Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26 - This day in Petty history - part 3

1971 - Starting second alongside pole-winner Bobby Allison, Richard Petty leads 89 of 200 laps and wins the Pickens 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina to capture his 129th career victory. According to Greg Fielden in his book Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3:
Allison was unveiling a new 1971 Holman-Moody Ford at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. He led all but one of the first 107 laps when his engine blew, sending him into the guard rail... Petty took over and held off Tiny Lund's surprising effort to win the 200-lapper ..."The only thing that bothered me was when Bobby's engine blew," said Petty. "I was lucky to miss him. I was just a matter of inches behind him. I still don't know how I got by."
The following article shared with me by Jerry Bushmire - as he has done throughout this 200 Wins series - is a neat read. Its a rare column that included good detail for readers in the day - but also provides great historical context some 40 years later.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

June 26 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1970 - Richard Petty wins the pole, leads 263 of 297 laps, and wins the Kingsport 100 at Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee to notch his 107th career NASCAR Grand National victory.

The race was the second of three GN races held at Kingsport from 1969 to 1971. Petty won the first two, and Bobby Isaac won the third and final one in 1971. As R.J. Reynolds' Winston cigarettes took over the title sponsorship of NASCAR's top series, tracks such as Kingsport were trimmed from the schedule.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited June 25, 2014

June 26 - This day in Petty history - part 1

1964 - Starting second, Richard Petty leads 58 laps and opportunistically captures his 33rd career victory by winning a 200-lap race at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds Speedway in Spartanburg, SC. (Read this NASCAR.com story about the lost Spartanburg track.)

Between 1962 and 1965, the eight NASCAR Grand National races were split between two NASCAR Hall of Famers: The King with three wins during the span and Ned Jarrett with five.

In his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, Perry Allen Wood tees up the beginning of the 1964 race this way:
The next one was held on Friday night, June 26, 1964, and fell into a twilight span of 39 days between the horrific crash on May 24th that had Fireball Roberts' life oozing away in a Charlotte hospital bed and his last breath of July 2nd. Nine race were held in those 39 days and Spartanburg had the ninth ... The pole went to the Spartanburg Dodge team of [David] Pearson and [Cotton] Owens with Petty outside. The most victorious stock car drivers of all time sat on the front row.

It started innocently. Pearson set a torrid pace... On lap 115, Petty pitted for some Pure, lost a lap, and the others moved up one. There the routine 100-miler ended. On lap 127, Buddy Baker in an orange Dodge was four laps back in eighth and came upon [J.T.] Putney's blue Chevy. Buddy caught him in the right rear as they powered through turn two, they slid backwards into the steel rail, and performed simultaneous acrobatic barrel rolls, landing wheels down. ... The stage was set for the Fairgrounds' greatest and most enduring finish that the witnesses will never forget. ~ pp.20-21
Baker's barrel roll was only the warm-up action to the race's main event: second-year driver Billy Wade in Bud Moore's Mercury vs. veteran Jarrett in Bondy Long's Ford and whose driving that night may have been anything but gentlemanly. Wood fills the better part of a page and a half in his book describing the battle between the two drivers.
...Wade went after Jarrett with all he had as 6,000 spectators went wild ... This continued for 25 laps until Wade went into turn three side-by-side with Ned but bounced hard off the fourth turn steel after getting into the loose stuff in a failed outside pass ... Darting and dashing, bumping and ramming, fainting and diving, Jarrett used it all ... Jarrett dogged Wade out of turn four and popped him real hard, and all that red dust boiled up as Bill's Merc did a 360 ... Wade vowed "I'll get him if I have to wait on him." ... Billy probably broke the track record catching Ned in traffic ... With 15 laps to go - Jarrett and Wade roared alone out of turn four, down the stretch, and readied to cut the throttles as they set up for the first turn. Only Bill never cut the throttle. As Ned cut and cocked his Ford into the turn, Wade blasted him... Jarrett's racer lifted on the left rear, flipped a couple of times, glanced of that battered wooden fence, and landed glass up ... As for Wade, he had enough speed left to pulverize that sorry plank fence ...Wade stayed in the track, although he did a couple of rollovers himself. ~ excerpted from pp. 21-22.
Recovering from their rollovers, the two committed drivers somehow managed to get their cars going again in an attempt to finish the race. However, neither were able to continue to the end though Jarrett still finished 5th and Wade 6th.

