By admin | November 1, 2008
By Richard Allen
What if Carl Edwards ran onto pit road and did a back flip off Kevin Harvick’s car after one of his wins rather than back flip off his own car? What if Kyle Busch did a victory bow in front of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s pit stall after winning a race?
Neither of those two scenarios would be warmly accepted. But, there is no denying either of those two scenarios would make things more interesting in the world of NASCAR.
What University of Florida coach Urban Meyer and University of Georgia coach Mark Richt have done to each other the last two times their football teams have played could almost be considered the equivalent of the two scenarios mentioned above.
Last year, after a Georgia touchdown Richt had his entire team rush onto the field and perform a celebratory dance in the end zone. Apparently, Meyer took exception to the move by the Bulldogs.
In Saturday’s game, Florida built a commanding 49-10 lead. Coach Meyer used each of his time outs at the end of the game to savor his team’s victory and to offer up his own version of gamesmanship toward Richt.
These two teams are rivals and they do not like one another. There is no reason to pretend as if they do. These two coaches do not like one another, as was evidenced by the post game hand shake. There is no reason for them to pretend they like one another.
Before the days when being politically correct became the norm, NASCAR had rivalries like this. The Allisons and the Pettys did not like each other and they did not try to pretend they did.
Once, after Bobby Allison won a race in New York, Richard Petty’s brother and cousin went to victory lane and got into a fight with the winner. Allison in return often accused NASCAR officials of manipulating the rules to allow Petty to win.
Darrell Waltrip was a master at working the rivalry to his advantage. Whether it be with Petty, Allison, Cale Yarborough or Dale Earnhardt, Waltrip knew how to get under the skin of his opponents, and the fans for that matter. He did so by being the opposite of politically correct. And as a result, these rivalries created interest.
Earlier in the season when Kyle Busch was causing such a stir it generated an interest like had not been seen in a while. In a time when the on track racing is leaving something to be desired a few rivalries could go a long way toward putting fans back in the seats.
However, with so much money in play from sponsors and owners, the era of being politically correct will probably prevail. Like in the instance with Harvick and Edwards a few weeks ago, drivers are usually called to “the truck” and told to settle down, which they usually do.
I am not suggesting there has to be a fight after every race for the sport to be interesting. I am just saying it is not necessary for everyone to pretend they are one big happy family when they are not.
Urban Meyer and Mark Richt could teach NASCAR competitors a few things. Better yet, Petty, Allison, Yarborough and Waltrip could teach modern day drivers a thing or two as well.
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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