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Back to America

by Curtis Redgap

September 11, 2001 will be another date which will live in infamy. Most of us will never forget what we were doing or where we were when the news of the sneak attack became known to us. We saw the worst of evil, and we saw the best of America.

It took several hours for the realization to penetrate into our brains that what we had been told to expect had finally happened. We were vulnerable. Decent people the world over were affected and had ties to the World Trade Center. Persons from 80 different countries are among the innocents that lost their lives.

To make matters worse, the same group attacked the center of America's military headquarters, the Pentagon. No less deplorable, relatively speaking, the despicable act claimed less innocent people. Much of that credit can be given to the design of the building with its Kevlar laminate throughout the outside walls. Otherwise, potentially over 800 of America's service people could have been murdered.

Sports activities, indeed most activities were canceled all across this nation. That included football, baseball, and NASCAR. Shopping malls looked abandoned. Restaurants closed early for lack of customers, even McDonalds, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, and Arbys. Car sales plunged over 35% in one day. The American Stock Market lost over 1,400 points in the next week. All the while, the grim business of digging through the pile of rubble that once was the World Trade Center buildings and the entire wall of the Pentagon went on. People stayed home, wanting to be close to the center of their security, indeed, pulling their loved ones close, while they watched the grim images over the many TV stations, hour upon hour.

For a time, we appeared to be without direction. However, in the true sense of America, our leadership came through. President Bush, along with members of Congress, started guiding our great country. We mourned, we cried, we honored heroes, we are still digging in the rubble, and we asked "why?" Then, in one of the most moving speeches I have ever heard in my life, the man that had been taunted by the specter of last November's elections, rose to the occasion. At times, nearly emotional, at others, grim, as well as being determined, President Bush gave this country something to cheer for, and be proud of after the terrible acts of September 11. We are now moving. We know where we are going, and if the sorry people that committed this heinous crime are out there, they know where they are going when we get there. Fervently, I hope all of them are found, and in the true meaning of Islam as well as Christianity, they are sent straight to hell for eternity.

This weekend, we got back to the business of America. Yes, our stock market has been hit, but it will be back. Shopping malls were empty, but not this weekend. College and the NFL were back in full force. My Seminoles slipped very badly, but the Gators took some of the sting away. And NASCAR went back in full force today. The MNBA 400. Even with the rigid security measures, 140,000 seats, to capacity, were full when Dale Jarrett lead the 43 cars out on the first lap. While Dale Jarrett didn't win, he hung in there all day with an ill handling car. He got "tagged" by Tony Stewart with 14 laps to go.

There seemed to be a lot of use of the "chrome horn" in the race today. I think NASCAR better tighten up its rules again. Jeff Gordon took out Ron Hornadaym in a bumper tag situation that resulted in the wrecking of 4 other veteran drivers. I like racing, but I don't like to see that deliberate action taken to either advance or win. NASCAR says that they have strict rules against "bumping," however, I don't see very strict enforcement of it. Rusty Wallace always whines about others giving him the "snout," yet he is the first one to use it against someone else.

In a related note, all things of heroes are not without question. In an Orlando Sentinel article concerning the Dodge teams, the king of NASCAR racing, Richard Petty, was sorely criticized. Characterizing him as "abusive", the article stated that he fires drivers at will and apparently without cause. It was particularly evident in the Craftsman Truck Series.

The paper also stated that he is behind the times when it comes to new equipment on his racing machines, particularly the engines. Little or no development work has been done at Level Cross. The Sentinel also put a good word in for John Andretti, saying that he was an excellent open wheel driver, who could well be in the points lead hunt in NASCAR, if Petty Enterprises had up to date equipment. Kyle Petty, who is nominally supposed to be running the Petty operation at Level Cross has lost his desire to race, with the untimely death of his son Adam Petty. Lest we forget, the patriarch of the Petty clan, Lee Petty also passed away the same year as Adam. Only due to sponsor commitments with Sprint does Kyle continue to make appearances at NASCAR events.

Richard Petty last raced in 1992, where Atlanta Motor Speedway concluded the Fan Appreciation Tour. He had not won a race since the 1984 Daytona Firecracker 400.

Does it bode bad for Richard Petty and Petty Enterprises? I don't know. There is no one coming along in the family that I know of who is going to step to the front and take over, once Kyle decides he has had enough. Could that spell the end of the Petty Enterprise operation? I suppose it could, but business is a funny thing, and a whole range of possibilities could occur.

I just think that this outright mud slinging at Richard Petty at this time is a case of poor timing on the part of the Orlando Sentinel. When things should be solid, they choose to pick on the very image of NASCAR. I can only wonder "why?"

Copyright © 2001 Curtis Redgap, Orlando, Florida

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