The roots of motorsports run deeper than those of almost any-and-every sport around the world. As Henry Ford said "auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built," and those same ideals have stayed with the sport through the modern era, even with multiple changes, safety upgrades, venues and drivers coming and going, the fundamentals that motor racing was built on, remain the same today.
With that being said, it is very important that we pay homage to the past, every chance we get. NASCAR has been at the forefront of finding a way to push their form of racing into the modern era while respecting and honoring their past while keeping multiple traditions in place and their values in-tact, throughout their long history. In 2015, the decision was made by NASCAR leadership to see the return of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway to Labor Day Weekend, where it had spent most of its tenure on the calendar, before changes in the mid-2000s saw it move to Mother's Day Weekend, among other slots. Not only was this just a simple rearrangement of dates, but NASCAR and Darlington track executives deemed that the event would become the "Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR." This was just the addition of another great move for a form of racing that already does a great job of paying respect to its past, while always looking towards and keeping up with what may lie ahead in the future.
On the dirt track racing side of things, the sport has remained close to its past ideals, along with teams, drivers and tracks sprinkling in paint schemes or special races to honor those of the past, but there are only a few examples of actual "throwback," events.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and Portsmouth Raceway Park came together to host a dirt late model throwback weekend in 2017, which ended up being very successful with a huge turnout of throwback paint schemes, apparel, crews getting involved and fans coming out to see the cars they grew-up watching on a weekly basis. Scott Bloomquist unloaded his original No. 18, Darrell Lanigan and Clint Bowyer Racing came together to bring back Lanigan's iconic No. 29 ride and Don O'Neal stepped back behind-the-wheel of a yellow and red No. 71.
Even with the success of the event and buzz around the wraps that teams brought to the venue, the Throwback Weekend aspect of the Dirt Track World Championship didn't last, being a one-off deal for all involved and didn't return in 2018 or in last weekend's Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series season finale at Portsmouth Raceway Park. There's no question that the throwback weekend was a hit in 2017 and LOLMDS officials, drivers and teams should do anything and everything in their power to see the return of it in 2020, on a permanent basis. The DTWC has notably seen a lack of excitement and buzz in the last number of seasons, due to a number of factors, taking the runner-up position to the World Racing Group's World Finals in Charlotte, which plays host to three different marquee championship finales, in one night.
To match the popularity of the World Finals and tap into the opportunity that surrounds paying homage, respect and honoring the past with a throwback weekend, along with crowning the series champion of the most competitive dirt late model divisions in the world, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, its drivers, crew members and leadership as a whole need to step up to the plate and work on getting the DTWC Throwback Weekend back on the schedule. If they need proof of the success of the idea, other than the amount they had in 2017, look no further than the fact that NASCAR's Darlington Throwback Weekend continues to be one of its highest-rated races of the season and saw its first event sell-out since the mid-2000s, during this years edition.
Like the famous quote from the 1989 Kevin Costner film, 'Field of Dreams,' coined so perfectly, "If you build it, they will come."
(Tyler Carr Photo)