Race Tales: Celebrating Ten Years of NASCAR Memories (2001)

Here, in its unedited entirety, is "Race Tales," a story I wrote in late 2001. On this page, you will find out more about my NASCAR fandom than you ever would care to know; it surprises me in hindsight! I have yet to revise it at all since then, but while I might update it later on, I felt the need to post it in the meantime. All 23 segments are included and presented to be read from top-to-bottom, including ten race reviews and the original side-notes written to aid its flow.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Race 1: DieHard 500 at Talladega - July 28, 1991

It all began on a day in late July, 1991. Until I purchased a copy of this race on tape just this year, I only remembered one moment. It wasn’t Sterling Marlin’s first pole position, nor Ernie Irvan’s prerace apology for his rough driving earlier in the season, nor even the intense battle for the lead that Dale Earnhardt eventually won on the immense Alabama oval, but was instead a spectacular crash with about twenty laps to go. At that moment, Rick Mast’s Oldsmobile was passing a slower car in the final turn when the two made contact and Mast’s car slid sideways. Suddenly, the right side of his car lifted up in the air and landed on its roof, sliding backwards into the outside wall before grinding to a halt just after the starting line. Thankfully, Mast walked away and my interest in the sport began.

Shortly thereafter, I went to a car show with my Dad and one of his friends, where he bought me a Matchbox-sized diecast car made by a new toy company called Racing Champions. Although it was Terry Labonte’s car from 1990, it was otherwise completely identical to Rick Mast’s car that flipped in the Talladega event, beginning a collection that has continued to expand to this day. When I was younger, I used to race these cars around the upstairs of my house, calling the impromptu road course "Room Rush Speedway" as it involved pushing the cars in a race in and out of several of the upstairs rooms.

I lost my Terry Labonte car sometime after, not remembering where I left it and later forgot about it altogether. Then, just a couple of years ago as I was doing yard work with my parents, I found the car buried sideways near the surface of a dirt embankment on top of our backyard retaining wall. After clearing away the caked mud that was on the car, I noticed that the only damage sustained to it over the years was that the paint on the side buried deepest had worn off. Even the driver’s name was still legible on the roof! We are still guessing to this day how it ended up in the embankment in the first place!


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