Sunday, March 22, 2009

Meeting Paul Menard

I’ve had the chance to meet a large number of NASCAR drivers over the last few years and I thought I’d post a few of my experiences for others to share.

In August of 2007 I had the chance to meet Paul Menard for the first time. He was signing autographs at Menard’s in Jackson, Michigan not too far away from the track. The day before I went to a Kevin Harvick signing and met an older woman who just couldn’t stop gushing about Paul and how cute he was. I actually ran into her at his signing and she was still talking about his cuteness.

The line was incredibly long, though not as long as those you’d find at other driver signings. They helpfully put out hats of his near the line so I grabbed one of those for him to sign. I made it to the front of the line and he was just as cute in person as he is on television.

I told him the story about the older woman, he asked if I saw her that day, I told him she was there and in a (very) cute way, he ducked down under the table and said, “does she see me?”. It was quite possibly one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen a driver do! As he was signing my hat, I told him that my nephew was just starting to follow NASCAR and Paul was one of the drivers he wanted me to meet. He asked a few questions about my nephew, took one of his hero cards and personalized it for my nephew.

We joked around about his car and we talked about my nephew for a little bit longer. Paul said that since my nephew was just getting started in NASCAR, there probably weren’t a lot of drivers he didn’t like. I said there was one, he asked who and I said Jimmie Johnson. He looked around for a second and then mouthed, “good choice”. Seeing as how this was just Junior announced he was leaving DEI for Hendrick, I had to laugh.

In 2008 I had the chance to meet Paul Menard again. My best friend Katy and I went to an autograph signing at Menard’s in Indianapolis. We got there halfway through the signing and the store was so quiet that you could almost hear crickets. We wandered through the store until we managed to find the signing, only Paul wasn’t there. Robby Gordon was there, kicked back in a chair with his feet up on the table, but Paul was missing. We wandered around for a little bit and came back to find him standing up and talking to a few people.

I had him sign the cars I brought and threatened to steal his standup. He looked at it for a minute and then said he wished I would because the “thing” was following him from store to store. That led to much joking for the rest of the trip about stealing the standup and saying it was fine because Paul told me I could.

If you get the chance to meet Paul Menard, I highly recommend you do it. His lines are typically a lot smaller than other drivers and in Indiana, we didn’t even have to wait in line to meet him. He’s always very sweet and he’ll pose for pictures with fans. Paul Menard is one of the best drivers I’ve ever had the chance to meet in person.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Congrats All Around

Kortnie Coles managed to survive yet another week on America’s Next Top Model. Congrats to Kortnie for not only ditching Dale Earnhardt Junior, but also making it through two weeks with Tyra Banks!

Another big congrats goes out to Kevin Harvick for finally winning a Nationwide race in his own car. Sadly I missed the race due to NCAA basketball coverage, but I did see his Victory Lane interview. Maybe we’ll see him pull off yet another win in the Cup race.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Missing Bill Davis Racing

When my best friend and I went to Charlotte last year, we took a side trip to High Point, North Carolina. The point of that side trip was to find Bill Davis Racing, where their top driver was Dave Blaney, an Ohio boy. After spending several hours driving in the wrong direction and about to give up the ghost, we found ourselves at the Bill Davis Race Shop.

That trip to Bill Davis Racing and their race shop was one of the highlights of our trip. Their shop was completely open to the public, unlike other shops where you’re hidden behind a plate glass window. We had the chance to walk right into the race shop and wander through the shop, only feet away from the cars, including the car Blaney drove in that year’s Coca-Cola 600.

The staff on hand were incredibly friendly. They didn’t mind that we hung around for a little longer than we should, playing with the dog and talking. They actually encouraged it. I think we were both just in shock that there was a dog in the race shop. We immediately made a mental note to return on our 2009 trip.

Sadly though Bill Davis Racing no longer exists. In the off season they sold to another company that now focuses on making engines and other racing parts. If you missed out on seeing Bill Davis Racing and their race shop for yourself, it was an unbelievable experience. It’s sad that other teams don’t take a page from their book and open things up a little more for fans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dale Earnhardt Junior and America’s Next Top Model

I was sitting in front of the computer, watching the first episode of America’s Next Top Model, which I missed when it originally aired last week. The one plus size model was a gorgeous girl named Kortnie, who I couldn’t help rooting for. Imagine my surprise when Tyra asked her about her famous ex-boyfriend, who just happens to be Dale Earnhardt Junior.

Kortnie was humorous about it, laughing and making jokes. When they showed her and Dale Junior in a Victory Lane celebration, I couldn’t even believe it was the same girl! She went so far as to tell Tyra that the fans called her a “pit lizard” and laughed about that too. What she apparently doesn’t realize is that she was a pit lizard.

This was a girl who was captured on NASCAR Drivers 360 hanging out behind the scenes in the garage, where she met Dale Jr. After knowing him for three weeks (literally), she picked up and moved from her native Texas to North Carolina and into his house. This came not long after Junior moaned to interviewers that he just couldn’t find a girl who was self-reliant enough to be with him. That in and of itself probably wouldn’t make her a pit lizard, but what she did later would.

After their breakup, she appeared on a couple of reality shows and was spotted looking fairly cozy with a couple of different drivers. There was even talk from people who knew her at the time (this was about 2003-2005) that she just wanted to be famous, any way possible. Now here she is as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.

The funny thing is that I’m really pulling for her. She’s gorgeous, no matter what her size and she has a real sense of humor that just makes you want to be friends with the girl. I may not have liked her before, but Kortnie is starting to grow on me! I’d love to see Dale Junior give her a call now, let us gals know that you don’t have to be a size 2 just to land a race car driver.

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