By Ronnie D. Satterfield
No one is impervious to racing’s arduous toll, but for families there can be a special kind of ruthlessness.
It's not hard to understand why. Racing has room for only one winner at a time. One champion. One cream of the crop. Sure, you can be talented, but only one can be the best. With a winner's circle so small, racing sure has the capacity for heartache, jealousy and bitterness. That's true even when you don't know the sons-of-bitches. Imagine the feeling when you sit next to them in the family portrait.
Brothers Jeff Burton and Ward Burton are an oxymoron. Polar opposites, these two, and yet somehow their differences tap into our affections in a completely coherent, sensible and loveable way. You have Ward, the outdoorsman whose deep-Virginia dialect sounds like he speaks with a mouthful of marbles... And Jeff, the clean, country-club type who could just as well be president of your local PTA. They are who they are -- you can take them or leave them -- but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who chooses the latter. This was true even when they were in the throws of their racing careers.
Well, with the exception of maybe the Burtons themselves. Turns out there was a long-standing tension that spanned more than a decade. Dammit all.
To be sure, the Burton Continuum is not necessarily about that. In fact, the new docu-pod by Dirty Mo Media is not even about Jeff and Ward. It's about their sons, Harrison (the spawn of Jeff) and Jeb (the offspring of Ward) and how their family's history of shoulder-chips influences how they navigate waters that are already tumultuous enough. Can Jeb and Harrison earn respective opportunities for themselves without harboring animosity? Can they compete against each other without it becoming a Jerry Springer episode? The Bodines couldn't, nor could the Busches.
The two cousins are as likeable and magnetic as their fathers but each in their own unique ways. Jeb is relentless in his passions and pursuits; Harrison is respectful and mild-mannered. Jeb is 29 and married; Harrison is 21 and single. Both have insecurities, of course, but they're not the same. They'll tell you about them in the podcast.
Ultimately The Burton Continuum will embark on a 10-part, episodic journey that seeks an answer to this question -- can Harrison and Jeb Burton rise simultaneously in NASCAR's premiere racing divisions and, if so, can they do so without it causing division themselves?
-- Dirty Mo --