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Author Topic: Golden ages of NASCAR  (Read 730 times)
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Desmond
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« on: December 15, 2005, 07:29:35 PM »

As someone who has only been a NASCAR fan for the last three years or so, I am interested in the comments of the older fans.  They are especially relevant because of the changes in the sport just since I came aboard (new title sponsor, chase for the cup, etc.).

Also, a whole generation is drivers is either cutting back or leaving the sport entirely.

In a recent post, Cheryl implied that her favorite time in NASCAR racing was between 1988 and 1996, which was the last North Wilkesboro race.  Now, this morning, I see that Dick's favorite era was the 1960s.

I would like to ask them to explain why, and in the meantime, I will give my answer.

It would be the green flag of the 2001 Daytona 500, when everything came together.  Dale Earnhardt was still near the top of the sport, the driver lineup was the who's-who of the sport's history, Dale Jr. was starting his career, Dodge was returning, and NASCAR was starting its new TV contracts, which were the fruits of the sport's incredible growth.

Granted, not all was right.  This was supposed to be the Daytona 500 debut for Adam Petty, who could have been the future of NASCAR.  But, sadly, he was killed in May of 2000.  The organization was still mourning the on-track deaths of Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper.

This was also the day that Dale Earnhardt died.  When that happen, a certain all-inclusive darkness came to the sport, one that has yet to lift completely.  

NASCAR's leaders imposed their power, trying to control the investigation on safety in the sport, bowing only when the outside media showed them the error of their ways.  As if on cue, a new generation of drivers came onto the scene.  Yes, they are talented, but also seem so robotic, as if created by Hollywood casting directors.  The TV networks, especially Fox, turned an old-fashioned sport into showbiz spectacle, neither educating newer fans nor enhancing the experience for older ones.

But the chase was the final straw.  It was (and is) an attempt at artificial excitement created only to increase television ratings and put NASCAR on a pedestal with the NFL.  The excitement is there (only because the standings are bunched together at the start), but the ratings are not.  And when NASCAR got its new TV money, the amount received annually still trailed that of the NBA, associated with hip-hop and brawling players, and that of Major League Baseball and its alleged steroid users.

May the light shine again soon.
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sally
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2005, 12:45:10 AM »

I can't say I have a favorite decade, but I know that since the crapshoot, I've been steadily losing interest in the 'racertainment'.  I loved watching (when ABC Wide World showed snippets) Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, The King, and even DW race.  I loved the 'next generation' with Earnhardt, DJ, Rusty, and Terry LaBonte.  The personalities were so unique and individual, and the love of the sport was so apparent for people like Junior Johnson.  He left the sport when Nascar started dictating more and more what could be done with the cars.  As much as I can admire the talent of drivers like Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and even Kurt Busch, I find the new generation of drivers less appealing, less interesting, and less compelling these days.  The concentration on infield 'amusement parks' and luxury boxes is all that matters these days, but I fear that I have lost what once made it fascinationg for me.  A track can just disappear, no matter how good the racing, just because it doesn't fit the 'new demographic'.  Sad.

sal
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Vivian
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2005, 02:12:46 AM »

My favorite decade was the '60's.  I was living in Orlando, working for a Pontiac Dealer and attended all of the Daytona races those years until I moved to CA in late '69.  I also worked Friday nights for a local track promoter and he introduced me to a lot of the drivers when they were in town.  There was a special restaurant back then called the 92 Club which was sort of across from and down the road from the track before development took over.  It was fun to be there and see all of them and talk to a lot of them.  They were just truly regular people.  Curtis Turner, CooCoo Marlin, Richard Petty, Lee Petty, Cale Yarborough, Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen and Fireball Roberts...It was an amazing time.  Whether I was in the pits, infield or in the stands, at that time Daytona was 'it'.  I would drive my car into to the infield and sleep in it during the 24 hour race.  A lot of people did that in those days.  A few tents and a few campers but everyone had fun and we visited with the other campers.  The racing was real and the fans were most faithful to their driver.  The race cars were not as fancy and a lot of us felt Richard Petty was special because he did so well.  Seems like he was the first to get a 'real sponsor' and we contributed his success to that if we stopped to analyze things.  Even when I went back and caught a couple of races in the 70's and 80's, it was still small enough that it was most enjoyable.  But the 60's were it for me.

These days there are some good drivers but I don't think most of them have really put in their dues.

BTW, Des, I prefer to be called a 'Veteran Fan' rather than an older fan.   Wink
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Desmond
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2005, 07:03:18 PM »

That's all right, Vivian.  When I referred to "older fans," I meant those who have followed the sport for a long time.  Their intelligence has been insulted by the current network telecasts.
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old hot rodder
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2005, 05:48:06 PM »

Vivian, that must have been great to be involved so much during the 60's. Sounds like you had some wonderful experiences. And you are correct that the drivers seemed like ordinary folks, (even if they were extraordinarily talented, as many were).
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Vivian
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2005, 10:01:12 PM »

Dick, they had tempers, they had talent and they had what it took to race in real races, IMO...  Yes, some of them cheated, some of them took advantage and some of them drove dirty, again, JMO...But you know what, my heart was with all of them and I felt the excitement and the feeling of not knowing what was going to happen next.  And to be at the same restaurant and see and even get to participate in the table hopping just to say hello was absolutely great.  I would not trade my life today for the past, but I do have those memories.  And if you want the truth as I see it, memories are the only lasting things in this life.   Wink
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Cheryl
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2006, 04:40:30 PM »

I know this is a very old thread, but I've wanted to answer Desmond's question for a while and was just busy with our Las Vegas trip and then the holidays.  Since I didn't get into NASCAR until 1988, I'd never claim to be a truly veteran fan.  Just an "old" fan.   :lol:   So I'd have to say "the golden age" for me was from 1988 to about 1996.  This coincidentially happened to be the period of a huge growth in popularity for the sport.  But I remember a lot of things starting to change after 1996 that gradually started making the competition decline steadily every year with an explosion of price increases and too many people at the race for my taste.  I just happened to see this article by Mike Daly today and he really sums up my thoughts about 1996 being a year of change.  Please check it out:

http://www.racindeals.com/record.asp?ArticleID=1080

Cheryl
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old hot rodder
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2006, 05:15:34 PM »

Great article, Cheryl. I'll bet that Larry Mac was angry about that blown engine. :-D
 Again, notice that Baby Brian's background is in Marketing, not racing, and I think that pretty much tells the story. Sad
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William James
Cheryl
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2006, 07:12:45 PM »

Quote from: "old hot rodder"
Great article, Cheryl. I'll bet that Larry Mac was angry about that blown engine.(


Yep, I'm sure he was.  I remember being AT Talladega when that happened and I know I was hot because I was a big Ernie Irvan fan.  Gary Nelson REALLY screwed up there; that's for sure.

Cheryl
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old hot rodder
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2006, 08:05:35 PM »

You know, I think those kind of stories are what really made the sport, not BS like whether or not Jeffy made the banquet and stuff like that. I guess I'll never make it as a marketing fella. Sad  :-D
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"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does"
William James
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