I’m very thankful I covered the NASCAR Cup Series when I did. I’m not sure I would have survived in this day and time.
I was fortunate during my career as a motorsports journalist to be around during the time when the writers got to know the drivers, car owners and mechanics, and the drivers, car owners and mechanics got to know the writers.
By knowing each other, we knew who we could trust and not trust.
It’s not like that today.
There was a time when I knew every crewman who worked in that garage by name. That was the time when the guys who worked on the race cars at the team’s shops were the same guys who came to the track for the race and pushed the cars through inspections and to the starting grid, and the majority of the crewmen made up the seven over-the-wall men for pit stops.
There was no shop crew or race-day crew in those days.
Not only did you know these guys, but you were able to write better and more personal stories about them. Those days are gone.
It was enjoyable to spend time talking to drivers and anyone else in the garage area. A lot of it was referred to as “bench-racing.” Those days have vanished, too.
One of the best compliments I have had as writer came from Eddie Wood, who now runs Wood Brothers Racing with his brother Lennie. He told me one day, “You never sold us down the river when you wrote about us. You can quote me on anything you want to and I’ll back you up.”
That was because we knew each other and trusted each other.
Now, I’ll bet you I can’t tell you 10 names of folks who work in that garage or pit the cars during Sprint Cup events.
One of the main reasons for all this is the motorhome community. Just about every driver, a lot of the crew chiefs and others have a motorhome they can retreat to when they need some place to hide. It’s the worst thing that NASCAR’s permitted in the track’s infield-garage areas.
Have you ever tried gaining access to this motorhome community?
It’s a lot easier to gain entrance to Fort Knox than NASCAR’s motorhome community.
That’s the way NASCAR wants it though.
It’s another method NASCAR has for keeping tabs on its drivers and crew chiefs.
A friend of mine, one of the best motorsports journalists I’ve ever known, told me he was getting out of the business not long ago.
“I had a story to do one week and when I went to do it, I spent all my time going through about 40 or so public relations people, half of them didn’t know me and I never got to speak to the driver I was assigned to do this story on,” my friend said.
“So, I decided it was time for me to try something else.
“It’s just not like it used to be.”