TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER - May 19, 2017

TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER – May 19, 2017

Senoia Raceway fans, drivers, crew members and family can look forward to this weekly blog from journalist Rick Minter.  Rick has been reporting on motorsports at Senoia Raceway and elsewhere since 1976.




Many NASCAR fans today feel that series officials are getting too nit-picking with their technical inspections.


Teams are losing points and crew chiefs are being suspended over their race car bodies failing to meet the tolerances by amounts less than the thickness of a dime.


It’s true that any racing organization, from Senoia Raceway to NASCAR’s highest division, needs to have rules to keep racing competitive and to keep costs down as much as possible for competitors.


But the limits, and the enforcement, need to be reasonable.


With the Southern All Stars coming to Senoia this weekend, I thought about a conversation I had years ago with the late series founder, B.J. Parker.


I called Parker to talk about rules enforcement after Jeremy Mayfield’s team was caught using a fuel containing an oxygen enhancer during qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway.


I began the interview by telling Parker I was doing a story on cheating in racing.


His immediate reply was: “I don’t really like to call it ‘cheating,’” he said. “I like to call it ‘gaining an advantage.’”


Parker went on to recount a racing fuel story of his own.


It seems that when he was running a NASCAR-sanctioned short track, I believe it was Birmingham International Raceway, a rule came out from Daytona Beach that local tracks were to check for illegal fuel.


Parker had no experience in this area, and didn’t really want to fool with it to start with.  So he called the late Jim Hunter, who was in charge of NASCAR’s short track program at that time and later became the company spokesman.


They debated the issue for a while, and Hunter, who was always a reasonable fellow, came up with a solution.


“He told me to take a sample from the car, put it in a Coca-Cola bottle and put a stopper in the top,” Parker said. “Then I was to put it under my bed, and if the fuel didn’t eat through the bottle by morning to call it legal.”


Hunter, of course, was speaking in jest, but I don’t recall Parker ever throwing out any winners because of improper fuel.


I always felt like Parker could draw a good field of drivers, even though he usually wasn’t the highest-paying promoter, because he was a reasonable person and drivers could count on the fact that they wouldn’t lose their money over a nit-picking call on the rules.


B.J. Parker was a good promoter.  We need more like him today.


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