Monday, January 23, 2017

Memories of Benny Parsons

I was just thinking about the late Benny Parsons, who died in 2007 and soon will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

I don't know I've ever met a more positive person than Benny; certainly not in racing. He didn't smile every time we met, but he was always friendly and welcoming..

One afternoon, I was in the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center, and I noticed that six-foot-five Buddy Baker had left the center. A bit later, I was with a bunch of guys, and they were all smiling and looking over my shoulder.

Suddenly, someone a little taller than my six feet had me around the neck from behind in a playful chokehold. I could tell he was a big man. Without looking, I said, "Well, Buddy just went out the door, so this has to be Benny Parsons." And it was.

One of my best memories of Benny happened at a Rick Hendrick sales facility in Charleston, S.C. Benny was supposed to be the master of ceremonies, with Terry Labonte signing autographs. I saw Benny through a window in a door, but he didn't see me.

He opened the door, turned and saw me. He broke out into a huge grin when he recognized me. If you saw that grin, you'd know why that was a great memory. I wound up sitting beside Terry and interviewing him while he was signing autographs. He recognized me immediately, and it wound up a good day all around.

I've talked about a couple of other Benny Parsons memories on this blog. One is called The worst drivers in the world walk through here, too.

When Neil Bonnett died in 1994, I wrote for the newspaper that NASCAR had lost its best friend. I could have said the same thing about Benny.

Also about Benny Parsons: Just a barrel of laughs

Also: Nice guys HERE

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(the book of great NASCAR stories)

EDITOR@WORK blog entries 

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Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

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