Driver run-ins

2 Sweet

Legend
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,761
Points
493
Location
Hilliard, OH
If you have any experiences meeting any drivers, or heard any good stories, I figure this would be a good topic for discussion.

I have nothing noteworthy to share, but one of my friends has a pretty good story. He and his buddy were at the Coca Cola 600 (in '98 or '99) and camped by the track all weekend. Saturday night before the race, the two of them are wandering around one of the campgrounds and come across a nice cabin in a fenced off area in a private spot. They are kind of snooping around when two teenagers come out and start talking to them. Next thing they know, they are being invited inside to join their party. It turns out, the two teenagers were Adam Petty and Justin Labonte. He said they were both super friendly and laid back, and had a great time with them. They had quite a party going on, and their cabin was stocked with booze EVERYWHERE.

One of my best friends met Sterling Marlin at an autograph meet and greet deal back in 1999 at some bar/restaurant. Sterling was feeling REAL good, apparently had drank several Coors Lights. He was very friendly and real cool with everyone. Sterling asked my friend, where's your hat? Well my friend wasn't wearing one. Sterling took the hat off his own head, signed it, and gave it to my friend.
 

Fordracing7

2018 Pick em Champion
Joined
Sep 20, 2013
Messages
2,968
Points
443
Ran into Tony at the Sema show around 2004ish? He was at the Mopar booth because of sprint cars at the time....we asked for an autograph but no one had a sharpie. Lol he was short with us. But not going to hold against him.
 

2 Sweet

Legend
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,761
Points
493
Location
Hilliard, OH
I've never felt right asking drivers to pose for a picture or hounding them for an autograph or anything like that, so this was pretty cool.....

We had hot passes for the Bristol night race in 2015. Hanging out near the Hendrick haulers shortly before driver intros, I see Jeff Gordon walking right at me. He notices my shirt (vintage Gordon from 1994) smiles and gives me a thumbs up. My wife captured a sweet picture right as it happened.....

 

REBS31

LASTCAR Specialist
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
1,960
Points
343
Location
Mississippi
I was at a Southern Miss baseball game during the Conference USA tournament a couple of years ago while they were playing Charlotte. The stadium was pretty empty, and I noticed all of a sudden that there’s a guy sitting in a section all by himself that looked like Dale Jarrett. I look on the Charlotte baseball roster and sure enough there’s a guy with the last name Jarrett on the team, so I decide to walk over and hope it’s him. Went up to him and asked “are you Dale Jarrett?”and he said “I am”, we talked for a couple of minutes and then took a picture together. Looking back, I wish I would’ve talked longer with him since he pretty much had all the time in the world, but it was a cool experience nonetheless.
 

jws926

I need to think of something new for here
Joined
Jan 13, 2014
Messages
13,371
Points
883
Location
PIR
I become friends with a former Truck Series driver back in the 90's when I was a kid because I just happened to be at hotel taking pics of the haulers and he was there with the team while there were working on the truck prior to them going to the track for the race. The only pic I had of me and him I lost , so here is this one instead from 199something
 

kkfan91

Taking a 10-200
Joined
Jun 13, 2009
Messages
15,988
Points
1,033
Location
PA
I was at a Southern Miss baseball game during the Conference USA tournament a couple of years ago while they were playing Charlotte. The stadium was pretty empty, and I noticed all of a sudden that there’s a guy sitting in a section all by himself that looked like Dale Jarrett. I look on the Charlotte baseball roster and sure enough there’s a guy with the last name Jarrett on the team, so I decide to walk over and hope it’s him. Went up to him and asked “are you Dale Jarrett?”and he said “I am”, we talked for a couple of minutes and then took a picture together. Looking back, I wish I would’ve talked longer with him since he pretty much had all the time in the world, but it was a cool experience nonetheless.
That son Zach is actually in the minors now in the Orioles system
 

Clutch

Team Owner
Joined
Oct 23, 2006
Messages
15,652
Points
1,033
Location
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA
Drivers come downunder to see me at my local dirt track Western Springs.
I'm just waiting for the announcement of who will be coming this year.

