(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
If it is February, then it is Daytona time!
As qualifying gets under way for the 2010 Daytona 500, the thoughts of my first visit to “The Great American Race”, back in 2003, run through my head.
As I approached the Daytona International Speedway on International Blvd. on that Saturday morning before the, then, Busch Series race, goose bumps popped up from my neck to my finger tips! I was actually at Daytona! The thoughts of 45 years of stock car racing history at this track was most overwhelming! I could sense the spirits of all those stock car legends from NASCAR’s past.
Some of those legends from NASCAR’s bygone era are the likes of The Flock brothers, Buck and Buddy Baker, Coo Coo Marlin, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby and Donnie Allison, A.J. Foyt, Lee and Richard Petty, Tim “Hollywood” Richmond, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and Junior Johnson, just to name a few! The atmosphere was, and for that matter still is, very electric!
I was finally at the Daytona International Speedway, a place where racing legends live on forever! I was there where “The King” Richard Petty won his 200th and final victory. I was at the place where a President, Ronald Reagan, crowned a King, Richard Petty, after that 200th victory! It was indeed overwhelming, but I was determined to let that moment wash all over me……for I knew that it was a special occasion.
For that Saturday Busch Series race, we purchased seats over on the back straight in the Super Stretch seats. The seats were really pretty good for a last minute purchase, and the view of the spacious racing facilities was spectacular!
One of the highlights of this trip to Daytona, being a member of JUNIOR NATION, was when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Busch Series race in the #8 DEI Chevy. (After that race, Martin Truex, Jr. took over the ride and eventually won his first Series championship that year!)
The Daytona 500 on Sunday was electrically thrilling, simply put. Although it was rain shortened, it was still the Daytona 500. It was the second Daytona 500 victory for the DEI #15 NAPA Chevy driven by Michael Waltrip. The victory celebration by Waltrip however was a far cry from the subdued celebration in 2001. That year Waltrip won his first Daytona 500, it was his first “points race” victory, and his first race for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.! 2001 was also the year that his boss, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. lost his life in a last lap turn #3 crash, and the loss was extremely dramatic for the entire auto racing world!
Nevertheless, this was 2003, I was at Daytona, it was exciting, and I will remember that day forever!
So, race fans, it is February and it is definitely Daytona time.
Let’s go racin’ boys!
UNTIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!