I just can't stop thinking about Benny

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Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip — winner of 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and a three-time champion — serves as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. He was selected for induction into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012. Want more from DW? Become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

I'm just really sad. My heart hurts. It's been a tough couple of weeks. I thought Bobby Hamilton was going to be OK. Suddenly, he passed away. I thought Benny Parsons was going to be OK. Suddenly, he passed away. Mike Helton lost his mother last week. Hank Parker lost his mother, and Hank Jr. lost his grandmother. Kenny Wallace's wife lost her dad.

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  • Sometimes, it's just overwhelming and hard to understand why these things happen the way they do. It really makes you stop and think about some of the losses that we've all shared and suffered through over the last few years with Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Neil Bonnett and Blaise Alexander. I hate to go on. I have to stop right there. Sometimes, it kind of gets you down because when something happens to one of us, it affects all of us. Drivers are members of a fraternity. The difference between our fraternity and a college fraternity is we're not just together for a short period of time in school and then at reunions after graduation. We're pretty much bound together for life. We spend years competing against each other. I competed against Benny from 1971 until the day he retired in 1988. We were friends, and he had us over for cookouts at North Wilkesboro. He was just such a kind, caring and giving person. It hurts to think that he suffered the way he did the last couple of weeks. We become part of each other's families. We know each other's kids, moms and dads. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Sure, we get mad at each other and get a little mouthy sometimes, but we always forgive each other. When something happens, we always rally around each other and put our arms around each other. We pray together like a family. We celebrate together. We respect each other. We want each other to be the very best we can be because, in the end, the better you are, the better I'll be. We don't want anything bad to happen to anybody because it always reminds us that it could happen to us. Everyone who drives race cars knows they will hurt you, but we know that going in and accept it. What's hard to accept is when somebody like Bobby Hamilton, Benny Parsons, my dad or my father-in-law die from cancer. Surely, there's got to be a better way than chemotherapy and radiation. Those words just turn my stomach.

    Ask DW

    Poor old Benny asked for so little, but he gave us all so much. The thing that I always admired about Benny was he lived by example. What you saw was what you got. There weren't two Benny Parsons. There was one Benny, and he was as humble and appreciative as anybody that ever put on a race uniform. The man was grateful for the success, friends and career he had. It was always a pleasure to be around Benny because he made you feel better. Benny was the kind of guy you just wanted to walk up to and give a hug. You wanted to hug him because he was just that way — a humble man who had a gentle spirit. Benny's mom, Hazel, has got to be proud of Benny. She must have taught him if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. That was Benny Parsons. It didn't matter what happened to or around him or someone else. Very seldom did you hear Benny Parsons have a word that was anything other than encouraging. When I think about Benny, I think about all that he accomplished, and he accomplished a lot: a championship, Daytona 500 win, International Motorsports Hall of Fame. As I look back at his life, I believe his greatest accomplishment was the love, respect and admiration for and from his family, friends and fans. That's the way I'll always remember Gentle Ben.

    Tagged: Kenny Wallace

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