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NASCAR awards show in Charlotte? Worth a parade

- Contributor
Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012

Las Vegas? New York? Charlotte?

Last week in this space I wrote a column suggesting that NASCAR might do well to return its post-season awards proceedings to New York from Las Vegas. But my biggest pitch was to switch the party from Las Vegas to Charlotte.

Maybe I’m being provincial, but the more I’ve thought about the idea, the greater I’m convinced that Charlotte is the best site, never mind that the Queen City doesn’t have the glitz of Las Vegas or the glamour of New York.

In the piece a week ago I suggested that the awards banquet and events surrounding it be scheduled in January in conjunction with the annual NASCAR Cup Series pre-season preview. The dinner would be held at Time Warner Cable Arena, with the drivers, team owners and other dignitaries seated on the floor of the facility. Tickets would be sold to fans who could sit in the grandstand and watch—and a ticket would include admission to the nearby NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Proceeds would be mostly donated to charity—either the NASCAR Foundation or a charity of the champion’s choice—with a small portion going to the Hall of Fame to cover expenses.

For 30 years now NASCAR has held the awards soiree in December at hotel ballrooms, first in New York and more recently at Las Vegas. The only way fans have seen the shows is on television. TV coverage would continue for those who couldn’t make it to the arena.

Allow me to expand my bid on behalf of Charlotte.

Perhaps most importantly, in addition to coinciding with the NASCAR Preview, which already attracts thousands, the awards activities would tie-in with the annual induction ceremonies at the Hall of Fame.

All manner of other fan-pleasing promotions could be scheduled…

An idea that excites me most is the possibility of a parade in downtown Charlotte!

The parade would start a few blocks north of the square at Trade and Tryon. It would proceed down South Tryon, turn left on Stonewall Street and end at the Hall of Fame.

Leading the parade would be the 12 drivers who qualified for The Chase, the showdown for the points championship, won in 2012 by Brad Keselowski and his Penske Racing team.

The drivers, along with their wives or lady friends, would be seated in convertibles. Just behind each would come his race car, immediately followed by the team’s big, shiny transporter.

The parade would include, also in convertibles, every living member of the Hall of Fame. I daresay that many modern-era fans never have seen in person such legendary NASCAR figures as Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman and the Wood Brothers, Glen and Leonard.

All living former Cup Series champions would be honored and have a place in the parade as well—Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte and Rex White.

And there would be high school bands from the Charlotte area intermingled in the parade—especially those from Iredell and Cabarrus counties, where most of the Cup Series teams are based.

I can almost hear “76 Trombones” now!

Come on, NASCAR, give it a try.

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