Last year Kyle Larson, Logan Seavey, Tyler Courtney and Christopher Bell came down. I met each of them in the pits and they were most gracious to let me have a pic taken with them.
In earlier years Sammy and Keven Swindell ...Tony Stewart.....who I think wanted to hit me after he turned around whilst I was taking a picture. :D

I'm hoping that Larson, Seavey and Bell come back this year....actually Tyler too. It was fun last year.
 

2 Sweet

Legend
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,761
Points
493
Location
Hilliard, OH
I become friends with a former Truck Series driver back in the 90's when I was a kid because I just happened to be at hotel taking pics of the haulers and he was there with the team while there were working on the truck prior to them going to the track for the race. The only pic I had of me and him I lost , so here is this one instead from 199something
Toby Butler? Ortho #21 truck?
 

ToyYoda

Team Owner
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Messages
21,423
Points
883
Location
Nashville, TN
Me and my brother were at Martinsville in 1995 walking around the souvenir hauler area, and we decided to check out the Robert Pressley #33 Skoal Bandit hauler. We were the only ones there, and right about the time we walked up, out walks Harry Gant. We got to shoot the breeze with him for a few minutes before people started realizing he was there and a line formed. He was every bit as nice as you would imagine.
 

DIDIT

Old School Fan
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,148
Points
343
Location
Stuart, Fl Winter, anywhere the rest of the year
Have come across many drivers over the years. There are a few that stick out.
1. We were eating at an Italian restaurant in Daytona and Darrell and Stevie Waltrip came in and sat next to us. We just nodded and kept our distance.
2. Driving through the Pocono mountains years ago and came across a Skoal Bandit show car at some corner. The only guy sitting there behind it was Harry Gant. Talked to him for maybe 10 minutes. That is the longest I ever talked to a Cup driver one on one.
3. Dave Blaney invited his fans to his house for a BBQ. Dave and his family were all there mingling around. Including Ryan who was probably 9 years old or so. Also had breakfast with Dave and his fan club at Hooters across from Daytona twice.
4. Talked to Jennifer Jo Cobb many times at Eldora.
5. Came across Kenny Schrader in Florida during Speedweeks at a dirt track. It was after a race and he was just hanging out drinking a beer.
6. The best of all was sat with Boris Said in the stands during a Nationwide/Busch series practice at Daytona.
 

Dr_B_UNC

Team Owner
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Messages
1,739
Points
343
Met Bill Elliott when I was a kid in 1989. It was week of Charlotte race and he was doing an autograph signing at the local Ford dealer in my town about 30 minutes from the track. It was from like 6-8 pm. My mom had to work (nurse) until 7, and I was pacing the floor waiting for her to get home thinking we'd miss it. She got home and got me there right at 8. The showroom was empty, except for what I presumed to be a couple managers of the dealership and Bill. He was obviously tired and the two locals were trying to tell him how to get back to the track from there. One was trying to give him all these shortcuts and I vividly remember Bill chuckling, then saying "well s**t now I'm confused" in his drawl. He looked up, saw me, smiled, and waved us over. Took a couple minutes to chat with us. I was an awestruck fifth grader so all I could muster was "thank you, Mr. Elliott." He signed my shirt and we went outside to leave and his merch trailer was there. I wanted a 1988 Winston Cup Champion shirt, and the lady working it said it was cash only. My mom told me that she only had a check. The lady looked at Mom and asked "is it a local check?" and kinda winked. I got the shirt after all.

Edit: it always stuck with me how nice and genuine he was with us. If I were him, I would have been getting the heck out of there as commitment was over and the last thing I'd want to see is a family with two kids coming in last minute.
 

Formerjackman

Team Owner
Joined
Aug 15, 2017
Messages
3,527
Points
343
Boy this could take awhile.

