February 28, 2001. A lovely Sunday, and a great day for a Daytona 500. That is, until we lost Dale Earnhardt (Sr). The racing legend began his dominance at the precise time that television and advertising was beginning to make NASCAR—-the pre-eminent stock car racing series here in the US—-visible to a mainstream audience. Earnhardt won 7 season championships in NASCAR’s top series, between 1980 and 1994, and was most likely its most beloved driver by fans. (His son, Dale, Jr., was far and away NASCAR’s most popular driver his entire career.)
On Sunday, May 23, Phil Mickelson started the insanity, by winning the PGA Championship in South Carolina. It represented his sixth major title, and he surpassed Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods to become the oldest major winner in the history of professional golf. I don’t recall thinking that Phil was too long in the tooth to win anymore, but he’s 50 years old. He’s eligible for the Champions Tour, which in a bygone era was called the “Senior Tour.” Phil had won the PGA Championship before: 16 years ago. That gap represented the largest for anyone winning the same tournament in the history of professional golf.