The Lee Side: Take off your dang hats

Back in the day, a young man’s rite of passage in the South sometimes had to do with said young man’s love of stock car racing.

Posted on 10/12/13

By Lee Coleman

For this former young man, stock car racing got into my blood at a very early age.

My father was on a race team that toured dirt tracks all around the southeast. Of course, I never missed a race.

I had one simple job when the race car was in the pits before the start of a race.

My dad cut a broomstick in half and drove a nail in one end and my job was to climb under the jacked up race car and knock away all of the mud around the tires and brakes.

The dirtier I got, the more I loved it.

Living in south Atlanta, I literally grew up in the shadows of Atlanta Motor Speedway so it wasn’t very difficult for me to become a NASCAR fan.

Richard Petty and Cale Yarbrough were my favorite drivers but I liked a lot of them. But there was just something special about that Petty blue #43 STP machine claiming another victory on the way to The King’s 200 career wins.

That is the stuff legends are made of.

In my adult life, I have had the privilege to announce Saturday night short track racing in Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma.

It just don’t get any better than that on a Saturday night.

But in recent years, I have become disturbed about what I see in the NASCAR pre-race ceremonies.

NASCAR fans, whether we like it or not, have become stereotyped by today’s society.

Be that as it may, when did the racing world become so entrenched in themselves that announcers have had to resort to telling race fans to remove their hats before the playing of the national anthem.

For me, I am ashamed when I hear that request. I guarantee you I never asked any racing audience where I’ve announced to do that.

People should just know better. Stereotype or not.

Apparently, it is easy for some folks to forget if it weren’t for the men and women of our armed forces that paid the ultimate price for our freedom, none of us would have the remotest chance to attend races, much less watch them on television.

To those people, I say don’t voluntarily show your ignorance.

Just take off your dang hats.

Coleman is the editor of the Republican and can be contacted at