Let’s Take Care of Trevor

By Terri Ketterman

With the Daytona 500 in the rear view mirror, and the desert sun in our eyes, it’s time to get the “sane season” underway.

From now on, whenever someone asks me, “NASCAR??? Why do you love NASCAR?” I will point to the 53rd Daytona 500. We honored our hero, our soul, on lap 3. On lap 200, we embraced our future, simultaneously paying homage to our sacred past, when the famous Wood Brothers 21 took the checkers with the oh-so-worthy, oh-so-baby-faced Trevor Bayne at the wheel.

There were so many things about that day I will never forget. My house was full of dear friends, two of whom drove more than two hours to be with us (for something on television… are you kidding me???) The silent lap 3. The sight of those full grandstands. The great racing, the driver-to-driver communication, the bizarre Noah’s Ark drafting. When Trevor crossed that finish line in first place, I was standing up in my living room, surrounded by people I love, screaming with unashamed, unmitigated joy. One of my best friends was fishing on our pond with his son. He heard me; he didn’t know who won, but he knew it was precious to me; and although not a NASCAR fan himself, he smiled to know that my friends and I were so thrilled. As for me, it was cathartic. I knew, I just knew, NASCAR has emerged from the abyss. We’re okay… we have survived The Dark Days.

I spent most of the week travelling back & forth to work, listening to NASCAR fans on Sirius. Although it was just a couple of hours per day, I heard no one, NO ONE, disappointed or upset about this win. Fans love the Wood Brothers, and they love an underdog. To say that Trevor is a breath of fresh air is a shameless use of cliché, but… deal with it.

Here’s my challenge to the media and to the NASCAR faithful, and the sponsors that we support. Let us not pull a Casey Atwood on this worthy young man. Let us honor his accomplishment, the passionate joy he has brought us, acheived by confidence and patience, by awarding him the same. He will, in all likelihood, not win again in in the Cup series in 2011. Perhaps he will not win in the Cup series until late in 2012 or even early 2013. This is fine with me. Please, let it be fine with you. Don’t be disappointed, disenfranchised, or bitter no matter what happens over the next several months. This is the future of our delicate sport, that relies so much on the economy, on television, and on the inexplicable emotional whims of fans.

That this fine young man, driving for a legendary team, won this race essentially dedicated to Dale Earnhardt, is no coincidence. It is a message: Snap out of it. Respect the past, but embrace the future. Ralph Earnhardt was a hero to Dale Earnhardt. Dale Earnhardt was a hero to Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon is a hero to Trevor Bayne. This is what makes racing more special than any other sport on the planet. This young man, in six days, has given us so much. Don’t pressure him for more; let us be selfless, for a change. Trevor’s young, he’s learning; to him, Joey Logano is a veteran!

As fans, let us understand: It’s not Trevor, so much as what Trevor brings to us; the spirit of Trevor. Let us thank him going forward for showing us, with that sweet, amazing smile, out of The Dark Days, by letting him slowly become the champion we all know he is, the champion we all know he will be if we allow him. Let’s thank him by taking care of him… and he will, in return I’m sure, take good care of NASCAR.