No. 743,
April 16, 2014

About The Autoextremist

Peter M. De Lorenzo has been in and around racing since the age of ten. Because of his extensive background and deep interest in the sport he advised clients on racing and motorsports marketing throughout his 22-year advertising career. Since the creation of Autoextremist.com, he has continued to advise corporations, racing organizations and marketers on racing and the business of motorsports. He is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable, influential and visionary voices commenting on the sport today.

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Tuesday
Nov232010

FUMES

November 24, 2010



A Man For All Seasons.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 11/23, 8:00 a.m.) Detroit.
To say that winning five consecutive NASCAR championships is an incredible achievement is an understatement. As a matter of fact it doesn't even begin to cover the scope of Jimmie Johnson's accomplishment. By winning his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship Johnson has defied the skeptics, silenced the old-school critics and put himself right up with NASCAR's most hallowed names: Petty and Earnhardt. All this from a kid who was plucked from obscurity by Jeff Gordon, given top-notch equipment by Rick Hendrick, paired with the most savvy crew chief in the NASCAR garage - Chad Knaus - and then who drove the wheels off of his car at every opportunity with a calculated, surgical precision to solidify his reputation as arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR history.

It's easy to heap derision on NASCAR as I've often done, but my quarrels and quibbles have never been with the gifted people who build, prepare and field the cars, or the immensely talented drivers who make their living in the intense and grueling grind that defines the NASCAR season in the modern era. And from my perspective what Jimmie Johnson has done is even more impressive than what Michael Schumacher accomplished when the great German driver won five consecutive F1 titles, because I believed then and still believe now that Schumacher - though clearly gifted by any measure - often had superior equipment at his disposal. Yes, he certainly had the talent to make the most of the resources given to him, but I daresay Johnson's achievement is even more noteworthy.

Why? Though it could also be argued that Hendrick Motorsports provides Johnson with superior equipment, look at the starting grid of any Sprint Cup race over the years Johnson has won his championships and marvel at the qualifying times separated by thousandths of a second deep into the field. The competition in NASCAR - albeit forced and contrived in its unique spec-racer Hell format - is undeniable. And for Johnson and Company to have succeeded in this intensely competitive environment, and to do so repeatedly and with a consistency that defies all odds is simply mind-boggling and awesome in every sense of that overused word.

I've winced over the last 36 hours at the general media's feeble attempts at translating Johnson's achievement into stick-and-ball sports terms that the general public can understand - breathlessly mentioning the Yankees, Celtics, etc. - because it is simply irrelevant and a giant waste of time to do so. I could have saved them all the trouble and explained that racing is a singular pursuit that bears no resemblance to the stick-and-ball sports world. Period.

Jimmie Johnson's meteoric rise in the often times intransigent world of NASCAR has been awe-inspiring to watch. It may have annoyed the purists who stopped appreciating any of the "new" drivers who came along after Dale Earnhardt was killed, and it may have found little favor among road-racing fans who deem NASCAR drivers as somehow beneath their station, but make no mistake, we have witnessed true greatness at work here, something that will be talked about for many years to come. And for those looking for comparisons to previous NASCAR greats, I believe Johnson's singular talent would shine in any era. And I also firmly believe he is the best who ever sat behind the wheel of a stock car.

Jimmie Johnson is a man for this or any other racing season, a gifted, once-in-a-lifetime maestro behind the wheel who deserves all of the accolades being showered upon him.

Congratulations to Jimmie, his crew chief Chad Knaus - who by the way is tremendously gifted in his own right -  Rick Hendrick, and the entire Hendrick Motorsports team.

Somehow "well done" doesn't even begin to cover it.

 


Publisher's Note:
As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Sebring, Florida, 1966. The Shelby American racing team's hanger garage before the 12 Hours of Sebring that year. The red No. 1 Ford GT-X1 427 roadster driven by Ken Miles & Lloyd Ruby can be seen in the center of the shot. That duo went on to win the race by 12 laps. The No. 2 Ford GT MK II 427 driven by Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant can be seen in the foreground, they would suffer a DNF after qualifying on the pole. A third Ford GT MK II 427 - the No. 3 entry from Holman & Moody driven by Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue - finished in second place, and the No. 19 Ford GT40 sponsored by the Essex Wire corporation and driven by Skip Scott/Peter Revson, finished third overall.

Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out ford.artehouse.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD

 

 

 

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