Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Open For Benny Parsons Comments & Stories

Benny Parsons has been gone from us for one year. It is still easy to close your eyes and see his smile and hear his voice. Always full of passion, always quick to be kind, always the first to point out the good in any situation. That was BP.

If you met him as a fan, please pass along that story. If you were a co-worker in TV land, or a NASCAR industry employee who had a "BP experience," tell us about it.

Benny's wife Terri reads this blog, and has been kind enough to leave us comments in the past. Also, the many TV personalities that stop by The Daly Planet have almost all been touched by BP in some way. As David Poole says in his blog, BP really excelled at the art of listening. It made all the difference.

Thanks again for taking a moment to leave us a BP story or comment. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions.


Matt said...

I miss Benny on TV very much. And as all of us here have said over and over again, there was never and never will be a better NASCAR TV crew than the ESPN crew of Bob, Benny, and Ned. And as great as Bob's energy was and Ned's staright-forward, informative insight, without Benny's fun-loving commentary (and occasional ribbing of Bob) the ESPN crew would not have been near as good as it was. He is sorely missed by all of us long time fans, who may never have met him, but welcomed him into our homes for 10 months a year.

stricklinfan82 said...

Unfortunately I never got the chance to meet Benny, but I will always remember him as being the best thing to ever happen to NASCAR Television. I do have a few favorite Benny moments that stick out.

The first was in February of 1989 at Rockingham - the first time the legendary trio of Bob Jenkins, Ned Jarrett, and Benny Parsons shared a broadcast booth. The true enthusiasm and energy BP brought to the booth during both the Busch and Cup race telecasts was incredible and helped make every ESPN broadcast of NASCAR "must see TV" from that weekend forward.

My second favorite memory of BP was how he single-handedly saved the ABC Sports TV coverage of NASCAR in 1989. ABC NASCAR telecasts were always awful in the 80's, as they were filled with general sports announcers and Indycar announcers that new nothing about NASCAR. After a complete debacle at Atlanta in March of '89, ABC hired Benny and finally brought a credible voice to the ABC NASCAR telecasts. Even though he was still working with a crew of Indycar announcers, he was still able to shine and make the ABC race broadcasts bearable until 1994 when ABC races finally became nothing more than "ESPN NASCAR broadcasts on their new sister broadcast network".

My third and final memory of Benny was more personal. ESPN's announcers used to have an "office pool" where all the ESPN crew would throw some money into a pot and try to predict who would win each race. I remembered watching the 1996 Southern 500 at Darlington and hearing the ESPN announcers joking on the air with BP about using the 2nd pick in the pool to pick my favorite driver, Hut Stricklin, to win the race. Even though I was a huge Hut fan I didn't go into that race with very high expectations and wondered what in the world Benny was thinking. Sure enough Ol' BP knew something the rest of us didn't, as Hut came out of nowhere to lead the most laps, pass Jeff Gordon for the lead in the late laps despite having older tires, and nearly score the first win of his career before suffering overheating problems that dropped him to 2nd.

I would be surprised if anyone reading this blog remembers that last story, but for this Hut Stricklin fan I will never forget that day when Benny clearly saw something special coming for my driver long before the engines ever started that day.

Radar said...

I worked at WISE-AM and WKSF-FM in the 70's and 80's.

Starting in about 1983 myself and the Sports Director would travel to Charlotte Motor Speedway for every race & pole day.
We had garage passes and would try to interview as many drivers as possible on pole day for our show on Thursday and Friday.

Pole day back then was on Wednesdays.

During this time Benny drove for Leo Jackson and the shop was out on Airport Road just outside of Asheville. When we first interviewed Benny we told him we were from Asheville. For the next five years or so, every time we saw Benny, he would say, "There's those boys from Asheville North Carolina.

He would always take the time to let us interview him about qualifying and the race coming up.
I always thought of Benny as one of the nicest drivers you would ever want to meet. He was in my category with Neil Bonnett and Dave Marcis as some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.

