@nascarcasm: Greatest racing songs of all time
By @nascarcasm | Tuesday, April 14, 2020
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NASCAR has been the subject of many great songs over the years. Therefore, @nascarcasm compiled what he thinks are the nine best tunes right here. As always, the list is subject to debate.
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Chief's moving tune is not about the debauchery of the infield. Instead, it's a fictional tale about a trip friends make to the track after their senior year in high school. It's about living in that moment and making lasting memories during that big turning point in life. Although it has been my experience that Talladega Superspeedway is not a great place to make memories because when I leave Talladega on Monday morning, I don't remember a thing. Regardless, good tune.
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The brilliant, irreverent, gone-too-soon Jim Croce wrote this catchy tune about Roy Hall -- a stock-car driver from the earliest days of the sport from of all places, Dawsonville, Georgia. Without going into too much detail about Hall's backstory, let's just say a quick skim through his Wikipedia entry will make you think, "Oh yeah, this guy needs a song." Croce, who blessed the world with tunes like "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" and "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," definitely does him justice.
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Perhaps you're unfamiliar with this band. Well, then let me do you the greatest favor imaginable and introduce you to the Drive-By Truckers. You're welcome. This southern stomp tells the tale of a father and son and the relationship they had through cars, racing and hot, nasty speed. While it doesn't mention NASCAR specifically, when they sing, "He could always pick the winner before they ever took a curve/Number three might have the car but 43 has got the nerve," man ... we know what's up.
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First things first -- this song, by three members of the storied hip-hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan, has absolutely zero, zilch, nada to do with the actual Daytona 500. But the beat is sick, the rhymes are fast, and the video is comprised entirely of clips from "Speed Racer." Thanks to Eric Church and Ghostface Killah, both superspeedways on the schedule have been acknowledged through the majesty of song.
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It is physically impossible to sit still during this song. It's that catchy. "Well they say that's how the Duke boys and NASCAR started out/They were hauling bootleg liquor and look where they are now," sings Brad Paisley. Download this one now.
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If you don't know the name, he's the lead vocalist/guitarist from Dire Straits -- the "Money For Nothing" guys. Close your eyes and listen as Mark Knopfler sonically travels the racing circuit, from Phoenix Raceway to Michigan International Speedway to eventually the now-defunct Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania. We're certain there's a deeper metaphor in the song, but to be honest, I just listen to him mention racetracks and then yell, "I've been there!" It's really annoying for everyone else in the car.
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All you have to know is this is a song about Dale Earnhardt Sr. The title alone should have led you to that conclusion. Again, that's all you have to know. If you didn't know about it, you're downloading it right now. That's because it's a song about Earnhardt.
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Rodney Crowell penned this tribute to the great Richard Petty in 1986. But Kyle Petty's cover of this song years later truly put it on the map. You can find Kyle's version on YouTube -- it is glorious. It's a musical gift from a son to his father. I, too, once wrote a song to my father, which was entitled "Increase My Allowance Or I'll Tell Mom Where You Hide The Playboys" and wasn't a hit.
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We conclude the list with an homage. An homage ... to Marty Robbins. He did WAY more than just sing about racing -- not many country singers have 35 NASCAR Cup Series starts with six top-10 finishes to their name, let alone a signature magenta-and-chartreuse paint scheme. Robbins didn't treat racing as a novelty by any means and sings of his days at the track in this tune from the 1983 album of the same name.