Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TMC Racing Stories: Charlotte 1

As a native North Carolinian, Schaefer Hall of Fame co-founder Philly grew up going to races at tracks such as Rockingham, Wilkesboro, Martinsville, and Charlotte. He and I met when both of us were living in Chattanooga. In May 1994, he suggested we go to the 1994 Coca-Cola 600. Done, I'm in.

The two of us, our wives, and their eight-month old young'un loaded up in Philly's recently acquired green Pontiac Trans Port mini-van that looked like this one.

Our Friday destination was Matthews, NC to stay with Philly's in-laws. The weekend plans were for Philly and me to go racing and the ladies to shop, tour the area, or whatever people do to waste time when they aren't at a race.

Philly and I set our Saturday sights on the original Petty Museum in Level Cross. We then planned to return to Matthews to load up on tailgating food and beer supply. What we had not anticipated, however, was having a third wheel. Philly's better half said matter-of-factly "We'll have him on Sunday, so y'all get him on Saturday." With our marching orders in hand, we loaded up Woodhead and headed out for the day. After all, I've learned many racing weekends involve living in Plan B.

Woodhead had already been introduced to racing...sort of. The night he was born in The Nooga, I took him his first NASCAR t-shirt - a Dale Jarrett Interstate Batteries yute size. He traveled fine to Level Cross and tolerated us as we soaked in the Petty history displayed in the wood paneled, low ceiling museum.

When we made it back to Matthews, Woodhead was getting a bit fidgety. He'd ridden the better part of four hours strapped in his car seat after having ridden in it for several hours the day before. Yet, Philly and I were on a mission. We still had beer shopping to do.

Food Lion was our destination. They were still heavily involved as a sponsor in NASCAR, had supported Richard Petty's Fan Appreciation Tour in 1992, and was the last grocery store chain in North Carolina that sold Schaefer. We squeezed Woodhead into the kid's seat of the buggy and set sail.
  • Chips ✔ 
  • Loaf bread ✔ 
  • Pack of ham ✔ 
  • Private label cheese ... product ✔ 
  • Little Debbie's ✔ 
Up next, a careful examination of Food Lion's beer offerings. As we stood there pondering our options, each of the brands in the chiller seemed to holler Pick Me.

We were so engrossed in the process that we took our focus off the buggy behind us. Suddenly, we heard a muffled whoomp followed by crying. We wheeled around to find Woodhead laying atop our smashed loaf of bread and bags of crushed chips.

One thing was certain about Woodhead. That boy loved to eat. He was sizable enough at eight months that we were unable to buckle him into the buggy! Up until that moment, we'd done a yeoman's job of keeping our eye on him. Being distracted by beer, however, nearly cost us dearly. He could have just as easily flipped the other way and landed on the floor.

As Philly picked him to see that all was OK, we noticed a woman across the aisle giving us the stink eye and a tsk, tsk head shake. Choosing to make her opinion  known, she stated directly "you put a mark on that boy, and y'all may as well not go home."

I'm pleased to say Woodhead survived his free fall into the grocery mosh pit. I'm also pleased to have seen him grow as a racing fan as well as one who appreciates Schaefer. And he's so smart Jenny. He was inducted into the Schaefer Ring of Honor in Daytona before the 2015 Coke Zero 400.



  1. Bravo for Woodhead!

  2. We know Woodhead survived and prospered. What kind of beer did y'all buy?