Random Lugnuts: Happy Father's Day!
Topics: Kyle Busch What is Random Lugnuts? It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan. The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop: you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
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June 20, 2010
Father's Day is a good time to reflect upon a question I have about NASCAR families. Stock car racing is something that not everybody can get in to. Not everyone can afford a car and a team, and not just anyone can convince someone else to let them drive their car without some experience on the ol' resumé. It's not like picking up a soccer ball and making your way to the World Cup. There aren't high school programs, no NCAA programs to feed the professional levels. So it's no surprise that NASCAR is filled with kids of current former racers.
Aside from the obvious, that being Dale Jr., there are plenty of guys in the field who are kids of racers who weren't legends of Winston Cup. David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. come to mind. Heck, even Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the son of a racer. Richard Childress' grandson, Austin Dillon, is making his way up the ranks, and Chase Elliott is starting a driving career.
So here's my question: hasn't anybody in stock car racing had a daughter? You'd think with girls accounting for roughly 50% of children that at least a couple of daughters would have made it to the Cup level at some point in the last few decades. So far there is only one: Shawna Robinson and her eight Cup starts.
I do have to give credit to Dale Earnhardt, because he not only brought Dale Jr. and Kerry to the track, but Kelley as well. Of course, Mike Wallace's daughter Chrissy is a part-time competitor in the Nationwide Series. And I'm well aware that not all NASCAR competitors have daughters to bring into the business. But it seems like there should be more, especially considering the steady parade of sons of the NASCAR world trying out the driver's seat.
One more thing I have to say about this is a comment to Michael Waltrip: let Macy drive the ol' Aaron's Dream Machine!
The Family Section
My son is a Kyle Busch fan. At 5 years old, he's more drawn to the M&M's paint scheme than he is to Kyle's driving talent, but he's begun to follow Busch through other series when Kyle carries the colors of other sponsors. As long as he sees the familiar #18, he's cheering for Kyle.
Maybe my son does know more about NASCAR than he lets on. Even though Kyle has cleaned up his act the last few years, he's also perpetuated the black hat driver image by racing the #51 truck under the name Rowdy Busch. So when my son's watching Speed Racer, and he tells me he's cheering for the "bad guy drivers," I immediately thought of his love of Kyle Busch. Maybe it is about more than candy.
Of course, every fan has a second favorite driver. Thanks to McDonald's sponsorship of Jamie McMurray last week, my son has a new name to learn. Seeing him cheer Jamie was special to me, because it was the McDonald's car that caught my attention as a kid watching NASCAR. I was a bit more than twice my son's age, but I remember when Bill Elliott moved to the McDonald's car and I picked up a book at the library to learn more about the guy who would be driving my favorite car. Now my basement is filled with Elliott stuff, much of it McDonald's but also some Coors, a bit of Dodge, and even the Burger King (!) car he drove for Michael Waltrip.
With my son just 5 years old and the McDonald's sponsorship part-time, I doubt my son's basement will be filled with Jamie McMurray stuff when he nears 30 years old. Not that I would mind, Jamie's a good driver. Setting the modern era record by winning his second Cup race and then driving a written off car to victory in this year's Daytona 500 are worthy accomplishments, and if sponsorship from the place that makes McNuggets is what it takes to get him to be a fan of a driver, I can't really be anything other than understanding, considering my own history. At least I'd know where he got it from.
Seeing myself in him, though, I think of how I must have been watching racing at such a young age. Sharing the experience with my son, I remember my father taking me to races at Wilmot, Rockford, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Thanks to my dad, I got to see Joe Shear race, I got pit passes to an Indy race at Milwaukee where I met Emerson Fittipaldi, and I've been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway twice. In between are countless nights and countless hamburgers at Wilmot Speedway, regular trips to Rockford Speedway's National Short Track Championships, and a lot of time spent talking about racing.
Another memorable moment I have with my father is actually a joke from one of my visits back home. A NASCAR race was starting on the TV, I forget which one, and the announcer leads into the command to start engines with, "and now, the most famous words in auto racing," and my father says, "no, the most famous words in auto racing are, 'Andretti slowing on the backstretch...'"
Happy Father's Day, dad!
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