Wood then wraps up the finish of the race and Petty's win - which were quite tame compared to the drama that had unfolded over the previous 75 laps.
While those two were crashing the boards with splinters and dust flying, Petty drove under Wade's car as it was in mid-air. [LeeRoy] Yarbrough rode that wooden fence and dirt bank thrill-show style nearly on two wheels and chased Petty down the backstretch. The last ten were raced in stunned silence, and Petty cruised under the checkers by a half mile over Yarbrough in a Plymouth one-two sweep. ~ p. 23
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
As a follow-up to Wade's memorable night, he and Moore hit a hot streak about two-thirds of the way through the 1964 season. The team won four consecutive races - two on road courses at Watkins Glen and Bridgehampton, NY and two on short tracks at Islip, NY and Old Bridge, NJ.  Those wins were all Wade would ever claim. Tragically, he was killed in January 1965 during a Goodyear tire test.


Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25 - This day in Petty history

First of all, Happy Birthday to the apple of my eye - my daughter, "toomuchculture".

1972 - Richard Petty wins the pole, leads a dominating 186 of 250 laps, endures a brutally hot Texas afternoon,  and wins the Lone Star 500 at Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas for his 145th career NASCAR Winston Cup victory.

The King's Texas win was his career first in a Dodge. His previous 144 victories over the last 14 years had been in Plymouths (135) and Fords (nine wins in 1969). A couple of races before Texas, Petty Enterprises began a transition to Dodges for the 43, and Petty notched a victory shortly after the change.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
A couple of other memorable points from the race:
  • Racing legend, A.J. Foyt, was the pace car driver for the race.
  • Columbia TN's CooCoo Marlin earned a career best at the time with a third place finish. He later matched it with a pair of additional thirds at Nashville Speedway in 1973 and 1975.
  • Clarence Lovell, made 16 career Winston Cup starts in 1972-73. He earned a career best 4th place finish at Talladega in the 1973 Winston 500 but was killed in a highway accident a few days later. In 1972, his primary sponsor (and the race's title sponsor) was Lone Star Beer. Today, Lone Star (web | Twitter) is alive and well and widely available in Texas and other selected locations in the US. The label is owned by Pabst Brewing which makes the brew a Texas cousin of Bench Racing's preferred beer, Schaefer.
Courtesy of Charles Lovell, Clarence's brother
As noted in the following article, independent driver Richard Childress slipped in oil from driver Doc Faustina's blown engine. After spinning, Childress flipped and landed in a ditch. Yes, it was THAT Richard Childress - who later found greater fame and fortune as the car owner for Dale Earnhardt.

Faustina's involvement, however, may have some Petty-related trivia attached to it. In my recent blog about our visit to Petty's Garage, I included photos of sheet metal from a #28 Dodge Charger late model. The body had been removed as part of the restoration of the 1970 Pete Hamilton Superbird built by Petty Enterprises. The chronology of the car's history included in a Mopar Muscle magazine article goes something like this:
  • Hamilton won with the Superbird in February 1970.
  • The car was re-skinned as a Plymouth Road Runner and taken to Riverside in January 1971.
  • Driver Doc Faustina expressed an interest in the car and then bought it.
  • The car was repainted and numbered #5.
  • Faustina re-skinned the car as a Dodge Charger for the 1973 season.
  • The Dodge was later sold to a west coast last model racer who re-painted it and numbered it as #28.
Faustina only raced 10 times in his career as a driver from 1971 to 1976. However, he also fielded a Plymouth and Dodge for other drivers from 1971-1976 including Richard Childress, Harry Gant, Wendell Scott, and James Hylton.

Its highly likely, therefore, that the engine that blew in Faustina's car at Texas was a Maurice Petty-built hemi in the Petty Enterprises-built Plymouth originally raced as a Superbird by Pete Hamilton to his win in the 1970 Daytona 500. (As I also learned from really knowledgeable folks at Randy Ayers Modeling Forum, Wendell Scott made his final career start in the 1973 National 500 at Charlotte driving ... a #5 Doc Faustina Dodge. This likely means he too piloted what was once the Petty-built Plymouth.)

