NASCAR WCUP: Steve Park Ready to Join In Darlington History
1 September 1998Rookie Watches Old Videos From 'The Track Too Tough To Tame' On Television
If you visit #1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo driver Steve Park's new home on Lake Norman in North Carolina the odds are pretty good you will find a racing show on television. Often the old videos taken from the late 1960s and 1970s races at places like Darlington, Daytona, and Talladega dominate Park's big screen television.
The large cars, bias ply tires, and archaic pit stops entertain the rookie who is used to driving the sleek aerodynamic cars of the 1990s that are serviced with four radial tires in 18-second pit stops. NASCAR has come a long way in recent years, but the importance of Darlington International Raceway is still the same to all drivers. This weekend Park hopes to join the list of drivers to race on NASCAR's most historic race track. It's a track that is often rude to rookies, but Park said he is optimistic his two races in a Dale Earnhardt Inc. Busch car in 1997 will prove beneficial.
Watching Darlington Race:
"One of the neatest things I get to do whenever we get time off is to kick back on the couch and watch the old Southern 500 races on Speedvision. They show guys like Petty, Allison, Pearson, Waltrip, and Parsons. I mean it is so cool to watch Richard Petty coming down pit road with a rag in his mouth and no window net telling all the crewmen what to do. And the pit stops took about 40 seconds back then. Those were real stock cars back then. They were fender-to-fender races, with no rear spoiler. When someone would hit the wall and keep going the announcer would always say 'look at that those cars they are built like tanks' and you know back then they were. Those guys had to be tough to hang on those cars for 500 miles. I could watch them all day. This place was the first superspeedway they ever raced on. You have to remember the Southern 500 back then is comparable to the Daytona 500 today. If you watch the old races you can see why our sport has grown the way it has."
Why Is Doing Well Important:
"There is a certain amount of tradition at Darlington that goes way back and you want to do well there. Everyone wants to win a race at Darlington. If you win your name joins the list of everyone else who has won there and that's quite an honor.
"I think it's one of the toughest races on the circuit. The way the groove is you have to run an inch off the wall. Sometimes you even have to lean on the wall. To keep your focus for one lap is pretty hard but to do it for 500 miles is really incredible. Obviously, it's a very physically and mentally challenging racetrack and usually, it's pretty tough on equipment. I've seen guys win there with big Darlington stripes down the side of their cars. You are pretty lucky if you can come out of there without a stripe, but most do."
Did Earnhardt Give You Advice About Darlington:
"Yeah, he said just keep the car out of the wall. "
Sunday, September 6, 1998 in Darlington, SC for the Pepsi Southern 500
* Track/Race Length: 1.366 miles, 367 laps, 500 miles
* TV: 1:00pm/et on ESPN
* Practice: Friday, September 4th, 9am/et - ?; Saturday, September 5th, 9am/et-?
* First Round Qualifying - 2 laps, Friday, September 4, 1998 at 3:15pm/et, TV-ESPN2 3pm/et, MRN via the radio and internet
* Second-Round Qualifying: 2 laps, Saturday, September 5th at 11:30am/et
* Happy Hour Practice, Saturday, September 5th after the BGN Dura-Lube 200, TV-?