i’ve been looking through some old SCR magazines ( you know, the good ones, when Berggren was in charge ) and i found an interesting editorial i thought you guys would get a kick out of.
Stock Car Racing, October 1983
For several years, I have had a peculiar dream that one day NASCAR’s famed Winston Cup series would race at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In my dream, the race day action is bumper-to-bumper in a shootout with the Pettys, Allisons, Buddy Baker, A.J. Foyt, Harry Gant, Darrell Waltrip, Neil Bonnett, Dale Earnhardt and Benny Parsons in front of 200,000 spectators.
The dream is a combination of my boyhood memories of seeing Jack McGrath, Jimmy Bryan, Sam Hanks, Parnelli Jones, Pat O’Connor, Eddie Sachs and Foyt manhandle their roadsters through thte first and fourth turns at Indy and my adult enthusiasm for NASCAR Grand National stock car racing.
The dream almost became a reality two years ago. On a rainy day in May, Gasoline Alley and the Speedway were visited by Richard and Kyle Petty and Buddy Baker. The Pettys huddled with then-Speedway president John Cooper and took a hard look at the physical layout of the Speedway.
Later in the day, Petty observed that the Speedway would be ideal for NASCAR. There was plenty of room for stock cars in Gasoline Alley’s famed wooden garages, and stock car drivers would have little difficulty in getting around the Speedway which is slightly tighter than the old Ontario Motor Speedway, home of several NASCAR events.
The rumors of a NASCAR race at the Speedway never died during the summer of 1981. Speculation was fueled by a curious opening in the August NASCAR schedule in 1982. In reality only Cooper, Bill France, and Speedway chairman of the board Mary Hulman know exactly how close NASCAR came to running at Indianapolis.
It must have been too close for comfort for Indianapolis 500 traditionalists who want only to compare the 500 unto itself. Cooper suddenly stepped down as Speedway president in early May 1982, freeing the track of another year of NASCAR speculation and returning it to deeper Hulman family roots.
Still, the dream would come back. Just maybe something would happen and NASCAR would finally come to the Speedway. It is sad that the dream has vanished into just a memory of a race that will never take place.
Speedway president and treasurer Joseph R. Cloutier wiped out the dream on the morning of May 28 during the annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association breakfast at the Speedway.
Cloutier’s remarks included early comments that part of the Speedway tradition lies with the vast support it receives from Indianapolis and the town of Speedway during May.
Then Cloutier said, “We cannot have a small event … It has to be something larger than any of our qualifying days. People would not come two or three days ahead of time for a small event at the Speedway … If you want to see one race, you have to come here to the 500.”
Admittedly what I heard hadn’t soaked in until one avid stock car supporter at the table remarked, “Small minds talk about small events.”
Poof … There goes the dream.
It vanished at a time when NASCAR is drawing record crowds at Daytona, Talladega and Charlotte as well as providing great finishes after 500 miles of hard racing. NASCAR simply does not deal in “small events.”
To be sure, the Deep South would rise to the so-called “small event” at Indianapolis. Maybe, the racing would be better than what I saw on May 29. Maybe, Indianapolis and the Speedway would welcome the prestige and income from another race at the 2.5 mile oval. Maybe, tradition would finally yield and open the gates for another race day at the Speedway, this time for NASCAR stock cars.
Maybe, it’s all too much to ask.
well Al you only had to wait 11 more years. it was it worth it, wasn’t it?