NASCAR has now passed into the stage that Rock'n'Roll entered several years ago.
The toy marketers have discovered that NASCAR racing has all the elements necessary to hit the valuable pre-teen market, such as...
(1) Very colorful, easily-identified, bigger-than-life images wielding enormous power
(2) Good guys vs Bad guys competition
(3) Special costumes, with logos on them (at least no one wears a cape in NASCAR... yet)
(3) A "My group's hero is more powerful than your group's hero" attitude among fans
So now, all elements that are deemed inappropriate to teach small children needs to be removed from the image. What happened to Tom Petty has now happened to Richard Petty. (I know, heartbreaking, isn't it?). I guess the next logical step would be to allow distillers (and maybe even tobacco companies) to sponsor NASCAR competitors... but only the evil ones!
Can you say "World Wide Wrestling"? (I thought ya could)