Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good times in East Tennessee: part 2

After collapsing on my cot at 4AM, it was time to get back up and at 'em around 8AM. Slowly but surely - one by one - about a dozen of us stumbled out of campers, tents, the "garage", and backs of vans and trucks to greet the dawn. She had arrived around 6AM and cleared her throat to announce the day. But all of us night owls bellowed a collective "screw you!" and slept a couple of hours more. Inevitably, the brightness and warmth of the morning won, and we had no choice but to arise.

After a breakfast of a Clif bar, a bottled water, and a Goody's, I was as good as new...umm...a pair of Goodwill, bell-bottom corduroys - functional but not very appealing.

About mid-morning, two of us decided to take a stroll to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of other campers, souvenir trailers, concession stands, etc. I downed a Schlitz to get the morning rolling and declared I was back in the game.

As Chet and I strolled souvenir row, I noticed something interesting. When SHOFer Philly and I went to the Vegas race in February, Danicamania was all the rage. She had exactly one NASCAR race under her belt at that time - the Daytona Nationwide race. The hype was pegging the needle for her Vegas Nationwide start, and the fans responded in kind by congregating around her souvenir trailer.

Six months later - with an average finish of around 30th - in NASCAR's second tier series - in an area of the country where fans really know their racing - in cars fielded by JR Motorsports/Hendrick Motorsports, the bloom seems to have fallen off the rose. Tick, tock, tick, tock, BUZZZZZZ - OK Danica, your 15 minutes are over. You are free to go now. Thanks for playing.

We found this doozy - an inflatable pool with a sign saying "its not rude to swim in the nude." The pool earned bonus points for the fan. As if the pool water wasn't going to be cold enough on its own, blowing a continual supply of cool, night air on the swimmers would have been an extra nice touch.

We took a moment to ask this group of rednecks...fine, upstanding, middle-aged, over-weight fellows if they'd had any takers. When informed they'd had a few "customers" on Friday night, we told them we'd perhaps pay them a visit after Saturday's race to see if additional inebriated, interested cuties were taking the Nestea plunge. We did. They weren't. Sigh.

Rain arrived right about the point at which we reached the furthest distance we planned to walk. Slowly at first. Then steady. Good news: I had rain ponchos. Bad news: They were packed in my gear box back at the camp site. We tried waiting it out under the protection of a couple of souvenir tents, but we could tell the rain had set in for a while.

So back we trudged. Though the rain dampened our clothes, it did not dampen our spirit. Talking a little bench racing from the back of my truck and sharing multiple Schaefers with friends seemed to make the rain just drift away.

A man has time to think...and time to simply goof off while waiting out a rain delay. Silly ideas like this one just seem to pop in my head - taking a picture of the dominant beers of the weekend.

One, the former official beer of NASCAR and the other, the current official beer of the Schaefer Racing Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor.

By mid afternoon, the rain was gone. The sun returned which naturally led to the trackside debut of the sunny-yellow, Schaefer Hall of Fame t-shirts! Delivered in June and worn a few times to non-racing events, it was finally time to christen the shirts on a race weekend.

Have you ever seen a finer collection of folks? Three SHOFers - Philly, TMC, and Uncle D via stand-in (thanks Tank - no one can even tell the difference!) and recent SROH inductee Chet complemented this pic well I think.

It was about time to get in race mode. Coolers were packed and iced. Scanners were fastened to belts. And a couple of plates of fantastic, slow-cooked North Carolina barbecue, fresh Ohio roasted corn, and barbecue slaw were scarfed down.

With race night excitement beginning to build, we set out for the track. When we got within sight of the track, we met a first-timer and his girl. They were trying to take a picture of themselves with their phone, and I offered to take it for them. Striking up a conversation, we learned it was their first time at a race. He also said he'd never had the pleasure of enjoying a Schaefer. When we told them a brief rendition of the story, he exclaimed "That's cool! My mother's maiden name is Schaefer." Folks, you just can't make up encounters like that.

We got to our seats in time for many of the driver introductions (a roar for Brad Keselowski - just because he called Kyle Busch an ass? really?). As I sat there laughing at the driver intros - or maybe at the fans responding to the driver intros, my eyes wandered around the track. One thing about Bristol that's special to me is the grandstand section names.

Daytona named many of its grandstands after pioneers of the sport and drivers before my time: DePalma, Roberts, Lund, Oldfield, Weatherly. Talladega named many of theirs based on nearby communities and men who helped build the track: Anniston, Lincoln, Gadsden, O.V. Hill, and Moss Thornton. Many other tracks have Petty and Earnhardt stands. But Bristol's stands are named for drivers from my era: Petty, Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, Waltrip, Wallace, Kulwicki, and Earnhardt. Its hard for me to imagine a time when a track will have stands named for Gordon, Johnson, Stewart, Busch, Hamlin and Edwards, but maybe they will.

Once the intros were completed, I was snapped back to reality by the playing of the one song that makes me grit my teeth perhaps like none other - Lee Greenwood's God Bless The U.S.A.

Look, I love this country passionately. I'm so grateful and sometimes moved to tears for the men and women who defend it. And there are plenty of traditional, patriotic songs I enjoy. But that one song, ARGH. It. wears. me. out. Fortunately, the song was just a recorded version covered by someone else. Thank goodness Lee himself wasn't there to sing it; otherwise, I might have had to beat a path to the john.

Gentlemen, start your engines! Folks, there is nothing like it. I've followed racing for over 30 years. I've loved it, and at times I've grown disenchanted with it. But when I return to a race track, see the military fly-overs at the end of the National Anthem, and hear the drivers fire 'em up, NASCAR gets its hooks right back in me.

I grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s going to Saturday night late model races at Nashville Speedway. Occasionally, I got to attend a Winston Cup 420 lap race. But Nashville only sat about 16 thousand people or so. My jaw still drops when I look around the colossal Bristol venue and realize it can seat 10 times that many.

Unlike Friday night's race, the Cup race wasn't as nearly as exciting. It was largely a race of two halves. Jimmie Johnson dominated much of the first half of the race. But with a "that's racing" accident, he cut too closely in front of Juan Pablo Montoya and took himself out of the race. From there, Kyle Busch took over and was for the most part unchallenged the rest of the way.

One driver I obviously wanted to see run well was A.J. Allmendinger in Richard Petty Motorsports #43. Twice this year I've seen him run the red-white-blue, Mark Martin-throwback, Valvoline colors. And twice, he, the team, and the car have run like crap. The car was embarrassingly bad - as were the calls from the pits - as was A.J.'s attitude on the radio. I've seen plenty of bad runs by 43 since Richard stepped aside in November 1992. But with A.J., I thought they were turning a corner to see better days with racing more like Bobby Hamilton days instead of the Jeff Green era. Hopefully, I'll see more positive days than negatives ones now that he's signed a two-year contract extension to be The Man for RPM.

Two drivers tried to play the spoiler role. David Reutimann mixed it up a bit with Kyle, but he was outmatched under the hood and behind the wheel. Nonetheless, a second place finish by a driver I thought would be washed out to sea two years ago was a great night for him. Jamie McMurray also have KyBu a scare late in the race, but he peaked too early. After earning a stunning win in the Daytona 500 and a convincing win in the Brickyard 400, a short-track win in the Bristol night race would have been icing on the cake in what has already been a career year for Jamie. But...it didn't happen.

Frontstretch.com's Matt McLaughlin referred to KyBu's trifecta as a statistical fluke. I get what Matt is saying. Few have even attempted the triple - much less pulled it off. So Busch's triple win weekend is likely more trivia than history. Perhaps its in the same category as Chip Ganassi's fake "triple crown" wins earlier this year made up on the spot by the ESPN crew. Nonetheless, Kyle's wins didn't come easy. They came from a lot of solid preparation, skill, and luck.

Because of who he is, a chorus of boos rained down on him. Not me - I did the Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" bow. You don't have to like the guy, but you do have to respect him.

We made our way back to our campsite, one that woefully needs a solid nickname. The races may have been over, but the party was just beginning. Many of the guys had been in Bristol since Wednesday. They'd been to the truck and Nationwide races and to qualifying. But when it came to the Cup race, they watched it on TV from the comforts of a lawn chair with a fully chilled Igloo chest just an arm's length away. Even though we were tired from the walk to and from the track, they were still charged up for one final night.

The grill was re-ignited, and tunes were cranked for another late nighter. The speakers strained to blast yet another run through a limited country music playlist. I couldn't begin to count how many times we listened to David Allan Coe and Family Tradition by Hank Jr. I had three separate playlists on my iPod ready and raring to go, but our hosts seemed content with what they had. So who was I to argue? They get on me wanna know Hank why do you drink? Why do you roll smoke?

As with Friday night, the stroke of midnight disappeared like a fart in the wind. As we enjoyed the wee hours of Sunday morning, the wind picked up. Around 3:30, heavy rains returned pretty much ending the evening.

I headed to my cot knowing (1) I needed some sleep for the drive home and (2) I'd likely not get it with the Chinese water torture being delivered to me by our leaky garage. Eventually, I drifted away and was awakened around 7AM by Chet who was ready to hit the road. I was soaked, chilled to the bone, and curled in the fetal position, and my mouth felt like it had been packed with dryer lint. But he was right - we needed to load up and make tracks for home.

I'd be remiss if I didn't toast a Schaefer to Van, our weekend host, and Chad, the camp cook. We didn't know either of these guys before our arrival but departed as friends. Thanks guys for another great weekend of race memories.

TMC

Good times in East Tennessee: part 1

Last weekend, I made my 10th trip to Bristol. My first few trips were to Bristol International Raceway as it was known then. More recently, I've been to Bristol Motor Speedway after the track was acquired and re-named by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Though this was my 10th trip to Thunder Valley, it was only my 3rd night race to attend - and the first since 1998.

A friend of mine who couldn't use his tickets offered them to me. With tickets in hand, I rounded up a friend, and we decided to go. However, we didn't have a place to stay when I accepted the tickets and had no interest in paying ridiculous hotel rates or staying 2 hours away to find affordable ones.

Not to worry though! Its good to have friends. A fellow SHOFer told me he planned to go and rough it a bit by camping on air mattresses in a "garage" in a woman's back yard not far from the track. As it turns out, the garage was merely an aluminum frame with vinyl covering and sides.

Being one of the last ones to arrive Friday, there wasn't much room in the inn. So instead of sleeping in a garage, my friend Chet slept in the back of something that parks in a garage - my truck!


Through deliberate planning by his wife or merely a simple case of karma, SHOFer Philly and his son brought Schaefer-colored sheets for their air mattresses! (Once she was made aware of laughable linen moment, Philly's wife claimed it was all part of a grand plan. We think otherwise - that it was just another in a long list of magical Schaefer moments.)

After getting settled in, meeting our fellow campers, sharing a couple of damn-glad-to-meet-you, introductory Schaefers, we headed for Friday evening's Nationwide race.

As we got ready to make the 1 mile walk to the track with our coolers, cushions, and scanners, Deirdre - a daughter of the woman in whose back yard we were camping - offered to give us a ride to the track. She loaded four of us in her small car and dropped us off at the front gate. Along the way, we learned she is the army reserves, has already served in Iraq twice, and is scheduled to go to Afghanistan in 2011. Following the race, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor members present voted to induct Deirdre as a member of the Schaefer Ring of Honor for her sacrificial service in helping to defend this nation against its enemies. She'll soon be receiving one of our member t-shirts and be entitled to all the rights and privileges therein.

While the crowd was considerably short of a sell-out, the race still had a solid turnout. Many other Nationwide race promoters (and some Cup promoters...cough...Fontana) would give their left lugnut to have the number of butts in seats as Bristol. Clearly, NASCAR and track management wish they could pack 'em in for both night races. But even with that un-met goal, a solid number of people showed to see a whale of a race.

We saw arguably one of the best NASCAR races in a long time - Cup or Nationwide, superspeedway or short track current day or yesteryear. It was simply a great race. I'm not sure if it was the car design (Nationwide vs. Cup's brick), the brevity of the race (250 laps v. 500), the hunger of the drivers, or the devil-may-care attitude of the Cup interlopers. But Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Elliott Sadler, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. put on a great race for the fans. Of course, with KyBu and Kez up front, you just knew controversy was going to arise. And it did.

Following the Nationwide race, we walked to a nearby campground to meet a couple of friends from a Richard Petty Message Board I frequent. Upon arrival, I finally got to shake hands with Brian "200WINZ" Hauck. I've known Brian for 3 or 4 years - but we'd never met face to face. If you've been a regular reader here, you may recall Brian provided me a lot of pictures and other information about races he attended at Trenton Speedway - including the 1970 Schaefer 300. As big a Petty fan as I've been over the years, I can't compete with the number of races he's attended or the number of times he's met members of the Petty family and crew.

Brian brought along some items from his racing collection. One of his mementos blew me away. Following Richard Petty's 7th championship in 1979, the King had several additional customized belt buckles made for several crew members and special friends. Though I'm still not fully clear how he did it, one of the buckles found its way to 200WINZ.

After our meet and greet, a review of his collection, and a toast of the required Schaefer, Brian donned his Schaefer Ring of Honor shirt for his first official trackside wearing.

Lots of fans say they miss the "old" Bristol where the bump-and-run was about the only way to root and gouge your way to the front. Never mind the "old" Bristol was the middle-aged Bristol. The original configuration allowed multiple lanes of racing - like its now returned to.

Interestingly, Kyle Busch gave the fans exactly what they have been screaming for - the bump and run with 20 to go in the Nationwide race. And he bumped Keselowski who supposedly folks don't like either. Yet, when Kyle won the race - everyone booed. Go figure.

Now ponder this if you will. What if Elliott Sadler had been the one to bump-and-run Kez? Or better yet - what if The Chosen One, Ol' Junebug - had turned his former employee and gone on to win the race. Ya think the reaction might have been different from the sizable crowd?

After some post race bench racin' with our friends, we headed back to the campsite where the stroke of midnight passed without even being noticed. Music blared, the grill roared, cooler lids flopped repeatedly.

The day...er, night...umm, early morning ended around 4 AM. And we still had the rest of Saturday yet to go...

TMC

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bristol Playlist

Race themed tunes queued for Bristol race day.

Schaefer Beer commercial jingle
Thunderstruck - AC/DC
Go Faster - Black Crowes
Bristol Nights - Whiskey Falls
Pocono Joe - Mark Miklos
NASCAR Superstar - Haven Quint
Cold Beer - Colt Ford
White Liar - Miranda Lambert
Tide & Skittles - Tim Wilson
Drunk All Around This Town - Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
Time To Switch To Whiskey - Corb Lund
Barlight - Charlie Robinson
Left Y'all In The Dust (NASCAR song) - Colt Ford
Bar Exam - The Derailers
Whole Lotta Liquor To Like Her - Pete Schlegel
I Came To Drink - Chance
Indianapolis - The_Bottle_Rockets
Beer Run - Todd Snider
One Bud Wiser - John Rich
The Bristol Song - John Boy & Billy
You Wreck Me - Tom Petty
Talladega Shuffle - The Backstretch Boys
All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards - Corb Lund
Chicks Dig It - Chris Cagle
Rednecks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer - Johnny Russell
The Ward Burton Train - Tim Wilson
Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) - Jim Croce
Sweet_Lady_Vegas - Hair_Of_The_Dog
Oh_Atlanta - Little_Feat_with_Chris_Robinson
Richard Petty Blues - Al Tackett
Darlington - Ron Pestana
I Love NASCAR - Cledus T. Judd
The Talladega Song - Tim Wilson
Jeff Gordon's Gay - Tim Wilson
Earnhardt - Tim Wilson
Steve McQueen - Sheryl Crow
Bill Elliott story - Todd Snider
Easy Money - Todd Snider
Dale Darrell Waltrip Richard Petty Rusty Awesome Bill Irvan Gordon Earnhardt - Tim Wilson
Victory Road - Jason & the Scorchers

