Saturday Night Racing

The time has come for some NASCAR racing!  I cannot wait.  It seems like forever since the checkered flag flew at Homestead to close out the 2012 season.  I love this time of year.  Everywhere I turn there is something about NASCAR on television.  That was no different yesterday.  I was channel surfing yesterday morning and came across the 1998 Daytona 500 on ESPN Classic.  Because I needed NASCAR racing fix, I stopped and watched.  I do not normally stop and watch previously run races, but how can a NASCAR fan not stop and watch this Daytona 500.  For those who may not know, this was the one and only Daytona 500 that Dale Earnhardt Sr. ever won.  Who knew in just three short years we would no longer see The Intimidator running his black #3 on the track?  I still get chills when I see him take the checkered flag that day.  He had won everything there was to win at Daytona, but the Daytona 500 was the one race that eluded him. But on that on that day back on February 15, he was not going to be denied.  The only thing more special that day than Dale winning, was the admiration of the all guys on other teams.  As Dale drove his car down pit road, everyone came out to congratulate him on his victory.  It was something that has never been seen and probably won’t again.  Respect…that’s what it was all about.  Dale may have been labeled the Intimidator but he was one of the best around.

The Sprint Unlimited will be held tonight down in Daytona.  I am pumped for this race to get started.  I think it is going to be interesting to see how the race will turn out.  The race is going to be very fan oriented.  As mentioned before the fans have been able to choose the format of the race.  The fans also get to choose what the teams must do on the mandatory pit stop after the first segment.  Plus, the fans get to determine how many drivers, if any, will be eliminated at the end of segment two.  Of course I think the interesting part is the fans who are attending the race will get to determine the starting grid for tonight’s race.  They have three options (1)most career wins (2)2012 points and (3)poles won.  I am hoping the racing will be fantastic and this fan driven race doesn’t turn out to be a bust.  I think that is what I like about NASCAR.  NASCAR as a whole understands they cannot have a sport without its fans.  Yes, NASCAR does have high paid athletes and its share of problems, but all in all NASCAR likes to have their fans involved.  NASCAR has the most loyal fan base around.  Just ask anyone.

So…now back to the race.  This will be the first drivers will have the chance to put the cars in race conditions. I am interested to see if the cars will be able to create that racing action we all love to see at Daytona.  Will the drivers be able to bump draft?  Will the cars respond better in pack driving or single file or heaven all help us two by two?  I am just hoping for some great racing (and for that #14 to cross the finish line first).  Of course we all know the drivers will probably take things easy throughout segments one and two.  It is the third segment of 20 laps I would watch out for.  Even though this isn’t a points race, drivers are competitors and well, frankly winning is everything.  I want to see some last lap passes and a race to the finish.  And did I mention it, I want that #14 to be the first one crossing the finish line at the checkers.

Coolest thing I saw yesterday during practice…there is a camera mounted inside the car on the passenger side.  From the view of the camera, you can see what it is like when the car heads off into the 31 degree banking at Daytona.  The camera stays put as the car heads off into these turns.  It was wicked cool and to be frank made me a little queasy.  I was also in awe of how much technology can take us into the whole experience of NASCAR.  Granted I wasn’t pulling the amount of Gs the driver does when he or she enters the banking, but oh my–coolest thing ever!

Caution…climbing up on the soap box.  An article coming from the Sporting News has riled me up just a little.  Jimmie Johnson or 5-timer feels our newest champion Brad Keselowski needs to mature a little.  Apparently Jimmie didn’t like how he handled himself after winning the championship.  He took issue with the way Brad behaved on Sportscenter after the race.  Blah, blah, blah.  Here is my take on all of this (and remember this is my opinion and I am not a big fan of Jimmie).  I like a driver who has a personality and isn’t afraid to show it to the fans.  He does speak his mind and is a little brash at times, but hey why not?  I am tired of these drivers who toe the line and say all the right things.  Vanilla frankly is booorrriiinngg!  Brad brings a young perspective to the sport.  Isn’t that what it is all about these days?  How are you going to grow your sport if you can’t bring in new fans, younger fans?  Brad is fun!  Yes, the champion does represent the sport and should act accordingly, but come on Jimmie, he just won his first NASCAR championship!  Can’t the man have a little fun?  And as I recall Jimmie, wasn’t there something about you and a golf cart a few years back?

One more little note…thanks to my hubby I will be able to watch tonight’s race after all.  There was this little issue about DISH and the owner of our local Fox affiliate and well, FOX was blocked.   This meant no racing for me.  I could listen to it on Sirius NASCAR radio, but it just isn’t the same.  My hubby purchased an antennae and tada…FOX television!  That’s right kiddos, momma is VERY, VERY, HAPPY!!!!

Remembering Dale

Today begins qualifying for the 2011 Daytona 500.  But as I wait for the qualifying session to begin, I am watching “The Day” on Speed TV.  It first aired on Friday, but I had Tivoed it because I was out celebrating Valentine’s Day with my mom and my fellas.  I was going to wait until Saturday to watch it because I was very tired, but I just could not wait.  I had heard this was going to be a powerful story about that day back in 2011.  I didn’t follow NASCAR back then as much as I do today.  I knew of NASCAR and I usually watched the Daytona 500 on occasion.  I remember watching Dale win his only Daytona 500.  I remembering just crying my eyes out at the respect everyone in the garage gave him that day on pit row.  I knew this story was going to be tough to watch. 

