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Thursday, November 27, 2008

On this day, we give thanks ….

All year, I write about what happens in the world of NASCAR, and in the process I do a bit of complaining.

Admittedly, that’s not the best quality to have, but it’s a hazard of my job … it’s what I have to do.

But on this great day, when we all sit down each year to stuff our faces with turkey, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes and whatever other concoctions our families have cooked up, complaining is officially banished.

Today is about giving thanks, and in this space I will do just that, as I am thankful for many things both in and out of the NASCAR world.

So here goes:

I am thankful to auto racing, including NASCAR, for bringing so much joy (and pain) and simply awesome times to my life over the last dozen or so years. When I grow old and remember all of my favorite memories from my life, a large percentage of those memories will involve racing in one form or another.

I am thankful that NASCAR’s drivers, who take part in one of the most dangerous professions on Earth, have been relatively safe over the past seven years -- since Dale Earnhardt’s tragic death was the final straw that spurred the sport into action. For a little while there, it looked like the sport was cursed, but now safety has won out and drivers can be more confident they will survive should a dangerous wreck come their way.

I am thankful that the sport is slowly, but surely, outgrowing the outdated perception by the masses that its sole audience is a bunch of uneducated rednecks who just like to stare at cars going in circles and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. The massive boom of the sport has showed people of all categories how exciting it can be, and I notice that firsthand when I see so many people of all ages, races, education levels and economic backgrounds getting into the sport. And for the record, I’m not against drinking a few PBRs, though I prefer a beer with a less metallic taste.

I am thankful I have a family and friends who are in good health and help me enjoy life as much as I do. Too many people have lost their loved ones, whether it be through war, illness or just broken relationships, and cannot say this. It may be a cliché, but the old saying that a peaceful and happy home is worth its weight in gold will always be true.

I am thankful to the Big 3 U.S. automakers, who deserve our support for all they’ve done for this country over the past 100+ years. Not only do they play a great role in making NASCAR the great show it is, they have helped support millions of American families in Michigan and every other state. These companies may be in big trouble now, but all Americans who care about the future of this country should pray that they survive and flourish.

I am thankful for the members of the military who dedicate a part of their lives to making sure the rest of us in America can sleep easier at night. As I’ve always told friends of mine who have served, they are better people than I, as I do not know if I could do what they have done. It takes a special person to put their life on the line, and they all deserve our eternal thanks.

I am thankful for drivers like Tony Stewart, who refuse to let NASCAR censor them and will spout off about Goodyear's tires or whatever else is getting on their nerves that week. It is a corporate era with many robotic drivers, but as long as people like Tony exist who will say whatever they want and not bow to any pressure from the main office, the sport will remain interesting. NASCAR is mostly about people, not cars, and outspoken drivers like Tony are a big part of why so many of you watch every week.

I am thankful for everyone who takes time every once in a while to read the scribblings I throw together for this blog, and those who let me know what they think about what I've written. The most rewarding part of my profession is knowing that people are reading my work and reacting to it, whether that reaction be positive and negative. It’s all any writer can hope for.

Happy Thanksgiving to all,


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