Minter: NASCAR Plods On With “Have At It, Boys”
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
Unless there’s something going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, NASCAR president Mike Helton has said “Have at it, boys” a lot louder than his VP Robin Pemberton said it back in January.
By only placing Carl Edwards on a three-race probation for intentionally wrecking Brad Keselowski at Atlanta on Sunday, he essentially said that for now, almost anything goes. In the past, probation from NASCAR has been the same as no punishment.
Once again the safety of the Car of Tomorrow has put NASCAR in a position to turn the sport into something more like a Saturday night demolition derby than a professional racing series.
As long as no one gets hurt – and even with the COT that’s pushing the limits of luck the way things have gone recently – the sport of NASCAR will continue to be looked at as a metal-crunching crashfest. Already, almost every promotion for upcoming TV races is nothing more than a jazzed-up replay of a string of recent wrecks.
Much of Helton’s time on the press conference was spent trying to separate the fact that Edwards wrecked Keselowsi from the fact that Keselowski’s car flew into the air and into the fence and how rare that flight was on a mile-and-a-half track.
What wasn’t covered was the fact that when a car reaches the point where that collision occurred – the end of the long frontstretch at Atlanta – the cars are going about 200 miles per hour – about the same speed they start lifting off the ground at Talladega.
NASCAR officials and other proponents of “Have at it, boys” will tell you it’s just a way of going back to the old days of the sport.
Well the old days of the sport were more about Richard Petty dueling David Pearson or Bobby Allison. It was about rivalries and battles among competing manufacturers.
Richard Petty and David Pearson built the sport by racing against each other, not by wrecking each other.
They finished 1-2 in 63 different Cup races, with Pearson winning 33 to Petty’s 30.
They did wreck in the 1976 Daytona 500, but it was going for the win and it didn’t appear to be an intentional wrecking on the part of either party. And according to Wood Brothers’ co-owner Len Wood, that’s the only time Petty and Pearson ever wrecked each other the whole time Pearson drove the Woods’ car.
If people really want to take racing back to the way it was back in the day, they need to return to the days when drivers used to settle differences the old-fashioned way, as veteran racing publicist Tammy Brewington pointed out in an email today.
“If these guys have a beef, take it outside or behind the woodshed one-on-one,” she said. “Put the big boys pants on and act like a man, not a road-rage-filled teenager. Lives are at stake, in the grandstands and on track. Carl and Brad both need to be tamed down. Carl cannot take a beat up old car out there with the sole purpose of wrecking someone.”
Brewington, like dozens of other emailers, thought Edwards should have been suspended for a race or two.
“And if Brad does anymore bone-head things, same punishment for him,” she said.
But if Brewington had her way, and Edwards and Keselowski were sent to the woodshed to settle their differences, I’d be more inclined to join in and say, “Have at it, boys.”
– Rick Minter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments