I’m fairly new to the sport. Been around about five years and hadn’t had a lot of exposure before coming to work at Texas Motor Speedway. Obviously, working with Eddie and all of the great people at TMS, I was quickly knee-deep in a motorsports education. And it’s a darn good thing they taught me so well…
The first time I met Bobby Allison was during my first race weekend. I walked into my office after a particularly hectic morning, and there was an older gentleman patiently waiting in one of the two chairs (not the one behind the desk, although, that would have been fine but not his style at all.) He said, “Hi, I’m Bobby Allison. I understand you are in charge of an event going on tonight and I was wondering if I might get a couple of tickets.” And with that, he pulled out his checkbook. Even though I had only been on the job eight weeks, I was, thankfully, familiar with his name and quickly asked him to put away any means of payment; that we would proud to have him as our guest. (NOTE: I figured he was who he said so I put him at Eddie’s table that night. In hindsight, that’s pretty funny but only because he was who he said and therefore, I still have a job….)
Fast forward almost five years. We are having another “WILD ASPHALT CIRCUS” year. But this year, we want to reiterate, at Texas, you really do have to “EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED”. I mean, I’ve had some CRAZY race weekends! And I’ve seen it with my own eyes… so have y’all! (and CONGRATS!!) For the record, your CRAZY race weekends are MUCH different than MY CRAZY race weekends (CONGRATS, again!).
Back to the point, how do you illustrate and animate all of the unexpected that happens in Texas? I mean, it’s unexpected, right? Probably don’t have a camera aimed at it and in some cases, that’s probably best. ANSWER: You parody it.
How many times have we seen the moment NASCAR became mainstream? 1979 Daytona 500.
Man, that’s good stuff! And wouldn’t it be funny if………. Yeah, an idea born.
So, the first time I met Donnie Allison… was the morning of this commercial shoot. The Allison brothers had flown in the night before and had dinner with Eddie. I had them on set at 6:30 am. I had met Bobby several times at this point, but never Donnie. I was expecting another Bobby…. and there it was… true to form at Texas Motor Speedway… the unexpected. He got out of the front seat of the Tahoe and walked directly to me. I introduced myself and he immediately wrapped his arm around my neck, started walking with me toward set, and without catching a breath, questioned Cale Yarborough’s parentage. Oh, this is gonna be EPIC.
We walked to a truck parked at the edge of the set and put down the tailgate (c’mon… I’m from Texas. They’re from Alabama. What did you expect? White linen tables?). By this time, Bobby has joined us as well asn our director, Matt Singleton, with Deaton Flanigen Productions (yep, shameless plug). So, I ask them to tell me what really happened that February day in 1979.
I’m just going to stop right here and say, I don’t remember a time in my life that I have been star struck… truly. That is still the case today. But the closest I have ever been to being a “fan-girl” was when Bobby and Donnie Allison were standing in the infield of Texas Motor Speedway and telling me about that day, that race (yes, they remember the whole thing), that final lap, the wreck, what was said, and the fight. I sat mesmerized for 30 minutes, and so did Matt. It was nothing short of magic. At the end of the story, Matt and I looked at each other and said almost at the same time, “Why in the hell didn’t we have a camera rolling for that???”.
Here is the end-result of the day. We laughed on every take. I guarantee we could sell the outtakes. We watched the playback on set after each take with Bobby and Donnie. We belly-laughed every time. We hope you enjoy it. But at the end of the day, we hope you know that you can’t predict what will happen in Texas. I have certainly learned that first hand.
There’s a lot of talk this week about tonight’s MudSummer Classic Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway. And frankly, we can’t wait to see it! We have a reference for the must-see show, but it NSFB (Not Safe for Blog, no, not even this blog.)
As the spotlight grows even brighter with the influx of fans and media to the Ohio dirt track, questions are being raised about the infamous Eldora Love Tunnel (AKA: The Eddie Gossage Tunnel). Less about the tunnel really, and more about the “AKA” part. Why is Eddie Gossage’s name on it? Well, it was a result of a $3 million deal. Yes, you read that correctly. THREE MILLION DOLLARS. That’s a hell of a naming rights deal.
No, we didn’t pay 3 million for a $12 plaque, well… not really. The story goes kind of like this:
Once upon a time, there was a track that had a couple of traffic issues (For the record, those have been fixed!! Don’t start.) There was also a driver who was coming from an appearance and REALLY needed to get to the infield at said track for a very important meeting. A NASCAR Driver’s Meeting. This driver, who also owns Eldora Speedway, was stuck in traffic on Texas Motor Speedway property.
**We pause our story here to tell you that the penalty for missing a NASCAR Driver’s Meeting is that the driver must start at the rear of the field. It helps explain the next part of the story.**
This driver is known to have a fiery temper when incited by the asking of repetitive (read: stupid) questions or blocked (if you haven’t figured it out yet, allow us…**cough** Tony Stewart). This traffic might as well have been the block of all blocks and since it would be frowned upon to start wrecking our guests, he showed tremendous self-control and called Eddie. Tony then tossed his self-control out the window and proceeded to tear into Eddie as though he was a member of the media who had asked for the seventh week in a row, “What did you have for breakfast and how do you think it will affect how the car runs today?”.
We won’t get any further into the Stewart v. Gossage bout (although that does give us an idea…) but it did result in building a bridge to ease traffic on property and make the infield more accessible. It cost $3 million dollars to build and in honor of the above referenced incident, Eddie attempted to get the last word by naming the bridge, “The Tony Stewart Bridge”. In true Smoke form, he got the final word, hence the $12 plaque on the Love Tunnel at Eldora Speedway.