Saturday, July 30, 2011

Documenting the King's wins

For over 30 years, I've collected all sorts of Petty-related trivia: pictures, articles, magazines, autographs, decals, die-cast, books, Pepsi bottles, and even a big ol' can of Maxwell House coffee.

I've also compiled data: dates of poles, wins, birthdays, deaths, sponsorship announcements, and other significant events in the history of Petty Racing. From the time this blog was launched, a daily Petty trivia nugget has been displayed to the right.

One project I've kind of wanted to tackle was to collect and then share a photo or article from each of Richard Petty's wins. I never really pushed myself towards the goal because I believed the challenge of landing such information - especially from the 1960s - might be too much to expect.

However, its funny how things work. Through posts to a few different message boards earlier this year, I struck up a friendship with a fellow long-time Petty fan, Jerry Bushmire. Jerry goes back waaaay farther than I do. He has had the opportunity to meet Richard many times - and as shown below, also had the chance to meet Lee Petty before his death.

I told him about my semi-serious project of collecting the articles and pictures. He thought for a short period of time and then responded he could probably help me make it happen. He is a NASCAR Pack Rat and has retained all sorts of racing weeklies, magazines, and other periodicals going all the way back to the beginning of Richard's career. He scanned a ton of it, e-mailed it all to me, and thankfully green-lighted me to begin sharing it.

Along the way, he hit a couple of minor bumps where he simply couldn't find information about a win. But by searching Google News Archive or perusing material I've got, we were able to identify articles and/or pictures for all but four of Richard's 200 wins.

On August 1, I'm beginning what I hope to be a year-long series. My plan over the next year is to share the information on the anniversary date of each win. Some of the articles present a good recap of the race. Others are simply a quick acknowledgement of the win. The readability of some of the scanned articles will be better than others. Overall, however, I think it will be a fun trip through history to highlight the King's wins - along with memories from several folks I've met who were fortunate to see them.

I want to give a huge shout-out to Jerry right now before this all begins. Without his help and a shared fan-interest in the King's career, I'd likely just keep blogging random Schaefer entries (which by the way will continue).

I'll try to remember to tag each post with the word "200wins" so folks can quickly see the relevant posts over time.


Friday, July 29, 2011

The Schaefer Schummer of far

As has been well documented, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor has been alive and well at a couple of speedways in 2011 - with still a few more to go before the season ends. But as we often say ...

Schaefer: Its not just for racing anymore.

(If I haven't given attribution in the past, I certainly need to do so now. That great slogan is credited to 2011 SHOF inductee Rev. Randy Esq.)

Here are a few other ways SHOFers and SROH members have schelebrated their 2011 Schaefer Schummer ... so far.

Schaefer Ring of Honor member, Bubba, made a rare appearance this schummer with his Schaefer Schushi.

Sticking with the fishing theme, the Georgia Chapter of the Schaefer Ring of Honor represented itself on the lake quite admirably. SROH member Bruton and his brother, Dale JR Ewing, hauled in 40 bluegill plus one honking-sized catfish! Being a fisherman, he might have suggested the two of them matched Schaefer for fish, but somehow I doubt it.

Rev. Randy Esq., the most recent inductee into the Schaefer Hall of Fame, wasted no time leveraging his enshrinement to his advantage. He had the opportunity to meet famed car owner, Richard "Rowdy Pounder" Childress.

Though this had to have been a memorable event, I wish the esteemed Rev. could have worn his Schaefer shirt under his button-down. It would have been cool to see him rip it as if he were Superman getting ready to rescue the party.

Randy is also getting ready to race in the Chump Car World Series event at Virginia International Raceway this weekend. With the extreme heat being experienced this summer, he thought it would be a good idea to order a "cool shirt" to circulate water against his skin as he drives.

Check out the manufacturer. Though spelled differently, the spirit is there. Nothing keeps you cooler on a hot schummer day than a cold Schaefer.

Speaking of the heat, Bruton once again took his Schaefer experience to Daytona Beach, Florida in July.

He loaded up his truck before heading for Florida for the Firecracker ... Pepsi ... Coke 400. Packing the old school beer in the truck convinced him to go old school with his hats. Here he is sporting the Union76 colors, formerly the official fuel of NASCAR.

Once he settled in at Daytona International Speedway, he wanted to make sure all around him knew how old school he was. An STP cap, an RPM/A.J. Allmendinger retro-Richard Petty scheme koozie, his SROH shirt, and of course an ice cold Schaef.

One word of caution for future races though Bruton: As you are mugging for the camera, you might want to keep an eye on guys around you who may be conspiring to kick your ass so they can steal your Schaefer.

After returning home from the beach, Bruton continued his fine ways of Schaefervangelism with family, friends, and neighbors. Upon tasting an offered Schaef, one of his neighbors quipped "Hmm, its not that bad."

Bruton also excels at pairing Schaefer with great meals. A couple of examples include hot wings and fries...

...and another includes a tasty-looking pork tenderloin.

TMC even got into the action away from the track. One of my experiences was more taxing than enjoyable. After spending the weekend at Kentucky Speedway, I returned to reality to seal my cedar fence. I only needed 9 hours, 20 gallons of sealer, and 2 Schaefers to complete the job.


Fellas, this label provides sound advice for any strenuous activity ... including sealing a fence.

Back to the blog...

But while Schaefer helped make a tough job bearable, I did experience some good Schaefer-related times earlier this year in Portland, OR.

A friend of mine took me to a several great places. Sadly, I must say procuring a Schaefer during our crawl wasn't possible - but great Schaefer experiences were shared nonetheless.

One place we quaffed some local brews was The Pub At The End of the Universe...

Another place was the Clinton Street Pub which served two of Schaefer's cousins - Hamm's and PBR. Once inside, I was pleased to find they had another cousin on draft - the long-tenured, Pacific Northwest Olympia. As with all the other yard-beer brands Pabst now owns, I'm quite certain the original recipe for Oly is no more. Yet for nostalgia reasons, I had to have one.

My eyes quickly opened and my pulse quickened when I saw this clock. I truly thought that yes indeedy I was going to get a west coast Schaefer after all. However, it wasn't meant to be. The clock was merely decorative and not a promotion for the beers they had. Close but no cigar ... err ... Schaefer.

After our pub crawl ended, we went to the infamous Voodoo Doughnut.

I was goaded into trying a doughnut bar with maple glaze and crisp bacon on top. One word: phenomenal. Even when downed ... near midnight ... upon multiple varieties of Portland brew.

The next day, I drove to Tillamook, an Oregon coastal town a couple of hours to the west of Portland. Todd Snider, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, lives in Nashville now but is originally from Portland. He has a great song titled Tillamook County Jail.

So opting for a bit of a when in Rome attitude, I found the Tillamook city limits sign and the police department and jail and decided to enjoy a bit of a Schaefer in their presence. (I was able to enjoy at least ONE west coast Schaefer - the one I packed in my suitcase.) Not the entire thing mind you - just enough to get my photo-ops and move it on down the line. I was a photo-op seeking tourist - not someone stupid enough (hopefully) to get an extended-stay, behind the scenes tour of the jail.

You may have to watch the video and listen to the lyrics for context.

Finally, the triple-digit heat of 2011 sometimes makes one conjure crazy images if too much time is spent in it. There have been a couple of times this year that its happened to me. One odd image I visioned was my attempting to drink a can of Schaefer larger than me!

Though to be honest, I've not yet reconciled if its a nightmare ... or sweet dreams.

To be continued...


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What?? No SPAM Sammich?

Our company's in-house cafeteria had a NASCAR-themed menu today. Apparently, the hackneyed-named items offered were in recognition of the NASCAR trucks and Nationwide races at Nashville Superspeedway this weekend.

Upon being made aware of the menu, some immediate FAIL items jumped off the page at me:
  • PITT Stop Pasteria? I wasn't sure if they were promoting NASCAR or the second coming of Tony Dorsett.
  • Time Trial Tater Salad - We have qualifying in NASCAR. Indy cars have time trials, and they dropped Nashville a couple of years ago like a bad date.
  • Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Cashew Slaw - Seriously? If anyone catches you eating a meal such as that at the track, you're going to get hit in the mouth. Book it. We may blare Nugent's Wango Tango, but you best not be serving any Mango.
Other items that are marginal or could have been improved:
  • Restrictor plate chili: First-rate chili is meant to be hot. Only canned chili is throttled. If this was legit, they should have named it Skid Mark Chili.
  • Brickyard Brisket: One, the Brickyard is in Indiana. Two, brisket is in Texas. Individually, each of these are okay. But we're in Nashville by-cracky Tennessee - home of the Grand Ole Opry, the legendary Nashville fairgrounds speedway, and pulled pork barbeque.
If they would have let TMC help design the menu, I might have made the following changes:
  • For the condiment counter: Elliott Miracle Whip Sadler Dressing.
  • Hamlin and Swiss on Logano sliced bread
  • Brad Coleslawski
  • For the healthy eaters: Cale Kale
  • Jimmie Johnsonville Brats
  • Ernie Irvan Scrambled Eggs ... OK, so that was a cheap shot. But this is a throwaway entry. So sue me.
  • Start & Park vegetable plate: boiled okra, beets, and brussels sprouts
  • Tony Stewart Smoke Salmon
  • Danica Dessert: a slice of cheesecake
  • Dale Jr. Soufflé (starts with high expectations, gets puffed up too early, and then easily collapses)
  • Ricky Bobby Roast Beef
  • Blame Stremme Burned Biscuits
  • Truex Chex Mix
In the end, it's probably just as well they didn't let me help. Besides, I thought all the NASCAR Cafes had closed.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Schaefer Hall of Fame rides in Kentucky

Third and final in the series.

As has been well established, Kentucky Speedway had its share of problems with its inaugural Quaker State 400 Cup race - the overwhelming majority of which were self-inflicted. But as the old saying proclaims "the show must go on". The race was held, the stands were packed, and the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor represented admirably. Actually, the race weekend was quite a patriotic affair. We had rednecks and white trash celebrating in the bluegrass state.

After withstanding morning thunderstorms south and east of the track before our arrival, we rolled in Friday afternoon and soon rolled out the barrel - or at least a few cans from it. Before unloading vehicles or setting up a canopy, we wanted to kick off our weekend as always do - with a celebratory Schaefer. To great times, great friends, great beer and a great parking spot!

Once we got our stuff set-up and the first one down, we inducted our first new Schaefer Ring of Honor member of the weekend. He was from Minot by-cracky North Dakota and was ecstatic about the Schaefer experience.

SHOFer Philly gave him a Schaefer Ring of Honor shirt, and he agreed to Schaefervangelize the folks back home. He now represents the only SROH member from the Dakotas. (Now that I think about it, he is the only person I've ever met from North Dakota.)

We had some super nice folks tailgating immediately across from us. They offered us burgers to eat and use of their Nationwide tickets to watch Cup qualifying. (They wanted us to return the tickets so they could use them for the Nationwide race and asked that we leave them in the bed of their truck. Nice and trusting folks - hard to find these days.) This guy from Vermont was tailgating with them.

As with our new North Dakota bud, he may be the only person I've ever met from Vermont. Except for Ben & Jerry. However, I really haven't met them. I've just overpaid for their ice cream.

After sampling his Schaefer, he paused, pondered, and then said softly "yes, this is a beer that tastes like its meant to come from a can". We took it as a compliment.

As a contrast to the über subdued Vermont guy, we also encountered a drunk, loud, foul-mouthed chick from Florida by way of Ohio and Missouri. After getting mouthy with us about Schaefer, we extended an offering to share one with us. I pulled 2 beers from the cooler still in the six-pack ringer - one for her and one for me. She smiled, sipped, and then cackled loudly about the greatness of Schaefer and then her "fondness" for Carl Edwards. After she had her one Schaefer (on top of everything else she'd been swilling), she provided perhaps the most...uh, um...interesting autograph on our Schaefer banner.

As blogged earlier this week, we left the track as the Nationwide race began. We stopped by Longnecks Sports Grill in Wilder, KY - about 45 minutes from the track. Longnecks was a pretty neat place with good pizza and wings, cold buckets of Bud (sadly no Schaefer), and nice TVs featuring the Nationwide race and the Cincinnati Reds game.

After dinner, we soldiered on to the bustling metropolis of Ripley, Ohio - population 1,745 per the 2000 U.S. census. The brother-in-law of SHOFer Philly and nephew of SHOFer Uncle D, John and his wife hosted us in their 125 year-old farm house. Though it was about 90 minutes away from the track, it was free, better than camping, different than a hotel, and added an element of class not normally experienced by the SHOFers. Its probably the closest the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor will ever come to staying at a bed-and-breakfast on a race weekend.

Then it was race day! On a slightly foggy Saturday morning, we loaded back into John's Suburban and make our trek back to the track. Along the way, we had a neat view of the Ohio River - and then we saw a nuclear power plant. It was a bit like traveling through Springfield in The Simpsons.

After beating The Man to get our top-shelf parking spot, we set about establishing our Schaefer Racing Domicile.

It was then time to formally induct John as our newest member of the Schaefer Ring of Honor. His providing of housing for us, driving us to and fro, and immediately enjoying Schaefer made him a most deserving candidate. His induction also earned him a new SROH nickname: "Port-a-John"

Kentucky is primarily known for three things: basketball, horse racing and bourbon. I'm too short to play hoops, and I'm too fat to be a jockey. So I opted to commemorate our race trip with a shot of Kentucky's own Maker's Mark for each of our Schaefer crew.

Presenting the 2011 Kentucky Speedway Schaefer Racing Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor - with a can of Schaefer and a Dixie cup shot of Makers. Schaa-loot! Ooooh-wheee! Shudder head to toe.

L to R: Will The Thrill, SHOF TMC, SROH Rick, SROH Chet,
SHOF Uncle Dave, SHOF Philly and SROH Port-A-John

While the drunk chick provided the most profane (and entertaining?) signature on our banner, Port-A-John provided the most creative.

Once the Schaefer commencement and SROH induction ceremony was completed, Uncle Dave was ready to get to work. He executed his core competency for us - manning the grill. He delivered some grilled pizzas and later some exceptional brats.

In addition to earning his way into the SROH, Port-A-John was also awarded the traditional, race-weekend, rookie stripe for attending his first-ever NASCAR race.

After all the ceremonial crap was done, he finally wanted to just simply sit down, crack a cold Schaef, and wait for Uncle Dave to serve more food.

These two guys from Tacoma, Washington - Rob and Mike I think are their names - now unquestionably represent the most westward chapter of the ring of honor. SHOFer Philly had a single shirt left to award. He gave it one of them and encouraged them to share the Schaef experience ... and the shirt ... with others.

Clarksville Chris climbed aboard the SROH. He is a friend of SROH member Rick, and I met him during our visit to the Stanley Tools hospitality tent and garage tour.

This guy is from Altoona, Pennsylvania. As Schaefer began to move away from its Brooklyn roots, it built a modern brewing facility in Allentown, PA in the early 1970s. Allentown isn't Altoona, but this guy is closer to the origins of Schaef than we are.

Quite frankly, I don't remember where this next guy is from. By this time of the day, we'd welcomed many folks into the SROH - and renewed our own commitment to the SHOF and SROH many times over. So I did well to remember the track where we were, where I parked and my seat location - much less the hometown of a middle-aged dude holding a Schaefer bucket. I did appreciate, however, his commitment to old school with his Winston Cup Series cap.

I can't remember this guy's name either. But he and his wife found us right before we tore down our tailgating gear to head to the race. As I recall, he said he is from Ohio, has had plenty of Schaefer in his day, and couldn't believe we had it. So he had another one. His wife? She was a margarita-drinking, anti-beer snob.

Many folks returned home with war stories of slow traffic, rotten parking, long bathroom lines, and concession outages. Some will return for year two - others wouldn't step foot on the property if you paid them.

As for us, we had a grand time. We met a ton of cool, new, weekend friends. We shared the Schaef freely. The Schaefer Ring of Honor was expanded greatly to include states such as Vermont, North Dakota, Washington, etc. Will we return? Time will tell. Provide the tickets and a cooler of cold Schaefer though, and I'll bet our decision could be made rather quickly.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Kentucky: The tour and the race

Over 10 years. The ownership, management, local residents and fans of Kentucky Speedway waited over 10 years to finally land its coveted Cup date. It took a change of ownership and and an agreement by a bunch of lawyers to stand down before it could happen. But both events happened, the Cup date was granted, and Darrell Waltrip got so giddy over the whole deal that on more than one occasion I'm quite sure he nearly pee'd himself.