TMC

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bristol Bound!

The fine folks of the Louisiana bayou have a fine word to mean "a little something extra": lagniappe.

My plan for the 2010 Cup season was to attend two specific races: Las Vegas and the Coca-Cola 600. Mission accomplished. Both came off without a hitch, and I had a fantastic trip to both races as blogged here.

And then a little something extra comes along. A friend of mine is taking his son to college this weekend in WEST Tennessee. A big conflict arose for him because he has tickets to the Bristol night race in EAST Tennessee the same weekend.

His misfortune has become my good fortune. He offered me the tickets for Friday's Nationwide race and Saturday night's legendary Cup race. Clearance was obtained from The One who makes the key decisions around here, the Schaefer was already chilled in the fridge and begging for another race trip, a traveling race pa'tner quickly agreed to go, and now I'm just marching time for the next couple of days until Friday morning arrives.

Saturday's race will be Bristol's 100th Cup race since its opening in 1960. This will be my 10th trip to Bristol - the first being in 1986 to see Rusty Wallace win his first Cup race.

However, this will only be my 3rd night race - and my first since 1998 when Mark Martin won. The most memorable though of the two previous ones was the 1995 finish between winner Terry Labonte and runner-up (and runner-in to everyone one the track) Dale Earnhardt.


This weekend will be my first opportunity to proudly wear my previously-blogged-about Schaefer Hall of Fame shirt to a track. As a second helping of lagniappe, Schaefer Hall of Fame co-founder Philly was able to score tickets for he and his son Wilbur. We'll land in Sullivan County, TN about the same time, don our SHOF shirts, and enjoy yet another race together.

Twenty years - count 'em - 20 - we've been racing together. Great times all of 'em. From Darlington to Vegas. Daytona to New Hampshire. Texas to Rockingham. Dega to Indy. And now our Xth trip together to Bristol Motor Speedway nestled in God's country of deep East Tennessee.

Yet another dollop of lagniappe will be ladled upon the weekend. At least four Schaefer Ring of Honor members will be in attendance - including a Cup lifer and fellow Petty fan who is dragging his motorhome all the way from New Jersey to attend what is about his 210th NASCAR Cup race!

Am I excited? You betcha I am.

TMC

Friday, August 13, 2010

2011 Cup dates: The times they are a'changing

With apologies to Bob Dylan who I'm most certain has never attended a NASCAR race...

However, I would love to be a fly on the wall if a conversation ever takes place between Bob Dylan and Ward Burton...

The 2011 Cup schedule hasn't been officially released yet as I type this entry. Yet, many changes have already been announced, tracks have published press releases about their 2011 calendars, and tracks have definitely started separating fans from their wallets for 2011 tickets.

A few thoughts about the changes announced so far.

Are we still in Kansas Toto?

Not only are we still in Kansas Dorothy, but now we're going there TWICE. What? Just two years ago, I dropped by the Kansas City track and the adjoining mall on a non-race weekday while in the area on business. I could find no one having interest in the track or races and NO STORES selling track merch - including the track itself. A security guy wouldn't let me look around, wasn't interested in how long I'd been a fan, had no suggestions on where to get track swag, etc.

