Friday, July 8, 2016

Setting off sparks

The year was 1992, and Charlotte Motor Speedway officials were about to test their new lighting system. Most (or all) of the Winston Cup drivers were there, and so were a lot of fans.

They'd worked out a ceremony to start it, and they'd rigged a big board so track owner Bruton Smith could pull a ceremonial switch to start the thing.

Publicist Eddie Gossage was there when Smith pulled the switch. Suddenly, sparks rained down from the board, and some of them fell on Smith's hair. Gossage, of course, was appalled.

He later was able to laugh about it, but he said that he could see his job flash before his eyes.

Fortunately, Smith was unhurt despite the singed hair, and the test went off without another hitch. The first driver out, fittingly, was Dale Earnhardt. Perhaps the most spectacular car was Darrell Waltrip's silver No. 17. That Chevy sparkled like a star as it circled the track.

They ran a great all-star race under the lights in '92, with Davey Allison and Kyle Petty battling to the finish and Davey winning at the end.


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