Three Cheers For Tommy Baldwin

Ed Hinton, one of the NASCAR press corp’s grizzled veterans and a guy who knows whereof he speaks, has repeatedly suggested that much good can come from the current bleak economic climate that confronts the sport.

Namely, Big Ed has asserted that tough economic times will create opportunity for old-school teams, that mechanics and crew chiefs and drivers and anyone else who is ready, willing, and able to work his/her/their ass off just might be able to race. And really, what’s more definitively NASCAR than a bunch of people getting together and getting down and dirty and doing the hard work in order to race on Sunday?

Enter Tommy Baldwin, former crew chief for Ward Burton and Kasey Kahne, among others, who announced earlier this month that he will field a single-car team in 2009 and that he intends to run a full schedule. While saying it and doing it are two very different things, Baldwin has signed veteran Scott Riggs and has reportedly received pledges of support from a variety of sponsors.

And while neither of those things separates him or his fledgling team from a host of other dreamers, Baldwin’s attempt touches a chord … well, that or his marketing people write a better press release than others. Whatever the answer, it’s hard not to root for a guy whose latest release includes this: 
On any given morning in Mooresville, N.C., Tommy Baldwin pulls up to his new race shop to find another unemployed crew member awaiting his arrival and willing to volunteer his services, if only for a day. In a sport marred by mergers, crumbling racing empires, and an ever slumping economy, many find themselves rallying behind a man with the courage to start over with a brand new team.