Saturday, February 26, 2011

Schaefer and the Daytona 500

With the seemingly universal enthusiasm of Trevor Bayne's winning the Daytona 500 still lingering, the Cup series moves on to the next race. Phoenix. While the race there will hardly be the spectacle the marquis Daytona 500 is, the good news is the racing and attendance should be better than the track that occupied the second slot of the reason for the last few years: California Speedway. Whoo-hoo, that miserable place is now down to one race vs. two! Its still one race too many, but its a start.

Before we get too deep into the new season though, its a must-do to revisit how the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor members enjoyed the Daytona 500 weekend.

Yours truly found this Daytona glass in the back of the kitchen cabinet. It was the perfect choice for the perfect yard beer.

SROH member, Bubba, makes his blog debut with his SROH, his beverage, and his big screen.

SROH member, Bruton, was apparently the only one of us who actually went to the 500 this year. Not only did he go to the race, but he also visited the Streamline Hotel. Bill France, Sr. gathered a group of team owners, mechanics, drivers, investors, promoters and other influential men in December 1947 at the Streamline. The result of that meeting was the founding of NASCAR.

Now when a man goes to a race, he's got to do at least three things. Race, partake of the Schaef, and eat - though not necessarily in that order. And when in Florida, you simply have to enjoy seafood. This feast happens to be the Big River Combo at The River Grille on The Tomoka.

Bruton had this to say:
At the River Grille, I had the empty sitting on the table and another guy asked excitedly, "Hey, do they serve that here?" When I told him I brought it in just for the photo op he was disappointed. Since I had been in the Daytona Beach area only a couple of hours, I was not yet in a position to share.
Here is Bruton dressed in his Schaefer Schunday Finest by the Halifax River. While at the pier, a guy walked by and said to him, "Hey, that Schaefer is a good beer!"

RACEDAY! I'll let Bruton tell his own story:
Sunday: A guy saw my hat and shirt and said, "Schaefer Beer, the one beer to have when you're having more than one!" We both discussed how much we liked it and lamented the difficulty we have in finding it now. I tailgated with Ed, a retired Highway Patrolman from Michigan. He saw the nectar and recalled it fondly so I shared one with him. He said, "That tastes as good as it ever did. I miss this beer but can't find it anymore."

A guy scalping tickets saw it and had a fit so I shared one with him too. He paid me a dollar for it. A real unique piece of work who wandered up bought another one for a dollar as well. He was rough as a cob but harmless and funny and he loved the Schaef. It occurred to me at that point I had become a Schaefer retailer.

During the race, there was an Earnhardt fan to my left that found me hilarious and enjoyed ribbing me too. When A.J. [Allmendinger] boogered up the nose and pitted the second time under caution, I felt something hammering my left earphone. It was his forefinger, and he was giving me hell about the #43 screwing up yet again. He was laughing so hard he could barely talk, and he got me so tickled all I could do was laugh back at him. He saw me crack one open and asked, "Oooh, where did you find that? I never see that stuff anymore!" I told him where I bought it and offered him one which he accepted with a big ol' smile. He opened it immediately and took a big gulp before saying, "That's still a damn good beer!"
SROH's Rev. Randy Esq. spent his Daytona weekend doing his own form of racing. He and some friends entered their $500 crap-can Acura in the 24 Hours of LeMons Southern Discomfort race at Carolina Motorsports Park. With sponsorship from the Schaefer Hall of Fame (meaning I simply sent him a Schaefer logo JPG to create a couple of decals), the appropriately named Hey Y'all Watch This team scratched out a respectable 15th in a field of 50 entries.

Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but I'm pretty sure those aren't really his sunglasses. But having met Rev. Randy, the rest of what you see is legit I think.

As an aside from the Schaefer recap, Randy and his partners-in-crime e-mailed several updates during the long weekend. Many of us got updates on cars, race progress and penalties from officials. Here are a few of the gems I received:
  • A Mazda Miata mocked up to resemble a Star Wars landspeeder.

  • The HYWT team's driver went off in turn 3 and got black flagged. He told the judges he lost concentration because he was texting his wife to tell her how good he was doing. He also claimed the race track owed him money for all the landscaping he was doing. The judges laughed. Penalty: two ten year-olds got 10 swings each with a sledgehammer to the hood and front fenders.
  • Mime the Crime penalty. An Asian dude spun out. Penalty: he had to apply face paint and a costume and act out what occurred.

  • Real Housewives of Bahrain team got penalized for a spin and were required to re-enact the overthrow/rebellion in a middle eastern country.

To wrap this up, this may be the oddest - yet funniest - photo I received courtesy of Charter SHOFer, Philly. A can of Schaefer, a near empty bottle of Bacardi, and um...uh...a bikini vase?

