Race Weekend Central

Potts’s Shots: The Dangers of a GWC Finish & the Humor of Practical Jokes

Tim McMillan writes, “When will NASCAR put an end to this end of race carnage called Green-White-Checkers? Will one or more drivers have to die before they return to finishing a race under a caution? This current format, for TV ratings, is just plain crazy. If NASCAR has any worries about the cost of racing, they sure don’t show it with all the wrecked equipment at the finish of too many races.”

Tim, I don’t see it happening very soon. That format came in because of the fans; there were a lot of complaints about finishing any race under the yellow. I disagree very strongly with trying the GWC up to three times, by the way. I’m just not sure what the problems are with these things, unless it’s the fact that the stakes are so high. We had a “last five laps under green” rule in ASA. At Atlanta and Michigan, it was three laps. If the yellow came out again, we didn’t go back to “five to go,” we just picked up where we had left off. I can only remember that happening a couple of times.

Also, I can’t remember any real problems with the drivers going completely crazy in those last laps after we had bunched the field. That may be because we were doing single-file restarts.

Now that I’ve mentioned it, that may be something to consider for a GWC. Single file, lapped cars to the rear.

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From Jerry Clark, obviously in the Louisville area: “John, do you wonder if the Kentucky State Fair board ever wished they did not close the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway? I would guess they never did understand.

Well, Jerry, I would say you’re probably pretty close to the truth there. They never did really “get it.” The first excuse we got was that they needed the property for new horse barns. This wasn’t much of a surprise, really, because we always felt that if you wanted attention from the local newspaper’s sports department, you had to walk in there smelling like horse dung or possibly bouncing a basketball. That hasn’t held water, of course, because 31 years later that spot is still not being used for anything but parking.

We were also told that an auto racing facility didn’t fit in with their master plan for the fairgrounds. Fine, but they’ve continued to host motorsports events inside Freedom Hall.

I can recall them being a little upset when we painted the wooden gate in the pit area to resemble a checkered flag. They said it was “gaudy.” If I recall correctly, Tommy Thompson told them we weren’t running a ladies’ sewing circle. I also suspect that over the 20 years that the track existed, the lease income amounted to a large percentage of what the state made each year on the fairgrounds.

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Billy Johnson asks, “Is it true that there was a lot of practical joking in the original ASA? How about an example?”

Uh-huh. Billy, I suspect this is true of virtually all racing back in the day, when so much money wasn’t on the line every week, and things weren’t so sophisticated. I’m sure all of us have heard tales about the things that happened in NASCAR, probably up through the ’70s until RJ Reynolds got involved.

An example? Well, there was the time we were running at I-70 Speedway in Missouri, and at the usual Saturday night gathering, one of the last officials to leave the lounge happened to have one of those large pieces of blackboard chalk in his pocket. He apparently decided to get even with Steve Stubbs and Wayne Doebling for some real or conceived prank.

They were rooming together, so this individual drew a series of arrows on the sidewalk from the lounge to their room, with “PARTY” interspersed ever so often. At the room, the line took a 90-degree turn to the door, with one more “PARTY” written on the walk.

I heard they were not amused.

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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