Hard to believe another year has gone by and it’s time to get out some paper and pen and jot down a few request for the ol’ Racing Santa. This will be the 12th edition of what has become one of my holiday traditions, and it seems this year there are more drivers, owners and crew members that could use a little something nice from the big man dressed in red.
I have often been asked what this Racing Santa would look like and the best description I could give you would be a cross between Junior Johnson and Bruton Smith with a big white beard. Both could do the job as Junior has that downhome personality that would be a hit with everyone and Bruton could make sure any wish could come true. So let’s get that mental picture in our minds and write down a few “wants” for those that make a living in our sport of racing.
Please bring Bobby Labonte one more ride in his career that would give him the opportunity to show the rest of the series that he still has the talent that won him a Sprint Cup championship. While we are speaking of championships, please bring Carl Edwards enough opportunities to do his patented backflip after a win to once again make him a serious contender to win his first ever title.
Regan Smith doesn’t have a ride at this time but I sure would like for you to put him in one for the 2009 season. If that happens then he may just actually win his first-ever Cup race, you know like the one he “almost” did at Talladega in October. He crossed the finish line first but according to NASCAR’s yellow line rule, he didn’t get the opportunity to experience the trip to victory lane.
Santa, this may sound silly but I would like for you to find a good home for “Digger”. You know that cute little gopher that FOX liked to use to get that track level shot of the cars during a race. D.W. and Larry Mac were fond of him but I think most of us watching on TV would like to see the little critter go back to the wild and die at a ripe old age.
Hendrick Motorsports’ newest superstar, Mark Martin, needs enough luck to allow him to make the Chase and go into the final race of the season at Homestead Miami with a great opportunity to win his first-ever championship. It is the only thing left that he doesn’t have on his Hall of Fame resume and I think everyone involved in the sport would help him celebrate such an accomplishment.
I didn’t think I would ever be asking you for a home for Richard Petty’s famous #43 car. Petty Enterprises has laid off many of its workers and can’t find a full season’s worth of sponsorship for what is one of the sport’s most recognizable cars. Rumors are still going around that the car may wind up as part of the Gillette-Evernham operation, which wouldn’t be my first choice as I am an “old school” fan of the sport, but a fan that knows the car needs to be in the starting lineup when the green flag waves at Daytona.
The track owners would tell you they would like to see more sold tickets for next year, but my wish for them would be a common starting time. Last season you had to spin the hands on the clock to try and figure out when a race was going to start. Whatever happened to the days when the green flag dropped at 1:00 on Sundays? It sure made it easier on the fans watching and I am not so sure there weren’t more fans watching.
My last request is for the fans. Somehow, Santa, please bring down the prices of tickets, motels and gas so they can get back to the track. Going to a race now has unfortunately become a luxury for fewer and fewer fans and without those seats being filled each weekend, the whole sport will suffer.
I thank all of you who follow this column each week. My wish for you is a very happy holiday season filled with family and friends and some time to reflect back on the true meaning of this special time of year. Merry Christmas and may God bless you!