Good day gentle readers, and welcome to another installment of our Introduction to a Saturday Night Hero series. This one again is written by someone with whom most of you should now be at least somewhat familiar, my “Sister from another mother”, Barbara Scott, wife of the pride of Union, South Carolina, Billy Scott. In this little anecdote snipped from the pages of time, Barbara tells of something most all of us have experienced a time or twelve at a race track… meeting up with a drunk fan with a garbage mouth.
For everyone reading that has not had the pleasure of meeting this dear, sweet lady, let me hasten to assure you that one does not drink, much less swear in her presence. It simply is not done, and though exceedingly soft-spoken, this gentle lady can and will get the idea across that such behavior is less than acceptable and not to be tolerated or endured.
Two years ago, Barbara and I stayed at the same hotel for the annual Reunion at the Historic Columbia Speedway. On Friday night, there arose an impromptu(?) jam session that included members of “Ron Pestana and the Pit Crew” (Rest in peace Ron. You made great music while you lived) along with members of RacersReunion including Jeff Gilder, Harlow Reynolds and several others, all of whom just happened to have instruments at hand. Perhaps not quite as impromptu as first thought. (The picture of Barbara that accompanies this article was taken that night with my phone, which attests to the poor lighting and the poor phone.)
(There is a video of Ron and the Pit Crew singing at the Reunion, but the sound quality, being recorded from an outdoor microphone, is nowhere near the quality of this one, where we hear the same song. Ron died last summer while driving a racecar, not from a crash, but from natural causes. Listening to this song, which we have done many times over, it now seems as though he wrote his own epitaph.)
Returning now to my original train of thought, which seemed to have jumped the tracks there for a minute, in that entire roomful of folks enjoying an evening of good music, sing-along and general conviviality, no one save one gentleman standing out in the hall, had an adult beverage at hand. As I said, it just isn’t done.
Now, with that somewhat convoluted and long-winded set up, I’ll turn this over to Barbara, again writing in the third person about herself, and I think all will agree that the hero on this particular Saturday night was Barbara herself.
Someone arrives at the race track early and spreads blankets on the stands; three wide and three rows down was the norm. Everyone knew the Billy Scott fans would be arriving shortly. They all sat together and the ones with toddlers added small pillows for them to sleep, once the race started. Never could understand how those babies could sleep so well with the loud roar of the engines and the yelling from the track announcer. When you get them in bed at home they awaken one or two times a night, once the race season has ended.
Normally the group was at least thirty to thirty-five in number, and well behaved. There’s always at least one who could get really upset when someone pulled against their favorite driver. Ralph and Dale Earnhardt were always a friend to all of the group as long as they didn’t touch Billy!! Some of the group would go into the pits to express their feelings toward Dale, Ralph, or whoever has bumped, rubbed or even caused Billy to spin out. If it was Dale, he would listen and then laugh at them, causing them to become more irate.
Barbara always sat with the group and there was no drinking, no foul language, nor any fussing with other fans of a different driver… except one of the ladies!! One night the group was at the old Concord Speedway in North Carolina and Billy was running up front, which pleased the group. The one lady mentioned above began to hear some negative remarks coming from a man about four to five rows above the group. The louder the man got, the louder and more upset Pat became. (No, gentle readers, this was not me) She then began to argue with the man, sounding like a bull dog when she was only the size of a toy poodle! Barbara advised Pat not to pay him any attention, because in some cases, one would find out who you root for and even if the person was a fan of the one you pulled for, he would pull against the other just to make one mad.
The mouthing back and forth between the two of them got worse, to the point the man was yelling “I hope someone wrecks the &xx%%% and kills him.” At that point Billy’s little 7-year old son began to cry over the remarks the man was making. Barbara got up from her seat slowly and started out the row. All the group almost froze in their positions, not knowing what in the world Barbara was about to do. She went up the steps very lady-like until she reached the seats where this man and his companions were sitting. She began, “Sir, we realize everyone does not pull for Billy to win and we understand that you are drinking, which may be the reason you are so rude. That little boy you see down there crying is Billy’s son and you have really upset him with your remarks. I am his wife and I ask that you refrain from the remarks you are making. I suggest you just yell a little louder for the person you want to pass him, and I personally thank you for not causing any more problems for any of us”.
The man began apologizing and telling her how sorry he was for what he had said, and promised her he would not say anything further. Only a few laps passed before we heard the man actually yelling for Billy to win the race.
And it was as easy as that… for Barbara. It’s just a way she has about her, which I believe could calm an angry sea. I recall one episode from my racing days when Don and I were at Pocono. We had, for several years, reserved seats in the Terrace Club for the Sunday race. That is/was the area way up top, our section being directly next to the press booth. Lovely seats, not behind glass, but under an awning, with the amenities including a light breakfast and a never-ending buffet, with open bar and private “facilities.”
This particular year, the couple that had been our “neighbors” for most of that time, did not show up. In their place were three or four gentlemen… The one seated next to me turned out to be a cigar-smoking drunk of the highest magnitude. I was of course, wearing Earnhardt black from head to toe. He was not impressed. He sported a F.A.D.E. T-shirt, proudly proclaiming “Fans Against Dale Earnhardt.” This man was beyond help by noon, and grew louder and more surly by the moment.
Choosing flight over fight, I finally arose as if to visit the buffet, which I did. I just never returned to my seat; instead, I watched the entire race standing just behind the seat I had paid a small fortune to secure. In retrospect, I probably should have complained, but there was security on hand and they did nothing to silence or correct the man, though he was obviously obnoxious to many of the folks in that section. Just as I never returned to my seat, I never returned to Pocono either, which was a shame as we always enjoyed such good times there… but for that once. I can’t help wishing that I’d had Barbara with me that day, as I’m sure she would have been his match. I keep looking for that halo ’round her dear head. I haven’t found it yet, but I know it’s there. Barbara, my dear almost sister, “This sweet tea is for you!” You truly are a Saturday Night Hero… and the other six days as well.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!
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