HammerDown! lists the 40 most exciting drivers in NARC history.
Bravery and sprint car racing are synonymous. It is impossible to ignore that danger exists. We are especially aware of the danger here in Northern California. Fatal crashes involving Dave Bradway Jr., Gary Patterson, and Sherman Cleveland mark just three times when the racing community has mourned the passing of a driver that gave his life to sprint car racing. Even today, with safety standards at an all-time high, there are no guarantees of a safe return. When you push off, the risks and rewards must be clear;y understood.
Danger is an ugly element, but nevertheless a real element in the world of auto racing. Fans speak with wide-eyed admiration for the drivers that push their machines beyond the threshold. A real racer has that extra something inside, the heart or the head, that moves him to drive it deeper into turn one than the other guy… that's what brings the fans back the following week. As Ronnie Day would say, "Do it for the fans!
There's an old, crew chief saying that goes something like, "You'd rather have to slow a guy down, than speed him up." --- The translation being - "if you aren't brave - you probably won't win much". That old saying says it all when it comes to heroes in sprint car racing. The brave ones are a little harder on equipment than other drivers but it is always because they are seeking glory, trying to take a tenth place car to a podium finish. The exciting drivers that have a flair for the dramatic pass (upstairs) are the drivers that sign the most autographs and date the prettiest ladies. They are passionate about their sport. Knowing, and willing to accept fate, these drivers strap in every Saturday night during the racing season. Many race just to race. Some do it for a living. They all do it because they love sprint cars.
HammerDown! conducted a poll in 1999 to determine the 40 bravest, most exciting drivers in the 40-year history of NARC. Although hardly scientific, we did receive votes from nearly twenty veteran NARC sprint car observers. Our panel was comprised of media members, race fans, mechanics, photographers, and race historians. The results printed below were very interesting - with some obviously "brave" drivers being ignored. However, ultimately, our list is filled with guys that have stood on the loud pedal whenever possible.
Here's the real scoop. Putting on a uniform doesn't make you a hero. …But you don't have to beat BK at Chico in the Spring - or outqualify Randy Hannagan at Calistoga to be a hero. Even if you've never won a race, the fans will dig you if you simply put the HammerDown!
It's true. Mash and be revered!
The 40 Bravest in NARC (1960-1999) list…
Also receceiving votes in alphabetical order: