Author: Kevin Eckert

Checkered Past

CHECKERED PAST: April Fools’ Night

April Fools’ Day is no holiday. No child is excused from school. No mail carriers hit the golf course. Auto racing does not circle the date as part of a three-day weekend. April Fools’ Day is basically a 24-hour moratorium on lying. The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series has raced nine

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Modified Outlaws

Jimmy Horton had a career decision to make. He had been chosen to follow Sammy Swindell into the Nance Speed Equipment that netted 1981-82 championships with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars. To racers not from New Jersey or New York, Horton had an easy choice. But those guys never won 42 Modified Stock Car

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Never Forget

“Let’s never forget what happened September 11th. They’re trying to change our country but we’re not going to let them.” Two decades ago, in the rubble of the deadly airstrike on America, that quote could have been pinned on George W. Bush, U.S President for eight months by 9/11. Instead, that solemn promise came from

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Outlaws do Daytona

Ask any kid in a Quarter Midget where they dream to race. Most will answer Indianapolis or Daytona because 500-milers in those hallowed cathedrals are America’s most famous, most prestigious, most lucrative events. To win either is to be immortal. To win both is to be A.J Foyt or Mario Andretti. Foyt and Mario rose

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Sunshine State of Mind

Florida is a unique peninsula to motorsports. More international racers have used it as a winter escape than a base of operations, Bill France and Smokey Yunick excluded. France famously suffered car trouble in Daytona Beach and decided it was as good a place as any to launch NASCAR America. Smokey flew an airplane above

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Indoor Outlaws

Outlaws built the Chili Bowl. Sure it was Emmett Hahn’s brilliant idea to create the world’s greatest indoor track but he required Outlaws to fill his hometown oil expo. Hahn had no business with Sammy Swindell or Doug Wolfgang prior to the first Chili Bowl Midget Nationals but Lanny Edwards did. Lanny and Beverly Edwards

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Aussie Outlaws

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Australia. It is a shopping festival not unlike Black Friday in America where “boxing” can mean fistfights over the last video game. Boxing Day is also the annual start of Australia’s Sprint Car Speedweek. In a year free from a global pandemic, 10 Americans would be far

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Ghost Tracks

The show “Lost Speedways” is my new old favorite. It is a collection of 30-minute stories of auto racing venues swallowed by real estate development, indifference, outrage or the trees cleared to accommodate them. Jungle Park, Macon, Asheville, Augusta, Metrolina and Hinchliffe Stadium have all been rediscovered. Each episode is a beautiful blend of photography,

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Runners Up

Winning with the World of Outlaws is the most difficult task in Sprint Car racing. In the 43 seasons since Ted Johnson conceived the international series, 143 men and one woman have attained the honor. If that number seems high, consider how it computes to fewer than four new names per year. In this virus-plagued

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: One ‘Sick’ Season

No trips to California. No swings through New York. No banquet. This was “The Year From Hell!” Historians will reflect on 2020 well past the next plague. The global pandemic, called COVID-19, brought the world to a grinding halt. Everyone was told to stay home, buy a mask. Prior to 2020, those who hid faces

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