To borrow from the past Martha Burk-Hootie Johnson Masters tete-a-tete, most NASCAR scribes wouldn’t write another Jeremy Mayfield story “at the point of a bayonet.”
They’re sick of it, and after two years I can understand why. Long ago circumstantial evidence convicted Mayfield of drug use much more definitively than NASCAR testing ever could. His hair was too short to provide a sample. He never could find that testing facility NASCAR asked him to go to. I’m really surprised “the dog ate my homework” didn’t make its way into the discussion.
But as much as his argument failed to hold water, I just didn’t feel comfortable dog-piling on him. That stance had little to do with Mayfield’s character and much to do with NASCAR’s history. During the ESPN Tim Richmond documentary “To the Limit”–part of the network’s “30 for 30″ series–late NASCAR President Bill France Jr. offered up a cryptic “the test we did was not a good test … the test got messed up,” in explaining why Richmond was unfairly prevented from competing in 1988, the year before he died of AIDS.
By all accounts Richmond showed up at Daytona in 1988 looking like he was on death’s door. But looking like crap doesn’t equate to beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence, so NASCAR apparently did what it’s done since its inception–take care of itself at all costs.
Remember, this is the same organization that had an official once say that the sons of black racing pioneer Wendell Scott couldn’t work the garage because they were sporting beards, when no such rule existed. NASCAR’s past just forces you to be suspect.
This next generation of NASCAR wants to embrace its past while also making it clear that the sport has evolved. For the most part I would say that NASCAR has succeeded, and I’d specifically use Mayfield as an example. In the old days NASCAR would use every connection it had to make sure Mayfield didn’t have a voice on “Race Hub,” a show that airs on SPEED, the sister network of Fox, which broadcasts the first 13 Cup races of the year.
But there was Mayfield in February, trying to state his case. He failed miserably, so now he’s blaming creative editing in an interview this week with CaptainThunderRacing.com.
According to Mayfield, NASCAR’s brass called SPEED’s brass and said if the interview wasn’t properly edited, NASCAR would send SPEED packing.
Oh, sure. The two couldn’t form a conspiracy to keep Mayfield off the air completely when they had the chance. They decided instead to just let the interview happen, then fight each other for their professional existences.
It’s just senseless, the same kind of senselessness that had Mayfield use methamphetamine in the first place. Mayfield surely wasn’t ever a Hall-of-Famer. But he was the next best thing, a lifer who sponsors liked — in the vein of Elliott Sadler and Ken Schrader — who earned a much better living than mediocrity should have ever allowed.
But now, his troubles are everybody else’s fault. Mayfield has been doing his “Sanford & Son” impersonation the last couple of years, buying and selling whatever he can get his hands on.
Hopefully, somebody will bring him a mirror.