Reflections On The Rock… by MKH

The Rock
BobLee
May05/ 2017

Reflections on The Rock by MKH

I have a friend over in Durhm… actually I have several “friends over in Durham”; but one in particular relative to today’s “incredibly insightful column” (a/k/a “iic”).

He is retired from a 40+ year career as a “respected journalist”. THAT’s an adjective/noun combination  that belongs with corfam shoes as “whatever happened to them”.

My friend was an “ink-stained wretch” who turned out “the daily miracle” for multi-decades. He won numerous honors from his peers. The papers he edited won accolades; but none can match the one title he shares with no man in human history….

He is “Mary Katharine Ham’s Daddy”.Proud Dad

 

As noted he lives in Durham with an equally proud lady known as “Mary Katharine Ham’s Mamma”. They live in a goofy Durham neighborhood in which they are an ideological minority of two. They are friends of mine… you do the math.

I once asked him “why” he lived surrounded by such nutty neighbors. “BobLee of all people you know that answer ….. unlimited Column Fodder.” Touche.

It’s a safe bet not nary a neighbor of his’n can spell NASCAR or knows who “Dale Jr” is. Which segues to today’s BLSays First.

Today I’m turning you over to Mary Katharine Ham for her HUMDINGER of a column about The Rise & Demise of NASCAR.

Of the 2,000 BLSays columns, 3-4 have the half-life of Strontium 90. Although posted in some cases 7-8-10+ years ago, they get googled and read by someone somewhere weekly if not daily. One of those was a column about Jimbo & Candi Fisher – Diary Of A Tallahasee Cougar. Go figger? Another was “What Happened To NASCAR”.

There are more opinions about “that” than the announced bogus attendance at a Bully Barber “Hoot & Hate” ….. “at least 80,0Mary Katherine Ham00… maybe even more”.

Mary Katharine’s meteoric journalism career began as a general assignment reporter for the Richmond County Daily Journal. She has gone on to national prominence as a “contributor” on Fox News and most recently as “token conservative contributor” on CNN. In addition she contributes to numerous “think tanks” and political websites. This HUMDINGER that MKH penned on NASCAR appeared in The Federalist today – Fri 5/5.

WARNING: It’s a bit lengthy…. but well worth it. Trust me. The risque part about her and Dale Jr on the backstretch of The Rock is worth the read by itself.  Hubba Hubba!!  Not to worry…both of’em were single at the time.

Mary Katharine Ham’s GREAT COLUMN about NASCAR – LINK

ENJOY:  You don’t have to agree… but you HAVE to read it!  It WILL be on your final exam.

###

BobLee
  • ultraviolet Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks for linking her article. She’s quite insightful.

  • Former96Heel Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Great read, but I also am not sure if the portion of population who could fix a car is that big of a factor. I knew tons of Nascar fans, most of whom are not fans any longer. Very few could change a flat tire.
    .
    I think they started losing interest when “free agency” came in. They grew up knowing Harry Gant was the Skoal driver, and Richard Petty was STP. When they had to start digging into a decoder manual to figure out who was driving what, the loyalty started to crack. Plus, the new drivers could pass for bankers or the tennis pro you don’t want your wife to hang around. Everyone I knew wanted to cheer for someone who at least kinda sounded like them, not some well-groomed pretty boy from yonder. I firmly believe that is Jr’s draw. It’s certainly not that he’s that good a racer, it’s that he’s the only one of us left. Tony Stewart had a similar draw.
    .
    Even if the money eventually destroys Nascar as we know it, something will rise from the dumpster fire that would closer resemble the Nascar of 30+ years ago. I believe the France family and Madison Avenue forgot that us Southerners are very slow to change, and really hate it being thrust on them. Their core crumbled, and they will keep spit balling ideas to try to recapture it. The day they ban coolers in the grandstands will be the final nail in the coffin.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      How many people, not directly related to either one, can tell Matt Kenseth from Kevin Harvick… or care. The demise of NASCAR’s Good Old Boys Era is often cited as a death knell… and stats back that up. As track attendance continues to drop, what do you do with the huge speedways ??
      .
      Part of the appeal was the huge crowds. A half-filled grandstand and empty VIP Sponsor suites sends a different message.

