Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today in History, February 18 - It's in the nickname

sunrise on the mountain
February 18, 2018

Today is one of the few days a year I know I won't open a manuscript-in-progress and work on it. Today is Daytona Sunday. 

My enjoyment of NASCAR began way back in the day when my Uncle Bob would take my cousin Linda and me with him to the local dirt track. I'm sure I thought the dirt track was great fun but you won't find me at one now. Dirt in my hair is NOT my thing. Linda and I could also pick any Sunday to sit in our Aunt Libby's backyard and watch the cars at the local dragstrip, too. Our county has a long and storied history of a vibrant car culture.  

NASCAR has gone through a lot of changes since the 1970's, some good, some bad. NASCAR is a single-family owned franchise - an oddity in the realm of sport. Sometimes they make crazy stupid rules but my sense of it is they don't want another death during a race. NASCAR is a lot tamer than it used to be. 

On this date in history, February 18, 2001, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died in a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. I think Darrell Waltrip summed it up best: "Live by the push, die by the push." I think he was talking in a more metaphysical sense when he said that, nevertheless, Earnhardt earned his nickname of The Intimidator by perfecting "the push." He did a lot of "blocking," too, and we all saw how badly that ended. 

I wasn't a Senior fan, although I did like Junior. "My" driver was always Terry LaBonte (#5). I just liked the way he drove. They called him The Iceman for his seemingly unflappable style and coolness under pressure. Terry didn't go out and deliberately wreck other drivers. Later, they called him "Iron Man" for the number of consecutive starts he had over his career. After Terry retired, I started to pay attention to Tony Stewart. You know. The guy they called "Smoke" for his temper. I loved his outspoken attitude and fearlessness in telling the France family (NASCAR owners) the truth. Alas, he too retired. 

You know folks in the South love their nicknames. If you earn one, wear it like the badge of honor it is.

But there was hope. Stewart partnered with Gene Haas to create Stewart Haas Racing, which has four drivers. And one of those drivers is Kevin Harvick. I kinda slid into paying attention to him and now he's my driver. Happy Harvick is what Darrell Waltrip calls him. I think they should call Harvick "The Instigator" but that's for another blog. 

It wasn't until this morning that it struck me that Kevin Harvick is the driver they tapped to take over the #3 ride when Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was killed on this date back in 2001. 

So here we are with this year's Daytona 500 falling on the date in history, February 18, of Senior's demise. I can just hear those chatterbox announcers now. 

Maybe, just maybe, I'd be better off writing today. 

KC Kendricks

PS. The spousal unit will be cheering for Kyle Busch. They call him, "Rowdy." 

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