Friday, January 12, 2007

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s "Back In The Day"

I was approached and accepted an offer to review the DVD set for season one of "Back In The Day," the show on SPEED that ran a year or so ago.  Through A&E home video the show is now for sale.  Since I've been busy I haven't had a chance to talk about it any.  I'd like to a bit now.

I randomly selected the 1974 Winston 500 at Talladega to watch.  Since I haven't had SPEED until a month ago, I haven't seen a second of this show.  I'm a young buck by most accounts (not of legal drinking age until November) but I like to say that I have a good background and appreciation for the history of NASCAR.  My forte has been from the late 80s to today because that's about all that was on.  Like any young Southern race fan, I've heard stories about the dominance Richard Petty and David Pearson and Bobby Allison but rarely have seen the actual races.  Being from North Carolina it is a point of pride that two of the best drivers ever (most would argue they are the best ever) are from my home state.  I certainly respect that; but I have an affinity for Pearson and for the Alabama Gang.  I still remember hearing about Davey Allison's death from a TV inside a hotel my family was staying at during vacation.  Pearson was a guy that I admire because of his perception and the slyness he had.  The Silver Fox races the way I do when I pretend I'm a driver.  Lay back for a while, then strike when the timing is right.  I have expectations to see that kind of quality racing from the DVD.  So far, it's half and half.

I like the opening and the idea of the show.  I've read that Dale Jr. himself is a huge fan of the history of the sport so he is one of the best guys to narrate the show.  I immediately do not like the frequency of the pop culture-related items.  I feel like I'm watching Pop Up Video on VH1 circa 1996.  I can overlook that because the actual on-track action is great.  I can tell you right now that I already have greater respect for the television broadcasts today compared to what it used to be like.  I couldn't imagine not being able to see the entire race from flag-to-flag.  Jr. doesn't get in the way of what the primary focus of the show is and that is a plus.  I've had my tiffs with his fans but as a man, I have no problems with him at all.  His good nature shows through on the show.  Hey Teresa, he does a damn good job on the track and in his other endeavors.  Give him a break. 

Watching the racing from this era (I've watched a few more now) is very cool, despite the lack of focus that today's broadcasts have.  It comes down to this: if you're a race fan with a sense of history for the sport, this DVD satisfies that craving for old-school action.  Tell me this: where else will you get to see Petty, Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, Baker, Isaac, etc. in their primes?

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