Greenville Pickens Speedway remembers Roone Arledge.
Word came today of 71 year old Roone Arledge's death. He'll be remembered most for the invention of Monday Night Football, but well before all that, back in 1971, Roone came to Greenville and Greenville Pickens Speedway, met with Pete and Tom Blackwell, and made the very first broadcast of a live flag to flag NASCAR race happen. The race was broadcast live to the nation on ABC Wide World of Sports. I have photos of Mr. Arledge and the Blackwells meeting over in the turn three area discussing the race broadcast. That race is now famous in NASCAR history as the very first to be broadcast in its entirety from flag to flag. Bobby Isaac, in the famous 71 K & K Insurance car won the race.
Stories have it that Roone met with the drivers before the race...told them that 'this TV thing could be a big deal for NASCAR'...so be on your best behavior. There was some real concern about time and getting everything in should things so bad. Anyway, the result was 200 choir boy laps, basically a train, with little of the bumping, grinding, and wild stuff that had been a usual element of GPS Grand Nationals in the past. The entire 200 laps was slowed by only one minor caution. I guess the drivers must have listened to old Roone.
In reflection, his statement..."this TV thing could be a big deal for NASCAR"...well that was probably the understatement of the century.
REST IN PEACE, Roone Arledge. We'll remember him and his part in the history of Greenville Pickens Speedway.
-Keith Cochran @ GPS