New track owner Bruton Smith - who is not exactly a wallflower owner/promoter - gushed that the race would be the biggest event of the year. When the weekend was done, he was kind of right with his prediction. He likely hosted the biggest STORY of the season. Sadly, the weekend will be remembered for ridiculous traffic jams, a lack of parking, a breakdown of communications and commitment by track management and staff, and a complete abdication of responsibility by those in charge (e.g. Bruton joking about the snafus on pre-race shows, Bruton blaming I-71's condition and width, press releases stating the track "regretted" the situation).

Despite all the perimeter noise, the inaugural Quaker State 400 Cup race was run. And representatives of the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor were there to christen the event.

We arrived on Friday afternoon - primarily just to get a feel for the vibe of the crowd, scout some parking, tour the souvenir trailers, enjoy a Schaefer ... and maybe a second, etc. While roaming through the various sponsor exhibits, we spotted a replica of the car Michael Waltrip planned to race. It was skinned to pay tribute to Darrell Waltrip's first Cup win at Nashville Speedway in 1975. When qualifying was rained out, however, Mikey was left on the outside looking in.

Schafer HOFer Uncle Dave was excited to find the Robby Gordon souvenir trailer. I'm not quite sure why. Uncle Dave may well be the last fan ol' Robby has. I kind of expected Robby's souvenirs could fit comfortably inside a pull-behind U-Haul trailer.

In the early to mid 90s, Kyle Petty had some incredibly dominant runs at Rockingham Speedway - especially when sponsored by Mello Yello. After all these years, I think I finally found the answer. He was racing with organic fuel maaannnn. (reference to Cars 2 for those who don't get it).

I was fortunate enough to land a hospitality pass with Stanley Tools through Rick - who was recently inducted into the Schaefer Ring of Honor in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As we walked towards the hospitality tent, I snapped this photo of the Marcos Ambrose / Stanley show car.

As we settled in with a nice lunch, one of the Stanley guys announced some prize giveaways. "The first person to show me a photo of the Stanley race car wins a prize." I jumped up with a WHOO, showed him the pic on my Blackberry, and just like that earned myself a soft-sided Stanley tool "box" or bag. Shortly thereafter, they had drawings for garage tours. I had been told we could visit the pits, but the garage tour was an extra. Sure enough, I went two for two as my name was drawn to visit the garage.

Before heading down for our tour, Marcos Ambrose dropped by the tent to ask a few questions. He answered such inquiring-minds-want-to-know questions as "what is your favorite pre-race meal?", "will you put Kyle Busch in the wall for us?", "what is your favorite TV show?", etc. I got the privilege of asking one, and mine went something like this: In the 2-car drafting tandem at Daytona, you seemed to draft better with your pushing A.J. than when he tried to push you. Was that because of the differences in the cars or your individual driving and drafting styles? Unlike the other ones, he started his response with "well, that's a great question mate..." before explaining the answer as a little bit of both.

After Ambrose left, it was time for our walking tour of the garage. I'm guessing we were supposed to keep a healthy distance away from the individual garage bays. But I couldn't help myself. I wanted to get a couple of close-up shots - especially of the Richard Petty Motorsports Fords.

Here is the Porter Cable #9 raced at Kentucky by Marcos Ambrose...

And here is the famed #43. The Valvoline Ford of The Dinger, A.J. Allmendinger.

After roaming a bit more around the bays and seeing a few cars go through technical inspection, our group headed for hauler row. I lagged back a bit when I got to the Best Buy trailer. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Allmendinger, The King, Robbie Loomis, Dale Inman, or someone else of vital importance I might recognize. Not seeing them, I still made myself at home a bit. Having a Schaefer in hand is a bit like being a V.I.P. - it gets you into interesting places with meaningful people. Don't believe me? Check out the expression on the dude's face in the white shorts. I'm quite certain he's thinking "Are you kidding me? I had to surrender my first born to get a hot pass - yet this guy just strolls in with nothing more than a Schaefer?" Yeah buddy, deal with it.

