Has NASCAR lost its soul?

 

Fans attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, 2012 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that NASCAR was the new kid on the block, a southern sport looking to gain a foothold on a national stage. Unless a person was in attendance, the only glimpse the outside world had of NASCAR was an occasional segment on ABC and later of course live coverage of the Daytona 500.

As the transformation began from a regional oddity to a national phenomenon NASCAR still had wisps of its past; men who were called King, Fireball, Shorty, Tiny and Buck. They raced with towels in their mouth, cheated the rules to find another mile per hour. They threw each other in the hotel pool after a drunken celebration, cussed like sailors, and occasionally died doing their chosen profession.

They were grateful for the fans, humble to those who wrote the checks and ready to trade fists with the driver who crashed them out of the race. The sport was overseen by men larger than life, ‘Big’ Bill, ‘Cannonball’ Baker and ‘Barky’ Barkhimer. The men who first officiated the sport weren’t afraid to lay down the law, keep drivers from racing if they felt that was the right thing to do for the sport. Drivers trembled in their presence. MORE>>>

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