Last Tuesday at work, a friend and co-worker sent an email to about 300 folks at our office looking for a NASCAR fan who would like to share expenses with a writer friend of his (we'll call him LC). The lucky fan would be provided a press pass to the race which would include behind the scenes access to the crews, cars, and drivers. He sent the mail around 10 am and I did not see it until almost 4 pm. I felt sure that the opportunity had passed, but I wrote anyway, and I was shocked to find out that there had been no replies. I jumped all over it (after checking with Mrs. K, of course). Mrs. K would later tell me "with all due respect", that I must be "the luckiest son-of-a-bitch in the world." Yea, she like NASCAR, too.
So Friday after work, LC and I took off for Memphis. We got away about 4 pm. We had to stop for a while for me to take a conference call with a customer and we hit some traffic in Gastonia and we hit rain pretty much the whole way, but other than that the trip whet great.
Nine and a half hours later (sheesh) we arrived at our hotel in Memphis. There was a long delay checking in to the hotel. A group of guys had arrived just before us for which the clerk could not find a reservation. The lead guy was pissed to say the least. He accused the clerk of lying about not having any more rooms and about the reservation being dropped at 9:30. It was an ugly scene.
During a lull in the action, I asked for and got checked in. When LC and I got to the room, it looked like it had been recently used with one bed a mess and beer cans in the trash. I called the front desk and he asked us to come back down to get another room. Another room?!? The guy without the reservation were going to love that! Well, he about exploded when I said loudly, "thanks for getting us another room so quickly." I do love to launch a good "grenade". I didn't even stick around to watch the rest of the show. It was time to duck and run. Anyway, that room only had one roach, so we hit the sack for about 6 hours and headed for the track.
The pictures tell most of the rest of the story. John Schneider (Dukes of Hazard) was there driving the General Lee for charity and singing the National Anthem. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was hanging out, literally. The race was great, though my man got passed with 2 laps to go and didn't win. You can read about the race and any number of other sites like this, so I won't go into detail here.
Juan Pablo Montoya
We headed back right after the race. I got home around 3 am on Sunday having had 6 hours of sleep in the past 46 and not feeling too terrible. Some of the pictures are in the hands of the magazine editors. I'm hopeful that some will appear in next week's issue.
While I was at the track, I had two people surprise me. The first was Tuscaloosa Johnny. He and I played at the same starting table at the World Poker Blogger Tour tournament at Caesar’s Vegas. He was in Memphis doing an internship that involved one of the race teams. It was very cool to see him again. You should visit Poker Nation and read some of his stories. He finished in the money at this year's WSOP Main Event, so he knows something aobut poker.
The other bigger surprise happened while taking some shots on pit road during qualifying. Rob L., who I worked with back in the mid 80s at a small TV station in Wilmington, NC recognized me and said hello. Rob and I were great buds back in the day. I ran into him once since my TV days and that was probably 20 years ago. As it turns out, he lives about 2 miles from me in Charlotte. Rob works for NASCAR now and seems to be really enjoying life. That is always good to see. I hope we get a better chance to catch up real soon.
Running into these two guys just goes to show that no matter how far you travel, you are probably going to be seen by someone, so you'd better behave.
Great weekends make for hard Mondays, but I wouldn't trade.