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Minter: It’s A Day Of Racing Thanks!

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, November 26 2009
We here at RacinToday pop a cork and say thanks to all who have found your way to our website and that is as sincere as it gets. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

We here at RacinToday pop a cork and say thanks to all who have found your way to our website and that is as sincere as it gets. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

It’s Thanksgiving Day 2009 and time to think about all the racing things to be thankful for as the turkey is served and the family gathers around the table.

I’m thankful that the almost completed racing season was a relatively safe one, and a special thanks for all those who have worked in the past and in the present to develop things like SAFER barriers, safer cars for NASCAR and NHRA drivers, as well as better catch fences to protect fans.

I’m thankful for a Chase driver like Denny Hamlin, who found the time to grant me several honest-to-goodness, one-on-one interviews this year, and for a publicist like Jon Mason, who said he would make it happen and made good on his promise.

I’m thankful that Kyle Busch only destroyed one treasured trophy, even though he did give my RacinToday buddy Larry Woody plenty of column fodder.

I’m grateful for the manufacturer reps who follow the Sprint Cup circuit and provide accurate driver quotes in a timely fashion, something that’s invaluable to those of us who can’t be at the track every week and something we media types don’t say “Thank you” for as often as we should.

I’m especially thankful for Terri Parsons and Larry Camp and the rest of the folks who are working to bring North Wilkesboro Speedway back to life. And for Sterling Marlin and Darrell Waltrip and others who are making a last-ditch effort to save the old Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville from the wrecking ball. And for Andy Hillenburg, who continues to do great things with my favorite superspeedway in Rockingham.

I owe a special thanks for the media friends like Monte Dutton, friends who didn’t abandon those of us who saw our regular jobs disappear as the newspaper industry did its incredible shrinking act.

I’m thankful for the parking passes and credentials that arrive by mail as they should, and for the people at the tracks who make that happen.

I’m thankful for the friendly gate attendants at the speedways, people who sit in the sun – and sometimes rain – all day, but still find ways to be cheerful.

I’m thankful that the first scheduled night race on Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a huge success and a reward for the really nice people that run that track.

I’m thankful for Lori Worley and the people at Bristol Motor Speedway, who really know how to roll out the welcome mat for the non-TV media types.

I’m grateful to get to cover the NHRA when its professional series comes to Atlanta Dragway. Those drivers really know how to roll out the welcome mat, even if you do have to choke your way through the nitromethane fumes to interview them. A special thanks to the hometown and former hometown drivers like Greg Anderson, the Warren Johnson family and the local Sportsman drivers, who put on an extra effort for the media during the Southern Nationals.

I’m also thankful to be on hand when the American Le Mans Series comes to Road Atlanta, and to get to work with drivers like Adrian Fernandez, who refers to you as “my friend” and says it like he really means it.

I’m thankful for the Saturday nights I get to spend at Dixie Speedway, the dirt track in Woodstock, where the Swims family that runs the place treats you like one of their own. And where some of the best racers I know do their racing.

I’m thankful that the Bill Elliott Driver Development Program seems to be placing about as much emphasis on molding their drivers into responsible adults as they do preparing fast race cars for their young speedsters.

I’m thankful for all the panelists who voted for David Pearson in the NASCAR Hall of Fame balloting, even though they were somehow outnumbered.

I’m thankful for the folks who still visit the original Hall of Fame in Darlington, a place whose hallowed halls should never go dark, even if it has been one-upped by the newfangled place in Charlotte.

I’m thankful for the race fans who stuck by Dale Earnhardt Jr. through his miserable season. I’m also thankful for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who remains one of the best interviews in motorsports.

And I’m especially thankful for the race fans who have found their way to RacinToday.com and help make our efforts worthwhile.

What are you thankful for today?

– Rich Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, November 26 2009
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