Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 17, 2018, 9:31 a.m.
Having no Monster Energy Cup race on Father’s Day seems strange.
For many years, Father’s Day was considered to be a prime NASCAR date, not as prestigious as the weekends of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, but the idea was, what better way to honor Dad than everybody going to the race track and having a chillin,’ grillin,’ fillin’ old time?
For Dad, it was “a yabba-dabba-doo time” because who symbolizes fatherhood more than Fred Flintstone?
On the other hand, Mother’s Day was taboo. A disastrous all-star race was held on that weekend in the 1980s, and it damned near put The Winston six feet under. The idea was that Mom would not take it well if Dad said, “Hey, baby, guess what? Me and the young’uns are gonna take you to the race track ’cause it’s your special day!”
It’s possible a few domestic disputes began with those words.
When NASCAR officials handed Mother’s Day weekend to Darlington, the widespread belief was that it was a none-too-subtle means of running the old, uh, “Lady in Black” out of business. Darlington pulled it off, though, so determined were its partisans to stave off elimination.
In fact, NASCAR ran a Mother’s Day Weekend shindig in Kansas this very year. It went all right, or as all right as anything ever does in this age of lowered expectations.
This weekend races are being run, though not at the top level. Iowa Speedway is the site of Camping World Truck and Xfinity competition. Saturday night’s Truck race, won in rather stirring fashion by Brett Moffitt in spite of Noah Gragson’s valiant effort, went off with reasonable success, given that it wasn’t at a track on the Cup schedule.
Why did they do it this way? It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Fox is in charge, not NASCAR.
Fox has a crowded schedule. The U.S. Open and the World Cup are rather time-consuming, and Fox owns the rights. To Fox’s credit, the third round of the Open had many of what pass for wrecks on a golf course.
How the world has changed. If, 10 years ago, someone had said, “Why, NASCAR can’t race on Father’s Day! The World Cup is starting!” it would have seemed ludicrous. And who’s going to watch a stock car race when there’s golf on the tube? In the late 1980s, I remember reading about NASCAR drawing higher ratings for the Winston 500 at Talladega than the Masters. The theory was that race fans were so loyal that they’d watch a race no matter what else was on. Now the network is scared to death of Costa Rica versus Serbia. The United States isn’t even there. No matter. The World Cup is in Russia, our greatest ally. If it was in Canada, why, maybe not.
As Waylon Jennings was once fond of singing, it’s the world gone crazy.
The villains have all turned into heroes / The heroes have turned into heels / The dealers all want to be lovers / And the lovers all want to make deals.
If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.
If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.
Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.
Just out is my eighth novel, a political crime thriller called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.
My writing on local sports, writing, books, and other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.