I really like my job most of the time, but some days kick way more ass than others.
This has been one of them.
At this afternoon's Ford Racing luncheon, Ford brought its three incoming NASCAR Hall of Famers – Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison and Bud Moore – to answer questions after the meal.
As it so happened, Gentleman Ned was at my table.
Here's the thing about covering famous people – most of the time, you have to disconnect from the fact that they're celebrities in order to do your job. You can't be successful if you're falling all over yourself interviewing Jeff Gordon – and besides, all famous people are still just regular people when it comes down to it.
So I don't get much of a thrill from interviewing today's NASCAR drivers on a daily basis, because they're just normal dudes and I'm just doing my job.
But when it comes to retired legends, it's different. I think guys like Ned Jarrett are so frickin' cool, because I can't comprehend what racing was like back then and I just have a tremendous amount of respect for all they've accomplished.
It's no surprise, then, that sharing a lunch table with Jarrett was a neat experience (duh, right?).
Everyone around the table took turns expressing their opinions about the sport, knowing full well that Jarrett's was the one that mattered most. Several times, I caught myself speaking on a topic – the points system, for example – and having my eyes dart over to Jarrett to see if he was agreeing with what I said.
The kind of perspective and institutional knowledge legends like Jarrett offer is so priceless, and I soaked up everything he said.
Jarrett likes the idea of simplifying the points system, but he didn't seem to get behind the idea of a HUGE bonus for winning races. He'd rather see consistency and winning weighed about equally, he said.
Each of us at the table shared our championship pick (Jarrett's was Carl Edwards) and our darkhorse to make the Chase (Jarrett went with AJ Allmendinger).
My favorite moment of that old-school perspective was when the table discussed last year's trash talk from Denny Hamlin's crew chief Mike Ford. I teased Jarrett and asked if he ever trash-talked anyone.
"No!" he said, laughing. "But there weren't many people to talk to."
Up next: Hendrick Motorsports.