Views from the Grandstands

Kay Bell | October 01, 2010

Such a radical change would take a complete buy-in from the team owners and the sponsors and a huge marketing push from NASCAR. But if the only other option is to lose an entire generation of young fans, it seems like a reasonable price to pay.

Kay Bell is an Austin, Texas-based writer. When she’s not yelling at her television during NASCAR races, she blogs about taxes and other financial topics at www.dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com.


LOOSE LUGNUTS

Oh where art the Camaro? The Nationwide Series is taking a big step forward by developing new cars being tested this year — and offering the car companies a fantastic marketing opportunity. Ford and Chrysler saw the light, and their cars will be Mustangs and Challengers. Chevrolet, however, has decided not to bring the Camaro to the series, but rather continue with an Impala body style. Ugh. Sorry, Chevy, whatever reasons you might have for this decision, you blew it big-time.

Hall passes NASCAR has unveiled 25 nominees for its second class into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and will announce the five inductees in October. Only five people were inducted last year, so there are still many who richly deserve to be enshrined, but I know who I’d pick: David Pearson (105 wins, 3 championships); Rick Hendrick (12 championships as team owner); Dale Inman (crew chief who won seven championships with Richard Petty and one with Terry Labonte, essentially creating the job of modern day crew chief); and Lee Petty (Richard’s father won the first Daytona 500 and became the first three-time champion). My fifth choice is my personal favorite: Curtis Turner. Known as the “Babe Ruth” of racing, he won 17 Grand National (now Sprint Cup) races and a total of 360 races overall and built the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also was the first to qualify at over 180 mph and won two Grand National races after taking the pole and leading every single lap. His most outstanding feat came in 1956 when he won the NASCAR race in Asheville, N.C., because, at the end, his was the only car still running!

Checkers and big checks Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s paucity of wins in recent years isn’t hurting his wallet yet. According to Forbes Magazine, Junior amassed $30 million in total earnings over the past year, more than any other NASCAR driver. Jeff Gordon was second with $26.9 million, and Jimmie Johnson third at $23 million. Globally, Kimi Raikkonen topped the list at $34 million. Motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi is second with $32 million. Also high on the list are F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton ($29 million) and Michael Schumacher ($28 million).

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