Fifty years is a long time. And for a few of us, it seems even longer as we look forward to tomorrow night's 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. I can still remember the first 600-mile race.
I am probably one of a handful of people who have been at Charlotte Motor Speedway—what I still call it—for all 50 runnings of the world's longest stock car race.
For most of the time, I have been a reporter. But there were 19 years when I was the public relations director for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series while working for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
I joined RJR after a decade at the Charlotte Observer.
I left RJR when the company cut the staff of its Sports Marketing Enterprises department in half.
Since then, I have worked as both a reporter and public relations representative for a number of teams on the circuit—including Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing.
Today, I am a free-lance writer and will be at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the 50th running of the 600.
A lot of things will flash through my head during the evening. I will think about that first race and the track coming apart and both Richard and Lee Petty being disqualified for cutting across the infield grass.
I will remember David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, and Matt Kenseth all winning their first Cup race in the 600. I will remember some of the great races that have made up the previous 49 runnings.
It will be a night of remembering. After all, a lot can happen in 50 years and a lot has happened in the 50 runnings of the 600.