The Talented Mister Busch (Well, the Elder One, That Is)

Kurt Busch (left) with Clint Bowyer. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Kurt Busch (left) with Clint Bowyer. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, February 21, 2015, 9:53 a.m.

The long arm of the law has hung over Kurt Busch ever since the NASCAR weekend at Dover International Speedway that culminated in the AAA 400 on Sept. 28.

The older Busch brother started 22nd, finished 18th, and apparently experienced a moribund weekend.

But wait …

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

It was not a boring one, as it turned out. It wasn’t an insignificant one. The Sprint Cup race had nothing to do with its significance. Some sort of altercation (apparently, allegedly, perhaps, and/or in the considered opinion of a judge) occurred between Busch and his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll. In November, domestic violence was alleged. On Friday, NASCAR suspended Busch, though he hasn’t been criminally charged. Chevrolet cut off relations. I don’t think I’ve owned a Chevy in thirty years, but it hasn’t cut off relations with me. Chevy wants me back. It shut down the Kurt Busch embassy.

I’ve watched the Driscoll promotional video. I’ve heard the versions of both the Skipper and Gilligan. (Remember how that show would provide one jaded version of an incident, then the screen would flip-flop, and the scene would be depicted in an entirely different light? It was once one of those little mechanisms that popped up in old situation comedies.) I don’t know what happened. It’s lawyer versus lawyer.

The only insight I can provide that isn’t jaded or skewed by one version or another is my knowledge of Kurt Busch. By accident, I was in Las Vegas, researching a book (True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed), on Kurt Busch Day in 2004, after he had won the first Chase. I was there after Busch and Jimmy Spencer tangled at Michigan. I can still see Spencer, coming out of the NASCAR transporter waggling a cigar, and Busch, wearing sunglasses to hide a shiner, leaving in a golf cart, lips poked out.

I have memories, good and bad, of Kurt Busch, because there is much good and bad in him.

Kurt Busch's worst enemy.  (HHP photo for Chevrolet)

Kurt Busch’s worst enemy. (HHP photo for Chevrolet)

Most of the time, Kurt Busch is an admirable fellow. No one in NASCAR has given more of his time to travel to a track and take part in some ticket-selling promotion. He’s given pep talks, ridden around tracks with lucky fans, and stood in actual ticket offices answering actual phones and selling actual tickets to fans actually lined up.

Most of the time, he is a really good guy, but, when things don’t go to suit him, the brat comes out.

Busch also has this awful tendency to make things worse by behaving boorishly. When he was detained outside Phoenix International Raceway by some of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s finest, he reportedly did the old “apparently you don’t know who the bleep I am?” routine.

That seldom works.

When Busch was suspended for threatening a reporter (Bob Pockrass), I thought it was wrong. First of all, I’m uncomfortable with NASCAR policing the relations between driver and media. Secondly, if that scene had happened to me, I wouldn’t have been surprised. For twenty years, I expected there to be a time or two during the season when someone – a driver, an owner, an official, a loner, an engineer, a producer, a winner, a loser – would cuss me out. They would take me to task for something I had written.

My favorite way to handle this was to let them have their say, and then reply, “In my defense, it was heartfelt.” Sometimes it took me by surprise, and I could not maintain my calm. With some, maintaining one’s calm was ineffective. Such a man was Dale Earnhardt, but that’s another story.

Now, with all that being said, my chief defense is that I sympathize with people. Being imperfect myself, I recognize that others often have foibles, too. That doesn’t mean Kurt Busch isn’t responsible for his actions, and this is hardly the first time his self-destructive bent has put his career in jeopardy.

His biggest mistake was letting it all go. Where he most needs self-control is in maintaining his future. I expect that, quite possibly, the two words that flit most often through Busch’s cacophonous mind are one that begins with an “F” and another that is an indefinite pronoun.

That simple credo can be constructive in regard to small matters. In anything beyond the matter of putting off mowing the lawn until tomorrow, it can lead to ruination, particularly at the end of a litany of failed attempts.

I hope it hasn’t come to that.

