Once Upon a Time in NASCAR

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Exciting, thrilling, challenging and jaw dropping racing was held at North Wilkesboro, Rockingham and twice at Darlington. Now the 1.5’s and 2.0 miler D-shape, cookie cutters, yawnfestivals dominate the forms of racing.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Drivers had constitutional rights to say what they felt without repercussion from the sanctioning body, until NASCAR drew up their own constitution.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… When Bill France Sr., and Bill France Jr., were about to speak, race teams and race fans alike would gather in excitement to hear what they had to say. Now we gather to hear political mumbo jumbo and political double-talk that is fit for an office in Washington D.C.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… TV ratings for NASCAR were increasing weekly, so much that a release was sent out every week covering the increased percentage of viewership. Seems that all went away when Brian France took over.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… There was very little media coverage in print or broadcast form.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Majority of the TV announcers in NASCAR spoke from the heart. Now they speak from a script, TelePrompTer or just plain say what they know the head office in NASCAR want to hear. Instead you get, “for more information go to such and such dot com, and type in keyword such and such,” down your throat every 5 minutes.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Great seats at all the venues would sell out months in advance with a little general seating available left over or sold out a week before the race. Now it’s easy to see plenty of empty seats left on race day, general admission and the great seats.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Dave Mader III, who replaced Bill Elliott in the Melling #9 for 13 races, drove with a White Head & Neck restraint device long before similar devices were mandated.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… A track worker named Randy Hall suffered severe head trauma, sustained when he fell off a safety vehicle during a caution clean up. To this day NASCAR never looked out for him and he suffered not only with the trauma, and the pain, but 100% of the medical bills.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… A family of four could enjoy a weekend at the races for between $800 and $1200. Try that per person now! And, thank the good folks at the gouging hotels for their generosity.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Robin Miller (his days at the Indianapolis Star) once wrote after Dale Earnhardt won The Daytona 500, that NASCAR was just like the WWF (now the WWE) wrestling. At the time, that comparison was considered an outrage (especially by my nieve self – please forgive me Robin). Now, if the same statement is made, you shrug your shoulders and say: “…could be, wouldn’t be surprised with the way things are now.”

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Receiving a Cup ride meant proving yourself first. Is it me or is there a discrepancy with how Diversity Drivers and kids with “no names” climb the ladder compared to drivers that have little to no experience in stock car racing, but have “a name,” climb the ladder?

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Fans trusted NASCAR to look out for them.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… A fan would never think of spelling NASCAR: NA$CAR, WWNASCAR or NAZICAR.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… The term: “Speaks with a forked tongue,” was something the American Indians would describe their talks with the “white man,” and not something fans refer to as double-talk with NASCAR today.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Fans could bring whatever size cooler they wanted inside the track.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… When drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Bill Elliott, Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, and Ned Jarrett spoke, NASCAR listened. They say they listen now, but actions speak louder than words.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Teams use to “run what they brung.” Now they run what NASCAR tells them to bring.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Stock car racing was actually ran with stock cars, and you could buy on Monday the exact type of car that you just saw win on Sunday. NASCAR should be NACOTAR now (National Association for COmmon Template Auto Racing).

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Safer barriers were introduce by Smokey Yunik long before soft walls were installed.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Qualifying in the top-20 on speed guaranteed you a starting spot.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… Bill France, Sr., wouldn’t accept the garbarge delt today.

Once upon a time in NASCAR… NASCAR was fun.

Now that I have done my “Once upon a time in NASCAR…,” maybe you have a couple to share. So with that in mind, send me your “Once upon a time in NASCAR…,” and we will do one from the fans.

Author: R. Mark Stiles

From the Great Bridge section of Chesapeake, Virginia, R. Mark Stiles, the owner, news director & editor in chief of Catchfence,™ has been dedicated to auto racing news media coverage, journalism and reporting for almost 17-years. Stiles started in the industry in the fall of 1997 with two columns (Green Flag Black Flag and Breaking Loose) for AOL/Athlete Direct's NASCAR department (ADNASCAR). He later merged Green Flag Black Flag and became the news director with Ryan Seek's CatchFence in 1999. At the beginning of 2001, Stiles went full-time with Catchfence, served as an assistant to the now retired Voice of Daytona Int'l Speedway chief track announcer, Bill Bowser, and In 2005 he acquired full ownership of Catchfence.