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KERCHNER: Racing History Is Fascinating

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Some of the best racers of all time are currently honing their craft in stock cars, Indy cars, sprint cars, late models, Formula 1 machines and other types of racing vehicles.

Kyle Larson, Scott Dixon, Kyle Busch, Max Verstappen, Brad Sweet, Donny Schatz, Jonathan Davenport and so many other current stars will go down in the record books as some of racing’s greatest competitors.

The future generation is hot on their tails, however, and we’re all lucky to be able to witness such a great time in motorsports history. The sport is as safe as it’s ever been and, as a whole, as popular as ever with the masses.

Younger fans are starting to file through the gates thanks to being introduced to the sport through social media and streaming video.

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The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa. (SPEED SPORT photo)

That’s all a wonderful thing. Seriously, it is.

One day, all of these young stars such as Buddy Kofoid, Jesse Love, Alex Palou, Ryan Timms and others will be a proud part of racing’s history. It’s just the way it is.

But first, the history of the sport needs to take a higher profile. Racers, crew members officials and fans should embrace the past to better appreciate the sport’s present.

A veteran of 33 years of covering motorsports, we find the sport’s history to be fascinating and it drives us to not only remember, but to recognize and appreciate what happened in the motorsports industry 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.

Not that we’re stuck in the past. That’s not true at all. There’s nothing like watching racers such as Carson Macedo, Corey Day and David Gravel trade slide jobs in a fashion their predecessors never dreamed of doing, and the racing today is better than it’s ever been.

But racing’s past is a place filled with larger-than-life heroes, unbelievable race cars, long-gone race tracks and unbelievable accomplishments.

As SPEED SPORT prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary season of covering motorsports, we have nine decades of archives from which to pull. Nine decades of written word to examine and seek – as Paul Harvey said — the rest of the story.

One can get lost in the archives of National Speed Sport News. Researching a simple fact can lead to rabbit holes that unveil countless lost tidbits from motorsports history.

The historical news reports in NSSN tell us how things really happened, not what certain people or certain internet holding tanks tell us what happened. They tell the stories in the words of the people who were there. Sometimes it’s not pretty, other times those words are a thing of beauty.

NASCAR celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, and every event, every race along the way was covered somewhere in the SPEED SPORT archives. It was fascinating to see how some of those reports brought events such as the first Southern 500, Dale Earnhardt’s Daytona 500 victory, Jeff Gordon’s rise through midget racing to NASCAR and so many other things into perspective.

Perspective that today’s world doesn’t get with a limited word count on social media.

The World of Outlaws will celebrate its 50th anniversary in a few years and there is, perhaps, no other media source that has covered every WoO sprint car race since the first one at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in 1978.

There’s no doubt the SPEED SPORT archives will provide an informative journey through the history of one of short-track racing’s most-storied brands.

There is so much historical detail, particularly in the short-track racing world, that has been lost to time thanks to sales of racing organizations, tracks, the demise of motorsports publications and the simple passing of time.

Much of it lives in the SPEED SPORT archives and at museums such as the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and so many other motorsports museums.

While we will be sharing key moments in motorsports history during SPEED SPORT’s 90th anniversary, we challenge all to step away from your keyboard, visit a motorsports museum or read a racing book by amazing authors the likes of Bones Bourcier, Dave Argabright, Jade Gurss and so many others.

We’ll all enjoy today more if we understand what happened yesterday.


This story appeared in the Jan 17, 2024 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

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