It was an up and down season for NASCAR, which saw improvements in the racing during the second year of the Next Gen car, but also saw a decrease in average viewership and proved that there’s still a need for some changes to make the racing better with this new car.
Of course every year there are NASCAR fans who complain that the sport “ain’t what it used to be.” Many still believe that NASCAR was never the same after the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, and others blame former NASCAR chairman Brian France for the sport’s downfall.
Whatever your feelings, NASCAR has certainly changed a lot in the past few decades – and nothing highlights the change in the sport better than this video of the late Dick Trickle smoking a cigarette while he was out on the track during a race back in the 1990 Winston 500.
Just burning a heater while running 200 mph? Classic.
Trickle was known for smoking in the racecar, and even having a cigarette lighter in his car so that he could rip one when he needed it.
During one race, he was even too busy smoking a cig to radio his team to let them know how the car was doing.
I mean, whatever worked for him. And of course at the time, NASCAR’s top series was sponsored by cigarette manufacturer Winston, so it only made sense to have a driver smoking in the car during a Winston Cup Series race, right?
Of course times have definitely changed since then. Winston is no longer involved in NASCAR, and I can’t even imagine somebody like Blaney or Chase Elliott lighting up a cigarette behind the wheel – or at all, for that matter. NASCAR drivers now work hard to maintain their squeaky-clean image.
But aside from image, NASCAR drivers also take their health way more seriously, putting in countless hours in the gym to help them get into better shape for race day.
And of course NASCAR would never let a driver smoke in the car these days. They won’t even let drivers keep their cell phone with them in the car, implementing that rule back in 2012 when Brad Keselowski took the now-infamous jet dryer photo from behind the wheel during a red flag.