nascar, daytona 500, racing, auto racing, petty

Blind Boys and Bug-Eyed Idiots

With all the news these days about NASCAR’s “boys having at it”, namely Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya mixing it up at Richmond and then the spectacularly entertaining Kyle Busch vs. Kevin Harvick dust-up at Darlington, my mind drifts back to some of the more humorous NASCAR scuffles down through the years.

Since the 1960’s I’ve missed only a handful of Daytona 500’s, one of which was the 1979 event which featured the famous last lap crash and subsequent rumble between the Alison brothers and Cale Yarborough. After listening to that race on the radio, I vowed to never skip another Daytona 500 and, in fact, I’ve only missed one since then. It’s sentiments like these that NASCAR banks on to bring fans to the racetrack, and so while they punish the fighters on the one hand, they are actually quite thrilled with the free PR that goes along with any on-track run-ins.

I find it amusing how these fights unfold and what it tells you about the drivers and there senses of humor, or lack there-of.

A few years ago after Sterling Marlin and Greg Biffle crossed paths during a race at Watkins Glen, a radio reporter caught up Marlin in the garage and asked him what happened. I still remember Sterling’s amusing reply: “I got wrecked by a bug-eyed idiot!”, reported Sterling.

Similarly, after a Kyle Petty-Bobby Hillin Jr., encounter during the 1993 Daytona 500 resulted in a pit road confrontation (see photo above), some asked Kyle Petty what happened. “Don’t know”, said Kyle, “Go ask the ‘blind boy’ in the 90 car”. Inferring the Hillin, who drove the #90 Ford T-bird at the time, was having trouble seeing his way around the speedway. It is also interesting to note that Bobby elected to keep his helmet in place, while Kyle entered the fray unprotected.

I’ve also noticed that some driver/fighters prefer strapped-in, stationary targets, as when Michael Waltrip poked Lake Speed through the window net as he sat in his race car or who can forget the Jimmy Spencer’s through-the-window punch at Kurt Busch after a Michigan run-in.

Other drivers take aim at moving targets, as when Robby Gordon nailed Michael Waltirp’s car with his helmet as it passed by him after he climbed from his wrecked race car at New Hampshire.

More recently, The Kyle Busch-Kevin Harvick Darlington bout was telling in that Harvick was eventually willing to climb from his mount and stalk back to confront Busch before he climbed from his car. Kyle, however, wanted no part of that and drove off, although he had to shove Kevin’s driverless car out of the way to do so. No matter who you sided with in that incident, you have to admit that the sight of the #29 Budweiser Chevy rolling nose first into the pit wall was fairly amusing once we determined that no one had bee injured as a result.

So, while the racing is good, and all want to know who wins each weekend, the periferal action keeps us coming back for more and also makes for good photos!


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