Mahone catches up by looking back

Meet Anthony Mahone, one of several people who provide support to writers and other creators such as myself through Patreon.

During a brief online exchange, I discovered Anthony had recently watched every race of the 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season.

I immediately thought of several questions I wanted to ask.

Luckily, he agreed to allow me to share the conversation, which occurred via email, with others. So, a big thanks to him for that.

I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I believe you will. – kb

Background

Anthony is a truck driver from New Smyrna Beach, Fla., who now resides in Galax, Va. (Yes, he’s been to the Wood Brothers Racing Museum, located approximately an hour’s drive from Galax.)

Like most race fans, Anthony’s work schedule impacts the races he has been able to attend through the years.

“Darlington and Watkins Glen next year are on my to-do list, as well as Road America,” he said. “The last NASCAR race I actually went to was the 2000 July Daytona race. Before that it was the ’97 July Daytona race for my first NASCAR race.

“Other than that, I go to various drifting events and last year’s Petit Le Mans over at Road Atlanta.”

While he may not make it to a ton of races in person, he certainly keeps up with what is going on in the world of auto racing.

“Podcast-wise,” he said, “I listen to just about everything; Dale Jr Download, Door-Bumper-Clear, Glass Case of Emotion, Mast Cast, Jeff Gluck’s podcast, Mark Martin’s, Marshall Pruett (he covers IMSA and IndyCar), Five to Go, Kelly Crandall’s Racing Writer’s Podcast, Dinner with Racers (I highly recommend that one), Nate Ryan’s NASCAR on NBC, and Maximum Driftcast. I also listen to SiriusXM’s The Morning Drive and SXM Speedway.”

• • •

Q: Is this the first time you’ve done something like this, gone back and watched an entire racing season?

A: It’s the third time actually. The first one I did was the 1993 IndyCar season, and the second one was the 1996 Truck series season.

Q: Why IndyCar first?

A: I co-founded an eSports racing team with a couple of teammates that are huge IndyCar fans, so I show them things/videos/pictures of how things used to be. That was also the first year I watched that series live as well.

Q: Why were the Trucks next?

A: I’m partial to the early days of the Truck series before the technology and the spending started getting out of control. And because I’m a huge Mopar fan, so seeing the Keselowskis be competitive from time to time was great.

Q: Are you watching the races online or tv/video/other?

A: Online, I’ve moved around a lot so any tapes I’ve had have been lost.

Q: How difficult is it to find all the races?

A: Typically, somebody will have made a playlist on YouTube with the races in order.

Q: What made you choose the 1991 season?

A: It’s partly nostalgia. The earliest race that I can remember watching was from the ’93 season, the fall Charlotte race I think. I’m 33 now, and I was 8-9 (years old) at the time. I never got the chance to see Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison race live on TV. I’ve recently finished the ’91 season and have started on the ’94 season.

The other part of the reason is because I like seeing how things have developed and the things that have changed since that time period. What really triggered watching that specific (’91) season was the episode of Mark Martin’s podcast when he had Tommy Kendall on and they reminisced about the 1991 Sears Point/Sonoma race.

Q: What sort of things have you noticed when watching the races?

A: I’ve discovered that quite often we have used revisionist history when we think about past races. Often the top five would be the only ones left on the lead lap by the end. Things like that wouldn’t fly in today’s socially-charged marketing and the constant over-reaction that happens today by fans, teams, drivers and members of the sanctioning body. A lot of the difference is because we’re better educated about the sport than before.

Q: What have you noticed that’s changed from a competition standpoint?

A: 1991 seemed to be the last season that the bias-ply tires were run for a decent number of races on the Cup level, so the cars looked like they would handle differently from week to week. Also, with the pit road speed limit rules beginning that year and the pit road procedural rules changing during the first 6-7 races you can see how some teams adapted better than others. From Daytona to (I think) Darlington they wouldn’t let teams change tires under caution, except for getting fuel. Then the following two races they would let teams pit according to where they qualified in even or odd positions.

At Bristol this was magnified by the order in which row they had the teams restart in, which let some teams jump ahead of others. Quite confusing when it happened, and likely led to Rusty (Wallace) winning that race because of it.

By either Talladega or Martinsville, the procedure became what we knew today. There are some similarities when it comes to the views on tires; sometimes the tire compounds picked for the faster races would be too hard, and other times they would get them perfect so you would see “comers and goers” as the tires would be used up over a run. Aero didn’t affect things as much as it does today because as Chocolate Myers likes to say “It didn’t matter until it mattered.” (Pit selection also applies to that statement.)

The races had more flow to them with the lack of stage breaks like we have today. But the preparation of the cars back then varied a lot more than now; gaps that were over a second would be a quarter of a second now.

Q: What have you noticed that’s different from broadcast standpoint?

A: There was a LOT less commercialization of the things in the broadcast and around the various things in the race. There wasn’t the “Credit One Bank One to Go,” “Service Master Clean Caution,” “Florida Hospital Infield Medical Center,” “Goodyear Racing Eagle Tires” … well, the tires were simplified, but things like that.

Many of the videos that I got to watch were actually the satellite feed, so when they cut to commercial you got to hear the audio from the booth and pit road as they would plan the next segments of commercials that they had to read.

One other thing I did notice was ESPN had their commentators at the turn positions at Sonoma and Watkins Glen like NBC did the last couple years (for) their road course race coverage. The overall coverage by the partners back then seemed to have more flow, because they didn’t seem to break to commercial as often as now.

• • •

You can follow Anthony via Twitter @MT2_Levin. For some really interesting paint schemes, check out his iRacing efforts @MahoneDesign (some nice throwbacks are in there, too).

And his IRacing team’s Twitter account is @formula_mt2.

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