The 20th Year of Schaefer Racing is well underway. With trips to races such as Charlotte, Kentucky, Dover, Michigan, Atlanta and Bristol yet to come, 2011 should be quite the memorable year for the SHOF and SROH.


Monday, February 21, 2011

2011 Speedweeks Concludes

Wow. Just now catching my breath. The web is full of articles, columns, commentaries, analysis, and blogs about Speedweeks. I'm not sure I'll be able to lend a whole lot more to what's already out there, but here goes:
  • Having a son of the Volunteer State back in victory lane really feels good. Its been a long dry spell. Darrell Waltrip won his in 1989, and Sterling Marlin went back-to-back in 1994-95. WE Tennesseans had to then wait until 2011 for another one. Heck, its just great to have a southern boy win a Cup race, period!
  • Bayne just seems to be an amazingly talented yet genuinely humble kid. For a kid who has focused on nothing but racing since he was in single digits, he seems to have a grasp of history. I heard him say more than once his first number was 24 because he was a Jeff Gordon fan. And he repeatedly gave props to the Wood Brothers, David Pearson, and the legacies of both. Having that kind of skill, humility, and an appreciation for NASCAR's history will build him a legion of fans quickly. Young drivers such as Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, and even Jeff Gordon seemed to enter the sport at a very young age with a ton of talent and hype but with no humility or appreciation for their ancestral teams or drivers.
  • NASCAR waited until right before Speedweeks began to announce its new points system. Coupled with the restructuring of the points was the announcement that a driver had to declare for a single championship to pursue. No more double dipping between Cup and Nationwide for points. So what happens right out of the gate. ALL THREE WINNERS - Michael Waltrip in trucks, Tony Stewart in Nationwide, and Trevor Bayne in Cup tallied a collective ZERO championship points for their efforts. They each got a trophy, the record book, the moolah, a kiss on the cheek (or more), and TV coverage. I'm guessing they'll get over the points. But the eggheads in NASCAR's office probably started their 8AM meeting Monday morning with a cup of coffee and the words "um....uh...but we never...I mean how...ya know we..."
  • I've read some commentaries today suggesting Bayne lucked into his win because of the 17 car pile-up around lap 30. Yeah right. The kid re-started a green-white-checkered finish with Tony Friggin' Stewart to his side. When the green unfurled, Bayne smoked him. And he executed a perfect block on Carl Edwards who had a huge head of steam as they headed for the checkers. I've seen superstars such as Earnhardt and Elliott win races following a multi-car wreck or weird pit sequencing and yellow-flag timing. If you win one of these things - especially at Daytona - you've earned 100% of it.
  • Even though Stewart didn't win the 500, his .007 second win over Clint Bowyer in Saturday's Nationwide race was nothing short of phenomenal.

  • Last fall, Richard Petty Motorsports was on life support. Probability of surviving until the end of 2010 much less 2011? Between slim and none, and slim was leaving town. Yet the King and his court did the unbelievable and brought back RPM. They finished the season, pared back to two teams, and hit the beach in 2011 with speed. It was a bit of an old school racing flashback with the 21 and 43 both running near the front most of the day.
  • Question of the week: Will Darrell Waltrip devise a plan this week to glom onto Trevor Bayne? DW can seldeom ride ride Mikey's coattails anymore. Darrell milked the 10th Anniversary of Dale Sr's death. But I heard him say on TV that it was time for "healing to begin". To me it was a coded message for: I gotta look somewhere else to mooch because this 3 Tribute dog won't hunt anymore. Dale Jr. was unable to close the sale for another 500 win - though he had some help getting wrecked. But in my gut, I still don't think he would have won it had he not wrecked, and I believe DW knew it too. So with DW being from Franklin, TN and Bayne being from Knoxville TN, I could foresee DW claiming him as a quasi-grandson, great-nephew, etc. I bet Ol' Boogity Boogity will be positioning himself to be Bayne's mentor/pimp by the time they roll into Phoenix. He may even have his own nickname for him such as Tennessee Trevor or My Main Bayne.
  • Did you realize only one other driver has done what Bayne did Sunday - win in his first Daytona 500? Lee Petty - in the inaugural 500 in 1959.
  • Kevin Harvick's Budweiser car puked a motor early. His first time with new colors and mass, commercial beer equaled FAIL. Trevor Bayne's #21 car colors, however, were red, white & gold.
Hmm, I've seen those colors before. Oh yeah! Karma baby, karma.

