I spent Sunday afternoon trying to watch the Daytona 500 with my son, David. Between rain delays and lousy internet service that kept buffering our reception I had lots of time to reflect on NASCAR Memories that I hadn’t thought of in years.
While I’m not a huge NASCAR fan I do enjoy watching an occasional race, especially the Daytona 500 because it holds the richest memories for me. And for some reason as I approach that magic octogenarian mark, memories are treasured even more; perhaps because we intuitively understand that we’re not going to be able to go down a lot of these roads another time.
So here goes my walk down NASCAR Memory lane…..buckle your seatbelt:
1965 …..I was part of a Chrysler Corporately sponsored drag racing team campaigning a car called “The Flying Carpet” during the summer after my sophomore year of engineering school. The Petty’s were boycotting NASCAR early that season because NASCAR was not allowing Chrysler to run their 426 Hemi engine due to its overwhelming power. As a result, the Petty’s turned to drag racing and we got to race against Richard Petty in Bristol, TN. Unfortunately we lost, but not by much!
1969…..I was working a temporary assignment in engineering support in Detroit for Chrysler’s NASCAR racing teams. One particular outing stands out in my memory bank as we met Bobby Allison at the Martinsville, VA track for a day’s worth of brake testing. Those were heady days for the 26 year old bachelor that I was, even getting paid for work that so many guys would have given their right arm to do for free. When Chrysler offered me the job on a permanent basis I had to think long and hard before I turned it down. It was because everyone in that group was either divorced or in the process of getting divorced and I had just gotten engaged. Looking back after 50 years with my bride I know I made the right choice. But I have to admit I often wonder “What if…..”!
1988-89…..I was working at Blue Bird as VP of our Wanderlodge motorhome division and we decided to try to break into the motorsports market at a time when virtually none of the drivers were using RV’s. We setup a meeting with Darryl Waltrip and his agent during the 1988 Atlanta race to negotiate an arrangement whereby we would provide Darryl and his family a Wanderlodge to use in the infield for the 1989 Daytona 500. As part of the deal, I was able to bring a second Wanderlodge to park right next to his. We had a “Marketing field day” as they say while CBS Sports did an extended interview of Darryl’s wife and mother in our coaches while Darryl was leading the race on the track. He eventually went on to win the race; the only Daytona 500 victory of his career!
1989…..We were still sponsoring Darryl Waltrip, this time at the Talladega race and I was with my brother, again in the infield next to Darryl’s coach. During this trip, as well as the Daytona trip, my brother and I used our time together to plan the details of my parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
While I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it, I am absolutely not recounting these memories to brag about them; no, not at all. After all, for the most part I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
But I am very thankful to be able to look back on them. My main thought in today’s column is that most of us have some very rich memories we can draw on not unlike browsing through an old photo album. It was a lot of fun today , during the rain breaks and internet buffering, to relive these times. What memories do you have stored up that you should go back and visit? Perhaps even with your grandkids!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org