As NASCAR enters its version of a Final Four playoff, it does so without a single GOB a/k/a “good ol’ boy” among the finalists. Dale Jr being THE #1 GOB of the current ever-dwindling crop. Where’d they (GOBs) all go ????
“when they shut down The Rock and North Wilkesboro” is the usual trite answer to “Why/when did NASCAR lose its MoJo?” It’s not that simple.
NASCAR went “national” back in the 80-90s expanding its product to major markets (LA, LV, Chic, AZ, etc) and expanding it’s Who’s” way beyond the Dales, Rustys, Richards, Juniors who were descendants of the original “Thunder Road” bootleggers who birthed the sport in the 50s. That move made perfect sense…. or as much sense as colleges expanding their football stadiums well beyond the likelihood of ever filling all those seats.
From 1997-2005 I attended over 35 major NASCAR races across the country with VIP privileges to roam “the pits” as well as the skyboxes and everywhere in-between. It was “cool” for awhile…. very cool. Then progressively less so… until one day in Charlotte I decided “I don’t want to do this any more” and I haven’t been back since or even thought about doing so. Figuratively speaking, I think a lot of American sports fans came to the same conclusion for various reasons. …. “shutting down The Rock” not being on the list.
Why NASCAR is losing its Southern champions
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Denny Hamlin might have been the one. Or Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But as the unforgiving nature of NASCAR’s new Chase for the Sprint Cup format pushed both out of title contention at Talladega Superspeedway, it unwittingly pushed the sport further from its past and harder toward its future.
The champion at stock car racing’s highest level could be the guy from Connecticut; or the one from Missouri; or Indiana by way of California; or Michigan, New Jersey, or California, again; or maybe one of the two from Nevada.
In any case, the champion of this Southern-born, Southern-bred series will not be a Southerner, just like every year of this century, every year since Hickory, N.C., product Dale Jarrett claimed the title in 1999.
If Texas – where NASCAR races this weekend – is Southern, and sometimes it is, depending on the cultural sensibilities and the accent of the beholder, then Bobby Labonte’s 2000 championship counts.
Be it good, bad, another facet of NASCAR’s expansionist aims or a melancholy demise of a regional cultural icon all grown up, it is fact. There are fewer competitive Southern NASCAR drivers than ever and therefore fewer likely to become champions.
That’s progress, said seven-time series champion and Hall of Famer Richard Petty, a North Carolinian.
“It’s immaterial,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “From our standpoint, from my standpoint, from NASCAR’s standpoint, we’re more diversified like this. If everybody came from North Carolina that won, the guys in California wouldn’t want to be involved. The fans in California wouldn’t want to be involved. The basic deal is, it’s been good for the sport.