  • Where does Trevor Bayne go from here? Who knows. For now, he seems to be truly enjoying himself. And for once, I think fans of all drivers are universally happy for him and the Wood Brothers organization. Only time will tell though whether he'll be the next Bobby Allison...or the next Bobby Hillin, Jr.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gentlemen, Drink...Your...Schaefer!

Once again, its time for a new racing season. When the NASCAR season ends each November, I'm pretty well burned out as a fan and jaded about the direction NASCAR is going. But when the calendar hits February 1 again, I get a little pick-em-up in my step and the fever begins again. Of course, the only cure is more cowbell and lots more Schaefer.

Its been a really tough, cold winter for many in the country. While I've been waiting for racing to return, part of my time has been occupied with a traditional, cold-weather sport: hockey. And what did I find through a bit of research? Schaefer!

That's right - Nolan Schaefer played goalie for Providence (RI) College.

He was drafted by the San Jose Sharks, traded to a couple of other teams, and then landed with the Boston Bruins. From there, he was assigned beginning last season to their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.

When snow and brutally cold temps tried to choke the life out of the Midwest, Atlantic Coast, and New England states, Cleveland's SHOFer Uncle Dave said "screw this" and left for parts unknown.

When I asked him his location when he sent me this photo, his reply was typical Uncle D:
Standing between the Arctic chill of January and the return to Daytona in February was Super Bowl XLV. As expected, the SHOF and SROH had a Schaeferiffic time.

SROH Bruton served up some steak and a loaded tater. Some menu tips for others looking to copy Bruton: Schaefer is mandatory. A-1 on steak is optional.

SROH Rev. Randy rolled with a bit of non-traditional, Super Bowl offering: a healthy meal. Looks like he took in a veggie pizza with a side of carrot sticks.

SHOF co-founder and executive committee member, Philly, introduced Schaefer to a neighbor. I have no clue what the hats are supposed to represent or who provided them. My job is simply to blog the Schaefer experiences.

The game itself was a pretty good one I suppose. Two legendary teams. No true underdog. No real "personal interest stories" emerged. No American hero. No cheerleaders. Just the Cheeseheads vs. Steeltown. If I'd had my druthers, I would have preferred the Chicago Bears made the trip instead of Green Bay. But maybe I'm just channeling my inner Jake or Elwood Blues.

But now its time. The cars have returned. The Shootout and qualifying are over. Dale Jr. is on the pole. All is (temporarily) right with Amp Nation again. The twins run Thursday, and the main event gets underway Sunday afternoon.

So to get settled in that racing zone, crack a Schaef and feel the thunder of engines as they roar to life...

OK, now we're talking. Thanks to John Betts of for allowing me to share the above photo of Joe Ruttman's Schaefer/Mechanics Union #45 Pontiac.

So when the grand marshal belts those famous words, Gentlemen - Start Your Engines, I encourage you gentlemen (and the ladies too) to Drink...Your...Schaefer. If you need to bum a couple, I'm sure Bruton will be glad to oblige.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

From the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor! May you exchange flowers, candy, kisses, and of course Schaefer with your significant snookums.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Searching for Bobby Fisher

If you clicked to this blog entry because you thought it would be about an eccentric, reclusive chess player, fuhgetaboutit. This entry is a sequel to my post earlier this year about Woody Fisher.

February 13, the date of this posting, is the anniversary of Fisher's win in the 1977 ARCA 200 at Daytona driving a Dodge Charger built by Petty Enterprises.

Photo courtesy of Brian Norton from

When I posted my entry about Woody Fisher last month, I did so with a couple of gaps.
  • I had only one high-quality photo of Woody Fisher provided to me by Russ Thompson.
  • I knew little about Woody's brother, Bobby Fisher, who took over the Petty-built Charger once Woody was finished with it.
Within a day of my sharing the blog link at Racers Reunion, Brian Norton kindly shared about a half-dozen new and high-quality photos of Woody. Totally unexpected and truly appreciated.

Regarding the second gap, I decided to take a shot and see if I could make something happen. I learned about Bobby from researching Woody's racing career. Also, Don Smyle from Checkered Past Collectibles sent me two photos of Bobby.

Building on the little bit of info I had, I started plowing through Google searches. I learned Bobby was in the beer distribution business as was his brother. More accurately, he is in the business. He is the president of his own self-named business, Bobby Fisher Distributing.

In the 2010 Wholesale Beer and Wine Association of Ohio annual report, I discovered this excerpt:
Robert W. Fisher, Sr., founded Fisher Beverage Co. in Springfield, Ohio in 1947. Mr. Fisher came to Springfield from Youngstown, where he had worked for the Coca-Cola Co. During his lifetime he also owned beer distributing companies in Cincinnati and in Jacksonville and Melbourne, FL.

