Back in the day, shortly before the tragic death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr, The Intimidator was having a boat built. Okay… a yacht. I can’t remember if it was a sport fishing convertible or a luxury cruiser but it was nice. Very nice. I know this because the yacht manufacturer was a client of mine, and the marketing manager whom I worked with shared stories of Dale coming to the their office to check on progress, discuss amenities and such.
He told me that when he came in, people would flock and swoon and Dale, walking tall and proud, treated everyone like only a true, humble gentleman would. He took time with everyone to answer questions, sign autographs, discuss the state of NASCAR and share stories of his heralded career. But after the festivities subsided and Dale entered my client’s office, things changed.
Like on all his past visits, Dale would close the door and his bigger-than-life stature diminished. Instead of sitting in one of the padded leather chairs, he’d take the throw pillows off the sofa, place them on the floor and would lie down because it hurt too much too sit. You see, after all his years of hard-nose driving, his accidents and fighting for wins, it had taken a great toll on his body and left him a little less then the The Intimidator we knew him as.
Funny, but I hadn’t thought of this story for quite some time, not until this past week when I began reading all the tweets and facebook post swirling around the Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin incident at the Auto Club 400. And it disheartens me to read the venomous attacks on Joey that have been calling for his head on a platter.
In a sport that has been bogged down over the past few years with constant rule changes, long snoozes of green-flag runs, and the flip-flopping between “Boys have at it” and “Boys play nice”, we as fans, have been left chewing rubber, craving for excitement and fantastic finishes.
Last week in Fontana, we got one. Unfortunately, we also got the crash that gave Hamlin a compression fracture in his back that will sideline him for six weeks.
Now the # 11 is my number and I hate to see him, or any driver, suffer such an injury. Yet what has transpired since has left me with more questions than answers. Questions like, if we didn’t have the Logano–Hamlin feud leading up to this, would people feel differently over what transpired? It also makes me wonder W.W.D.H.D? What would Dale have done?
By no means am I comparing Logano to Earnhart. But in the same situation, I do not believe that The Intimidator would have given an inch. Not for a second. Seriously. Look at all the great finishes and on-track mayhem that he was involved in. He raced hard and defended his turf. And we loved it.
There’s no denying that NASCAR is a dangerous sport. Even with the continuous changes, the good changes, that NASCAR has made to make it safer; drivers still put their lives on the line with every green flag. And on that last lap last week, as the two arch rivals had their eye on the checkered, yes, I do think their rivalry probably did pop in both their minds for a split second. Wouldn’t it have in yours? But I don’t think there was anything malicious on Joey’s part more than “ I really want to beat this guy”… The same thing Denny was probably thinking. The same thing Dale probably thought in every race.
Oh, as for the boat… I do believe Teresa got it.
And that’s my rant.