BRUNSWICK, GA. | You may have seen some variation of this headline last week: At 42, Jeff Gordon shows no sign of slowing down.
For those of you who don’t know, Jeff Gordon is a Sprint Cup racer, who drives old No. 24. This headline, an easy and obvious one to write, probably showed up a lot of places after Gordon won his fifth Brickyard 400 a week ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won in one of the few Chevrolets that hasn’t been recalled.
Auto racing’s popularity is fading, but trying to outrun other people comes naturally. We start on school playgrounds, continue when we get our driver’s licenses and don’t let up until we’re in the place of honor in the hearse.
Not that we all sneak out and go drag racing on lonely stretches of straight country roads. We try to win the little battles on the roadways even when there’s no trophy or checkered flag waiting. Drivers close gaps in traffic to keep other people from getting in front of them. We drive a little too fast to beat other people to the choice parking spaces at church.
We barrel out of the church parking lots to beat the crowds to restaurants. I have personal knowledge of this one.
A few weeks ago, I saw a man teaching his young daughter to drive a golf cart, which isn’t legal. In a few summers, when school’s out and mom and dad are working, she’ll compete in the middle school golf cart races.
Maybe someday we’ll read, “At 42, Heather Speed, the first woman to win the Daytona 500, shows no signs of slowing down.”
Gordon turns 43 on Monday. For the past 21 years, 43 has seemed young to me, and you can figure out why. That age is considered doddering in about every sport except golf, which has a senior tour for those 50 and older.
I don’t watch races unless everything else is a rerun, there are rain delays on all the baseball games and golf tournaments and PBS is trying to raise money. If I wanted to watch someone turn left constantly, I’d watch some campaign ads.
The old boys who run Sprint Cup ought to think about starting their own senior tour.
It would take some accommodations, such as putting turn signals on the cars to blink 500 miles nonstop.
Also, you might need to paint some blue spaces on pit row for the geezers who don’t get around well anymore.
Those are just inconveniences, but there would be some benefits, such as getting Buick and Mercury back on the track, and it would open the door to a lot of new sponsors.
The commentators could say, “If he had some Fasteeth on them tires, he wouldn’ta spun out in turn 4.”
Besides, a lot of guys would love to go back to having someone else fill the tank and clean the windshield.
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