Bristol Legends Race

      It was nice to go back in time at Bristol

                                       March 24, 2009    Dale Wilkerson


If you thought you were in a time warp Saturday night, when you heard names like Pearson, Yarborough, Gant, Parsons, Ingram, Ottinger and Johnson being introduced before the race and then you heard Ned Jarrett calling the race, no you were not in a time warp.

            It was the Bristol Motor Speedway’s way of raising money for charities while giving fans, both in attendance and watching on ESPN-2, a way to see legends of both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series turn a few more laps at the world’s fastest half mile speedway.

            David Pearson gave the command to start the engines while Bobby Allison drove the pace car, leading this pack of 12 Bristol past winners to the green flag.

Sterling Marlin made the home folks proud as he powered by Harry Gant, off turn two, to take the lead on his way to the flag-to-flag win in the Saturday Night Special at Bristol Saturday night.

            Rusty Wallace came home in second place while L.D. Ottinger drove a loose car home in third place.

            Gant was running a strong second when the hood on his car came loose. Junior Johnson was slowed by a practice crash where he was clipped and sent in to the wall by Jimmy Spencer. Larry Pearson had some mechanical problems as well that hampered his night.

            Seeing these Legends on track again reminded me how certain numbers make us think of certain drivers, and not always the current driver of that number.

            Even though Ernie Irvan and the late Bobby Hamilton won races with the same team, I will always put that yellow and red number four with Sterling Marlin. That was the color scheme that Marlin used last Saturday night.

            The following numbers, three, nine, 21, 28, and 43 also make me think of certain drivers, and certain paint jobs. I have always liked older cars, and looking back there are some old race cars that stand out. First because of the drivers that made these cars famous, and second for the paint jobs that made these cars standout from the crowd.

            I continue to hope some more of the current cars will look back at the older cars for paint job designs.

            Last year we saw Dale Jr. run the old Darrell Waltrip Mountain Dew paint job at Darlington. Also on that May night, Bill Elliott’s Woods Brothers Ford carried the Purolator paint scheme while Travis Kvapil’s team unloaded his #28 Ford in a retro Fred Lorenzen paint job.

            The Woods Brothers’ showed that you can take an old paint job and make it work with a current sponsor, as the 21 carried the Motorcraft sponsor with the classic Purolator paint job.

            Jeff Gordon’s #24 will carry another Darrell Waltrip retro paint job this season. Gordon will run the Pepsi Challenger look that Waltrip used in the early eighties with Junior Johnson.  

            Seeing those 12 cars roll of Saturday Bristol did bring back a lot of memories. I hope the folks at the Bristol Motor Speedway and NASCAR will hold more events like the Saturday Night Special in the future.

            And if we see more events like that one for the legends of the sport, I hope the folks that design the paint schemes for the current Sprint and Nationwide teams will take a lot pictures, to help them remember what a well painted race car is supposed to look like.