This Incredible Ed Hinton Piece Explains Why NASCAR Fans Complaining About Austin Dillon In The #3 Are Very, Very Wrong

This Incredible Ed Hinton Piece Explains Why NASCAR Fans Complaining About Austin Dillon In The #3 Are Very, Very Wrong

I try to read every single word that Ed Hinton writes because he’s the last bastion of the old school racing reporter left in the USA. This guy has been following NASCAR and open wheel racing (primarily) for like 60 years and he’s known virtually every big name racer for just as long. We’re talking about a guy who lived, breathed, ate, and experienced racing from the racer level, rolling around with teams and from virtually every other perspective as well. The guy can write like no one’s business and he, in his gentlemanly manner, absolutely vaporizes the notion that Austin Dillon shouldn’t be driving the #3 Chevrolet on the pole at Daytona this year. He busts up the twisted logic of some fans into about 16 million pieces and then drops the mic on ’em and walks off stage. He’s not mean about it, he’s not angry about it, he’s not even sarcastic. He’s like an old lawyer who has given umpteen million closing statements doing it one more time. The history exposed here, the facts used, and the awesome story of how that #3 got to become so revered in the sport is fantastic. Hinton is a craftsman with words and we hope he can keep it up forever even though logic dictates that he cannot.

The piece is written in the form of a letter to Austin Dillon, who is Richard Childress’s grandson and the driver of the car. That in itself is brilliant because it allows Hinton to drive the emotion of explaining all this stuff on a very personal level. Childress is referred to as pop-pop, the name bestowed on him by the grand kids when they were little rug rats. It is a story about family triumph. It is a story about risks taken, some of which panned out and some of which didn’t. Ultimately it is a story about earning something and establishing a legacy and figuring out who that legacy belongs to. Hinton argues convincingly that while most people think that the #3 belongs to Earnhardt, it actually belongs to Childress for it was he who fielded the cars that others drove, kept the operation up, and crew it into the amazingly successful empire that it is today.

You  may not agree with Hinton’s assessment here, which you are certainly free to do but you have to admire the prose and construction of this story. It is a piece of motorsports writing that few, if any can produce anymore.


Picture 19

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13 thoughts on “This Incredible Ed Hinton Piece Explains Why NASCAR Fans Complaining About Austin Dillon In The #3 Are Very, Very Wrong

  1. john

    With his “ten gallon hat”, about 3 gallons more than he can carry, Austin Dillion is a pretentious LITTLE putts. BUT, who gives a shit who drives “number 3”? There are more things in life. Move on.

  2. Brian Cooper

    Childress owns the number. He can do what he wants. Hinton is right that Childress made the number by putting the best man in the car that he could.

    If Nascar wants to start retiring numbers, they should start with 42 and 43. Not with 3.

      1. total auto supply

        nascar told RCR use the #3 or loose it.. NO ONE wanted to see that # back in cup.. not RCR noT JR.. BUT THEY CAN’T SAY BOO. OR nascar will make life hell.. THE FANS SPOKE.. THATS ALL THAT MATTERED.. AND YOU CAN BET THEY’LL SPEAK IN A LANGUAGE NASCAR UNDERSTANDS this season..

  3. Cletus T Rickenbacher 3rd

    There have been plenty of famous drivers behind the wheel of #3 over the years. When Ray Fox used the number his drivers included Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, Earl Balmer, Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts, LeeRoy Yarbrough,Junior Johnson, Marvin Panch, and Jim Paschal.* And Ricky Rudd drove the #3 for Childress while Earnhart was running the #15 for Bud Moore. And don’t forget that Earnhart won his first championship driving for Rod Osterland in the #2.

    Dillon might be good enough to join some on that list, maybe he won’t be. Who cares in what is now a “spec racing” series.


  4. 440 6Pac

    So the boy is driving the #3 car? That SOB punk Earnhardt didn’t have a copyright or patten on it. As far as that goes nether does his punk boss.

  5. Turbo Regal

    I agree, Brian. Hinton’s stories are like a window back in time, when NASCAR was a rough and tumble, exciting sport filled with exciting characters like Childress, Junior Johnson and Earnhardt .

    With all the gimmicks of this Chase thing and the drivers who are nothing more than marketing spokesmen, the sport smacks of desperation, now.

  6. baggs

    ESPN Sportsnation had a poll question last May-June on this subject. It was simple, should the #3 be retired from cup competition or not. Of the 60,000 plus who responded 82% voted the it SHOULD be retired. That said it all, more or less and it’s got nothing to do with who the number is assigned to it’s about who it will be forever linked to it and the fact that he died in that car. It still to this day makes me scratch my head that so many just don’t get it.

