By admin | February 19, 2008
Who needs script writers?
By Richard Allen
NASCAR would never let a little thing like a Hollywood writers strike get in the way of a good story. The stock car sanctioning body has always had a knack for perfect scripts coming along at just the right time.
In 1976, ABC covered the last few laps of the Daytona 500 live. A classic finish ensued with Richard Petty and David Pearson spinning to the finish line in what many regard as the greatest finish in NASCAR history.
In 1979, CBS offered the first live flag to flag coverage of a NASCAR event when it aired the Daytona 500. With much of the country snowed under, NASCAR produced one of its finest events. A last lap shootout and crash turned into an infield mud wrestling contest while the sport’s greatest star sailed to victory with the whole country watching.
In 2001, the first year of a massive new television contract, another perfect storyline was added to the long running hit series. Dale Earnhardt, Jr claimed victory in the Pepsi 400 just months after his legendary father had been killed on the same Daytona International Speedway.
It appears as though 2008 is about to offer up another one of those perfect scripts. With ratings and attendance sagging, the season has started in a way that could not happen anywhere else.
In only the second practice session of the season two of the sport’s lightning rods for controversy, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, decided to renew a festering rivalry. Their cars came together on the track, then on pit road. Later, speculation has it that a fist may have come together with a face.
But for those who cannot resist a story too good to be true, the best was yet to come in this early part of the season. As if on cue, the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, ended a winless streak which dated back to June of 2006 by taking the Bud Shootout in his first ever start for new boss Rick Hendrick.
If NASCAR had asked Hollywood screen writers to produce a perfect script for the start of 2008 they could not have produced finer material. Of course, if NASCAR had asked they would not have written it anyway, they’re on strike.
Let that be a lesson to screen writers. Sometimes the best stories write themselves, especially when NASCAR is involved.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association.
His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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