      • ultraviolet Reply
        2 weeks ago

        I never attended a stock car race. i used to go to the local drag strip (back when that stood for straight ahead racing), but never cared for the NASCAR type. But, I have the distinction of having slept on both the Rockingham and Charlotte tracks at first the Peach Tree festival in Rockingham and then one called August Jam at CMS (early 70s era). Quite an experience at both. First time I’d ever been to California if you know what I mean.

        • BobLee Reply
          2 weeks ago

          My only comparable is standing at the Start/Finish line at Bristol with Emmitt Smith discussing the obvious lack of “bruthas” in the grandstands.

        • NCSU68Grad Reply
          2 weeks ago

          memories…..

          Can it be that it was all so simple then?
          Or has time re-written every line?
          If we had the chance to do it all again
          Tell me, would we? Could we?

          Nights of the past in the CMS infield back in the mid 60’s. Impromptu card game on the hood of a hopped up Oldsmobile. Owner returns and tells folks to the the heck off his car. Switchblade is displayed and game continues…
          U-Haul Truck comes in. Followed by older Ford Convertible with 4 or so “Daisy Mae” type ladies. TopS down… The truck stops and the lads do some rearrangement in the rear. The convertible cruises the infield with the la$$e$ attracting more attention than Morgana in a shopping center fountain….and then returns to the truck. The two lads put out lounge chairs and the lasses enter the truck. SUPPOSEDLY….no personal knowledge…..there were 4 mattresses and blanket curtains. The lads collect the money and the line was long and distinguished (note Slider’s comment in Top Gun).
          Then the day of the race….the sun beams down. Hot beers are traded for cold ones…$2 each. Folks run out gas. Gas is sold for $5 per gallon to get folks OUT of the infield.
          I have traveled all over the world…but the Infield and the CMS race (supposedly the same at Bristol and ‘Dega) remain some of the most unusual events.
          What would a kidnapped and released Snowflake do there?

  • OldWuf Vet Reply
    3 weeks ago

    I’ve read MKH’s past work and caught her on Fox in the past. I follow her on Twitter. If you’re not o. Twitter already, don’t bother, cause it’s pretty much a cesspool at this point. The meanness practiced on Twitter is pretty shocking to an old guy. Anyway, MKH stands toe-to-toe with the liberal horde daily. They attempt to match wits with her but most are wit-deficient. I primarily enjoy seeing her thrive after her personal tragedies. Bless her.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      MKH and I differ when it comes to Trump but otherwise I’ve been a fan going back to her great HamNation videos. The tragic death of her husband was awful.

  • Doug Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Only went to one race. Darlington, Labor Day race. Sat in the backstretch with the other bubba’s on a hot steamy day with my just potty trained son. On about lap 10 he crawled into my lab and slept for two solid hours. I was cramping up within 30 minutes. Maybe the most miserable I’ve ever been. Hot, sweaty, dusty, with airborne tire tread stuck to the sweat. Tough on the small track towns that lost races. I can’t say it’s any sadder that what has happened in too many small towns in the past 30 odd years. On the bight side many of those small forgotten middle American towns were full of enough deplorables in November to make a difference.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      So Rockingham and DArlington need a Chef & The Farmer to re-invent themselves ???

  • Myowngrandpaw Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Driverless cars. The comment about people no longer able to work on their own cars because of technology is dead on. When do we get to the time where the stock cars go around without drivers? Sheldon Cooper will be”driving”. When they go to the segment to look into the workings of a NASCAR car, my eyes just glaze over.

    ALTHOUGH, when they run moonshine with driverless cars, it will be tougher to find the still.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road…

  • @CarolineduRosso Reply
    3 weeks ago

    I stopped giving a damn about NASCAR when they abandoned Rockingham, Darlington and North Wilkesboro for Ontario, Fontana and Jolie, and if my beloved Wolfpack starts playing their home games in Schenectady they can go to hell too!

