Monday, November 12, 2007

November 11, 2007
Kathy and I got up early and left the house at seven to drive down to Phoenix International Raceway to meet and hang out with Jeff Gordon and his pit crew. You may wonder how a guy who has never been to a NASCAR race in his entire life, could land an invitation to hang with such royalty, and the answer might shock you:

Wyatt Earp.

Yes, Jeff's right-hand-man, Archie Kennedy is a huge fan of Tombstone (both the movie and the town). In fact he and his high school sweetheart, Tina, got married in Tombstone last year. He is a nut for all things Tombstone, he even bought my book on Wyatt Earp, and, so he emailed me and invited me to come down and see the race as his guest.

We got to PIR at eight and parked in East Egypt (otherwise known as South Avendale) and walked to the NASCAR Special Pass Trailer, filled out a big form (we had to fax them our driver's licenses several weeks ago) and got our Hot Pass (as opposed to a COLD PASS) which gave us access to the pit area. The info packet says the pass sells for $614, so I guess I have to say, Thankyou Mrs. Earp for having that boy!

Archie came out and picked us up in a golf cart and sped us past the assembling humanity, down into the tunnel and out onto the garage-pit area. We landed at Jeff Gordon's motor home and sat outside at the picnic table and talked at length about Wyatt Earp and Tombstone. Jeff and his wife came in at ten via helicopter (they were staying at a resort in Scottsdale).

The Whoosh!
At one, security walked Jeff to the Victory Lane area where they had a huge Woodstock type stage to announce and introduce the driver's. Archie told Kathy and I to walk behind and as we did, it was like entering a wind tunnel. You could feel the Whoosh! of celebrity as people gawked, craned around, leaned forward, their iPhones clicking en masse. I was walking right behind Ingrid Vanderbosch, Jeff's wife (not a bad view, see reverse side, below).

From the stage area, Ingrid, Kathy and I were escorted down to Jeff's pit crew area and were given the tour. A set of tires on Jeff's ride cost $15,000 and they run through ten to fifteen sets in a race. Archie gave us headsets so we could hear the spotters talking to Jeff in his car and Jeff talking back. That was way cool.

A great day in the sun, and hearing the thunder of those NASCAR beasts firsthand, you instantly realize why the sport is so popular. The stands were filled with some 100,000 rabid fans and here we were hanging with one of their heroes, and wearing a HOT pass to boot.

"Shake and bake, Baby!"
—a line from "The Legend of Ricky Bobby" which we watched the night before the race to bone up. Kathy later said, "Well, they got the women right."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post your comments