Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Daytona 500 Blues

No. I am not a Jeff Gordon fan.

Yes. I would have liked to have seen anyone else but him win the Daytona 500 last Sunday.

Yes. I realize that most people reading this have no idea what I am talking about.

If you know me, you know I am a NASCAR freak. You may also know that NASCAR is in my blood. Really. Grandpa Wood was a charter member of NASCAR way back in 1950-something when they used to race on the beach in Daytona.

He was there.

For years he owned cars and nurtured young drivers. His most notable (in my eyes anyway) was my father. My father, BC Wood Jr. drove my Grandfather's race cars well into his 30's and early 40's. My family took several trips to Daytona to see the 500. Once my dad had the opportunity to fill-in for a sick driver, who ended up driving anyway. Another time my dad's cousin was part owner in the car that Darrell Waltrip drove. We were true rednecks from Connecticut.

So this is the first Daytona 500 that my Grandfather has missed. He was witness to every 500 up until now. Although, I think he was watching somehow from wherever he is.

My proof:

Ernie and I went to PA to work on the barn this weekend. Because Ernie had a recording session Friday and Saturday we had to leave for the farm on Sunday morning. I had one stipulation, that we bring the TV so I could watch the 500.

We got a late start on Sunday morning and were still driving when the race started at 1:00. We were able to find a radio station that was broadcasting the race. It was fun to listen to even if I did miss the pre-race show, etc.

By about lap 35 we arrived at the farm. We brought our 13 inch TV from Brooklyn, along with the rabbit ears. Ernie carried it into the little house and hooked it up. To my horror we were not able to get any reception whatsoever. None.

Ernie was a good sport. He tried every room of the house. He put tinfoil on the end of the antenae. He got a big tinfoil baking pan and put the TV on top of it. Nothing.

I tried the radio in the kitchen and was not able to get the same station we had in the car. I tried all over the dial, AM and FM. Nothing.

I resigned myself to the fact that this year, I too would miss the 500.

I put on a music station and did some work in the house before joining Ernie out at the barn. We worked on the barn for about an hour and a half before I decided to bring my cell phone into the house because it was getting wet in the snow.

When I entered the kitchen the radio was still on - but it was static, between stations. When I went outside I left a regular rock music station on that was coming in loud and clear.

I couldn't stand the sound of the static so I went over to the radio to adjust the dial. When I did it was the Daytona 500 race broadcast coming in loud and clear. It was the 10th caution of the race and they were about to have a Green/White/Checker finish. This means the race was in a holding pattern and was about to end in a very dramatic fashion.

I sat at the table to listen and the first thing that I saw was my picture of Grandpa Wood sitting in his recliner. The place from where he watched more than 50 years of racing on his TV.

I knew Grandpa had gotten the race for me. And I knew he didn't want Jeff Gordon to win either.

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