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)



  1. Thanks for checking out my blog - never know what my beer posts will bring, and my post about Schaefer brought me to this site! Great post with what sounds like a great Schaefer tradition ;)

    I have a place to add to your Schaefer map - a liquor store near me. It's Ramsey Liquors at 47 West Main Street, Ramsey, NJ.

    1. Thanks for the tip re: Ramsey. Its been thumbtacked to the Schaefer Sellers map. And for those who'd like a brief history lesson about Schaefer and baseball, check out LTT's blog entry here: