Tailgate Race of 2006
By Jo Ann Hlavac 01/05/07
We had a great year chasin' racin' in 2006. We hit both Hotlanters, both Bristols, all 3 Charlottes, Darlington, the fall Richmond and the season finale at Homestead. At each track we had friends we have met thru the website hang out with us.
Without Chesapeake Dave, we wouldn't have done Richmond and we appreciate the hospitality. The surprise trip of the year to Homestead never could have happened without Jamie and Brain's help and kindness. Those of you who have been readers of our site for awhile know that we ALWAYS have fun even if it is just me and Jimmy. So all of our trips were fun but one stands out as the Tailgating Race of 2006.
As we turned off of I-95 onto Hwy. 52 there was a sign in front of one of the businesses that had “Welcome Home Race Fans” And they were right. Darlington is home and it was just so good to be there.
We started the Darlington weekend Thursday afternoon. Mary Lynn, Scott, Safari Tim, his lovely wife Tammy, Rick and David were already there. Safari Tim and Tammy haven’t been in a few years so it was good to hang with them. Texas Kevin and Brenda Junya did the three week stretch starting with Talladega, then Richmond and finally Darlington. Thursday all day more of our group arrived. Dino and Tracey pulled in with the brand new road hog. Renee, Doug and Kayla arrived in Kayla’s dog house. This was one of the few times we were setup right next to Navy Paul and his pit crew so we had that bonus. Frankie and Kevin brought Da Bus up Thursday to set it up and went back to Charleston to work Friday. We did the usually setting up camp or in our case getting the hospitality all bubba’d up. Doug was so excited that there was a breeze to show off his flags!
Rick from Save the Speedway came by and told us a great tale about the night before. Seems everyone had gone to sleep and he was raring to go. So he got on his bike and went for a spin around to check where the speedtv stage was setup. In his travels he was coming by the tunnel gate and it was open. There was no one guarding it. He drove the hot rod into the infield and on the track. He rode one and half laps before security came on the scene. Everything worked out but let’s just say…Children don’t ever try this!
We soon met the Old Orchard Beach Rat Pack. They were setup in our old spot by the creek. Rick Bryan, (Trucking) Dave Beaudoin (Seacoast), Greg Goodness and Chris Boisvert. They hail from Maine. They race the bus like we race the truck! They had gotten their Darlington info from the website and wanted to say thanks. They brought me a present, one of their Darlington T-Shirts they had made for their trip. I love getting presents.
Thursday night we were aiming for going to the Darlington Square for where the transporter parade would end. As it sometimes goes with setup day, time just got away from us. We just stayed at the campsite, finish with setting up and ate some dinner. All of a sudden we hear horns blowing. It hit us...the hauler parade was coming down our road on the way to the track! They didn’t do that last year so we were surprised. Campers came pouring out of the campsites as more and more realized what was going on. There was a great turnout for their parade. A total of 38 haulers which included the Budweiser Clydesdales. What a great start to our race weekend!
Also on Thursday, Angela left Navy Paul off and took the kids down to Charleston. Let me tell ya’ll when racemama got back around midnight Friday she was a whole new woman. It reminded me of the Calgon commercial. She was chasing kids franticly on Thursday at her wits end and on Friday when she got back she was a new women! Ang doesn't get to as many races as Navy Paul so it was good to hang out with her.
Friday night we sat in the new Brasington Grandstand with Budboy’s crew. There was a beautiful full moon and it looked great hanging high over the Darlington Raceway. You know, when I sat down Friday night in the grandstand I had a big ole grin on my face. I realized it was because I was sitting in the Darlington Grandstand and it felt so good.
I have watched races from all over Darlington Raceway and was looking forward to seeing the view the new grandstand had to offer. It did not disappoint. I didn't think I would see a view as good as the old Brasington Grandstand but I was surprised. You would see the driver sawing the wheel coming into 1 and you knew which ones wouldn’t get in under control by turn 2. Great view of many of the pits and the battle off pit road. Bathrooms were top notch too!
