I was never lucky enough to meet Steve Byrnes.
Our paths never crossed, so I can not regale in the virtues of the man, his kindness, his generosity, his professionalism. I will leave that to those who knew him best, his family, his close friends, and work colleagues.
I will read those articles and I will celebrate the man with all who knew him well!
What I will tell you is that Steve Byrnes has been around NASCAR as long as I have been a die hard, avid NASCAR fan, more than thirty years. As a fan of NASCAR, I always enjoyed the human interest side that Steve Byrnes would bring in his approach to the sport.
I remember when Steve worked with “Gentleman” Ned Jarrett on Inside Winston Cup, I couldn’t wait to see what was going on each week in NASCAR. It always seemed like Steve Byrnes would be able to find an interesting story to share with the viewers.
Byrnes was always able to get and keep your attention with his stories. His TV personna exuded authenticity and sincerity. That is the main reason that I looked forward to the pieces that Byrnes produced for the race fans. Even when he interviewed drivers, owners, and others involved in the sport, and the interviewee was agitated, angery, testy, etc., Steve had a job to do. He was fair, respectful, and did not let that turn the piece upside down! He was honest, genuine, and gave respect where respect was due.
Steve Byrnes added the all important element of humanism to his work. For me, Steve Byrnes showed the viewer that the drivers that we held up on a pedestal, our heroes, were just real men and women.
I am relieved that Steve Byrnes is no longer suffering. However, my heart really aches for his grieving 12 year old son and his wife, and for all of those people that Byrnes touched in his brief 56 years, his fans.
It is my belief that there are very few people who can reach such a large audience and keep it real. But Steve Byrnes did just that! The Byrnes legacy will continue to make ripples in the waters of time.
Godspeed Steve Byrnes, Godspeed!
He went the distance!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!