30 years later, it’s still entertaining. It’s a case where the event lives up to the hype. It shouldn’t be a surprise. The 80s and 90s were a golden age for NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, and Geoff Bodine were genuine stars, setting the stage to make the 1987 running of the all-star race an instant classic.
Bill “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” Elliott was the resident speed merchant of the era. Until the restrictor plates came along, he was tooling along at ridiculous speeds exceeding 210 miles per hour. He was easily the most popular driver of his era; the original Dale Jr. What was not to like? Elliott came from a humble beginning to the top of the NASCAR heap, going on to win 44 races during his illustrious career and a championship.
You would think Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt would be boon companions. He was another southern boy who had to claw to gain a toe hold in the sport. It didn’t play put that way, and the 1987 Winston Star race was a big part of it.
The accompanying video (click here) gives you Elliott’s perspective on the day. When Elliott’s nine car moved down on Earnhardt, the three ended up in the grass. Imagine a pig on ice skates. That’s a race car in the grass. It was no pass- as has been said many times. What it was almost superhuman car control. The pass in the grass sounds good, but it was no pass.
Later, the two ended up side by side. Earnhardt got into Elliott causing him to cut a tire. At race’s end, The Intimidator made victory lane by holding off Labonte. Elliott had to settle for 14th.
To say Bill Elliott was a bit upset would be understating things. Both Bodine and Elliott got into Earnhardt on the cool down lap. One story even had it that Elliott took all his Wrangler jeans (Dale’s sponsor at the time) and threw them out. To hear Earnhardt tell it, the two talked and made up. Things never were good between the seven-time champ and Bodine. Some people just never get along.
I’ve always said the Earnhardt could never outrun is past. He continued to race all the way into the last days of his career like he was in danger of losing his ride. He had nothing to worry about, but he didn’t race that way. While all the mind games and on-track aggression may have been unnecessary, let it be known a part of Earnhardt’s secret was he wanted it more.
Put another way, Dale Earnhardt refused to lose.
The post The Pass In The Grass My…..The Best Ever All-Star Race appeared first on NASCAR.
Old or New?!? pic.twitter.com/1lE1BNVpRK
Here are the surest signs of success in NASCAR: A) Your manufacturer is accused of having an unfair advantage, and B) You get accused of cheating. Speaking of cheating, you find other teams pushing the envelope to find that edge to take you down. Such was much of the discussion concerning Ford, and their current golden boy, Kevin Harvick.
Kevin Harvick is in a zone. Many thought he’d stew over the switch by Stewart-Haas Racing to Ford. Come again? No doubt Mr. Happy had many joyous celebrations with the “Bowties” (that’s Chevrolet for those of you in Rio Linda). With five victories in the still relatively young season, it’s safe to say the 2014 champion is doing just fine.
While Ford is enjoying a great season so far, Kevin Harvick still has to be given his due as a driver. It’s still hard to believe this was the same Kevin Harvick who languished in the late 2000s with Richard Childress Racing. By now, this year’s man of the moment is just two wins away from Awesome Bill Elliott for 17th on the all-time Cup wins list. This is to say nothing of his accomplishments in the old Busch Series, which looked brilliant until some guy named Kyle Busch came along.
Too many times in his career, Harvick has nabbed wins on days where his car wasn’t the best. No one gets that lucky that often. One old driver local to my native southern Oregon says Kevin Harvick has the knack for being first out of the gas, and the first back into it in the turns.
Remember when Toyota allegedly had the unfair advantage? What? That feels like a distant memory now. It’s just the competitive landscape. Fortunes in NASCAR shift quicker than Brad Keselowski at Talladega.
With this kind of success, you go from the hunter to the hunted. Who gets picked on the most in the retail world? Wal-Mart. In the world of fast food, McDonald’s. There’s a reason for it. Right now, there are suspicious eyes cast in the direction of Ford.
It won’t last. Streaks like this don’t go on forever. For those of you lamenting the success of Kevin Harvick, remember Jeff Gordon in 2007, Kyle Busch in 2008 and Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin in other years. They all had hot streaks, but were not champions in the end. There’s too much season to go, and the playoff format doesn’t lend a ton of weight to consistency.
Until then, Kevin Harvick and Ford are having a helluva party.
How old is Hershel McGriff? When he celebrates a birthday, the candles cost more than the cake! Or as Chris Myers once said of aging reporter Dick Berggren, “he’s so old, he knew the Dead Sea when it was just getting sick.”
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’m just amazed. I’m not a pup myself, but it will take me 36 years to get to where he is now. And Hershel McGriff drove a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in Tuscon. If I’m lucky (I think), I’ll be living at 90. I can’t imagine racing at that age.
Ah, the haters. They throw a fit about someone who’s reflexes and eyesight have aged being out there on the track. Sure, Hershel McGriff finished six laps down and dead last in 18th. So what? Did anyone get hurt? No. Did McGriff deny someone else the opportunity? Come on! Owner Bill McAnally offered him the job. What was he supposed to do, refuse it? If he were a rolling caution flag, they would have gotten him off the track. Take a chill pill! It’s not like he’s going to become a series regular now. McGriff told the media he has other things to get down.
Hershel McGriff is a living exhibit of NASCAR history. He got into racing after returning home from World War II, and at the behest of Big Bill France, raced fulltime in 1954. He won four races that year and scored 17 top ten finishes in 24 races. Rather than race for the original “super team” owner Carl Kiekhaefer, he returned to his native Oregon and got back into the timber business.
Over the years, he’s made a few returns and has done pretty well in regional racing series. During his prime, racing really wasn’t that lucrative and it was pretty dangerous. Nonetheless, Hershel McGriff managed a Winston Series West championship at age 60 in 1986. Three years later he won a race in the AutoZone West Series.
Some people just age better than others. Oh, did you hear that McGriff also played the National Anthem on his trombone? His son and his granddaughter also raced that day. How cool is that? So what if he’s old his blood type has been cancelled?
Hershel McGriff is an amazing man. Here’s hoping he gets a chance to check off all the items on his bucket list.