Care to listen to the radio broadcast of the entire race? MRN's coverage of the 1972 Lone Star 500 featuring Ken Squier, Marvin Panch, and Barney Hall is available at MotorRacingNetwork.com ... or click below to listen.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited June 24, 2014

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Richard Petty wins the pole and dominates the Pickens 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (web | Twitter) in South Carolina.

The King led 195 laps of the race, and he picked up his 60th career NASCAR Grand National victory by winning on the half-mile, dirt track. Petty set sail at the the drop of the green and won handily over the field including second place finisher Dick Hutcherson. The win also marked the beginning of a three-race winning streak at Greenville-Pickens for Petty.

In his book Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3, Greg Fielden recaps:
Top threats Jim Paschal, John Sears and Doug Cooper were all victims of a first lap fiasco. The three drivers, starting on the outside of the first three rows, charged into the first turn.  Before the race, the area had been saturated by a water truck, which had lost power and leaked several gallons of water. All three cars shot straight over the banks and flipped outside the track. ~ p. 138
Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive

Edited June 24, 2014

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22 - This day in Petty history

1968 - Starting second alongside career rival David Pearson, Richard Petty passes Pearson with 30 laps to go and gets his 82nd career NASCAR Grand National victory in a 200-lap, 100-mile race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
The start with pole winner Pearson getting the early jump on Petty, third place starter Buddy Baker in #3, and fourth place starter Bobby Issac in #71.

Courtesy of Harvey Tollison
Petty's win was his second consecutive win at Greenville-Pickens - the middle win of what turned out to be a three-win streak at the track. The speedway still operates today running late model features and can be found on the web and Twitter. NASCAR sanctioned 29 Grand National races at the track from 1951 through 1971, and The King won four of the final eight GN races at the speedway.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19 - This day in Petty history

1969 - Starting third, Richard Petty banks his 95th career NASCAR Grand National victory by winning the Kingsport 250 at Kingsport Speedway in east Tennessee. The race was the inaugural Grand National event at the .4 mile, paved track.

Source: Kingsport Post via Google News Archive
Kingsport opened in 1964 and was extensively reworked after five years of operation. The management team's efforts were rewarded with NASCAR sanctioning beginning in 1969. The track got the opportunity to rehearse for the June 19th Grand National event with a NASCAR Grand Touring race on April 13, 1969.

Source: Kingsport Post via Google News Archive
Bobby Isaac and Dave Marcis started in the front row in a pair of Dodges. Petty, David Pearson, and James Hylton rounded out the top 5 qualifiers.

When the green flag dropped, Isaac began his domination of the race. He led 187 of the race's first 210 laps. But with about 40 laps to go and a 2-lap lead over the field, Isaac lost an engine in his Dodge. Racing a Ford, Petty capitalized on Isaac's misfortunes. The King took over from there, led the remaining laps and won the race.

Kingsport hosted three races from 1969 through 1971. Petty repeated his win at the track in 1970, and Isaac finally got his Kingsport trophy in the track's final GN race. With the arrival of R.J. Reynold's Winston cigarettes brand as the new title sponsor for NASCAR's top series, Kingsport was one of many tracks culled from the schedule as the Winston Cup Series ran only about 30 races beginning in 1972.

Though the last GN race was held at the track in 1971, Kingsport Speedway (web | Twitter) continues to host races today under a NASCAR sanctioning agreement.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited June 19, 2014

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Starting second alongside Dick Hutcherson, Richard Petty leads about half the race - including the final 95 laps - and wins the Carolina 500 to nab his 59th career NASCAR Grand National race.

Petty's win was his 11th of the 1967 season - a number that would grow to a staggering 27 victories by the time the year ended. Fellow Mopar driver Buddy Baker was on point for another sizable chunk of the race. He led 214 of the 500 laps in Ray Fox's #3 Dodge but finished second to The King, one lap down.

Dave Fulton is a former motorsports promotion manager for Wrangler Jeans and 7-Eleven in the days of Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty, a former media relations director for Richmond Raceway, and a life-long racing fan. He remembers the summer day at The Rock:
I was there that day. It was hot and humid as all get out. Got a horrible sunburn.

