I’m here in Daytona. Each year, this is my pilgrimage. I spend a whole week out here. The first few days of the week, I spend entrenched in the archives. It seems strange to come out here and not get to the track right away, I know. But as a historian, there is no place that I would rather be.
There isn’t anything at all that is better than listening to the people who made our sport share their own history. People know that Tiger Tom Pistone was afraid he was going to drown in the lake at Daytona, but it is another thing altogether to hear him talk about his breathing apparatus and his life jacket. Straight from the horses mouth!
The other Must Do on my list for Daytona is attending the Living Legends of Auto Racing Award Banquet. Another chance to see and meet folks who made brought our sport from the fields of the South into the world renowned sport that it is today. I know that there are a lot of stories out there this week on Daytona, and the history of the track and the legacy of Dale Earnhardt. I am always grateful when the history of our sport come a little but more into the spot light. I do my part and hope that perhaps the things that I write about encourage other people to go dig a little bit more into the history of the sport.
As for me, I try to never stop discovering new stories. For example, I get to share with you all a “Little Bit Right, Little Bit Wrong” story. Tonight, I ran into the daughter of Smokey Yunick. I finally got to inquire about the building still standing on the lot at the site of the Best Damn Garage. It isn’t that I don’t know that some of the buildings were lost, but I wanted to know for sure about the one that was still there. Turns out, it was the office and the truck shop. The Garage itself was indeed lost to demolition.So there you go! You never know, but until I asked, I was (and you, dear reader, I suppose) were stuck in the “what if” part of knowing.
The best thing about being a historian isn’t being Right, or knowing more than the guy next to you, it is that you are always learning. The best thing about being a NASCAR historian is sometimes, the very guy who made that history, can tell you the story.