Woody: Announcers Should Park Their Woofing
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
It was odd to hear Ray Evernham, who started and parked a race team, woofing about start-and-park drivers.
Ray and fellow ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace recently ripped into start-and-park racers, the former declaring: “I take it as a little bit of a slap in the face when a guy wants to come in and just take money out of the sport without putting something into it.”
What, exactly, did Ray “put into it” before he latched onto Jeff Gordon’s coattails and road them to riches? Not everybody is lucky enough to hook their wagon to a rising star. Some struggle to get by week by week.
In fairness to Evernham I understand what he’s trying to say. It’s just that it sounds so condescending to hear the rich dissing the poor. Who’s Ray to criticize how someone tries to scrape out a living? It’s no skin off his nose.
If NASCAR doesn’t like it, it can change the rules. The start-and-park drivers have broken no rules – which is more than some of Ray’s former associates can say.
It would be great if every racer had the kind of first-class equipment that Ray and Rusty were fortunate enough to have during their careers. And when the start-and-parkers can no longer race, wouldn’t it be equally great if they could all land plum jobs as TV analysts?
If Ray cares to peek out the window of his ivory tower he’ll see that the economy is not exactly booming. Lots of lower-echelon teams are struggling just to survive. The “handout” they get by finishing last allows them to keep going.
And the economy’s not to blame for all of NASCAR’s disparity problem. A handful of mega-teams, starting with Hendrick Motorsports which Evernham helped build, are squeezing the little guys out of existence.
Instead of belittling the strugglers and stragglers as Evernham and Wallace did, you’d think they would be more sympathetic. Surely, as ex-competitors, they realize how humbling it is for a driver and a team to show up for a race knowing they have absolutely no chance.
Instead of taking pot-shots from the broadcast booth, why doesn’t Ray go into the garage, tell the start-and-park guys what he thinks about them face to face, and get their response? It’s called journalism, Ray.
I’d like to ask the boys in the booth one question: Do they believe that starting lineups should be limited to only those drivers who have a serious chance of winning?
If so, everybody who doesn’t drive for Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush or Stewart-Haas can load up and go home.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments