The year started with a bang at the Daytona 500. For the first time since 1997, Schaefer HOF co-founder Philly and I were in the seats. Unlike 20 years ago, our experience was on a much grander scale - but with little out-of-pocket spend.
Good fortune plopped us into a friend's winter home free o'charge. No flea bag inn. No overpriced hotel. FREE! - the favorite price of the SHOF. After our arrival on Thursday, we dropped our gear, celebrated with a quick cold one, and made our way to the track.
Racing's North Turn on the beach in Ponce Inlet. The food is fantastic, the service is very polite and prompt, the view is spectacular, the racing history is rich, and the brews are ice cold.
"Are you toomuchcountry?"
"Umm, yeah. I guess you'd say that. Why?"
"Holy cow, I only follow about 20 people on Twitter - and you're one of them. I saw your tweet and that Starters koozie. Figured it had to be you."
After I returned a bit of history knowledge of my own, Russ realized I wasn't there to simply get a selfie with someone I thought might be famous. He took me to his restored race car outside, and we had a great conversation for about 20 minutes. We chatted about Fish carburetors, the process for measured mile qualifying on the beach, car owner Carl Kiekhaefer (which coincidentally rhymes with Schaefer), how he got number #226, etc.
After concluding a fun encounter with Russ, we headed back to the house before we got wiped out at the North Turn. Once home, we found the rest of our crew had rolled in. They were prepared for a night of fun - which we had. The good times, of course, started with a Schaefer.
Among our new guests at the 600 in 2016, was SHOFer Rookie's Uncle Joey. Though he was new to our group and a Cup track, he arrived ready to roll with his Kyle Busch swag.
Four SHOFers returned to Daytona for July's Coke 400.
The program has long been discontinued, but I accomplished my own version of winning the Winston Million in 2016 by attending the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, and the Southern 500 at Darlington. I embraced the old school, throwback theme for the weekend by breaking out some old racing gear from days gone by.
The highlight of our walkabout was easily meeting Leonard, Delano, Len and Eddie Wood and Richard and Kyle Petty.
Their response after a first taste? Same one as we get time after time. "Hmm. It's not that bad."
With our hospitality out of the way, it was soon time to go racing boys! We hiked our sun-scorched selves to our seats near the start-finish line and settled in for an evening of racing dominated by Martin Truex Jr.
Traveling light, we didn't have the set-up for another low-country boil. As a substitute, some homemade pork rinds washed down well with a cold Schaef.
SHOFer Philly & Lanie at the fall Charlotte race?
The Liberty NYC - just a few clicks from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. As I ordered it, the bartender said I looked familiar. I told her I'd stopped in a year earlier to enjoy one. Shockingly, she replied "Yeah! You're the guy that travels all over trying to find Schaefer. I remember you!"
The Greene Hook in Jersey City had Schaefer as a beer offering. Though I wasn't sure how current the menu was, I figured it was worth an Uber ride to find out. Sure enough, they had several in the chiller. The Schaef was a nice addition to one of their fantastic burgers and fries.
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