Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Geesh, it's been almost a month since I last posted.  Life has been very busy the past few weeks, it's been hard to stay on top on anything.

Slow progress is being made on the house.  We've almost got it completely insulated with the blue foam and then a follow-up wrap.  Hopefully, then, in a week or two, my wonderful construction crew will be here to finish the roof, siding, and put the new porch on.  Some days I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

I've been a race (cars) fan the majority of my life.  When I was in third grade or so, my Mom and Dad took me to see the sprint cars at Knoxville, IA. I was hooked!  I loved the sound, the dirt, the smell!  It was a rush even for an 9 year old!  Thankfully, my best friend and her dad were avid fans, too, so I was able to start going with them every weekend.  I rarely missed a weekend until after I was married and couldn't really afford to do it every weekend anymore.  Times were different then, we didn't need to be bubble-wrapped to protect ourselves from ourselves, you know, so the rule was that when you were 14, you could go to the pits for the evening.  You had to pay a little extra and sign the liability waiver, but then you were good to go.  No parental supervision needed!  So, when I was 14, I started spending most of my time in the pits, helping out a local driver and his crew with simple things like changing the tear-aways on his helmet and picking up his gloves off the ground when he'd had a bad run. I loved it!

So....in 1985, when we got the chance to go see the big boys race in Daytona, Florida, we took it!  Not only was it February in Iowa, dreary, cold, grey, but it was NASCAR!  Big motors and big personalities!  We drove down there several days early and did the tourist thing.  St. Augustine, the ocean, and Disney World.  On Sunday, we headed to the track at about 4 AM.  We had passes to get us into the pit area before the race and we wanted to get an early start.  Oh my!  Amazing!  I got very close to Richard Petty and several other drivers.

We were blessed to have amazing seats.  There are very few sections at Daytona where you can see the entire track, but we got to sit in one of them.  Daytona is a long race and the middle can get pretty boring, so the other fans around you keep you entertained during the long stretches of green flag racing. We were fortunate to have a few doozies!  One lady literally pulled a batch of fried chicken, wrapped only in wax paper, out of her purse!!

The end of the race was very exciting!  Bill Elliott won his first Daytona 500 that day!  I was ecstatic.  He and Darryl Waltrip were my favorites.  Bill was/is such a gentleman, so gracious, and that southern drawl of his was just great!  With that, and a horrible sunburn, we headed back to cold, dreary Iowa.

Fast forward 20 years of so.  My step-dad, who is a dead ringer for Bill Elliott, gets to finally meet him at the Knoxville Nationals one year.  I was jealous, but just didn't have the time to go stand in line for an autograph or picture, but I was happy for pops!

Fast forward another 8 years or so...........this weekend was the NASCAR truck series race at the Iowa Speedway.  We weren't able to go, so we thought we hit our local Mexican restaurant for supper.  I had my glasses off to read my menu but, out of the corner of my eye, a lanky man comes in that looks really familiar to me.  I didn't think much of it so went back to perusing the menu.  We placed our order and I put my glasses back on.  They had seated the man and his wife and son just catty-corner from us, perfectly in my line of vision.  The back of this man continued to look very familiar to me, but I couldn't remember his name!  Finally, I googled who won the Daytona 500 in 1985 and it all came rushing back.  I still wasn't 100% sure, so since his son was wearing logo wear, I googled "who drives for Aaron's in the truck series?" and low and behold, it came back Chase Elliott!  And, to top it off, he had just one his race the previous week, making him the youngest driver ever to do so!  I couldn't believe it was really Bill Elliott!  Chase didn't have to race until the next day, so it seemed that they came out to enjoy a bit of time away from the track.

I politely introduced myself and told Bill that I had seem his win the 500 in 1985.  He said, "Whoa!" We chatted for a minute and he said he'd be happy to have a photo with me after our meals.  So gracious!  What a southern gentleman!

He told me to be sure to get a picture with Chase, too, so Chase was gracious enough to agree!

I see this young man going places!  Looking forward to watching his career grow and mature!

Stuff like this rarely happens to me, but the timing of this meeting was such a blessing!  I had had really hard news about a dear family earlier in the day and it helped to ease the sting a bit.  God is so good!

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