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 2: Save Mart Supermarkets 300 at Sears Point - June 7, 1992

Less than a year after I saw my first race was the first Winston Cup race I had actually witnessed at the track, the Save Mart Supermarkets 300. By this point, my brother Miles had gained an interest and we both had developed preferences for certain drivers. My choice was Derrike Cope, who attracted my attention with his bright orange Purolator Chevrolet. To this day, I am still partial to creative paint schemes some drivers have on their cars. My brother preferred Terry Labonte and his dark blue Sunoco Oldsmobile, which may have had something to do with his name being the same as our Dad’s. We were all excited as this race was the first race our family watched at the Sonoma, California track, a sprawling 2.5 mile road course that was only a little over an hour’s drive from Antioch. As we headed to our seats on race day, located within view of both pit road and the flagstand, both my brother and I received autographs on our baseball caps from Derrike Cope and Terry Labonte when they signed our hats over the fence in the paddock, the first autographs we had ever received.

We were also excited to witness one of Richard Petty’s last Winston Cup races; "The King’s" retirement after more than thirty years in racing, called the "1992 Fan Appreciation Tour," was almost impossible to avoid in the news throughout the season. During driver introductions, I booed rising superstar driver Davey Allison as I was frustrated that previous race coverages usually revolved around him. Although I was relieved to see Allison damage his car in the Esses early in the race, his remarkable decision to race at the July Talladega race while recovering from injuries received at Pocono just the week before made me admire him. But that’s a different story.

At the time, I did not know that second place starter Ernie Irvan had jumped the start when the race began, causing his Kodak-sponsored Chevrolet to be penalized and restart in the last position. I did, however, learn this when Irvan unexpectedly came charging back to the front. As the laps wound down, Dad told me about the penalty Irvan had sustained as, by now, the Kodak car was right on the rear bumper of the leader, Terry Labonte. Then, as I looked to the final hairpin turn before the flagstand, Irvan dove to the inside of Labonte and flew into the lead! The crowd cheered as Irvan made the pass; increasing even more when he took the checkered flag moments later.


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