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      The move from the small town tracks to the major markets is an oft-cited line in the sand for NASCAR. I could argue for either side.

  • Chris in Wallburg Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Never have looked under the hood of my 2012 Acura TSX. Not proud of that fact but what would I do when I got it open? And I used to do it all.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I can hook up jumper cables. Does that count? PLUS – I’m a whiz at adding windshield washer fluid.

  • Queen City Reply
    3 weeks ago

    I attended a race in Charlotte Motor Speedway last year after a 10 year hiatus. The only originality left from the good ole days was in the parking lot which was a sea of fried chicken, cold beer and country music. I still call it Winston Cup and could not believe it when I saw it but once I entered the speedway I noticed the concourses had set up designated smoking areas. NASCAR like ESPN has abandoned their fan base by ditching the short tracks in NC and going to the longer tracks in Texas and Vegas and that weird road thing in California. Nothing says Nascar like Sonoma Valley. Very sad, I rarely keep up with the sport anymore..

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      There is no better proof that a sport has lost its Mojo than the fact there is no more clamor for “black drivers”.

  • NCSU68Grad Reply
    3 weeks ago

    My compliments to you for the link. Wonderful piece of writing from a very elegant and talented lady. Enjoyed every line.

    Hale from Catawba county. Grew up with a real wheel guy that never made it big, but sure could tear up the county roads. He was a Chevy mechanic. Selectively and safely totaled his beast when a red split window Stingray showed up at the dealership with a special high performance engine. He drove it away with the insurance settlement.

    He eventually became th Fonze and taught automotive at my high school. They built him a $2 million shop with 6 bays. His students were the cream of the crop and worked for the majors. My cousin is now running it and his students are in high demand….but now have to have specialized community college degrees.

    My NASCAR days go back to Charlotte in 1963. Took a long sabbatical, but was an avid fan watching every weekend on TV. Started going back when we started motor homing in 2006. Fortunately have connections so hot passes and tickets are complimentary. Don’t abuse it though.

    My take, based on several friends that are in the auto business and also connected to the most famous team owner is that Dale’s death was strike 1; a Jeff Gordon retirement was strike 2; Casey went down swinging when Jr. pulled the pin. NASCAR is a dead man walking or on life support. I don’t plan my weekends around race time anymore….and I know many that quit following in 2001 and never looked back.

    It takes a gearhead to appreciate what goes into a car. I toured DEI in 2003 and talked to the shock guy. You can engineer and simulate a lot of things. He was the control guy. His experience and tales were what makes legends. He knew how to make the car loose so that Dale, Jr. could power slide and let the rear end almost break loose. Dale would test the shocks and help with the setup. Michael Waltrip would have broken out in a cold sweat with that setup. He liked his so tight that it would hardly ever break loose. Factor in about 30+ tracks which had different setups and then have three different drivers with totally different preferences and you now understand why the shock guy’s notes are more guarded than Ft. Knox.

    You also need to do one of the NASCAR driving experiences to fully understand what MKH was talking about. When you get that OMG feeling in your gut when you enter turn 3 at CMS and you are NOT following a lead car….you begin to have a better understanding of what the driver is experiencing. When I watch a CMS race, I do it more intently.

    Sorry for ramblings. I hope NASCAR makes it….but I have my doubts….and I am only parroting what the insiders express candidly.

    Again….hats off to MKH for a great piece and to you for linking it.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      You’re quite welcome. MKH’s comments about kids not growing up with socket wrenches any longer was especially insightful. Every spectator sport is in a “free market” competition with EVERYTHING for our time and attention. And “we” are a fickle lot…

  • uncleron Reply
    3 weeks ago

    I’ll bet that’s the first Nascar column ever to use the word elegiacal. Well done. I took US 1 to Augusta a couple of weeks ago. Great decision to avoid 95. Going through Rockingham and Camden, and seeing the houses that textiles built, it reminded me of similar declines Down East. We stopped and had lunch in Rockingham. It was a pretty place on a pretty day.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      Rockingham, Hamlet, Wadesboro, Ellerbe …. nice little NC towns. Nothing fancy and a bit slower pace of life.

