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.
Flying around in aircraft formation inches apart at 200 mph. That would be good enough to force me into the Depends, especially if I were in the passenger seat. It is a track that causes skid marks to appear everywhere.
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.
Jimmie Johnson. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex, Jr. Denny Hamlin. Brad Keselowski. Kyle Larson. Chase Elliott. These men are NASCAR. These men, a few women, and so many others made the sport. Were the sport. Are the sport. Brian France is not NASCAR. There is a reason 97 percent of all family businesses do not survive as such into the fourth generation.
NASCAR fans are always looking for one thing; side by side racing, and passing for the lead a hundred times a race. That is what the fans say they want to see. But that just isn’t the reality, and it never has been.
Another weekend. Another race. Another track that does not excite me. Welcome to NASCAR. Michigan International Speedway, located in the lush, rolling Irish Hills, is about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. The fact it is considered a sister track of Texas, and the basis of the facility in Fontana does not exactly thrill anyone, but they do go fast there.
Some things matter. Some do not. Every weekend, no more than 30 entries matter to some degree. The rest do not. Most weekends NASCAR features a race and while some matter to race fans, most do not. Bristol, Charlotte, Darlington, Daytona, Sonoma, and Talladega races matter due to what they deliver and a long history of tradition.
NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The five-person group – the 10th since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske and Jack Roush.
Jeff Gordon. Four-time NASCAR champion. Three-time Daytona 500 champion. Four-time Brickyard 400 winner. Six-time Southern 500 victor. Three-time World 600 champion. Three-time All-Star race winner. Winner of 93 Cup races. He probably was the most automatic inductee into the Hall of Fame since Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.