His eldest son, Woodrow (TMC: Woody), owned and operated beer companies in Cincinnati, Wilmington, NC and Daytona Beach, FL. His youngest son, James, worked with his father in the beverage companies.

In 1976, Robert W. Fisher, Sr. sold his Stroh’s and Schlitz franchises to his son, Robert Fisher, Jr. (TMC: Bobby), and Bobby Fisher Distributing was officially founded. Bobby Fisher Distributing later added the Stroh’s franchise in Charlotte, NC and the Pabst franchise in Vero Beach, FL .

Robert Fisher, Jr. remains President and CEO. His daughter, Maria Fisher-Coleman, joined the company in 1988 as vice president of operations.
A couple of phone calls placed to the company went unreturned. Rather than give up, I tried once more with an old-school communication technique: I wrote him a letter. I included a link to my entry about Woody, a photo of Bobby in the Petty-built Charger, and my contact info. Within a matter of days, a new message appeared in my Gmail inbox from Bobby Fisher Jr.

We've had a nice back-and-forth dialog the past couple of weeks. I've enjoyed having the opportunity to ask a few questions and swapping some racing stories with him (and I may have slipped in a few Schaefer stories). In return, Fisher has been really kind by answering my questions and providing a couple of photos of his own. He also told me about his purchase of another Petty-built Dodge - a custom Dodge Challenger built by Petty's Garage similar to the one pictured here.

As for his racing career, Bobby had a limited one. He raced the Petty-built Dodge three times after taking it over from his brother.
  • He finished 11th in the 1977 World Service Life 300 late model sportsman race at Charlotte. The above picture of Bobby in the #74 is from that race.
  • He raced the big Charger to a 2nd place finish in the November 1977 late model sportsman race at Ontario Motor Speedway (where his brother ran the car as an ARCA entry in the spring Ontario race).
  • A week later, Bobby finished 9th in the Winston West race at Phoenix International Raceway. (Cale Yarborough won the race driving a Dodge for J.D. Stacy. A true rarity - this was the third and final NASCAR start in Cale's career that he drove a Dodge. But I digress...)
For Winston Cup racing, Dodge rolled out a new model, the soon-to-be-doomed Dodge Magnum, for the 1978 season. The Charger may still have been eligible for other series such as late model sportsman, ARCA, or Winston West, but the the use of the Charger ended for the Fishers following the 1977 season. I'd like to say I learned the retired Charger is on display in someone's car collection, in a business's showroom, etc. Sadly, however, Bobby told me he's unsure of what happened to the car.

Bobby made three Winston Cup starts from 1978-1979.
  • In July 1978, he finished 29th in a self-owned #71 Chevrolet in the Nashville 420. TMC's first Cup race to attend was the 1978 Music City 420 at Nashville one month earlier, but I didn't get to return for the July race. I am scouring multiple sources with ties to Nashville Speedway to locate a photo of his car.
  • He finished 40th in a #71 Stroh's beer-sponsored Chevy in the 1978 National 500.
  • His final official Cup start was in the 1979 World 600 at Charlotte where he finished 31st in a Pabst Blue Ribbon-sponsored Buick. I searched many times over and crawled multiple message boards and image sites looking for a photo of the car. None could be found...until.
As I mentioned earlier, Bobby sent me a couple of pictures. Sure enough, one of them was of his PBR car. Sing it with me! Whadda ya have? Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Source: Bobby Fisher

Bobby attempted an additional Cup race. He raced a #40 Buick owned by D.K. Ulrich in the first qualifying twin for the 1979 Daytona 500. (Coincidentally, Woody Fisher was entered in the same twin.) I found this photo on-line of Bobby's racing a driver named Paul Fess in the #82 Olds.

Bobby crashed in his twin and finished 27th out of 29 cars in his twin. However, the car still made the Daytona 500 presumably based on prior year's owners points. After wrecking in the ARCA race a few days earlier and wrecking again in the twin, Bobby gave up his seat for the 500. Owner Ulrich suited up instead of Bobby and raced the Buick to a 13th place finish. Bobby told me it had been a tough week and he simply didn't get the seat time he needed. So D.K. raced his own car. As a reminder, Kyle Petty won the 1979 ARCA race in his professional racing debut, and King Richard won the Daytona 500 ending a long losing streak. So while it was the best of times for the Pettys, it was certainly the opposite feeling for Bobby. Yet a connection - though a loose one admittedly - continued between the Pettys and Fishers for the 1979 Speedweeks.

With information about my search included and a recap of Bobby's racing career documented, I can't help but return to a common theme here: Beer. Notice the beer names associated with the Fishers? Schlitz, Stroh's, PBR.