The only reasons this track has not only one but now two dates are (1) ISC owns the track (2) Sprint is headquartered in nearby Overland Park and (3) ISC and NASCAR will likely pad their coffers from the casino being built nearby. Otherwise, this track would not have staying power on the schedule.

California Dreaming

Kansas City's gain is California's loss. So now Auto Club Speedway is down to one race, but that's one race too many. The Michigan-cloned track has been received luke-warmly pretty much from the time it opened. To be fair, NASCAR L.A. isn't Hollywood and Vine. Its not Beverly Hills. Its not red carpet. Its the friggin' desert. Its an industrial park.
When Roger Penske built the track, he and NASCAR clearly thought they'd get the eyeballs and consumers of southern California as well as tens of thousands of folks from neighboring southwestern states. NASCAR believed it to be such a can't-miss venture they had their incestuously related company, ISC, buy out the Cap'n. The Daytona brass also thumbed their nose at five decades of tradition by moving the Southern 500 2,500 miles away. What they naively underestimated was A-list movie stars not willing to be caught dead slumming in Fontana, thousands of hard-core traditionalist fans who gave up NASCAR in response to the loss of the Southern 500, and the disinterest of Californians in the track once the bloom was off the rose. So to minimize the damage and salvage something, ACS is back to one date and Kansas gets its second. For the record, the sho-nuff Southern 500 still hasn't returned.

Did Atlanta get burned again?

Atlanta Motor Speedway (originally known as Atlanta International Raceway) has hosted two Grand National/Cup races since opening in 1960. Prior to its opening, the famed Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta hosted an annual race from 1951 through 1959. Several of NASCAR's pioneers were from or lived in Atlanta and nearby areas including Raymond Parks, Red Vogt, Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, and Tim and Fonty Flock.

Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR announced this week Atlanta will lose a Cup date in 2011. To be honest, this change doesn't bother me greatly for a few reasons. Don't get me wrong - I hate to see the tradition of two races get cut to one. And there's no question Atlanta has had exponentially far more incredible speeds, races, and finishes than tracks such as California, Kansas City, Chicagoland, and Vegas combined. Yet, a few points about their losing a date:
  • When NASCAR and track owners left Wilkesboro and The Rock, folks howled through letters to the editor, t-shirts, posters at races televised on ESPN, etc. Today, we have an endless supply of social media outlets to vent and rant. Yet, I haven't seen a huge hue and cry about the Atlanta to Kentucky swap. Plus, Wilkesboro and Rockingham lost both of their races whereas Atlanta gets to keep at least one of theirs.
  • With NASCAR's expansion from the south to the midwest, Texas, and far west the last 15-20 years, perhaps I'm just immune to the loss of yet another southern race.
  • Rotten weather - frequent rain, unpredictable temperatures, and even snow for their March races and raw autumn cold for their November dates often plagued Atlanta.
  • Reconfiguration of the track - If Bruton Smith built his condos, suites, massive stands, and other infrastructure and amenity improvements while retaining the traditional oval track, I think I'd enjoy Atlanta much more. Clearly the Charlotte-clone design is faster than the original oval - and fastest of all Cup tracks. But its still a clone. Today, we have Dover, Darlington, Martinsville, and New Hampshire as our only remaining pure ovals. If Atlanta went away, I could see similar racing at Charlotte or Texas.
  • Excess seating capacity - Atlanta ramped up its seating for the 1992 Cup season finale. Richard Petty's final race was the 1992 Hooters 500, and everyone wanted to be there. Also, an even more compelling reason existed to buy tickets - a championship battle. Five drivers - Davey Allison, Bill Elliott, Alan Kulwicki, Kyle Petty, and Harry Gant - all had a mathematical chance of winning the Cup. All of the drivers had a sizable fan following - but none larger than Elliott from nearby Dawsonville, GA - all of whom seemed to be there that day. The track must have had monster revenue that day, and SMI feasted off the NASCAR crest over the next decade during the Earnhardt primetime and Gordon's rise. But the expanded seating, re-designed track, and Atlanta race buzz turned out not be sustainable once Earnhardt was gone and Atlanta no longer the season-ending race.
Kentucky Thunder

Atlanta's loss makes for a Lucky Kentucky. I've driven by Kentucky Speedway on my way home from Cincinnati, and its going to be easily accessible for fans. The enthusiasm shown by fans for the Nationwide races should carry over and expand significantly with the arrival of the Cup haulers.


