I knew that fateful day in February 2001, was the beginning of the end of an era. The last of a dying breed had passed and what was left to carry on was another class of souls.
This other class of souls became infatuated with fame and fortune instead of dust and grease. Gone were the mighty soldiers that worked hard day and night; blood, sweat, and tears mixed with oil and steel.
Gone were the giants of loyalty and values, where their word was enough and their handshake said it all. In its place are people selling out to the highest bidder and seeking headlines versus trophies.
No longer can you count on your heroes of the asphalt, for they will turn their back on who made them who they are for the right price. They flip flop their "loyalties" faster then they can change a tire and change their minds.
I have been a loyal fan; better yet they were family; coming into my living room, me going to their haunts. I never shopped the competitor's sponsors, I never crossed the lines, and I and my family were loyal, now we are left asking why.
I knew when things started becoming so PC that you were afraid to blow your nose without being fined, that this was another step toward the grave, such as the change of the main sponsor, because it might offend or lead others astray.
Then came race name changes, only so many allowed in their elite field, venues shutting down, grandfather clauses and silly seasons. Then there was the Chase. All they are chasing is dollar signs and points not wins. What happened to our sport?
Since when is Japanese part of any American sport?
It breaks my heart to watch them cater to a crowd of flash-in-the-pan stars and would-be celebrities. Where are you roots planted now, certainly not where they started.
So go on swapping teams, driver, sponsors and words. Time will move on and as the wave of the fame crashes down, watch around to who is there to clean up. Not many if you keep on your path, only the die-hards if that.
If He were still around it wouldn't be this way. And I know he is turning over in his grave.
So to you money hungry, power happy, Hollywood ass kissing, back-stabbing phonies heed this warning, keep this up and not only will your stands continue to stay empty and your ratings drop, but we will take joy in watching you flop.
I am sticking by my man, for with his bowtie he shall stand strong and fierce, a knight of His army of steel and asphalt. Black or yellow I will stay true.
So as He looks down from above at this disappointing sight one wonders if it is even worth the fight.
I hope that one day it will go back to the way it once was: steel, sweat, oil, asphalt, and burnouts, true celebrations and winning at all cost. But for now I just watch and weep as the loss of an era sinks in deep.