- ain't nuthin' more fun than bein' rednekkid

1999 night race at bristol

Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 19:08:11 -0500
From: "Jason R. Heimbaugh"
Subject: You don't tug on Superman's cape.

You don't spit in the wind.

And you don't pass the Intimidator on the last lap.

As I often say (and don't care how many times): 1) the night race at Bristol
is the most exciting sporting event in the world & 2) one of the best night
Bristol races was in 1995 when Earnhardt spun Labonte into the wall coming
out of turn 4 on the last lap (Labonte held on to win) & 3) that was a cool
night for Terry & me as well--four years of, uh, "feeding at the same trough".

Would history repeat itself on our anniversary?

I *really* like my job, BUT I was really ready to get out of that
place--especially as my vacation was delayed by a 7:30-9:30 meeting on 
Thursday (that then lasted until 11).

The trip out sucked (10+ hours to get there, 7- hours to get home). Some
supergenius in Cincinnati decided to *start* painting the bridge into
Kentucky at the beginning of rush hour. 2 hours lost. Then as hope began to
rise (in other words, we were less than hour from getting out of Kentucky)
we got stuck at an accident blocking all 4 lanes of traffic. It was sort of
weird, no one was doing anything. Nothing. No one. Even if people were dead
*something* would be happening. Then you could feel more than hear the dread
approaching--the beating of the air preceding a helicopter about to land.
Bodies under yellow plastic sheets along the road and body bags being loaded
in an ambulance don't bother me. Helicopters always do. You know the person
will die or be a vegetable. Don't know why that ooks me and the others

We check into the hotel and make a drive through town (Norton, VA) as the
Holiday Inn was booked with *old* (80's) people and had karaoke in the bar.
Not a damn thing. Did Terry book us into a dry town? I stopped at a gas
station to ask if there were *any* bars in town.

Clerk: Do you mean a nahce bar or a rednick bar?

jrh: I don't want blue-haired ladies singing karaoke.

Clerk: Not the Holiday Inn, then.

jrh: Redneck is fine.

Clerk: [gives directions to Brownie's]

Open the door to the bar, Skynyrd is blaring out of the jukebox.

Terry: We found it.

Ordered two beers and took a table. There wasn't *actually* a pause in all
activity, but it was simmering. About 45 minutes later the owner walks over
to talk to us because *everyone* in the bar (about 10 people) wanted to know
what was going on.

Betty: We don't *never* get any strangers in here.

We passed the owner test and one-by-one the residents stopped by to talk.
One guy was a dead ringer for the "bitter beer face" guy from the Keystone
Beer commercials. The fact that he was missing all his teeth and either lost
or never had false teeth didn't help. Everyone was very talkative after I
bought the house a round. Well duh.


We drive down to Bristol to watch qualifying and the Busch race. Being the
"second tier" the Busch race is always fun: drivers either lack experience or
talent, and more than a few lack both. Qualifying is somewhat boring, but the
smallness of the track means half the field has to pit on the back stretch,
a significant disadvantage--in 60+ races only 1 driver has ever won from the
back pits.

We see the greatest signs along side the road when we go to races: the live
bait vending machine in Michigan and the Ralph Lauren sheets by the pound in
Virginia. I don't think we'll *ever* top this one:


Qualifying: FUCK! Earnhardt's only 26th quick. He's on the back pits.

History will not repeat itself.

Earnhardt, Jr. qualified 5th ran strong, 2nd or 3rd all night but ended up
in 3rd place. Good racing though up front throughout. Oh well, I've never
been to a professional sporting event where my team won. Never. Pre-race
activities *were* notable (for the first time ever). They did the standard
invocation & national anthem and then there was some dead air time until
the grand marshalls of the race, John Boy & Billy (the *only* people I've
ever heard get applause being the grand marshalls--the crowd loved it),
gave the command to start engines. Bristol Motor Speedway in its infinite
glory and wisdom filled the time by playing the greatest song in the world,
"Sweet Home Alabama". Cool.

Leaving the track we hear John Boy & Billy's "The Bristol Song" for the
first time. Not only is it pretty funny, it's about our race in '95. There's
a theme here for the very slowest of you.

Friday night we get back to Brownie's. Bigger crowd, but everyone from the
night before is still there. I think we became legends after I bought the
house a round.

Bruce: Damn, man, that's two nights in a row you bought for the house. You're
my friend.

No point in mentioning I pay more in taxes than anyone other than the owner
*makes* in a year. Close out the bar and get some sleep for Race Night.

It's the night race at Bristol! Was that Bob Church parachuting in with a
50 foot American flag hanging below him? Again, BMS plays "Sweet Home
Alabama" immediately before the race began. The race starts, Tony Stewart
runs away leading at laps 50, 100, 150, 200, 250. Earnhardt moves steadily
through the field, even though he loses spots at every caution/pit due to
being on the back.

Things get *interesting*. Lap 300: 1. Terry Labonte & 2. Dale Earnhardt.
Everyone is talking about '95.

Could history repeat itself?

Lap 350: 1. Terry Labonte & 2. Dale Earnhardt.

Earnhardt says fuck history and passes Labonte. Lap 400: 1. Dale Earnhardt
& 2. Terry Labonte. Caution comes out on lap 410, Labonte & Jeff Gordon get
in front of Earnhardt. After the restart Eanrhardt quickly passes Gordon and
catches up to Labonte. Lap 450: 1. Terry Labonte & 2. Dale Earnhardt.


No. Labonte starts and keeps pulling away, with 20 laps to go he's built his
lead up to 8 car lengths. Lap 490, only 10 laps remaining, Mayfield loses
control of his car and spins into the wall. Caution! Earnhardt can close the
gap under yellow.

Historical repeat possibility back.

Coming to the yellow, Labonte *spins*! Earnhardt takes the lead, Labonte
drops back to 6th! Labonte pits for tires, Eanrhardt stays in the lead. New
tires will let a car run 4-5 MPH faster. Restart with only 5 laps to go,
Labonte is back in 5th. Labonte picks off every car in front of him and is
in second with only 3 laps to go. 2 laps to go: Labonte passes Earnhardt!
Earnhardt immediately comes back on old tires and passes him back. Lap 499:
1. Dale Earnhardt & 2. Terry Labonte. Labonte gets a *helluva* run on the
high side through turns 1 & 2--if he gets by Dale it's probably over. He
gets by Dale. The Intimidator gets a fender into Labonte and spins him
down the back stretch taking Labonte, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Rudd,
and Mark Martin all out in a wreck.

Dale Earnhardt continues and wins the Goody's Headache Powder 500!

Live. In Person. The Night Race at BRISTOL. From the FUCKING Back Pits! I
could *not* have scripted a better race before leaving on Thursday. Perfect.

The crowd was wild: 2/3 yelling and screaming the other 1/3 booing. You
could actually hear the crowd over the cars. The assholes at ESPN kept on
harping about how Earnhardt was only booed--it's just that now that he's
returned to his old (and winning) ways the Earnhardt-haters have

Kick ass.

I believe it was the poet Browning who said it best:

    The Bristol night race,
    Jason's in Terry;
    "Sweet Home Alabama"'s on the speakers;
    Earnhardt's in victory lane--
    All's right with the world!

Feel not sorry for me if I die tonight. Perfectly content. Never better.


Leave comments on the guest book entry on the rednekkid blog.
Brought to you by JRH. Email

"Under Construction"

Copyright © 1991-2005 Jason R. Heimbaugh