Darrell Waltrip - who lives in Tennessee but is from Owensboro, KY - has been a tireless (and presumably paid) advocate for the track. He has heavily lobbied for the track as deserving of a Cup date. And say what you will about Bruton Smith. He worked with NASCAR to get a Cup date when the previous ownership group could not.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride...well there was that one time

With the first significant Cup schedule shuffle in about seven or eight years, Nashville is once again the outside looking in. The once-divorced Nashville remains a perennial bridesmaid, however, rather than a second-time bride.

The blame for Nashville's not having a Cup date can be laid at the feet of one organization - the Metro Nashville fair board for decisions made in the mid 1980s. Those questionable decisions have continued for about another 25 years. Nashville lost both of its Cup dates after 1984 because of back-room, good ol' boy politics and short-sightedness of economics. Because the fair board couldn't see beyond the end of its nose to work with the track's leaseholder/race promoters, the city of Nashville backed NASCAR into a corner. As a result, *poof* the Daytona suits pulled Nashville's two dates.

Once NASCAR left Nashville with a dropped jaw and a mouthful of dust, the sport exploded in popularity. The sport suddenly was flush with new fans, new drivers, new sponsors, and - most important - new races in new markets. Nashville was the forgotten city.

Denis McGlynn and the fine folks from Dover have tried mightily to change NASCAR's opinion about Cup returning to middle Tennessee. Like Kentucky, they built a fine superspeedway near Nashville to replace the aging fairground short track.

But sadly, the ship has sailed. NASCAR has clearly shown its interest in future growth is not in the deep south. Plus, committed passionate Nashville-area NASCAR fans will drive or fly to the races if the races won't come to them. Middle Tennessee fans are heavily represented at Talladega, Atlanta, Daytona, Charlotte, and Bristol. So while I'd love to have a Cup race in my own back yard, I continue to be resigned to the fact it won't happen - or certainly no time soon.

TMC

Friday, August 6, 2010

Herk's Miller Mallard - Pinewood Derby style

A couple of months ago, I blogged about the popular journeyman driver Jim Hurtubise.

Since posting the entry, I found the following photos on Photobucket. What a great tribute car. This dad and/or son possess some tremendous design and Dremel talents to craft such a cool looking Miller High Life replica as a a Pinewood Derby car.

Here's the car on the starting line.

I wonder if the replica Mallard has a miniature-sized case of the Champagne of Beers stashed anywhere.

TMC

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Schelebrating a Schaefer Schummer

Memorial Day to Labor Day - Holy cow, the summer days just fly by. We're not quite to Labor Day just yet. But August is the loner month of the month - the one that can claim no holidays. Unless Sweat Day qualifies as a holiday in which case every day of August is a holiday.

So we'll all hunker down in the A/C, send our kids back to school, work 5 days/week over the remaining dawg days of summer, and press forward to the official end of summer: Labor Day weekend.

As we begin the final month of the Summer Triad, its time for a look back. I'd like to schow how the Schaefer Hall of Famers and Ring of Honor members schelebrated their schummers.

June - Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Charlotte, NC

They ran into Uncle Scham.

SHOFers Philly and Cuba even met a guy wearing a Schaefer shirt! They told him about the SHOF and asked him why he had the shirt. His lame answer was "I don't know". That's one poor, lost soul folks.

Here is future SROH (awaiting receipt of his immigration papers and rabies vaccination) Pat introducing himself and the Schaefer to a NC PYT. Clearly, she was within the city limits. The bigger question for Pat is whether she was over the age limit.

