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 4: Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis - August 6, 1994

Threatening to overshadow Gant’s retirement, however, was the upcoming Brickyard 400, the first stock car event at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I was particularly interested in how this race would play out, yet was confused as to why this daytime event would be run on a Saturday rather than Sunday.

On that particular day, I went with the family to our weekly piano lessons in San Leandro before going to a mall in nearby Blackhawk. As we strolled through the mall, Miles and I noticed that a boot store was showing the race on a large television screen in the shop. The race, by then, had progressed into its later stages, so the two of us decided to watch the event as our parents continued to shop. I remember vividly how intense the race was at that time. Ernie Irvan was holding fast on the outside of newcomer Jeff Gordon’s rainbow colored DuPont Chevrolet, which was hugging the stripe along the track’s lengthy access roads.

The two battled in this position for quite some time before Irvan’s car suddenly slowed and ducked onto pit road with only a handful of laps to go, an unfortunate victim of a flat tire. I was, as unbelievable as it seems today, excited to see Jeff Gordon go on and win the event. I did not witness Gordon’s first victory a few months earlier, but was interested in finding out what all the hype was about behind that kid. Soon after the race, a Chevrolet commercial was even shown congratulating Chevy’s win in the inaugural event, making me wonder if they had such ads prepared for the Fords or Pontiacs beforehand.

Although Gordon has since gone on to win several more races, this event remains to this day the only one that I enjoyed. I’ll explain this later.


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