The article [TMC: one included below] fails to mention that this was the rescheduled rain date of what was supposed to be a March race. My buddy, Frank, and I again took the race train down from Richmond in March 1967,  just as we did for the March 1966 Peach Blossom 500.

By the time that Seaboard train (we called it the Seaboard "Square Wheel Special"  'cause the track bed was so rough between Raleigh & the division end in Hamlet) got to Southern Pines/Aberdeen around 9:00 a.m. on that Sunday morning in March 1967, it was raining cats & dogs. The track owners had called the race before we even made it to the track because they were afraid of a poor gate.

Our group (which had been picked up at stops in DC, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg & Raleigh) wouldn't be picked up again until 6:00 p.m. that Sunday evening by the Seaboard train heading north to New York from Florida.

Faced with the dilemma of what to do with a train load of drunk race fans, the Rockingham track owners arranged for the owner of the only movie theater in Hamlet to open its doors. We were shuttled on a siding from the Rockingham track to Hamlet by a work engine. The film was Haley Mills' "Polyanna."  I'm sure you can picture what that must of been like.

To add insult to injury, when we exited the movie theater around 2:00 p.m., the sun was shining brightly on a beautiful early spring Carolina afternoon. It was a grumpy crowd on the return ride to Richmond, having traded Richard Petty for Walt Disney.

Frank & I left Richmond again on Saturday,  June 17, 1967 with me behind the wheel of dad's brand new 1967 Chevy 327 Caprice.  That car turned out to be the biggest pile of crap ever produced by General Motors.

After spending the night in Lumberton, we drove to the Rockingham track bright and early Sunday morning, June 18 to watch the King get one of those 27 1967 wins. Even with the sunburn and long drive back to Richmond it was a good day.

It took us three trips, two by train, from Richmond to Rockingham to see our first two Rockingham races in 1966 and 1967. Ya reckon that is some sort of record?

The first paragraph of the article below is a bit misleading. The June 1967 Rockingham race was the first known as the Carolina 500; however, it was the fourth overall race at the track. In the fall of 1965 and 1966, the races were known then - and for years to come as the American 500. The first spring race at the track was in March 1966 but was known as the Peach Blossom 500. Beginning with the 1967 spring event and continuing through the 1985, the race was known as the Carolina 500.

Photos and article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012 Charlotte race trip: Schaefer Time

This entry concludes my four-part blog series about the great times enjoyed by many - including me - during a four-day race trip for the Coca-Cola 600, the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Schaefer racing experience, and all related trappings at and around...

After spending time with Schaeferiends at qualifying, Petty's Garage, and the Richard Petty Museum, it was time to get down to business. Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to:

Race Days and Schaefer Time!

The Setting

Over 40 family, friends, in-laws, and outlaws joined in this year's 20th Anniversary Schaefer Schindig Schelebration at Scharlotte Motor Speedway over two sun-soaked, breeze-swept days.

Credit to and courtesy of @ZimRick

The Center of Attention

To have such a momentous schelebration, one must procure copious amounts of the Scho-nuff Official Lager of the Schaefer Racing Hall of Fame. Interestingly, this task is not as easy as you might think or as easy as it once was. Pabst Brewing Company - those corporate bastages - owns the Schaefer brand and has discontinued it in most markets across this fine nation. But where there is a will ... there is a way to get 10 cases of Schaef.

After Charlotte-area distributors eliminated it from their product offerings a few years back, I brought a small supply from Nashville and fellow SHOFer Rookie brought the same from Wilmington, NC. Then it vanished from our markets too. But, SROH member Bruton stepped forward, communicated with a Georgia distributor, explained the Schaefer / Racing connection, and arranged for the purchase of many cases. The distributor arranged for the beer to be delivered to a retailer in Cordele, GA - the Flint River Package Store. The store is TWO HOURS from Bruton's home, and he has made the 4-hour circuit twice now just so we can continue our Scharlotte tradition.

On a round-trip drive to Florida about 10 days before this year's race, I called Bruton from the road to ask for directions to the store. My plan was to jump off I-75 and throw the store a bone with an additional Schaefer sale (not realizing they didn't stock it on a regular basis).

