The Daytona 500 is coming up this Sunday, a time for new beginnings and a time for bringing things to an end. After 15 years and over a thousand columns of various incarnations, this edition represents my final regular contribution to this site.
Tradition. On Sunday, NASCAR returns to its traditional roots, to the track that was Daytona before Bill France replaced the beach-road course with his 2.5-mile architectural marvel. Before the Daytona 500, the marquee event was held in Darlington.
Family. We often hear how NASCAR is a family sport, where drivers, their wives, and their kids all share in the experience behind the scenes. The family theme has dominated since the sport’s earliest years. I mean, it starts with the France family, as Bill, Bill, Jr., and now grandson Brian have held the reins of the family operation since the very beginning.
“He could do things in a race car I could only dream about,” he said. “Throughout the entire racing world, I don’t know of anybody who would have said he didn’t give 110% from the time they dropped the green flag until the race was over. He was the same way in life, too.”
While there has been a great deal of talk about the Gen 6 race car, with NASCAR banking on fans falling in love with the newly branded stock cars, an historical love affair with a car, in this case a 1956 Chevy Bel Air Sport Coupe, inspired a new NASCAR book entitled ‘Race from the Finish’.
While sunny during pre-race activities, weather came in and played a prominent role at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Here is what was surprising and not surprising in the 16th annual, but first ever rain-shortened, running of the Auto Club 400.