Saturday a variety of things were going on. After breakfast with the church ladies, some of us went off to the vendors. Frankie and Kevin had hot passes so they headed to the garage and pits. Frankie took more photos in the garage and pits on this one trip then he has total for an entire race season so I couldn't post them all but to see the best of Frankie's Infield Photos just click. We were entertained by a Navy Paul and Chuck duo. Chuck sang some of the funniest songs we ever heard. Something about the filling station blues. We got race ready playing washers, hanging out and cooking fried turkey with pickles. Brian and Jamie from Florida hung out with us waiting on the turkey. A few people stopped by to say hi. Brenda and William from Fayetteville, NC were at Darlington for their mother son trip. Slim and Barbara from Vandergrift, PA came by for a visit and to say thanks. Slim real name is JV and that’s because he can’t hang with the big girls. Of course Little Frankie was there and just had to have his picture taken over and over and over. We had to make him stop when he fell off the Budweiser blimp and broke the cigar out of his mouth...now we are thinking about getting Little Frankie a stunt double! Yeah, I know....we really do need a life.
On Saturday night after the race, we had an appearance from “That Guy”. You know “That guy”. You may not actually know that guy but ya’ll have been around “that guy”. Our “that guy” comes walking down the hill at Pop’s around 1:00 AM Saturday night. As I was coming out of the shower house he catches my attention. He was obviously quite agitated. He was walking rapidly, cell phone up to his ear, cussing out his girlfriend for leaving him at Darlington. Or should I say he was cussing out her voice mail box. I stop to listen and right behind him I see Nick and Safari Tim making a beeline to our campsite to bring the news. It was comically because Tim was hoofing it on this guy’s heels fast to come tell us about him. If the guy would have stopped to yell louder at the answering machine, Tim would have ran into him.
Seems like they came from Clemson and she left him for no reason. He was questioning her loyalty and faithfulness to him among other things. Safari Tim offers the advice that he isn’t going about getting a ride home the correct way. Scream at her after you’re in the car.
Nick and Dave feel bad for the guy and try to help him....of course the rest of us know from years of experience that no good for us can come from helping lost, drunk, obnoxious race fans whose own friends are hiding from him. Well Nick gets the girl on the phone and has her talked into coming for him. That is until “That guy” got on the phone and proceeded to again scream at her again. She, of course, promptly hung up. Dave says the quote of the weekend telling that guy “Bo when you got a cat in the bag, you don’t shake the bag!”
The finish of this story is that he whacks his head on the awning arm of Budboy’s RV and has a clear moment. He remembers that they didn't drive in for the day. They were camping at the top of the hill. So another call goes to the girlfriend. Now we think Rick had his own agenda because he called her back and spent 30 minutes talking to her and not about "that guy" either! Anyway, she wanders down to get him. If I had still been up when she came, I would have offered her a little advice. Like take it from an old broad who has been around a few blocks a few times. This is one block you do not want to keep going around.
We all agreed that it was the best race weekend anywhere in years. Picture perfect weather except for a shower Thursday night. Like Pop’s says though “It ain’t race weekend without rain.” I laughed at all my chasin racin’ buddies until I cried and my cheeks hurt. We eat lots of good food, played games, had a couple concerts and made great memories. What more can you ask from race weekend? And good racing thrown in to boot! The only bummer from the whole weekend is that Mayor Carl wasn’t there with First Lady Gayle. Dave had to do Carl's job and his too! Unfortunately, we lost Major Carl later in the year unexpectedly. Man, Darlington just won’t be the same.
I don’t know if it was so much fun because it is our home track and we have so many friends with us. Or maybe it is because we are only there once a year now. For whatever reason, Darlington on Mother’s Day weekend was the tailgate race weekend of the year. And for me, I think it probably always will be.
To see all the photos from our Darlington tailgate party, Click here.
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