So when did it all start for you, this mission to stay abreast of what was happening in the wide and wonderful world of NASCAR? Although I remember clips of Richard Petty being snuck in between the women’s lacrosse and Belgian barrel jumping on ITV World of Sport as a kid, for me Race 1 came while struggling with insomnia in the summer of 2004.
Somehow I happened to watch the one hour highlights of the Winn Dixie 250 Busch Series race from Daytona’s mid-summer weekend – and from the get-go I was hooked. First of all there was the amazing sight of top name drivers competing in the ‘lesser’ class – like Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher hopping out of their cars to go and have a crack in GP2.
Then there was the theatre – from Darrell Waltrip’s bananas commentary to the effect that Dale Earnhardt Jr had on the massive summer crowd. In a car sponsored by KFC! Everything being played out before my weary, disbelieving eyes was infectious.And then came what you see above.
As Ricky Bobby would later say: That. Just. Happened. Among the 14 potential winners, Jason Leffler punted Michael Waltrip out of the lead before sending Dale Jr up to ride the wall very close to where his father died 3 years earlier…
After this clip ends and the lucky winner Mike Wallace had thanked everyone a few more times, the interviewer went and found a rueful looking Junior and asked – with some trepidation – for his thoughts.
The answer was: “Did you ever get so mad you didn’t care if you won the fight or not?”
At that point the deal was done: I was a NASCAR fan.
How about you?