Always Remember Racers

There are many names from racing's past still somewhat in the limelight. Drivers from decades ago continue to be sought-after commodities in various ways. Autograph sessions and fan club gatherings are big. But, in addition to the private sector, creative agencies and the corporate world recognize the value certain retired drivers retain.

You have to automatically figure anything Earnhardt stands tall in the marketing world, but go back even a bit further for distinctive popularities that might surprise you.

Richard Petty keeps himself and the Petty Enterprises operation planted firmly in the forefront of the business that is racing. They do a good job of it and have proven to be survivors. Aside from their own exploits, the racing world remembers Petty, and his likeness remains in high demand.

However, not all of those who were on fairly equal turf as active competitors stand equally as tall in the afterlife of racing. A case in point is Petty vs. Pearson.

As I said, Petty is and has always has been a good ambassador and promoter. Plus, he’s genuinely the kind of likeable person people want to be around and associate themselves or perhaps their products with.

Pearson, on the other hand, walked tall with Petty on a record not even found anymore in NASCAR’s modern day media guide: number of superspeedway wins. These two guys were tops. But Pearson has elected to fly under the radar since his departure from the tracks and, as a result, isn’t the recognizable figure he deserves to be.

Nothing can be subtracted from Pearson’s records, though. He was a three-time NASCAR national champion in the Cup Series during the late 1960s. Yet at the time when you would have most anticipated him reigning champ — the 1970s with the fabled Wood Brothers team — he never won the crown.

It’s all in what you want out of your career. Pearson virtually looked at it like, “when I retire, I’m done with racing.” My quotes, not his. But Petty saw an afterlife, and ran with it. So racing is an elective sport where one can choose their involvement on and off the track, active or not.

Bobby Allison and a host of others can be found actively participating in racing functions. Individual choices guide their destiny. They may just travel around and lend their name to racing today for the good of the sport. Still others may decide to establish themselves as a revenue-producing star, offering licensing rights for using their likeness.

The general point here is a positive one. That racing breeds good folks who should never be forgotten, regardless of their levels of exposure. Remember those who are no longer with us, remember those who were “firsts” in the endless mounds of statistics, remember those who were the role models for today’s young adults. And don’t let any of the players, visible or not in the present spotlight, be overshadowed.

After all, racers are heroes who brought so much enjoyment into our lives, so recognize each and every one for what they were and for what they have become.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2008

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