The store employee was friendly. Although I didn't catch his name, an educated guess suggests it was either Patel or Deepak. My communication with him went a bit like this:

Patel: Mee I heelp you?
TMC: Hey there. Yessir. I'm looking for Schaefer. A 12 pack if you have it?
Patel: Noo, noo. We do note have da Schaefer. But man visit last week and buy teen cases! {Smiles}
TMC: Yeah, I know him. He's a buddy of mine. Three of those cases are for me!
Patel: OOOHHH, you know heem?? Berry nice! Yah. {high pitched laugh}

So while I wasn't able to buy more, I did stop by Bruton's house on the way back to Tennessee to take a gander at 240 cans of Schaefer race beer.

Bruton must have felt like he'd bought a hundred cases based on the number of times he hauled them. Alone, he loaded the 10 cases bought in Cordele (thanks for the help Patel...not). He then unloaded them into his kitchen, moved them again downstairs, re-loaded them to the bed of his truck to haul to Scharlotte, unloaded them again in SHOFer Philly's garage, and lugged and lifted iced coolers into and out of trucks the next two days.

The Visibility

Shortly after arriving at our tailgating site and unloading our gear, the colors of Schaefer were raised high above our tents.

I pledge allegiance 
to the one beer to have when you are having more than one. 
Shalom, amen and gentlemen start your engines.

SROH member Slick Rick provided an unexpected but sensational and welcomed gift. He printed a 3' x 3' high-rez poster of the official logo for the 20th Anniversary Schaefer Schelebration. It looked fantastic taped to the nearby fence and could easily be seen by the incoming traffic along Bruton Smith Blvd.

Bonus Ounces

Cousin Gary was inducted into the Schaefer Ring of Honor a week earlier at the NASCAR All Star Race. I understand from fellow SHOFers who oversaw his induction that his selection to the SROH was based largely on two criteria: (1) providing THREE cases of Schaefer tall boys from New by-cracky Hampshire and (2) shotgunning one of them upon request. The rest of us earned a bonus because a full case of the bullets remained to enjoy on 600 weekend!

Hot Use of Cold Passes

SHOF co-founder, tailgating field commander, and executive committee member with unilateral veto-power authority - Philly - negotiated our tailgating spot, a few other race-related niceties and cold passes for a few of us.

During a Sunday morning tour of the garage area, SHOFer Rookie's keen eyes spotted a recently elected member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame - legendary car owner and crew chief, Leonard Wood. SROH member 200WINZ' son and Charlotte race-rookie - Richie Rich - approached Mr. Wood and got a pass and his t-shirt autographed. Nicely done boy.

Rep'ing the Schaef at the CMS Tweet-up

If you are a race fan and on Twitter, you're likely familiar with "tweet-ups" often hosted by writer Jeff Gluck. On Memorial Day weekend, Gluck drew the task of covering the Indianapolis 500 vs. Charlotte. (Aside from our Schaefer gathering, Gluck got the better gig based on the excitement of the individual races.) In Jeff's absence, Sporting News writer Bob Pockrass hosted the tweet-up with a couple of fantastic, surprise guests. SROH member Slick Rick rep'd the Ring of Honor well as he met Leonard Wood and 1989 Winston Cup champion Rusty Wallace.

Credit: @ZimRick

Credit: @ZimRick

New Experiences with Familiar Friends

What's Old Is New Again

As a Petty fan, I couldn't help but do a double-take when I spotted this autographed, mid-1990s, Mello Yello, Kyle Petty hat - worn on a teenage girl's head! Forget Amp, Monster, Nos and Red Bull. Roll with the original energy drink: Mello Yello.

Disclaimer: My original energy drink as a life-long southerner was actually Sun-Drop. But I'll fudge the truth a bit and pimp Mello Yello because of their sponsorship of KP.

Live Country Music

Another tradition continued when syndicated NASCAR beat writer, author, songwriter, honorary Schaefer HOFer, and now social media gadfly Monte Dutton joined us for the fourth year in a row to tell a few racing stories and sing some songs. Monte and I have developed a friendship over the years. While our political views generally differ, we've found common ground with shared interests in racing, music and beer - though not always in that order.

