Being an old school fan and a former driver, I’m one of those who like reminiscing about the past. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a current NASCAR fan…maybe not as passionate as I used to be, but I still love the sport. NASCAR racing, like all things in life has evolved over the years. Some people accept change more readily than others.
Many say…me included…that the sport wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions of the veterans of days gone by. The racing stars of today enjoy the monetary benefits of the meteoric success of NASCAR.
Let’s not forget that many of the stars of yesteryear wouldn’t be enjoying their continued celebrity if, not for the recent success of the sport. Sure, there are some of us die hard old timers out there who would remember them and wonder where they are today. But, I think the millions of fans and the publicity the sport receives today helps the legends become even more famous than before. I spoke with former Grand National Champion, Rex White a few weeks ago, and he told me that he receives more fan mail today than he did when he won his championship in 1960. Rex is currently the oldest, living Cup/Grand National Champion. David Pearson says he gets mail form all over the world.
Many times we get into the discussion about how the stars of the past worked on their cars….and drove their own tow trucks across country to race after race. Today’s stars fly jets to and from practice, qualifying, and the race. The old guys used to all stay in the same motels and swap stories after a race….the young guns stay in plush motor homes at the track…or hotel suites….or fly back home. In the ‘good ole’ days they raced 45, 50, or more races a year and now they race 35. Don’t think for a minute that the stars of today have it so much easier than the stars of the past. The schedules they follow are grueling with sponsor commitments and team responsibilities, all these conveniences have become necessary. I think that if you asked them, many of the younger stars would like to enjoy the pace the old timers had.
The bottom line is this… It was a great sport then and it’s a great sport now. In my opinion there is none better. It pleases me when I see young fans seeking information about racing history. I have found in talking to many of the legends, they respect the young drivers of today and the pace they keep. But, they all will mention the difference in the equipment and money then and now. Some critics say it’s all relevant. I don’t think so…how about you?