1) Ray Evernham photo bombed a picture being taken of me in the old #24 shop. We talked to him for maybe 2-3 minutes, and I have met him four times since then.
2) I met Bill Elliott at a vintage car race at Indy, he was there with Ray.
3) I met the late John Hendrick in the concession stand line in the infield at IRP before a Busch race.
4) I met Robbie Loomis on pit road at Talladega during an ARCA race.
5) I met Jack Sprague and former ESPN guy John Kernan in race track rest rooms.
6) I met Kyle Busch and Gary Dehart in the ARCA inspection line at Kentucky speedway.
7) I met Mike Joy, Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons on different occasions in the garage area at Michigan.
8) I met Ron Hornaday, Randy Lajoie and Tim Fedewa in the infield at IRP.
9) I met Johnny Benson Jr. at an ASA race at Toledo.
10) I worked for James Hylton
11) I met Kirk Shelmerdine, Charlie Glotzbach and Rex White through James.
11) I worked for Andy Belmont
12) I met Frank Kimmel, Tim Steele, the Bowsher family Jason Jarrett and the Venturinis through working in ARCA.
13) I met Red Farmer in the spotter's stand at Toledo Speedway.
14) The guy that got me into racing was a friend of Andy Hillenburg, so I met him.
15) I met Jimmy Spencer and his family when my dad was an honorary crewman for a day on his Busch car at Michigan.
16) I Met Alex Bowman after a Chevy Q&A appearance at Indy a couple of days after he was named the full time driver of the #88.
17) I met Robby Gordon and Linda Vaughn in Gasoline Alley at Indy.
18) I Met Al Unser on pit road at Chicagoland.
19) I met Chad Knaus on pit road at Michigan
20) I have met John Force, Joe Amato, Bruce Allen and Tony Christian in the pits at the US Nationals.
21 I met Ken Schrader in the motorhome lot at Michigan
22) I met Andy Petree at Salem Speedway the weekend Paul Menard ran his first ARCA race.
23) I knew former Busch Series driver Shelby Howard.

Probably a bunch of others if I think about it. I have to say that my experiences with all of these people was overwhelmingly positive.
 

Truex_rox

19 looks better than ever.
Joined
Aug 6, 2017
Messages
2,992
Points
343
My dad works at the local airport, and because of his occupation, he has run into Terry and Bobby Labonte several times (even post-retirement.) He was also lucky enough to be there the day that Dale Jr. came through town.

As for myself, I have bumped into Kasey Kahne once, in 2017 - when he came for an event at Ollie's Bargain Outlet, only I met him at the airport before the event even started and got the first autograph!
 

gnomesayin

Team Owner
Joined
Oct 14, 2013
Messages
7,046
Points
793
I wouldn't call it hanging out with, but I hung around Clint Bowyer at the Chili Bowl in 2004, as we had some friends in common. This was when he'd first caught Childress' attention and was still mostly known as a dirt modified driver. I'd met him several times while he was racing at Lakeside Speedway in KS. He was fun to be around and loved finding a good time after the races.

Had the pleasure of meeting many others at those Chili Bowls and other dirt races. I've never talked to Smoke, the crowds are always too big. But I've enjoyed meeting Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Ken Schrader, J.J. Yeley, and many others who didn't have NASCAR connections. I'll always remember having met Jason Leffler (RIP) and Bryan Clauson (RIP), two of the best guys there were.
 

jws926

I need to think of something new for here
Joined
Jan 13, 2014
Messages
13,371
Points
883
Location
PIR
Toby Butler? Ortho #21 truck?
Very close, Ron Barfield driving for Hardy Racing.

I had to look it up because CRS, Toby Butler drover the #21 Ortho Ford in 1995 for Venable Racing, Ortho left Venable and went to Hardy Racing in 1996, so now I remember what year this pic was taken :D
 

Greg

2014 RF YAHOO CHAMP Your leader
Joined
Jun 22, 2011
Messages
15,305
Points
883
I raced against Lee McCall , It was Go Carts in the 80s. He was faster.
In one race he jumped me on a restart and then there was a wreck in front. I drove over his nerf bar before slowing down and sheered his motor off of the mounts. I could see the disappointment in his face. It was just a racing deal. No words was spoken.
 