Think this through a moment. Work with me. Woody Fisher was a beer distributor, and Bobby is still one today. Its pretty obvious Stroh's and Schlitz are among the brands they distributed. Stroh's acquired Schlitz in the mid-1970s about the time they acquired another popular brewery: F&M Schaefer Brewing Company. And now Pabst owns Stroh's, Schlitz, and Schaefer in addition to its own flagship PBR.

So if my steps are correct, I've narrowed the connection between Petty Enterprises and Schaefer to 2 degrees of separation.
  • Petty Enterprises to the Fishers
  • The Fisher to Stroh's beer
  • Stroh's to Schaefer
As an additional trivia connection, D.K. Ulrich who fielded the Buick for Bobby at Daytona in 1979 also owned the Schaefer-sponsored Buick raced by Al Loquasto at Pocono in 1981.

So is it possible there is a photo out there of a Schaefer-sponsored late model raced by Woody or Bobby? Who knows - but questions remain and the search continues. Until then, we'll have to settle for the next best thing - the Schaefer-sponsored Indy car driven by Josele Garza. He is shown here standing alongside Bobby. This is another photo sent to be by Fisher who took the generous extra step of having it signed for me by Garza.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Old school decals: Entry 4 of a mini-series

Last in the series. This entry's focus will be on a few sponsors from the 1970s-1980s era.

The last couple of Cup seasons have not yielded any high-impact rookies. For decades, one or two hot shoes would emerge from a pretty competitive class of first year drivers. In the late 1970s, First National City Travelers Checks sponsored the annual rookie of the year award. From there, Champion Spark Plugs took over the sponsorship.

Look closely at this 1980 picture of rookie Kyle Petty and you'll see the CSP decal on his car. Its right below the A-post underneath the NASCAR sticker.

I know nothing about wheels - street or racing. I've never run custom rims or any other aftermarket wheels. My vehicles have just sported whatever the manufacturer bolted on them at the plant. If it comes in "brake dust" color, I'll take it! But in the mid 70s, Norris Racing Wheels sponsored Bud Moore's #15 team with the plan to sell more wheels to someone I guess.

Norris joined Moore's team in 1976 for two seasons with Buddy Baker as a sponsor.

After his 2-year stint, Baker moved on to M.C. Anderson's team and later Harry Ranier's #28 car (that later evolved into become Yates Racing). Bobby Allison was hired to replace Baker, and the team had immediate success with Norris as the sponsor. Allison won the 1978 Daytona 500 in only the second Cup start with his new team.

Today's official NASCAR fuel is Sunoco. Prior to that, it was UNOCAL. I don't remember exactly where the transition happened, but somewhere along the way the brand name was changed from UNION 76 to UNOCAL.(Prior to UNION 76, the official fuel was Pure Oil, but I don't have a Pure decal so the story ends there.)

Hawaiian Tropic sponsored a handful of drivers in the 1970s and into 1980. They were most prominently featured on Hoss Ellington's red #1 cars - particularly the Oldsmobile of Donnie Allison when he crashed with Cale Yarborough in the 1979 Daytona 500.

David Pearson took over Hoss' #1 car in 1980 after he was let go by the Wood Brothers in 1979. The Hawaiian Tropic sponsorship continued with the Silver Fox as the driver.

Source: Ray Lamm collection

In the early 1980s after about 10 years as the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier series, R.J. Reynolds updated its Winston Cup Series logo. The below decal starting showing up on the cars in the early 1980s and stayed in use until Nextel (and later Sprint) replaced RJR as the title sponsor of the Cup series.

Today, Mark Martin is known as the "grizzled veteran" of the Cup series. He's been a part of well-funded teams for over 20 years (his stint with Ginn Racing excepted). But in the early 1980s, Martin decided to move to Cup from the ASA Series where he'd performed so well. He started his own team and secured Apache Stove as his sponsor. As it turned out, Mark's money ran out, he didn't have a lot of success, he was struggling with a pretty ferocious demon in his life, and he disappeared. He returned after a 5 year hiatus to join forces with Jack Roush.

Once again, look closely right above Mark's number - between the zero and two. You'll see the CSP rookie decal noted earlier.

Source: Jeff Droke at

Bill Elliott is best known for driving a Coors Ford during much of the 1980s. Before he and his family-led team hit it big, they received some sponsorship from Harry Melling's Mell-Gear company or division. Melling Tool was already the primary sponsor for Benny Parsons, but Mell-Gear helped the Elliotts. Their flirtations with success led Melling to move from sponsorship of the team to buying it outright.

Thus endeth the series. Comment away please.