soboxban.jpg (6368 bytes)
February 20,  2001


February 20, 2001


We last took a walk down memory lane, Now I ask you to again remember with me…

Any of you who know me, know I am an avid NASCAR Fan, my first memories are watching limited taped races on Wide World of Sports, David Pearrson, Benny Parsons, Cale Yarborough and of course Richard Petty. Not much TV time until Cable TV opened the door to the world, NASCAR had come out of it’s deep south shell, "Awsome Bill" , "Rusty" , "Ricky", "Davey" were the names we heard, this was the new NASCAR.

Buddy Baker was the first Stock Car Driver to break the 200 MPH barrier, in a Dodge, but Awsome Bill ran 212 MPH at Talladega SuperSpeedway in a Ford. The fast cars of the past 35 years were to be slowed by the use of "restrictor plates" to cut the air/ gas flow to the 750 HP Motors, yes Motors, "Real Race Cars Have Roofs" and "Motors". During this period of the 80’s and 90’s we lost some of the best drivers, Davey Allison, Alan Kuwickie, John Nemachek and Niel Bonnet. In 2000 we again suffered the loss of 3 drivers, so young, Generation X, Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin at the same track, and Tony Roper from the Truck series. Could the Fans take any more?

Well here we are, the first race of the 2001 season, NASCAR’s Super Bowl, and the very Heart of NASCAR has been ripped out. In the words of Mike Helton, NASCARS President, As a result of the turn 4 accident in the Daytona 500, we’ve lost Dale Earnhart……champ3.jpg (6226 bytes)  ……. I was not an Earnhart Fan, I’m a Ford Fan, Mark Martin, I loved to hate him, some of my best friends are Earnhard Fans, I sat for hours Sunday with one of my best friends, back and forth we went with the rivalry, I would say "tell that old man to park that car" he made a joke about Marks new Sponsor, all in fun, a wonderful day with friends and family had come to a close, with promises of the 500 next year same time same place, Sherry and I went about cleaning up the mess, then came the phone call, "Mike this is Brian, What happened?, how did Earnhart get killed?" "WHAT" no way I replied, that wreck wasn’t that bad, are you sure it’s not Tony Stewart?, No it was the Intimadator.

NASCAR has lost it’s Babe Ruth, it’s Michael Jordan, all four of the Beatles, As Michael Waltrip, the race winner (his first in 462 starts, 15 yrs) in a car owned by Dale Earnhart and "Little E" on his rear bumper said, "In the twinkle of an eye, he was sitting next to my Dad, watching from above, and that ain’t so bad. I have been "Numb" since I heard the news, kinda foggy, dazed and confused, this is not the way it’s supposed to be, just like with Lonnie and Kenny, we were supposed to grow old together. Is it natural for a grown man to cry when a grown man dies? YES! it's ok to cry, it’s ok to grieve, it’s human nature.

Dale Earnhart died in the last turn of the last lap of the Daytona 500, with the Number 15 leading and the Number 8 hot on his tale, both cars owned by him, the leader, the little brother he never had, and the Number 8, "Little E" and Dale doing something he never did before, he let someone else win the Greatest Race in Racing.

May God wrap his arms around the family, friends and fans, God speed Dale Earnhart, as one more tear rolls down my cheek….


This is the hardest 500 miles I’ve traveled in a long time.

J. Michael Smith, KYCH

             no3c.jpg (15655 bytes) 

Hit Counter

Comments about this Soapbox Return to index page Return to Main Home Page Commander's Corner Sign our Guestbook