Churchkey

Crew Chief
Joined
Apr 26, 2016
Messages
76
Points
93
Before they went to Cup I was on track with Trickle, Kluwicki, Kenseth, Ted Musgrave, Bobby Wawak & Bobby Dotter.
Helped get Dotter 2 short track championships. Ran with Rudd & Bonnett when they showed up for a gig @ my local short track & threw down a few with them after the races. Talked to Bobby Allison @ a local short track, got a handshake from Richard Petty @ Daytona & a pic of him with my X. Partied with Trickle & crew after the Snowball Derby races in Tampa. Visited with Ted Musgrave for a bit @ the end of his truck championship year he was @ a promotional gig with Onion Head @ Germain Toyota in FL (his sponsor) I think it was 2005.
I still pay full price for my Happy Meals.
 

rd45usa

5オン5オフ
Joined
May 17, 2017
Messages
896
Points
223
Location
Pensacola
Two that I remember, first one was Rick Mears. Mid to early eighties, him and his wife were having dinner at Jud Logans across from IMS. He was tire testing for Goodyear, I remember it was late October or early November. Second one was Tony Stewart at 16th Street Speedway. He had won the feature that night, my family and I went walking back in pits after most had left. There was Tony sitting by his pickup and trailer. Seemed like he was just like all of us, maybe early 20's age wise. Both were pretty neat to actually talk to your hero!
 

SlicedBread22

#TeamJL
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
11,988
Points
883
Location
Welland, Ontario
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z4ppcJMTYHt6C7TC8

Cant get it on here but Hemric was pitting right next to us.. got a video of a pit stop.. theres a lug nut you see roll toward the bottom left of the screen... I took it! Lol stil have it.

I also HAD the finish (mostly a dirt cloud) on video but somehow accidentally deleted it... still choked about that.
 

sdj

Just a race fan
Joined
Jun 2, 2014
Messages
5,296
Points
793
Location
In the woods (as much as possible)
Before they went to Cup I was on track with Trickle, Kluwicki, Kenseth, Ted Musgrave, Bobby Wawak & Bobby Dotter.
Helped get Dotter 2 short track championships. Ran with Rudd & Bonnett when they showed up for a gig @ my local short track & threw down a few with them after the races. Talked to Bobby Allison @ a local short track, got a handshake from Richard Petty @ Daytona & a pic of him with my X.Derby. Partied with Trickle & crew after the Snowball races in Tampa. Visited with Ted Musgrave for a bit @ the end of his truck championship year he was @ a promotional gig with Onion Head @ Germain Toyota in FL (his sponsor) I think it was 2005.
I still pay full price for my Happy Meals.
I'm curious, what was the year and name of the Track in Tampa that held the Snowball Derby?
I have only known the Snowball Derby to be at Pensacola, Fla.
 

Churchkey

Crew Chief
Joined
Apr 26, 2016
Messages
76
Points
93
I'm curious, what was the year and name of the Track in Tampa that held the Snowball Derby?
I have only known the Snowball Derby to be at Pensacola, Fla.
IIRC around '80 - '81 it was a 3 track gig, Friday night in Tampa don't recall the track name its long gone think it was a 3/8 or 1/2 mile, Sat night St Pete 1/4 mile, Sunday afternoon Bradenton 3/8 mile? I never ran those tracks I crewed some for Dotter @ the time.
I may have CRS the event may have been called something different than snowball derby @ that time.

Edit: Found the Tampa track on Google, Golden Gate Speedway, + 1/2 mile, closed in '84.
 
Last edited:

sdj

Just a race fan
Joined
Jun 2, 2014
Messages
5,296
Points
793
Location
In the woods (as much as possible)
IIRC around '80 - '81 it was a 3 track gig, Friday night in Tampa don't recall the track name its long gone think it was a 3/8 or 1/2 mile, Sat night St Pete 1/4 mile, Sunday afternoon Bradenton 3/8 mile? I never ran those tracks I crewed some for Dotter @ the time.
I may have CRS the event may have been called something different than snowball derby @ that time.

