Escape Roof Hatch, Or Winner Victory Hatch

September 28, 2003

Today the EA Sport 500 at Talladega, and one of the restrictor plate tracks was no less still ruled by DEI., Inc. A lot has happened this season and I have busy in my dirt track news and not had time to get my two cents in, but I could not keep quiet today. It really began with the twenty ending laps after Jeff Burton in his Citgo Ford blew a motor. The track had to be cleaned and checked for oil. It was the restart that became more D R A M A today. Although all races have their drama I think. The restart with the caution laps left sixteen laps remaining. But it was not even that, that made the ending. It was the new NASCAR approved roof hatch that the winner Michael Waltrip had installed for this race that made the day. As most of you know Michael Waltripís a tall man. It has become an issue this season more so, because so many cars have caught fire when wrecked. The drivers and safety designers have endless ideas to better things to help get the driver out of the car as fast as possible after a crash. I donít remember seeing so many cars in a season catching fire so much, and not just fuel flames when restarted. But, back to the hatch, Michael, was the only one to have the hatch installed, and the only one to have it for this race. Safety has become an infinitive concern every since the late great Dale Earnhardt was killed at Daytona in 2001. Which should be an important factor anyway? But, Michael used the hatch as not a safety feature but for his victory salute. I had no problems with this. But I bet NASCAR will have a new rule for that on Monday. The guys canít get on top of the roof anymore because of post inspection problems and specifications being faulted if they do, so what better way to get to pop out of the car so fast. I donít think Michael actually meant for it to come off as that, but what struck me was his face. Being a fan and writer, I enjoy so much of the feel and excitement I receive watching the expressions, smiles, and eyes of the winner. It doesnít even have to be a win to even see the pleasure in the drivers or crews enthusiasm. I sure hope I always feel that way about racing, and I can't see why I would not always feel that way. Just last week at my home track, the Delaware International Speedway, in Delmar DE, one of the drivers Glen Richards had a brand new Dirt Wheel Chassis Big Block Modified. Glen usually runs in the Modified Lite class so to have this brand new big block was a thrill I am sure. But what got me, when I asked him some questions about the car and all, it was the gleam in his eye that really got to me. He was just like a kid in a candy store, and he had every right to feel that way. Although he may not have won, the satisfaction in his eyes and smile said it all. To me that was the way I interpreted Michael Waltripís win was for him. Today thereís so many wires, gadgets, and protection for the driver, it takes them a minute to get out. Plus, the races do take a toll on the guys, staying focused, no breaks, they canít get out and stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, and the whole enduring of it all. At least we the spectators can move about when we travel five-hundred miles.

So my hat was off to Michael Waltrip for his second win of the year in his NAPA Auto powered Chevy. DEI still rules on the restrictor plate track. The last twenty laps got me how Dale Jr., and Michael cold go to the outside of the field bounce back or get a run from there and go to the front. It just amazes me when they do that.

The rules seem to change each week or every other day maybe. The restrictor plate holes were bigger to give more horses, but the tail spoiler was raised to make more drag. It evens out I imagine. Then there was the rule last week with the cars not racing back to the start-finish line at the caution flag. Oh yeah, and the leading lap car gets to have his lap given back to him. Which did help Newman last week and Dale Jr. this week? I kinda still like them racing back to the finish line, but things change. Everything new always has a tweak here or there anyway, itís usually the change itís self thatís hard. Well, for me anyway.

A lot has happened this season, so I am sure you have not heard the last from me. But for now I just wanted to say how much I enjoy racing. How I love to see the determination each week in the drivers, crews, fans, and writers. That makes it all worth while. I am just a hard hearted die hard race fan. Racing is my sport that I crave for all the time. Not baseball, football, basketball, or any other sport so much as racing does for me. I am an adventurous person, and I have to have that NEED FOR SPEED filled to get by to next week. So until you hear form me again, see you at the track.

Bonnie Nibblett