1987's Winston All-Star Race is widely considered to be the edition that put the event "on the map". It introduced the last-chance shootout race, was the first aired on network TV, and had Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s famous "Pass in the Grass" on Bill Elliott. But this isn't about the race.
Its about something more interesting, more strange, and more mysterious than that.
In the early days of The Winston, a publicity photo would be put out featuring every driver competing in the race (so every winning driver from the past season-and-a-third and past champion). The photo was usually turned into a poster sold at the track. Now, why the heck would we care about a poster for a race held over 15 years ago?
|Click for full-sized zoom|
Because this is THAT poster.
Take a look at this zoomed-in shot--what's that behind Neil Bonnett's ear?
What makes it even more intriguing is that the driver who seems to be displaying his, um, "stick-shift", is none other than Tim Richmond, a notorious prankster and playboy.
|Censored for your protection?|
Search online for "1987 Winston Poster" and you'll see auction listings touting its rare status. You'll see it listed as an "uncensored" version, and stories about how most of the original posters were recalled. And as you'll see here, there was, indeed, a "censored" version put out.
But was there anything that actually needed to be censored?
The poster is old enough to have pre-dated the "everybody knows the story behind everything" internet age, but is young enough that there's arguments on internet message boards about what Tim was actually holding.
The most detailed (or most fabricated) story comes from Yahoo's Answers site--you can take a look for yourself
but here's the most-important part:
"At the point this picture was taken, the HIV had already been doing a number on Tim and at times, he needed a cain (sic) to walk. His hand is resting on a cain (sic), not his privates."
Obviously, there's no real way to verify this story. There's also two major problems with it: 1.) It falls into the "Well my cousin knew a guy who knew all the drivers and he told me…" category, which has spawned such rumors as "Teresa Earnhardt slept with Jeff Gordon" and "My wife had an affair with Rusty Wallace" (note--I've actually heard both of these). Also, 2.) How much weight do you want to put into the words of someone who can't spell the word CANE correctly?
Personally, the cane story makes the most sense, especially when you consider how he's holding whatever he's holding. But what can't be denied is that this poster is a collection of some of the best in Nascar from the 70's through the 90's. Sadly, far too many of these drivers met untimely ends. Going left-to-right, top row first, here's what's happened to each of the drivers in this poster:
Morgan Shepherd: Semi-retired
Tim Richmond: Deceased, complications from AIDS, 1989
Bobby Allison: Retired, frequent contributor to Nascar Media productions, Hall of Famer
Darrell Waltrip: Retired, Nascar on Fox commentator, Hall of Famer
Harry Gant: Retired, rancher
Ricky Rudd: Retired, stay-at-home dad
Kyle Petty: Retired, Speed Channel/TNT commentator, Philanthropist
Davey Allison: Deceased, helicopter crash, 1993
Benny Parsons: Deceased, lung cancer, 2007 (after a high-profile career as a tv commentator for numerous networks)
Geoff(ery) Bodine: Retired, only member of this photo to have an honorary gold medal from the Winter Olympics
Buddy Baker: Retired, worked as a TV commentator for CBS & TNN
Bobby Hillin, Jr.: Retired, runs his own excavation business in Texas
Rusty Wallace: Retired, Nascar on ESPN commentator, Hall of Famer
Cale Yarborough: Retired, car dealership owner, Hall of Famer
Greg Sacks: Retired, co-owner of Grand Touring (GT) Vodka
Neil Bonnett: Deceased, practice crash at Daytona, 1994
Terry Labonte: Semi-retired
Dale Earnhardt (Sr.): Deceased, crash in the Daytona 500, 2001, Hall of Famer
Bill Elliott: Semi-retired
Richard Petty: Retired, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, Hall of Famer