All-Star games suck.
That’s the general consensus of fans and media, and rightfully so.
Approximately 30 NFL players who were voted to the Pro Bowl did not bother to show up for the big “honor” this year. In 2002, Major League Baseball’s “Midsummer Classic” became a “Midsummer Kiss With Your Sister,” when the game was declared a tie since the teams ran out of pitchers in extra innings. I attended the 2007 NHL All-Star game and actually saw a defenseman help up a player from the opposing team when he accidentally checked him during the “savage” game. And the NBA All-Star game is more infamous for criminal acts all over Las Vegas a few years ago than displays of magical roundball skills.
But the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge this weekend in Charlotte often offers some of the most electrifying and memorable moments of the year in racing because first place pays a cool million dollars and it’s the one race where points aren’t counted. It checkers or wreckers time. No guts, no glory! Remember, chicks dig scars.
Of the hundreds of NASCAR races I’ve attended, the most memorable clearly has to be the 1992 running of the event. It was electric -- literally -- as the first night-time race on a superspeedway as Charlotte Motor Speedway raised the bar on the sport by creating and installing an innovative light system for the 1.5-mile track. Billed as, “One Hot Night,” the event was one of the few that was even greater than the hype.
On the final lap of the event, Dale Earnhardt held the lead but was forced to run deep into the third turn to hold off a faster Kyle Petty. As a result, “The Intimidator” lost control and crashed into the wall. Petty and Davey Allison tried to take advantage of the opportunity and drag raced off the fourth turn. The cars bounced off each other, sparks flying. Allison’s car spun sideways, crossing the finish line first, before pounding the outside wall in a cloud of smoke, dust, flames and sparks. Petty ducked under the skittering Allison car, finishing second.
Allison, the winner, was unconscious in the car. Not only was he unable to go to Victory Lane, he was airlifted to a local hospital where he was later cleared of any serious injuries. Allison’s car was carried to Victory Lane by a wrecker.
A good 45 minutes after the race, the huge crowd stood in stunned silence at the high-speed drama they had just seen. No one had left. And no one made any noise. It was a strange, eerie silence.
Drama. Thrills. The unexpected. Real action ... more than a typical NASCAR points race.
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the ONLY real all star event worth watching in professional sports.
“One Hot Night” may be underselling it.