Buddy, gonna shut you down

  • By John Sleeper / Herald Writer
  • Friday, July 9, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

MONROE – The problem wasn’t squeezing out names of 50 great drivers in Evergreen Speedway’s 50-year history.

“Every driver has a history at Evergreen Speedway,” said Scott Ellsworth, co-host of the Northwest Race Talk radio show and half of the speedway announcing team. “Paring down the list was the toughest job of all.”

Ellsworth, along with fellow co-host and track publicist Terry Buell, track president Mickey Beadle, co-speedway PA announcer Gary Cressey, among others, assigned themselves the task of coming up with Evergreen’s 50 greatest drivers as part of the speedway’s half-century of operations.

They initially came up with a list of nearly 100 they had to cut down, but then someone would come up with another name – or two, or three – that simply HAD to be considered.

Ellsworth and Buell got some help from listeners of their show, but largely, it was a group brainstorm from a group that knew it was going to receive flak from jilted drivers, outraged fans and skeptical media types.

“There are probably 100 great drivers out there you could name,” Beadle said. “It wasn’t the easiest thing. No matter how many you leave off, there are just as many who deserve to be on it.”

Smell a nightmare here?

Anyway, the original list certainly is comprehensive. The idea was to include every standout, regardless of whether they drove in Nextel Cup, weekly Super Stocks shows, the Bombers class or anything else.

That’s why you see Sterling Marlin on the same list as mini stocks champ Scott La Cross. That’s why you see seven-time speedway champion Carl Zaretzke on the same list as figure-eight champion Steve Cox. And that’s why you see 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva on the same list as WWRA champ Duane Schosboek.

That’s why you see two-time NASCAR West Series champion Brendan Gaughan, who won two West races at Evergreen … oops … you don’t SEE Gaughan on the list.

But we nitpick.

The point is, some big names are on the list, names that might have raced at Evergreen just once or twice. David Pearson. Bill Elliott. Ken Schrader. Geoff Bodine. Ron Hornaday Jr.

Do they belong on the list more deservedly than the weekly figure-eight driver constantly struggling to slap together enough funds to go racing every week? Is that really fair?

Yes, the committee decided.

“When you’re talking about great drivers who participated at Evergreen Speedway, those drivers were great drivers,” Beadle said. “I don’t have a problem with that. Evergreen is pretty well known for having those drivers participate there.”

OK, fine. We concede it was an impossible job, one that nobody will be completely charmed about.

The Herald’s beef: The committee didn’t go far enough.

Yo, guys. This is sports. In this Lombardian world, winning is the only thing, unless you’re a BCS official. An all-time champion must be determined. And in the interest of avoiding heavy responsibility, which we strive to do daily, we push that task on to you, the reader.

Who’s the best? It’s your baby now.

How do you measure the accomplishments of the weekly Evergreen Speedway driver, regardless of classification, against the undeniably flashy careers of the Bill Elliotts of the world?

Beats the heck out of us. That’s your job. And we like it that way.

So here’s the drill: Pick one driver out of the 50 who stands out above all others and tell us, in the shortest possible manner – and we mean one or two sentences – why you made your choice. There are two ways to vote.

One, snail mail. Send your vote to The Daily Herald, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA, 98206, in care of John Sleeper, Evergreen 500.

Two, e-mail. Send your pick and reason to evergreen500@yahoo.com.

The deadline is midnight Wednesday, July 14, four days from today. Any vote after the deadline will be subject to ridicule and promptly round-filed.

Hey, it’s racing. Speed counts.

And one vote per reader. Don’t stuff the ballot box. We have ways of finding out.

Results, along with the most entertaining comments, will be reported in an upcoming story.

As Leslie Nielsen said in Airplane: Good luck. We’re all counting on you.

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