Edit: Found the Tampa track on Google, Golden Gate Speedway, + 1/2 mile, closed in '84.
Thanks for the update. :)

It is a shame what Desoto Speedway, in Bradenton, Fla., has come to, it was a great track, but, it has changed ownership and management a lot in the last 6 to 10 years. It was and could be again, a really fast high banked 3/8 mile with tight corners, great super late model racing. It could be brought back to life if the right guy comes along. I ran 30 laps there in a Super Late Model with the Rusty Wallace Racing deal. It was a blast, shame to see it gone.
The 4-17 Speedway, in Punta Gorda, Fla., has picked up the slack and is having some good racing there, the owners are real race fans and community oriented, nice facility and good crowds on Saturday nights.
 

Churchkey

Crew Chief
Joined
Apr 26, 2016
Messages
76
Points
93
Seems like we have the same roots, the last time I was at Desoto I hung with Dick Andersons crew @ the invite of his car owner who owned a bone yard north of Naples. Considered running Punta Gorda when I moved to Naples but that inside wall around the infield pits bothered me + being a newbe to S FL = no crew.

Will be @ the Bristol spring race my niece lives an hour south of the track.

Thanks for cranking up my way back machine its been fun.

Here's one of my junk.

50 lap win.jpg
 

2 Sweet

Legend
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,761
Points
493
Location
Hilliard, OH
Didn't Dive once say he had a wrench thrown at him by Joe Ruttman? @aunty dive

I know there are a handful of racers here on R-F and I'm sure you all have some good stories. Now whether or not they ever make it to a public forum, that is the question :D
 

LewTheShoe

Team Owner
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,886
Points
493
I know tons of racers but mainly of the two-wheel species. It is a separate world from auto racers... not a lot of overlap... but racers are racers. There are more similarities than differences, IMO. I lived in Reading, PA in the early 90's and Team Penske was located there (but Penske South for Nascar was in North Carolina). I hung out with the Penske guys some, and heard a few stories that "The Captain" would not want to see in the news media. I can attest that most of the guys were giddy with delight when Paul Tracy got fired. He was a real diva, and the crew guys - who had worked with many great drivers - were not impressed by his shtick.

In the 70's and 80's, I raced out of Cycle Works in Stamford, CT. Mike Baldwin worked there, and everyone called him "Mike the Bike" in honor of Mike Hailwood's nickname. Baldwin is the guy that started calling me "Lew the Shoe." I didn't deserve the honor of such a nickname, but I guess it stuck.

Mike Baldwin won the AMA F1 championship five times. Three of those were the AMA's premier series, and the other two were lesser titles, after Superbike had become the top class. Mike never won the Superbike championship, but did win a bunch of Superbike races. Earned a full boat factory ride with Honda. MotoGP career cut short by too many injuries.

Ben Spies spent 3-4 hours hanging out in my garage stall at a Texas World Speedway track day about 10 years ago. Ben was tight with my friend Michael Sanchez, and Mike and I were pitted together at TWS. When introduced, I naturally offered my right hand. Ben responded with his left, which he held sort of sideways. So I just touched his fingers softly. I wasn't surprised. Motorcycle racers get a lot of hand and wrist injuries.

Ben had three consecutive AMA Superbike championships and was heading to Europe the next year for one season in World Superbike (which he won) and then on to MotoGP. He had split with his agent (messy divorce with litigation) and I admonished him to hook up with a well-connected European agent. He didn't do that, and wound up getting eaten alive by the factory Yamaha MotoGP team. Penny wise and pound foolish. That and shoulder injuries ruined a promising MotoGP career. He's still a prince of a guy, humble and sociable.
 

LewTheShoe

Team Owner
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
3,886
Points
493
One more story about Mike Sanchez. I met Mike about 15 years ago at Texas World Speedway. We happened to pit in adjacent garage stalls. Mike was testing two Suzuki Gixxers, a 600 and a 750, assisted by his brother Gabriel turning the wrenches. I was working on my Ducati 999... but really was there to work on myself as a rider. TWS is (was, RIP) a fast and daunting track, a dangerous place to crash and I know that from first hand experience.

There was something about this young man that caught my attention. He reminded me in some intangible way of my friend Mike Baldwin, who I raced with back in the day. It was his intensity, his focus despite the laid back atmosphere of a track day test session. An odd phrase entered my mind... "electric blue intensity." Not sure what that means, but it seemed to fit.