One day before a race after Benny had retired from racing, we were standing outside the Winston Media Center at CMS and just chatting about racing and life and everything. Benny said,
in the department store of life, sports is in the back of the store.
I always remembered that, and always felt like Benny was a friend of mine, even when I listened to him on TV.

I'm so glad I got the chance to meet and talk with Benny over the years, and will always miss him. He was such a great person, and a great race car driver.

Bruce Chandley
Asheville, NC

Tripp said...

I never met Benny, but I wish I had. I miss him.

SophiaZ123 said...

I never met Benny either but miss him terribly on tv during the race and hosting taped shows about NASCAR drivers and history.

A gentle man, so sorely missed. ESPN coverage MAGNIFIED the pain of the loss of this man.

I enjoy reading about people who met him.

Anonymous said...

Yes JD, just as Tripp and Sophiaz have said. Yes I have never met him either. But as I am a Dave Marcis fan I can not tell all of BP's fans what a pleasure it was to listen to him. Yes we all miss him.

Kingston, NY

Boyd said...

I met Benny a couple of years ago at Texas Motor Speedway. It was a hot April Day, and I had been shooting time trials for a racing publication. I was just sitting outside the media center drinking some water, and he walked up. I said a quick hi, and he sat down and we talked about what we had seen on track that day.
He also asked if I had family, and how they reacted to me being out at the track all day. He said that racing was a fun thing, but don't forget about the ones we love.
That helped me put some things in perspective, and I still look back at a man of his rank taking the time to talk with a lowly photographer for a while and remember it as if it was yesterday.

SophiaZ123 said...

Oh, Boyd, your story brought tears to me eyes!! I am glad you got to meet Benny and have a REAL conversation with him.

There are no lowly photographers (well except media stalker types)but I know what you meant. :-)

I just took a bunch of bird pictures outside my window on this very GLOOMY day and enjoyed your story.

THANKS for sharing.

Steve L said...

I was walking around the garage area in March 2006 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and looked up and saw Benny walking toward me. I was surprised when I said a quick "How's it going Benny?" that he stopped and talked to me like he knew me for years. I introduced myself and he used my first name throughout our conservation.

We talked about the weather, (it was a cold day), and about how he thought the cars would fair that night for qualifying.
After a few minutes he called me by my name and said he had to run and to "take care".

He even posed for a quick photo before walking away. I'll never forget that day.

He was truly a class act and there's not a single season I don't think about how much I miss him on TV.

TexasRaceLady said...

I miss his easy-going humor and the fun he could have with the crews. The time Tony Jr. and the Bud team, chained the "Golden Benny" to the pit box was a good example. He was one of them.

Benny was one of those rare individuals who could poke fun at himself, and laugh along with everyone else. His "Buffet Benny" stories were a hoot.

BP, you are sorely missed by this racing fan.

Anonymous said...

Like so many others I was honored to meet Benny back in 2004. Benny flew up to CT one day to play in Randy LaJoie's golf outing. As Benny was getting ready to go out on the course I went up and said hello and it was like Benny knew me since I was a kid. Benny let me take a picture with him like two old friends standing side by side. But that was not good enough for Benny. He put his arm around me and said to get closer. He did that by giving me that gentle hug of his. Then he signed my white "Speedvision" like a pro.
I still have both proudly displayed.
I wish half of the world would be just like Benny.

Miss you Benny.
Mike P.

littlebling said...

I became a rabid NASCAR fan in 1995. For that, I owe a large debt to Benny Parsons.
I was at a friend's house while he was watching a race. I said, how can you stand watching the cars ride around in circles all day? He said, just watch, you'll see. I did, and I was hooked.
Without the three gentlemen who not only announced the race, but served as my tour guides through the world of stock car racing, I probably would not have enjoyed it so much. It has been said that there will never be a better announce crew than Bob, Ned and Benny. I agree wholeheartedly.
My best wishes on this painful anniversary to Terri and all the friends Benny left behind.
Rachel from Pa.