "whiskey" as she called it.  Yet, in spite of her reprimands, I would talk about the good of the sport at any opportunity.  That was all I was known for in school, outside of singing.

By the 60s, my parents were race fans, thanks to The King, and they took up the defense of stock car racing to anyone who had derogatory remarks to make.  It's almost funny that today there are several folks in my church who know of my connection to racing and it is almost a weekly conversation before service with one or more of a group of men.  The times, they are a-changing.

I defended NASCAR and stock car racing in general, in school, church, or anywhere the subject arose.  I introduced, conservatively, a few hundred folks to the sport, and even took a car load of my shipmates from the Northeast to a race in Richmond while stationed in Norfolk.  All those guys became big fans, once again because of The King, as he saw me standing with the guys behind the pit fence before the race and he came over and talked with all of us and gave them all autographs.  Richard won that day which made the trip back to Norfolk even more exciting as those five guys couldn't stop talking about what a day they had enjoyed.

In the 1970s, during the gas shortage, someone wrote a letter to the editor of a local paper complaining about the waste of gas by NASCAR.   I fired back a letter to the editor which was printed, and which called him out.  I have a copy of my letter and will try to send it to my editor to have it attached to this Legendtorial when printed.   When some third tier driver (I can't even remember his name now) was caught in drug involvement, the local television press and newspaper went nuts with the accusations that NASCAR had never progressed beyond its Moonshine roots.  Never mind the NFL, NBA, and MLB could have each opened their own pharmaceutical departments with their drug abuse and involvement.  Yet, this one incident in NASCAR took the lead in all the press reporting.

I was so outraged by this that I actually called Jim Hunter in Daytona, as he was a NASCAR officer and I had known him while he worked at The State Newspaper in Columbia.  I left a message as he was "out" and thought that would be the end of it as he would never call back.   Within 30 minutes Jim was on the line and we discussed the drug incident and all the bad press. I asked him what I could do and he told me "just keep doing what you have always done and support NASCAR and the good things we do".  Made sense to me.  I popped off a letter to all three television stations in Columbia and to The State Newspaper questioning why no mention of the aforementioned major sports were, with rare exception, drug use and abuse were conveniently overlooked.

I kept supporting MY sport through all those years, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, and never missed an opportunity to spread the word that it was the greatest sport going.  Never missed an opportunity to "correct" the misinformed when disparaging comments were made in reference to NASCAR.  I was, not just by my estimation, but by many others, the most active spokesman NASCAR had.  I was fortunate to have had a radio platform from 1974 through 1994, to spread my "Gospel According to Timothy" as to the sport of NASCAR. I never once, not one single time, tired of supporting and defending NASCAR against all comers.  Not once.  I welcomed the opportunities to do so.

By now I'm sure you're wondering how we got from a movie about Formula One to defending NASCAR.  It's the line about being tired.  As was Yves Montand tired of the sport he lived, I have become tired of defending NASCAR.  But only to an extent.  I won't go out of my way these days to jump to the defense, but I do try to temper my remarks with the caveat that there is much improvement needed in NASCAR if it is to survive.  We have all talked about this without ceasing since the creation of this site.   I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to defend the steady decline in attendance, the falling television rating, the withdrawal of sponsors, the absolutely inanely stupid rules and enforcement thereof.  Need you look any further than the sudden fixation with lug nuts?  Kyle Busch won with an obviously missing lug nut, no penalty.  Since then, three crew chiefs have been suspended because of violations which NASCAR would never mentioned had not Tony Stewart called them out with the senselessness of NASCAR's original "I don't care how many lug nuts you put on".  I know folks who have been fans for years who now don't watch, don't go to races, and don't even bother to read about the races IF you can find any reports in newspapers any more.

Yes, I am tired of defending what NASCAR is, but I will never stop defending what NASCAR was, and the men and women who made it the sport that consumed my life for so many years.   Those folks who laid the foundation and who build the sport brick by brick, board by board, can tell the stories of how it was and what great stories those are.  We have been very fortunate to have so many of those folks on RacersReunion Radio, and there are more of those memories to come as we line up guests for future shows.  Of those endeavors I will never tire. Listening to Patrick's show last night as he interviewed Janet Guthrie took me, like a time machine, back to a time when I knew the lady, talking with her on many occasions.  I wish I could get my hands on just one of the interviews I did with her.  I heard her mention Cale Yarborough last night an immediately thought of the interview I did with her after Cale showed his displeasure of her at Darlington.

I haven't looked for the television ratings for Michigan as they won't come out until tomorrow (Tuesday) but I'm betting they are dismal.  Did you see the stands Sunday?  The overhead shots from the blimp indicated plenty of empty room in the stands to accommodate an emergency landing of the blimp, if necessary.  I don't like being negative, but for the past, like 10 years, that seems to be my mantra.  Being negative about my sport has helped me be negative about other things going on, as if politics in this election year are not single-handedly able to do that.

I am tired of writing negative Legendtorials, although looking back, some of the more recent ones have not been so much so.  The one about "My Name is Not Important" was anything but negative.   I had a phone call this week from someone for whom I have the greatest respect.  Although the call was cut short by other demands upon my time, the gentleman pointed out that I sometimes attack the wrong people with my criticism.  Perhaps it's time to cease the criticism and hope for the changes necessary to return the sport at least closer to the sport as it existed when I became enchanted by the sounds, colors, smells and excitement of the sport.  I can only hope that happens.

So, it is time for me to get to work on guests to line up for future shows and restrict my comments to only those positive enough to be considered as honorable to the heroes who contributed so much when winning meant more in the satisfaction column than it did in the bank account.

Thank you all for listening to this.  I suppose by now, most of you are tired of hearing my voice.  After all, I am tired.









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