The Passing of NASCAR Legends
The NASCAR community has been hit hard over the last two weeks with the deaths of 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton Sr. and 1973 Cup champion Benny Parsons.
While it was a shock when each announced he was diagnosed with cancer, the greater surprise came when the news of their deaths was released.
A Tennessee native, Hamilton spent time in all three of NASCAR's national series finding a home in the truck series. Hamilton was content racing in the truck series, building a team that one day his son Bobby Jr. could take over.
Hamilton was one of the toughest competitors on the track, but he was equally willing to help another driver off of it. He treated employees like they were a part of his family. When Hamilton became a grandfather, he talked about his granddaughter whenever he was able.
Many new NASCAR fans may not realize that Hamilton was a part of the "Days of Thunder" movie, handling the driving duties during racing scenes.
Many fans may only know Parsons as a broadcaster. But he was also a driver.
Parsons, who was known as the "Taxi Cab Driver from Detroit" for listing it as his occupation on race entry forms, won the 1973 championship with help from several other race teams. He was involved in an early incident during the final race that year and it seemed to dash his title hopes, but other teams came to his aid and rebuilt his car so he could finish the race and clinch the championship.
Parsons also helped Greg Biffle get an opportunity with Roush Racing. Parsons saw Biffle racing out west and told Jack Roush that he needed to see this guy (Biffle). Roush listened to Parsons and Biffle has gone on to be one of the top NASCAR drivers.
The 2007 racing season is just around the corner and it will be difficult for those in the NASCAR garages to not think about their lost friends and competitors. The racing will continue. The rivalries will continue. It will all be done with a heavy heart.