This is definitely stranger than the fiction that is available for your perusal at I might could top it with my novels, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles, available along with many of my non-fiction books here:


About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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4 Responses to The Talented Mister Busch (Well, the Elder One, That Is)

  1. Robert Johnson says:

    As much as he’s angered me with his antics in the past, I’ve always held out hope that Kurt could get a handle on his temper and impulsivity. Like yourself, I’d rather see the good in people. But given his lack of self-control, one can only wonder about the sorts of words he’s had with NASCAR in private over the years. Given the nature of NASCAR, they may have finally come to the end of their rope with the guy. While he’s a wonderful driver, it’s difficult to see how he’ll manage to rehabilitate himself after this. At minimum, given Chevy’s pronouncement, I can’t see him driving for Tony again, even if NASCAR should reinstate him. As 2004 NASCAR Champion, it’s a sorry matter indeed.

  2. Al Torney says:

    Chevy now there’s a class act. They had no trouble staying with Rick Hendrick when he was convicted of bribing Honda of America officials. How the time thy hired a prostitute in an attempt to discredit Ralph Nader be cause he wrote about the dangerous way the first Chevy Corvairs handled.mseemed they were prone to rollover very easily. The book was titled “Unsafe At Any Speed”.

    I was a big Kurt supporter when he first started in Cup. However I cannot feel any pity for these famous people who throw away million dollar careers by continuously doing stupid things. While I don’t think the punishment fits the crime I accept it considering Kurt’s track record.

    I do recall Driscoll saying that he did have enough money to last a lifetime when he lost the Penske.

    Kurt should have remembered “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

  3. Ron Fleshman says:

    Perfect narrative on Kurt Busch.

  4. Donna Smith says:

    I thought the article above was a good mix of both sides of Kurt Busch. I believe that Kurt, as well as other drivers, well….. maybe all of them, should be given a life skills class when they first start out or have someone to mentor them so they can understand that, yes, they need to race hard & have that aggression on the track & in their jobs, however, they also need to be reminded that they are human & need to follow certain rules regardless of how famous they become.
    I agree with the article when it states that Kurt is “responsible for his actions, and this is hardly the first time his self-destructive bent has put his career in jeopardy.”
    Unfortunately for him, he has an ex-girlfriend who spoke up & did something seemingly unheard of in NASCAR & sports in general. She filed papers and has been vocal about her side of the story. I do not mean for this to be a DV PSA, however, as a female fan of NASCAR I can’t even begin to know what the many wives & girlfriend’s put up with, because they tell themselves that the temper tantrums & bad behavior “WILL GET BETTER WHEN”…he gets a top ten finish or wins a race, changes teams or crew chiefs, gets that sponsorship sealed, etc., you name it.
    I wonder how long the NASCAR racers girlfriends & wives have each suffered in silence. It is most likely a situation (like most cases, famous or not) where they put on tons of eye make-up & big dark sunglasses to hide the crying or worse, the marks. All because no one told HIM (the offender) he wasn’t allowed to take his anger out on his “loved” one, but, should take it out on the track or do something constructive with his aggressive feelings, like go running or hit the weights or if those things fail, then call your mentor & get out of that situation, NOW.
    It is too bad that what could have been a very long and extremely storied career could be over, and all it would have taken was someone to have given him the tools necessary to handle things – like the grownup he is now- to have a peaceful life, doing what he lives & loves to do; Get into a race car built just for him, go as fast as he can, slide, crash, bump & grind on the track, get paid big money whether he wins or loses that day, have kids & adults want to be you, and have people talk about how great you are/were. His career will, unfortunately, be marred by this accusation, whether it is proven true or not. And, unfortunately, his record of self control issues doesn’t speak well for him in any case. It is just a case where your good public reputation could speak great volumes about your private actions. In this case, the opposite seems to be true.
    I have always hoped that the Busch Brothers would make me proud and get over themselves, be fast & aggressive, not whining & crying whenever things didn’t go their way. I am hoping that Kurt can salvage something of his career and make his fans proud of their driver.
    Maybe this will bring awareness to DV (domestic violence) to a new national stage for more than one race, where, if you get busted for beating up your wife before a DV logo race, you just get the sticker taken off your car, like Travis Kvapel, in 2013. Travis was charged with DV, not just accused in family court. He kept his ride, it seems.
    I don’t know if taking Kurt’s livelihood from him permanently is a just & fair punishment, however, NASCAR has been known to leap before they really look at the intended & unintended consequences of their judgments and end up with a worse situation than they started with…. such as, how to equal out Travis Kvapil’s lack of punishment vs Kurt Busch’s severe punishment. I am curious to see…..

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