Similar to an open-mic night at your local bar, our Schaefer clan can be a tough crowd for Monte. He covers a lot of traditional country songs, but he has also written a good number of originals. Unfortunately, no one but me is really familiar with them. To our credit though, some of our bunch know their old school country. We've had folks request Monte sing songs by Charlie Pride, Roger Miller, John Prine, Marty Robbins, Keith Whitley and the like.

As he plays, many in our group continue with their regular tailgating festivities - including blasting rock, hip-hop, contemporary country, etc. types of music. Again, this scenario may be analogous to the cacophony of sounds of folks talking while an unknown songwriter sings in your local honky-tonk. Being committed to his music just as he is with his coverage of NASCAR, however, Monte just played right through it all. The good news is no chicken-wire had to be installed in front of him. We may not fully embrace him collectively, but at least we're polite about it.

Soon to be Famous

As Schaefer was shared, competitive games began, and laughter-filled conversations spread amongst the canopy-covered crowd, a couple of guys from NASCAR Media Group wandered by, stared a bit at all our trappings and exclaimed "Now, we've really found some serious tailgating. What's going on here?"

I stepped forward to give them the nickel-tour of the Schaefer / racing tradition - how it had evolved over two decades from a Talladega weekend in 1992 with Philly and TMC to over 40 folks enjoying a great time under a big ol' tent.

They said they'd like to get the story on camera to which we raucously replied "Let's go!" I repeated the origins of the Schaefer story, and SHOFer Cuba deftly explained our contemporary schindig schelebration arrangements.

Courtesy of SHOFer Kuzzin Kari

The two of them spent the next 15 - 20 minutes capturing footage of the Schindig. We directed them to:
  • Cuba's grill as it slowly cooked some barbequed butts
  • Philly's low-country boil pot with smells of shrimp, corn, potatoes, and onions wafting from it
  • our Schaefer cornhole trophy (with the rules explained by 2011 defending champions - Havana Montana and Woodhead)
  • the Schaefer flag, banners, inflatables, and 'ring of honor' bottle cap sign, and
  • our 20th Anniversary Schaefer Schelebration poster.
Finally, one of the guys laughingly conceded "I swear, you race fans are so media savvy." We were told some of the footage may end up in a TV commercial promoting Charlotte's fall NASCAR weekend.

Cornhole Tournament

As the clock hit high-noon Sunday, the Third Annual Schaefer Racing Cornhole Tournament began. Thirty-two players on sixteen teams put their competitive, bean-bag tossing skills to the ultimate test. All were challenging for the honor of hoisting one of the most coveted trophies in all of professional ... umm, amateur... err, white trash sports.

The team of SROH member Miller Dave and yours truly blew through the winner's bracket undefeated. Well, Miller Dave did anyway. He carried the bulk of the scoring load, and I rode his coattails for moral support, an occasional pointer, and lots of errant tosses. We advanced to the championship round against SHOFer Rookie and newcomer Kristi. Through two tough, tough games, it was .... Rookie and Kristi who prevailed. Congrats to them both.

Schaefer Hall of Fame Member Inductions

Each year right before race time, members of the Schaefer Hall of Fame retreat to themselves and go through a difficult yet enjoyable process. Our charge is to carefully consider who may possess credentials worthy enough to be selected as a new member to the Hall. With the Schaefer tradition having completed two decades in 2012, the SHOF members chose to induct two new members.

The Schaefer of Hall of Fame is steeped in tradition; however, its also committed to being adaptable. The selections for the class of 2012 broke new ground. I've stated often Schaefer unifies folks vs. dividing them. Consequently, the Schaefer Hall of Fame expanded the diversity of its ranks by admitting its first ... bald member. We also decided to elect a beer-drinking, fun-time-having chick. Congratulations to the TWO deserving candidates in the Class of 2012: Bruton and Kuzzin Kari.