OK, upon further review - forget the age limit discussion. I'm sold. Kansas prairies aren't as flat as this tummy - or as adorned. This may be my new desktop wallpaper at work if I don't get busted by our ethics and compliance / beer-snob department.

June - TMC's new belt bling - I found this belt buckle on ebay and simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to bid on it. Down the stretch, there were three serious bidders: me, myself, and I. When the auction ended, I thrust both hands in the air victoriously as I stared at my winning bid of one red cent. Plus $6 shipping of course.

I mistakenly thought the buckle was a promotional item for either Al Loquasto or Kevin Cogan - two Indy drivers who at one time had a sponsor relationship with Schaefer. Once I researched it, however, I learned the buckle was related to neither driver. Instead, it was associated with Mexican driver Josele Garza who frequently drove a #55 Machinists Union/Schaefer car in the CART series. So going forward, I prefer to go by the nickname of SeƱor Tick vs. toomuchcountry.

As the calendar turned to July, SROH member Ron from McDonough, GA (aka "Bruton") loaded up his young'un and headed to Daytona for the Coke 400 NASCAR race. Along the way, he stopped in Cordele, GA to load up on necessities.

Three cases of Schaefer, a single can of sunscreen, and a change of clothes. Anything else needed for a trip to Daytona? Nope. He was good.

Race ready. Schaefer and The King. Nuff said.

Pimping out JD's Bait & Tackle in McDonough, GA ... in case you are ever in the neighborhood with a mind to drop a line.

While Bruton was in Daytona for the 4th of July, Cuba and his wife Havana Montana schelebrated the 4th in Charlotte...with Schaefer of course. Could anything be more patriotic than drinking America's oldest lager?

All the action didn't happen in the Carolinas or Florida. Cleveland, OH's SHOFer Uncle D attended the Good Guys Rod & Custom car convention in Columbus, OH again this year. He pocketed a Schaefer to ensure it was available on demand.

In late July, SHOFers Philly and Rookie shared some brew and a low-country boil with High Point, NC's SROHer Rev. Randy at the beach. (You are truly missing something if you've never experienced low-country cooking in South Carolina.)

Philly even created a Schea Schell mosaic of the Schaefer logo!

I couldn't let my fellow SHOFers claim all the fun. I traveled to Schan Antonio, TX the last week of July and immediately put my plan in action to procure Schaefer and schare the experience where I could.

First thing I did was sport the Original SHOF t-shirt at the Original Mexican Restaurant.

After dinner, my super-duper co-workers went with me on a multi-mile drive to an H-E-B grocery store to look for Schaefer. I was truly excited at finding 6 cases of Schaefer Light at the store at 11650 Bandera Road. I bought 3 of them and managed to get them home safely courtesy of Southwest Airlines. Well, all but 6 cans of it that my team and I shared after the successful search.

Look Ma! The light version is so light I can lift 6 cases with my fingertips!

After giving them a night to chill in my in-room hotel fridge, I took a sixer of them in a plastic, ice-filled baggie to the Alamo. Texas's treasure.The symbol of its fight for independence.

I passed my camera to a co-worker, removed a Schaefer from the bag, and headed for the front door. As soon as I cracked it, took a long swig, and smiled to pose for the picture, a park ranger tossed me. He said no alcohol was allowed on park property. But I really think he was just a Natty Light drinker who was jealous of my beer choice and harbored bitter envy that he was not in the SROH.

So after a few minutes of waiting, I crossed the street, waited for the ranger to be occupied by Texas-history-stumped tourists, resumed my drinking, and got my pic at the Alamo after all.

If you ask me, I think Schaefer unifies folks instead of dividing them. If Colonel Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett had been able to sit at a table with General Santa Anna and some cold Schaefer a lot of needless bloodshed might have been avoided.

What a great schummer. I can't wait for the fall to begin in Scheptember.

TMC