I struck up a conversation, and it wound up lasting several hours into the evening after the last track session. Mike was absolutely killing it in CMRA racing. Frankly, I thought he was exaggerating in some of the details, but later I learned he was not. He was hoping to race at Mid-Ohio for the AMA Horizon Trophy... a sort of debutante event for aspiring pro racers. Money was impossibly tight, but Mike and Gabe were very determined.

Suddenly I had an idea. Completely on impulse, I wrote a check to Mike - let's just call it low four digits - and told him I needed a decal on both bikes (for a year) that said "LewTheShoe Family Christmas." He was flabbergasted but thrilled. I made one thing very clear... I'm not a wealthy guy, money is tight for me, there will be no more checks, this is a one-time deal.

Gabe designed a cool logo for the decal. It was small but visible in the AMA press release photos from Mid-Ohio as Mike won two of the five Horizon races, earned two other podiums, and finished second in the Horizon Trophy points.

I am one of five children, have two brothers and two sisters. For over 20 years we have had a pact... we don't do Christmas gifts for our siblings. Instead, we use that money for a charitable purpose, and write a note to our siblings telling what we have done to celebrate our Family Christmas. I've done some cool things over the years with that Christmas budget, but this one is my favorite so far.
 

Greg

2014 RF YAHOO CHAMP Your leader
Joined
Jun 22, 2011
Messages
15,305
Points
883
One more story about Mike Sanchez. I met Mike about 15 years ago at Texas World Speedway. We happened to pit in adjacent garage stalls. Mike was testing two Suzuki Gixxers, a 600 and a 750, assisted by his brother Gabriel turning the wrenches. I was working on my Ducati 999... but really was there to work on myself as a rider. TWS is (was, RIP) a fast and daunting track, a dangerous place to crash and I know that from first hand experience.

There was something about this young man that caught my attention. He reminded me in some intangible way of my friend Mike Baldwin, who I raced with back in the day. It was his intensity, his focus despite the laid back atmosphere of a track day test session. An odd phrase entered my mind... "electric blue intensity." Not sure what that means, but it seemed to fit.

I struck up a conversation, and it wound up lasting several hours into the evening after the last track session. Mike was absolutely killing it in CMRA racing. Frankly, I thought he was exaggerating in some of the details, but later I learned he was not. He was hoping to race at Mid-Ohio for the AMA Horizon Trophy... a sort of debutante event for aspiring pro racers. Money was impossibly tight, but Mike and Gabe were very determined.

Suddenly I had an idea. Completely on impulse, I wrote a check to Mike - let's just call it low four digits - and told him I needed a decal on both bikes (for a year) that said "LewTheShoe Family Christmas." He was flabbergasted but thrilled. I made one thing very clear... I'm not a wealthy guy, money is tight for me, there will be no more checks, this is a one-time deal.

Gabe designed a cool logo for the decal. It was small but visible in the AMA press release photos from Mid-Ohio as Mike won two of the five Horizon races, earned two other podiums, and finished second in the Horizon Trophy points.

I am one of five children, have two brothers and two sisters. For over 20 years we have had a pact... we don't do Christmas gifts for our siblings. Instead, we use that money for a charitable purpose, and write a note to our siblings telling what we have done to celebrate our Family Christmas. I've done some cool things over the years with that Christmas budget, but this one is my favorite so far.
Well done
 

clarkfn2284

Here to make you miserable.
Joined
Jun 11, 2013
Messages
521
Points
273
Location
Modesto, CA
Rusty Wallace
Jimmie Johnson
Burney Lamar
Kyle Larson
Kasey Kahne
Joey Logano
Kevin Harvick
Martin Truex
Denny Hamlin

Plenty more that I cannot recall. All have been more than accommodating.
 

Efisher131

Formerly Larsonfan1995
Joined
Aug 30, 2016
Messages
2,881
Points
343
Rusty Wallace
Jimmie Johnson
Burney Lamar
Kyle Larson
Kasey Kahne
Joey Logano
Kevin Harvick
Martin Truex
Denny Hamlin

Plenty more that I cannot recall. All have been more than accommodating.
One of these things is not like the others
 
Top Bottom