This past weekend, in Mt Airy, NC, the 2nd Annual Mt Airy Moonshine and Racer's Reunion was held.
While I regretfully did not get to attend, Georgia was represented both in attendance and in the new 'Wall of Fame' in downtown, with such names already in the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, like Ed Samples, Red Vogt, and Gober Sosebee. Two of Sosebee's original cars were on display at the event.
If Mt Airy sounds familiar, that's because that's the home of Andy Griffith, and what 'Mayberry' was based upon. And when Moonshine/Racing history and one of TV's all time most popular shows all intertwine, you're sure to have a great event.
Many people, myself included, long for days of slowing down and simplicity, as was portrayed in Mayberry, on the Andy Griffith Show. Many fans of the classic show wish to go back to a time like that.
I'll go one step further and wish we could go back to a different time in racing as well. I hear so many times on a regular basis that "racing was just different back then"
And it was.
Of course racing was way more dangerous anytime 'back then' that is is now. Safety constantly improves. Heck, auto racing is safer now than even 5 years ago. But on the other hand, that factor of danger is what drew fans and drivers alike to the sport.
Another thing I hear the most from fans, is that auto racing is a 'rich man's sport'. Which is definitely not untrue. Back in a previous time, one could quite literally build a racecar from junkyard parts in a garage and enter their jalopy at the local dirt track. That too, is few and far between now as even lower, entry level classes run specialty bodies that are bought.
Gone are the days when someone like Gober Sosebee, could find a body of say, a 39' Ford, for a few dollars, take the engine out, do his own honing, machining, and engineering to get the most out of his engine, without ordering a turn-key build from a catalog.
But most of what I think is missed in racing today is the characters and personalities that used to fill the garage area and pit road. Racers had nicknames. Racers were relatable. The common blue collar fan could relate to Harry Gant because if he won on Sunday, he would still be working on houses on Monday. If Earnhardt won on Sunday, you could bet that he would be feeding his chickens first thing Monday morning. Go back further and you'd find the winners on Sunday would go back Monday to the job that paid them just enough to try and afford to race.
The point I'm trying to make, is that while so many people look to watch the Andy Griffith Show, as a brief escape from modern reality, there's a plethora of racing enthusiasts that thrive off of watching old footage, reading old programs or going through photos of era's gone by. Stop and appreciate the moments now that will be remembered as history later. And most importantly, don't let yesterday's history be forgotten for tomorrow's fan.