      • Highstick Reply
        6 days ago

        Didn’t know MKH had a Richmond County connection…I grew up in Hamlet, drove the track before it was open and spent my last Sunday in the stands before heading off to the Army and that “great unpleasantness going on in Vietnam”. I lost the NASCAR thrill after the Army, but regained it when that feller from Olanta, SC that drove a car became a client of mine…Had some fun years in Dahlington and later at Charlotte after relocating. When little France started screwing around, it wasn’t hard for me to understand why it no longer even worth watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon on TV. No more personalities like Cale, Dale, Bobby, and certainly no Curtis Turners!

        • BobLee Reply
          6 days ago

          I’m convinced not even “blood kin” can tell Matt Kenseth from Kevin Harvick. Who cares?

  • rivlax Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Hey, thanks for the compliments to me and to MK, BL.

    I’ve only been to one NASCAR race myself, the 1979 Talladega 500, and then I was a guest in the Gulf skybox, not in the stands with the Bubbas. But, as one commenter pointed out, I enjoyed watching on the boob tube with suds nearby. Did that for about 15 years until there were no more Southerners to root for and Jimmy Johnson started winning every dang thing.

    But I have been to Daytona five times, just not for the 500. Went to the Daytona 24 Hours sports car race from 1971-75. Quit going when my wife threatened divorce. Sitting in the infield for 24 hours while five-litre Porsches and Ferraris roared around you non-stop was not her idea of a fun weekend at the beach.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      You’re quite welcome “MKHD”. Better warn The Federalist to boost their server to handle the extra traffic.

  • The Expatgriate Reply
    3 weeks ago

    This is not only a wonderful piece of writing but also a sort of case study of sociology, psychology and the human condition in general. Although I e I’m an unreconstructed sportswriter, I’ve never been to a stock-car race, but I’ve been to Darlington, Rockingham, North Wilkesboro and the big boy at Charlotte. Why? Because I wanted to see the places where long-ago heroes did their thing — just like I went out of my way to see the football stadiums at Princeton University and Louisiana Tech. I’m not sure this means anything to anyone but me, but Miss Ham rang my chimes. Thank you for making it possible for non-readers of The Federalist to appreciate its quality.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      IMO “seeing at least one NASCAR race” should be on every bucket list. It is a unique sensory experience. One day after my 32nd I had “had enough” of the hassle and noise et al…. never went back.
      .
      I was getting paid to go otherwise I think I would have stopped after visiting all the major tracks. The Night Race @ Bristol is the Special One.

  • RR.HP Reply
    3 weeks ago

    While not your column, a very good, nostalgic read about NASCAR, Dale, Jr., etc. Thanks for sharing it.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      You’re welcome. Our goal is for you to come here to be Entertained. And leave here having been ….
      .
      Short of Nun Porn we are open to anything.

  • Elrod Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Nicely done, simple yet elegant article. MKH hit all the appropriate points except one, and it’s the one you speak of often: the enjoyability of a sporting event on your own big-screen TV with a nearby couch and refrigerator. There are a couple of things even that can’t duplicate, though; the smells and sounds of a live NASCAR race. Personally, I really miss the days of loose regulations and imaginative race car “engineering”. Unfortunately things change, and in some ways not always for the better. Thanks for bringing in a quality pinch-hitter, BL.

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      MKH’s point about the demise of auto mechanics classes in high school as a factor was fascinting. The connection between NASCAR and the average guy has frayed. NASCAR on TV has none of the visceral elements of “being there”… sights, sounds, etc.

  • Charlotte Wuffie Reply
    3 weeks ago

    Psst…. BL, you need to spell KathArine correctly…

    • BobLee Reply
      3 weeks ago

      I thought I was doing good not to spell Ham with 2 M’s.

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