Friday, January 19, 2007

"BP” was a one of a kind

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Jan 19, 2007 3:00 AM (4 hours ago)
Current rank: # 3 of 12,452 articles

Baltimore: Broadcasting and racing lost a great man Tuesday when Benny Parsons died at the age of 65 from complications due to a long battle with lung cancer.

The last time I spoke to the TNT racing analyst was right before the final NEXTEL Cup race in Homestead. As always a conversation with Benny began with food and in particular he wanted to know how the Chesapeake Bay crabs were doing. Benny loved the crabs from this area and he made it a point to do his share for the local economy when coming to the races at Dover, Benny would eat as many crabs as he could and then take some home.

I don’t I ever recall interviewing Benny I simply said hi and after about a 45 minute conversation I had a story. It might not have been the one I set out to write but it was always a good one.

Benny was a real person, he was the regular guy you saw on TV always having time to talk to people, sign autographs and be friends to so many fans, drivers, and crew members. He was a great ambassador for his sport just like Dick Vitale is to college basketball and John Madden is for NFL Football.

Named one of the 50 greatest drivers by NASCAR, Benny’s biggest thrill was winning the 1975 Daytona 500.

For the past few days race fans have been keeping the phone lines jammed at SIRIUS NASCAR Ch. 128 where they have been paying homage to Benny. I spoke to Marty Snider the host of The Morning Drive on SIRIUS about Benny, the two worked together for 15 years. I asked him about the outpouring of love coming from the racing community.

Snyder on the reaction to Benny’s death: “We have had hundreds of calls from all over the country call and each person had a story about Benny. Some talked about meeting him at a race track or others at restaurant they all wanted to say what a nice guy he was. Still others just watched him on TV and never met him but felt they knew him from his work and wanted us to know how he will be missed. We got many calls from some of the top drivers who wanted to share Benny stories with us. He is a man who touched so many lives. ”

Snyder on the racing community’s loss: “Benny was a natural for TV; we called him the “professor,” because he could explain racing in a way that everyone could understand. That is a talent that can’t be replaced.”

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at

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