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Woody: Cowboy Hats To Have Their Day at Indy 500

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 8 2009


Richard Petty

Richard Petty

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

There’s gotta be some mistake. I didn’t know they raced Pony-acks at Indy.

But I’ve re-read the story – real slow, moving my lips and everything – and that’s what it says: Richard Petty is going to race at Indianapolis.

Well, sorta.

Petty is going to field a car for John Andretti to drive.

Well, sorta.

Petty is going to partner up with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to field a car for Andretti to drive.

Still, it’s a big deal when the tall man in the cowboy hat strolls through Gasoline Alley (or it is now Ethanol Alley) – a legendary racer at a legendary track.

I noticed that Richard was misquoted in the press release where they said he found it all “pretty exciting.” 
I’m fairly certain he said “pretty excitin’.” Petty was born with no g’s.

But that’s being picky; I think this deal is great for everybody concerned. If Richard Petty and Indy can hold hands, maybe there’s hope yet for the Middle East.

Indy and NASCAR have always made each other nervous. Legend has it, Big Bill France was booted out of the Brickyard for not having a proper credential. He vowed to get even by making his “taxicab racing” more popular than Indy’s glorified go-karts. Did he succeed? Gentlemen, start your TV ratings.

Then in 1994 came NASCAR’s Indy invasion. Wheeeeee, doggies! You’d have thought they’d invited Jed Clampett to host Masterpiece Theater. The planets spun out of orbit. Everybody said it was the end of the world. The NASCAR world.

The worry-warts said the dazzle of Indy would make NASCAR’s traditional big races like the Daytona 500 pale by comparison.

Never happened. Daytona’s still the biggest show in stock car racing. And let’s be honest – most of the Brickyards 400s haven’t exactly taken anybody’s breath away. Yeah, there’s the Indy aura. But aura won’t make Bubba jump up and holler and get all trembly like he does when they scramble five-wide down the backstretch at Talladega.

So let’s keep things in perspective when Richard shows up with one of those little bitty cars with no roof or fenders. Flashbulbs will pop, engines will whine, and life will go on.

Petty has always been one of sport’s good guys, and as a team owner he’s had a rough row to hoe. Hopefully, at 71, he’ll have himself a ball at the Brickyard.

Ditto for John Andretti a personable little fellow carrying a heavy name.

Petty and Andretti at Indy. When it comes to racing, that pretty much says it all.

It’ll be exciting for the fans and great fodder for weary, over-worked sports writers as they toil over hot laptops. How many of us have wished, on many a cruel, bleary morning, for the proverbial story that writes itself? Well, this is it.

It’ll provide a great PR bounce for the Indy 500. After all, there are only so many stories we can write about Danica Patrick’s airbrushed backside.

Sudden brainstorm: What if Danica were to get a Richard Petty tattoo …? Stop the presses! Get me the Indy PR department!

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 8 2009