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Random Lugnuts: Illinois, Amp, Hockey and Wet Towels

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Phillip McGilton, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: Illinois, Amp, Hockey and Wet Towels

Bill Crittenden
November 3, 2007

Driver Introductions

Congratulations on Illinois driver Phillip McGilton landing a ride with Bill Davis Racing in the truck series.  I'm from Illinois, and it's good to see a few from south of the border join all the Wisconsin drivers at NASCAR's top levels.

Wisconsin still dominates Illinois, though, as the state has been home to NASCAR Champions Alan Kulwicki (1992 Winston Cup), Matt Kenseth (2003 Winston Cup) and Travis Kvapil (2003 Craftsman Truck Series).  Wisconsin also calls Dick Trickle one of their own.  Yes, there really is a guy named Dick Trickle, who adds another notch on the stock car racing belt for the state, as he was the 1989 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year after winning the ASA championship twice.  He's also the guy who was seen on live TV smoking a cigarette during a NASCAR race (hey, it was at least during a yellow flag).

Illinois' best driver so far in NASCAR is Elmhurst's Fred Lorenzen, a 26-time Cup winner named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers, a Daytona 500 winner and a 2001 Inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.  Lately Illinois has been getting some attention from the Indy car side of motorsports because of Roscoe's Danica Patrick.  Although when you consider that Elmhurst is less than 60 miles from the border and Roscoe about 10, you could probably consider these drivers to be from "South Wisconsin" while Marion's Phillip McGilton, from the opposite end of the state, is most definitely not.

Opening Lap

Amp's sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has paid off already for the company, at least in regards to selling a few cans of the stuff.  To me, anyway.  I tried both flavors, and it's good either way.  I don't have much reference to go on as far as energy drinks go, but one issue I have is that I'm a pretty mellow dude, and 20 ounces of energy is waaaaay too much for me to be chugging all at once.  They ought to put it bottles.  Still...I'm just glad that Dale Jr. now has a sponsor that I can enjoy, decorate my basement with and dress my kid with.

For the record, though, the color scheme at CarsAndRacingStuff.com isn't an homage to Dale's new color scheme.  When founded in 2005 the site was blue with yellow, then in 2006 I decided it needed a complete redesign, something to set the site apart.  Blue and red are everywhere, and green isn't that common a color for car websites, so here it is.

The question is now, what do I call the Red Army (the huge mass of Dale Jr. fans) now that they're not all wearing red anymore?

"And now a word from our sponsors..."

Well, 2007 has been a year for teams from other sports buying their way into NASCAR, so it should come as no surprise that when meeting the drivers for autographs at the National Short Track Championships last month at Rockford Speedway that I saw a driver with the logo of the Chicago Wolves on his shirt.

Former linesman Stevie Campbell was driving a car sponsored by the Chicago Wolves, an AHL team that plays at the Allstate Arena just outside Chicago.  He's a heck of a nice guy, and the car was the best looking one on the track.  #94, because the Wolves started in 1994, black and blood red to match the team's jerseys.

I've been going to various collectibles shows for a few years now, and I've seen the NASCAR die cast done up in various sports team colors as decorations, but this was the real thing!  To see the photos, check out the Stevie Campbell page of the Library.

Final Lap

The last thing you do is often the first thing people think of when they hear your name.  Sometimes it's a matter of people not being around in your glory years, sometimes it's just about how memory works.

I missed most of Darrell Waltrip's career, and certainly missed his championship years as well.  My first and most indelible memory of ol' DW is watching him cheer on Michael Waltrip to his first Daytona 500 win.

So it's kind of sad, really, that a lot of new fans to the sport (and there are a lot of new fans these days) are getting their first impressions of Rusty Wallace the announcer rather than Rusty Wallace the driver.  A lot of folks, when hearing the name, might think of some recent cringe-inducing call, his overuse of the term "aero loose" or that silly airflow graphic when he really should be known for his 1989 Winston Cup Championship, 55 wins and being named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers.

Of course, by the time I was old enough to remember watching racing, King Richard Petty was a field filler chewing on a wet towel.  Just 8 of his victories came during my lifetime, the last when I was 3.  Which gives me an idea.  Somebody, please, stuff a wet towel in Rusty's mouth, before he says "driving his brains out" again.  For his legacy's sake.

For more Random Lugnuts editions, check out the Random Lugnuts page of The Crittenden Automotive Library.

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