Like TMC, Bruton is an old-school Petty fan who quickly embraced the Schaefer spirit. His Schaefer résumé includes:
  • His opinion of "Hmm, you know, its not that bad" after cracking his first Schaefer three years.
  • His collaboration with me in scoring a hard-to-find photo of Al Loquasto's 1981 Schaefer-sponsored Buick Cup car.
  • Designing and building twin 1:24 scale models of the Loquasto car - one of which is durable enough to be taken to races for display.
  • His proud representation of Schaefer at multiple races in Atlanta and Daytona and with family and friends near his Georgia home.
  • And as noted earlier, his willingness to truck over 20 cases of Schaefer to Charlotte the last two years for our enjoyment.
Kuzzin Kari, in all seriousness, if that's possible, brings some much-needed youth to the SHOF. With her wonderful smile, she has been a loyal tailgating supporter, quickly wrapped her arms around the Schaefer spirit, and brings a new friend each year to enjoy our Schindig. I know I speak on behalf of my fellow SHOFers when I say its about damn time we got some breasts in the hall to go along with all us boobs.

The Racing

Oh, the races! Oh yeah, we did manage to find time to hit them from the green to the checkers. Bad Brad Keselowski had 'em covered during Saturday's History Channel 300 Nationwide race.

And I got my first look the Richard Petty Motorsports' Nationwide Ford driven by Michael Annett.

For Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, our contingent of Schaefer fans also included many of us long-time Richard Petty fans. As a car owner, The King's teams haven't given his fans a whole lot to cheer about the last 20 years. A handful of race wins and an occasional pole position is about all we've had to crow about. But this race just seemed different. We cheered lustily when both Richard Petty Motorsports cars - the 43 of Aric Almirola and the 9 of Marcos Ambrose - led the rest of the field to the green.

Credit to and courtesy of Brian Hauck

About the only exciting thing I can say about the Cup race is we witnessed the quickest 600 ever run. With few cautions and single-file racing, the teams put the cars on the haulers earlier than ever before. Greg "The Possum" Biffle dominated much of the first 300 miles. But when the sun went down, the moon went up, and the cash went on the table, perennial favorite Kasey Kahne rose to the occasion. He drove it to the front, kept it there, and captured his first victory as a driver for Hendrick Motorsports.

Credit to and courtesy of Brian Hauck

Turkey legs

An annual race tradition of SHOFer Rookie - and his alone - is to gnaw and savor his greasy turkey laig. Cue Grandpa Jones from Hee Haw:

What's fer supper Grandpa?
You're in for a real treat - turkey laigs and Schaefer Beer.

An Epic Win

A special Schaefer Hall of Fame Schelebration Schindig Schout-out must go to SHOFer Uncle Dave. He hadn't planned to be with us this year. We missed him during all of our events leading up to Sunday, and needled him a bit with texts and photo-messages throughout Saturday. After the Nationwide race ended early Saturday evening, he told his wife "I'll be back Tuesday. I'm going to Charlotte." He walked out the door, got in his truck, drove all night from Cleveland OH, and arrived in Charlotte 11 hours later - simply to hang with us and enjoy the Schaefer Schelbration. He didn't even have a race ticket and slipped away as we headed for the track.

So Uncle D. certainly had good reason to catch a few zzz's during the day. His beauty rest. His cat nap. Whatever. Bottom line: Schaa-LOOT!

On the other hand, we weren't quite sure what to make of newly inducted SHOFer Bruton around the mid-point of the Coke 600. Was he napping? ... in deep meditation? ... contemplating the significance of being selected to the Schaefer HOF? ... wondering "I wonder if these jorts make my ass look big"?

The After Party

Following Kahne's victory, many of us returned to the tailgate site. Cuba re-fired the grill, cooked a late night snack for us, and we sipped another Schaef or two during the After Party. Actually, its not so much of a party as it is a teardown and load of gear as traffic clears.

OK, we get it. Maybe we're obsessed with Schaefer ... well, at least some of us. Do we need help?

No way. We're simply the Nine Fine Folks representing the Schaefer Hall of Fame. Join us in the fun anytime you'd like - at the track or anywhere else where you can enjoy one alone or share one with a friend. Just remember:

Schaefer ... Its not just for racing anymore.

Front row: TMC, Bruton, Kuzzin Kari, Rookie, and Cuba
Back row: Philly, Rev. Randy, and Uncle Dave
(excused with a hall pass is SHOFer Paducah)