  7. total auto supply

    FACT. WHAT THIS REPORTER SAYS,WRITES doesn’t M-A-T-T-E-R. what MATTERS is how the FANS feel about it.. THE FANS ARE P-I-S-S-E-D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!..
    The #3 was one many a car before Big “E” . but the combo of him and that number made Nascar able to be as big as it is TODAY……….. He, came up with 3/4 of the marketing that makes them billions.. starting with the idea of “special” painted cars for Important races.. and started the huge money maker of having many different die cast and hot wheels for the fan to by..
    Like it or not DALE was the show while Nascar was making a push out of the south. no other driver would ever run laps side by side with another car for the lead for 25-30 laps.. but he did WHY.. it gave the fans a SHOW..
    He’d qualify in the back a lot for the same reason.. He knew what the race fans in the stands and at home wanted to see..
    He also told it like it was.. much like jaws used to before he got neutered..
    The #3 should’ve been retired not only for the fact that the 7 time champ died racing, but also out of respect for all that he did to make the sport as much of a draw that it became, before Brian France JR. screwed it up.. thinking it’s like the NFL/NBA/NHL/baseball. and needing the post season..”chase” b/s.
    DALE SR. EARNED the right to have that number retired..
    You know dam well that if KING RICHARD died the day his pointac grand prix barrel rolled down the front straight.. the #43 would never EVER been seen on the side of another CUP car.. EVER..
    If nascar is try’n to piss off the last of their loyal fans ,They are doing a bang you job of it..
    You can say JR’ is ok with it running again.. but I’m willing to bet that’s not true.. but that’s what NASCAR wants. and if you go against the powers to be. you will have a monster of a headache.. Cause there is no way he’ll be “fine” with being on that track this week and see’n the car his daddy used to drive and died in..
    Nascar forcing the return of the #3 is classless, to the fans, to the EARNHARDT family,
    RCR is the one that’s going to pay the most for this move and R/C didn’t have much choice.. Brian France. JR said use it or loose it..
    But RCR is the ones that get the prunt of the back lash.
    Hundreds of thousands of fans that still go to the track in #3 tees and hats and bought more at every track(that hauler you can’t get near and they sell out of stuff sat AM. ) will not have a ton of new stuff being bought from the old #3 fans.. but I can see them heading over to the JR motorsports hauler and spending their hard earned cash over there..

  8. Don

    It’s all about TV ratings. Nascar’s ratings are in the toilet and they think this will help them at least grab on to the seat. Last year they tried the girl on the pole [insert your joke here] and that certainly didn’t go anywhere. For this years script they brought out number 3 for the Goobers and put some little punk midget in a cowboy hat in it that just happens to be the grandson of one of the oldest and most influential big money teams, and let him have the pole. The Goobers are going wild now. He’s a poor little rich kid living off Grandpa’s money and given everything he wants. Here’s what’s going to happen. Maybe he will hit the same part of the wall Dale hit and kill himself and only then will you never see #3 again. Or, if nobody wrecks him before the end of the race Nascar will let him win creating the perfect Cinderella story and up go Nascars ratings. I’m going with choice #1. Nascar is fake bullshit. It’s a soap opera every weekend and if you honestly think it’s real, I hear that bridge in Brooklyn is still for sale.

  9. jerry z

    That number should have never left the sport period. When Kevin Harvick jumped in the seat, the #3 should nave stayed with the car. Earnhardt will always be remember as a great driver and business man no matter what other have said about retiring his #.

    Its all bulls###.

  10. tiresmoke1

    On one hand, I will ALWAYS believe the number should’ve been retired.

    Yes, Richard Childress ran the #3 himself for years as a racer(as did many others including Junior Johnson), and RIcky Rudd had a short stint behind the wheel of the #3 car. BUT…..Childress was never anything more than an also-ran, mostly forgotten to history had it not been for his hiring or Dale Sr.

    When the “stylized 3” was being designed, the graphic artist was consulting Dale(yes, the DRIVER, not the CAR OWNER) as to whether the number should be swept back or leaning forward. Dale’s response…”when you’re running, do you lean back or forward?”…the “stylized 3” will always be associated with Dale Sr., and I think that’s what bothers folks more than anything.

    In short, if Childress wants to run the number for his grandkid, so be it. But a change in graphics would be appreciated as well.

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