SI.com broke the story a few days ago and it seems that we really could be watching a NASCAR race without the iconic name of Petty. Could this really be true? Can this happen? Sure it can, and in todays market of big bucks and mega teams it seems to be the way of things to come. Long gone are the things we once thought of as tradition, long gone are the days of the “little guy” winning one, also gone are the meager paydays that was once the norm in NASCAR racing. Along with the good comes the bad, and so it seems this time the “bad ” has hit so close to the true roots of NASCAR it seems like it can’t be true.
The drivers wanting bigger and bigger paydays for the few hours they spend in a race car makes it seem more and more like stick and ball sports. With the super big paydays of the pro athletes these days did you really think that NASCAR would be far behind? Did you ever think that a driver would be charging for autographs? The King Richard Petty once took caligraphy classes so the fans who asked for his autograph would be getting something, thus the reason for his autograph looking like it does. This is the man who always stayed til the last fan was happy, the one who drove with a rag in his mouth to help keep him from succumbing to the gases that are often found in a race car. The same guy who set records year after year only to break his own records year after year. The same man who set the bar pretty high for other drivers to try and follow, it has yet to be done, no one will ever reach the mark set by the “king”. He came from a different time, a different era, he came from one where winning meant that you had just outrun the best that day. From a time when drivers actually worked on the very same cars they drove, not like today and the prima donna’s that sit in todays race cars. Richard Petty was the true last of a dying breed of race car drivers ones who cared about “how ” they won not just the numbers they have posted. He cared about the fans, not because they stopped by his trailer to buy a hat or tee shirt, but he really cared about the fact that they got their money’s worth watching a race he was in.
But sad as it may be these days are gone, along with the fans who loved these drivers so, and the fans who would camp out all weekend just to see the race on Sunday. Now when I say camp out , I am not talking bout a $200,000 motorhome, I mean camping like sleeping bag on the ground fighting the bugs and weather. These are the fans King Richard Petty cared about, the ones who made NASCAR what it is today, but those days are gone. Watching the Daytona 500 is just not going to be the same this coming Febuary, It wont be the same, no matter what NASCAR does.
I will shed a tear or two just as I did a few years ago when Richard Petty retired from driving, it wasn’t the same watching some one else wheel the 43 car, it will be much the same when we turn on the race to not see a Petty Enterprises car in the lineup. But we as fans keep hoping the end is not near, and that someone will see what has happened and will come riding in on a white horse an fix it, they will take away the C.O.T. and the “race to the chase “crap and give us pure racing like it was supposed to be. Well all I have to say is don’t hold your breath….