As anyone who has read much of what I write knows, I am more than just a little bit retro. The fact is I could easily be described as rather Luddite-ish. I have often been heard to say (only partly jokingly) that I am one of less than 10 people in the country who actually wishes Y2K had been as bad as advertised.
One thing I have enjoyed since I was a teenager is cars. Real cars. Not the sissified crap cranked out by automobile manufacturers these days, but serious cars, cars with large bore Detroit iron.
I use to watch the NASCAR races, or as they were called colloquially in the south “stock car racin’. You could spend a Sunday afternoon watching the likes of Cale Yarborough, Fireball Roberts, and Coo Coo Marlin banging on each other’s doors, and then go down to your local Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge dealer on Monday and pretty much buy the car that won the day before. Except for stripping out the interior and adding a roll bar, there wasn’t much difference.
But times change. The original crowd retired (or died in wrecks, like Fireball Roberts, RIP), and the next generation turned out to be a bunch of pansies. Instead of getting their start runnin’ moonshine and being chased by the revenuers, a lot of them got their start up in Yankee land, drivin’ those things with a big ass motor, four wheels, and a wing on top big enough for a 747. And when they got to NASCAR? Hell, they all had PR people and couldn’t get out of their car after a race without combing their hair first. Pussies.
Another change, the most disappointing really, was the cars. Except for a very faint resemblance, Detroit never saw iron that’s on the track today. Sure, they put a model name on ‘em, but I defy you to go down to your local Chevrolet dealership tomorrow and find anything that really looks like what Dale, Jr. climbed out of on Sunday.
Then came the final straw. NASCAR, which like baseball is as American as apple pie, let furriners in.
That’s when I quit watchin’ stock car racin’, except at the local dirt track.
And then, on Sunday February 20, 2011, it was Déjà vu all over again.
First, let me give you just a little bit of back story. In the 1970’s I was a teenager, I loved stock car racin’, and David Pearson was my hero. Pearson drove the Woods Brother’s Mercury, red top, white bottom, and the number 21 on the side. At the time, the biggest rivalry in stock car racin’ was between Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, and Pearson.
One of the few NASCAR races I ever personally attended was the 1976 Daytona 500, a race that will go down in history as having the most exciting finish NASCAR ever had, or ever will, see.
David Pearson won that race. Driving the Woods Brothers Mercury number 21. Despite numerous wins in other races, Woods Brothers Racing has never won another Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of NASCAR.
I didn’t watch the race. I gave up on NASCAR several years back when Toyota joined Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge on the track. I just never got used to the idea of watching little Japanese sewing machines trying to run with the big dawgs.
I was trying to get some writing done and had the TV on mute several hours after the race ended, when I glanced up at the screen. To use an old southernism, I didn’t know whether to “shit or go blind”.
There, in living color, was a sight I had not seen in 35 years… A Woods Brothers Racing Mercury(well, Ford), red on top, white on bottom, and the number 21 painted the side, crossing the finish line in the Daytona 500 in first place.
I can sleep well. Retro ruled the day.
- Trevor Bayne shocks the field to win the Daytona 500 – Los Angeles Times (news.google.com)
- Wood Brothers Racing Gets ‘Biggest Win’ In Long History (sbnation.com)
- Daytona 500 Winner Trevor Bayne Living a Dream at 20 (motorsports.fanhouse.com)
- Daytona 500: “Are You Kiddin Me?” Trevor Bayne Wins (bleacherreport.com)