Dale Earnhardt would be dismayed at the ruthless, redneck-ish behavior his “so called” legions of fans displayed during Jeff Gordon’s victory lap upon winning the Subway 500, in Phoenix. As Gordon paced the track, while holding a #3 flag to recognize the late legend, his car was pelted with beer cans and debris.
This past Saturday, Gordon tied Earnhardt for career victories. Rather than accepting Gordon’s accomplishments as career embarking, multiple throngs of hooligans, sporting #8 and #3 attire decided to do their best impression of Nolan Ryan, albeit with beer cans or whatever else proved available.
Think about it …… NASCAR has come a very long way in the past 10 years. It’s now recognized as a MAJOR sport in the American landscape. Heck, even Nestor wants to give the sport some exposure on the WNST airwaves. Trust me, I’ve had to bargain a couple opportunities and sell the sport along the way.
Thus, Saturday’s debacle is embarrassing for guys like me. Real NASCAR enthusiasts commonly find ourselves defending the integrity of the sport; asserting it is not “pro rassling” on wheels. However, when knotheads start throwing beer cans at the winner, a sane NASCAR loyalist just wants to crawl in a hole.
I broached this subject during Sunday’s radio show …… what will NASCAR do to ensure Gordon’s safety and the overall credibility of the sport, as they roll into Talladega, which can best be described as “hillybilly heaven” to some observers. Frankly, it’s time for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take a stand and admonish this raucous behavior. A simple public address announcement prior to the race can’t hurt.
The bottom line is Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon were friends …… closer friends than many realize. All of these guys are friends. It’s just a sport and a contest. Going to a NASCAR race is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. But, as we’ve seen under similar circumstances, a few bad seeds are ruining it for everybody.
Unfortunately, these “bad seeds” are serving as unofficial ambassadors of the sport at a very prominent moment. America ….. meet the “Earnhardt Fans” …. NASCAR’S dirty little secret. Oh yeah, they won’t be a secret much longer ……