Although I didn't see anyone of vital importance at the Best Buy hauler, I did spot one quasi-celeb. Look again at the above photo - over the left shoulder of the guy whose back is to me with a #7 shirt and blue shoes. Recognize him? Its Paul Menard, sideburns and all.

Allmendinger's trailer - still in its Best Buy colors vs. the 1-off Valvoline sponsor for the weekend - was sandwiched between the haulers of Menard and Juan Montoya. With those two flanking the RPM hauler, it was amazing the 43 didn't get wrecked while being unloaded!

As we wrapped up our tour of the garage and headed for pit road, we passed by a booth where a radio broadcast was taking place. When I walked by, I heard the announcer say "we're glad to have Jerry Carrol here with us", and I paused.

Carroll built Kentucky Speedway and lobbied for years for a Cup event. The lobbying later turned into a lawsuit against NASCAR. As long as the lawsuit continued, Carrol had about as much a chance of landing a Cup date as drivers named Regan and Ragan could each win a race and in the same season.

Wait - check that. Regan and Ragan both have won races this season, and Kentucky did get its Cup date. So miracles do happen. But of course, it required Carroll's selling of the track and getting the lawsuit withdrawn to make it happen.

A view of the upper portion of pit road. Look carefully near the center of the picture, and you may be able to see the pit board for the 43 team.

A view of the start-finish line with the grandstands, suites and Indiana Tower behind it.

After completing our tour, I returned to the hospitality area. I downed a water, cracked a beer and said so long to some of the folks I'd met at my table. Not long after I returned to our own tailgating site, SROH Rick called me to say they were going to have more drawings. Knowing I'd already won the toolbox and garage tour, I figured my luck was exhausted and/or was ineligible for more. Apparently not. A couple of hours later, he returned along with the guys from the table with more swag - some of it autographed by Marcos. They told me my name had been drawn again, but I had to be present to win. So *oof* - a swing and a miss for me. Sure, it stung. But I'd been lucky, I was thankful for the freebies I already won, and there was no sense crying over missed opportunities or autographed swag.

It was now race time! With qualifying rained out, the field was set by practice speeds. As such, Allmendinger started about half-way through the field. He is shown here leading out the second pack of cars for a couple of pace laps.

Sadly, that's about as well as the 43 car would run all night. The team was off its game from the time they unloaded. I call it the Valvoline curse. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the company's partial sponsorship of Richard Petty Motorsports. But it seems anytime the 43 is skinned in Valvoline colors, the car runs horribly. He ran the same scheme at Vegas in 2010 when I was there - similar type of result.

The race was pretty uneventful. Kyle Busch set the pace early - with his only significant challenge in the early stages coming from brother Kurt. In the mid-laps of the race, Brad Keselowki put the blue deuce out front for an extended segment. Yet we knew the 18 was still very much in the thick of things. Sure enough, as the race hit its three-quarters mark or so and the cars cycled through green-flag pit stops, KyBu's Toyota returned to point.

The finish. Sorry for the blurriness of the cars. A Blackberry 3.2 megapixel camera isn't quite up to par with a Nikon. But that is indeed Kyle Busch winning with David Reutimann in second and Jimmie Johnson in third.

Kyle is no question a polarizing guy. Many, many people still boo him. He does have some passionate fans - though I suspect most have just crawled aboard his winning bandwagon. But you have to give the guy his due. He sets 'em up and knocks 'em down - trucks, Nationwide, Cup. He can win them all on any given weekend. And I don't think anyone can match him on burnouts.

One of these days, I half-way expect him to pull a Chris Angel stunt. Light 'em up, create a tire smokescreen, and disappear into thin air before the smoke clears.

Once the checkers fell and the burnout smoke cleared, SROH member Chet and I made a beeline for the car. We had made the decision to drive throughout the night back to middle Tennessee rather than staying somewhere overnight. We made it as far as Louisville before the weekend caught up to us: road stare, excessive yawning and hunger.

Just as is often needed during a long race, it was time for a green-flag pit stop. Waffle House! Say it with me: Waffle House!

Yep. Nothing soothes the stomach and wakes the soul quite like an All Star at 2AM.

Next: The Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor celebrate and induct many new members.