I cannot recall what I was doing that day.  Like I said, I didn’t follow the sport back then as I do today.  But I do remember watching my local news coverage about the death of Dale Earnhardt.  I immediately called Postman (at the time we had just started dating) to tell him.  I then spent the next few days trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.  I was looking for any kind of news coverage on the story.  I wanted to know everything I could.  Media coverage wasn’t like it is today–no Facebook, no Twitter, etc.  But as with anything, I continued on with my life.  It wasn’t until I went to Las Vegas for my honeymoon in June of 2001 did I realize how much fans were still paying tribute.  We stayed at the Sahara which happens to be the home of NASCAR Cafe.  Inside the gift shop adjacent to the restaurant was a #3 car on display.  Surrounding the car was cards, signs, flowers, etc. in tribute to Dale.  It was surreal.  I think it was at that moment I fell in love with NASCAR.

“The Day” was very powerful.  I found myself emotionally drawn to the story.  It was the first, I can recall, seeing Ken Schader discussing that day.  Even now you still see how much that day has affected him emotionally.  Everything about what we know about NASCAR changed that day.  The person I feel for most is Michael Waltrip.  Michael Waltrip up until that day had not won a race.  He started 462 races and never finished first.  Dale Earnhardt took a chance on him and hired him to drive #15 for DEI.  But what should have been the most important day of his racing career turned into one of his worse.  He should have been celebrating his victory but inside was grieving for loss of his owner and friend.  Michael Waltrip has put his story about that day into the book, “In the Blink of an Eye” which was just released. 

As many of you know I am not a Dale Jr. fan.  But as someone who follows the sport I feel I can be objective when it comes to this post.  I would not want to walk in Dale Jr.’s footsteps.  NASCAR may have lost one of the best drivers of all time, but bottom line Dale Jr. lost his father.  I can’t even begin to understand what it is like to lose a parent.  But Dale lost his father with the nation watching.  He has been dealing with the loss since then.   Do I think it has affected his success in NASCAR?  I can’t answer that.  I am sure in his quiet moments he ponders this question.  When he made the decision to leave DEI, the company his father created, it probably was one of the hardest decisions of his life. 

On Friday, February 18, it will mark 1o years since Dale Earnhardt’s death.  It will be marked on Sunday with a silent lap on Lap 3 of the race.  A #3 will also be painted in the grass at Daytona the night before the race.  All of these things will be to honor not only the racer, but the man known as the “The Indimidator”. 

Note from qualifying…it looks like a HMS front row for the Daytona 500.  How appropriate that Dale’s son and friend & race rival Jeff Gordon, will be leading the pack as the green flag flies on Sunday.

Dale Earnhardt Fan Photo Mosaic

This article courtesy of

The Hershey Company honored the life and career of racing legend Dale Earnhardt with the unveiling of a replica of a large fan photo mosaic during the Dale Earnhardt Day celebration in Mooresville, N.C., on Tuesday.

Bearing Earnhardt’s likeness, the 6-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide mosaic is comprised of approximately 1,400 photos from fans across the country, including actress Carmen Electra, racing team owner Richard Childress and drivers Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. The mosaic, previewed to fans, will serve as a permanent tribute to “The Intimidator” at Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) headquarters in Mooresville when completed later this year.

In recognition of Earnhardt’s impact on the racing world, Hershey is paying tribute to Dale Earnhardt by producing a series of Collector Edition Dale Earnhardt Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bars and Kit Kat Wafer Bars. The specially moulded bars feature a distinctive on-bar design, including Earnhardt’s signature and stylized No. 3.

The Collector Edition bars will be available at select retail outlets nationwide while supplies last. Hershey is also encouraging fans to honor the racing legend by inviting them to visit to upload a photo for inclusion in the permanent mosaic and to make a donation to The Dale Earnhardt Foundation. Fans can still upload their photos and tribute messages through June 3 for inclusion in the final mosaic.

“Dale Earnhardt touched the lives of many people both on and off the track, and The Hershey Company is honored to recognize his legacy and fans through this promotion,” said Michele Buck, Senior Vice President, Global Chief Marketing Officer, The Hershey Company. “We are proud to give our consumers a chance to show their support and be part of history through the Dale Earnhardt photo mosaic and online tribute.”

“This mosaic, presented by The Hershey Company, is such a unique and fitting tribute to Dale Earnhardt,” said Dick Baker, executive director, The Dale Earnhardt Foundation. “We want to thank the loyal fans for all of their passion and support in helping Dale’s legacy live on forever.”

I found this very interesting.  I have to say I uploaded a photo to be included in the mosaic.  Hopefully I will be one of the lucky ones to have their picture included in the final mosaic.  If you are interested in uploading your photo and would like to leave a tribute, stop by Hershey’s and leave your mark.

Do you have your collective Hershey bars? I do. They are carefully stowed away amongst my Tony Stewart shrine. I figured this was the safest and most secure spot away from Little Smoke and Postman.

The Intimidator

I still can remember when and where I heard the NASCAR family lost Dale Earnhardt Sr.  I was glued to every sports, race, and even news programs trying to make sense of all it.  Postman and I were married in June that same year.  Since we were staying at the Sahari in Vegas, we went down to the NASCAR Cafe.  In the gift shop located in the same area was one of Dale’s cars.  It was covered with cards, letters, and everything you could think of.  It was amazing.  I have a picture of it somewhere amongst my treasures from that trip.  Dale Sr. was missed by all. 

There was no other driver like Dale Sr. and to be honest there will never be another one like him.  Dale Sr. was the man.  You don’t get to be a 7-Time Winston Cup Champion (that’s right I said Winston Cup) by sitting back and watching everyone else go by.  I still remember his first and only Daytona 500 win.  I cried right along with I am sure quite a few us in the NASCAR family.  For all the attempts and near misses, it was as if he was winning for us as well.  Little did we all realize that he would be gone in a few short years.

His memory is still alive and if you don’t believe me, look around the next NASCAR race you attend or watch on television.  He is still one of the most repsected drivers to ever race around the NASCAR circuit. 

We miss you Dale!