I'm sure I'm not the only one who detests the television commercials we have to endure to watch any program. I really thought FOX was the worst with their constant interruptions of racing action to show us the stupidity with which advertisers attempt to abuse the unknowing fans. In reality, however, it's anything you want to watch. Try watching an hour show on a major network where they sucker you in with 3 minutes of commercials every 10 minutes for the first 20 minutes of the show. Then they start hitting you with 5 minutes of commercials every 7 minutes until we get 40 minutes into the show. Then, its 7 minutes of commercials, then 5 minutes of show, then another 7 minutes of commercials and then it's time for previews of the next show. All the networks are bad about this but just try watching something on the ABC Network. I watch very little network television but I do like the show "Nashville" but frankly I'm about to give that up because of the commercial interruptions.
Many Legendtorials ago I expressed my exasperation over the commercials and especially the ones appearing to be aimed directly at race fans. Those commercials appear to assume the average race fan is just barely above the mental capacity of an Ape. Then there is the huge sporting event each year where more people watch for the commercials than for the sporting event which I detest. But, I am aware that, in order for the networks to make money by other means than ripping off cable and satellite networks, commercials are a necessary evil. I have, however, managed to develop the ability to tune out most of them. However, allow me this thought.
There appears to be a "chicken war" going on between two of the biggies. One wants us to believe there is such a thing as "chickenflage" and those commercials go beyond the limit of stupid. We aren't going to count the commercials with the cows who aren't smart enough to spell "cat" but can manage to invent all means of enticing us to consume more "chicken". But I have to admit one such commercial has caught my attention. Of course it would be because it is done by kids and everyone knows how I am about kids. Several kids are seen asking their parents such questions as "what else have you not told us" and then kids saying such things as "they don't even need ketchup". But the one that gets me every time is the last kid, a young boy, who opines "they don't even come with a prize and I don't care". That is precious! I know you have all probably seen it but may have overlooked that one comment. I admire the kid and that he loves the chicken without having to have a prize to eat it. Now that was some really good marketing done there, in my opinion.
The reason I use that example, besides the fact that I really like that kid, is because I learned something this past Sunday. That was "I missed all the action at Martinsville this weekend and I don't care". That is true, but let me explain. Martinsville has always been one of my favorite tracks (please note I said ONE as Darlington is my most favorite). I always enjoyed the racing there whether listening on the radio in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, being there in person as I was many times, or watching it on television since the 80s. Martinsville is the oldest remaining track from the early days of NASCAR which I treasure the most and it always seems to put on good races. Having said that one may wonder how and why I missed it and why I don't care. Honestly, when I got home Sunday afternoon from my awesome outing, it was 10:00 p.m. before I even remembered there was a race in Martinsville. I went to my computer and checked the finishing order and watched a couple of clips from NASCAR.com to get a feel for the race, but even after that, I was still of the opinion that "they raced in Martinsville and I don't care." Why? Ok, here goes.
I spent this past weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, hanging out with someone I had great admiration for prior to this weekend. By the time the weekend was over, my admiration for this individual had exceeded my original thoughts along those lines. There was an event (31st Annual Palmetto Sportsman Classic) in Columbia, where this guy was appearing with the RacersReunion.com Racing Simulator. Yep, I'm talking about Jimmy Johnson, RacersReunion's own Jimmy Johnson, the one who spells his name with a "Y" rather than the "IE" that a certain cup driver uses. Just a couple of observations from The Legend as to RacersReunion's official ambassador.
I've known Jimmy since I joined RacersReunion, actually, and I've been at many events with him but he always seemed to be at one end and I at the other of whatever was happening. This time, however, I was, in a sense, working for Jimmy as he allowed me to assist him in running the simulator. Although I screwed it up a couple of times, he didn't fire me, but allowed me to continue to work. Watching Jimmy in action there is no doubt why he is not overweight. He doesn't need "Five Hour Spinergy" or "Monstour" energy drinks because he puts those to shame. He is a non-stop machine! Wish we could bottle his energy.
Getting to spend so much time with Jimmy allowed me to get to know him even better than I had prior. I had always known what a great "people person" Jimmy is, but I got to see him in action, close up and personal, with the youngest kids to the grandparents bringing the kids around. I mean, after all, it's the grandparents who have the money to pay for the rides and they just can't turn down the begging eyes of a young grandchild who wants to see what it is like to drive a "real race car". Jimmy makes everyone feel comfortable when he is talking with them and I think he actually got some folks to ride the simulator who would not otherwise have given it a second thought.
Jimmy is a true race fan and a true ambassador for this website. I want to express my sincere thanks to Jimmy for allowing me to hang around all weekend and be a part of such an opportunity to reach many fans and, hopefully, potential new members for RacersReunion.
As always, when I'm doing these events, I am a non-stop talker. I engage anyone and everyone who comes within handshake range. It was no different this time. I was surprised by many of the discussions I had with folks coming by. One of the most surprising to me was the number of young people, male and female, between the ages of 14 and 25 who said they were race fans but they didn't like any of the drivers of today, with the exception of the few who would name Dale, Jr. or Jeff Gordon. When I asked them why, then, were they fans of the sport, it was as we have always said: "Their Daddy, Uncle, Grandpa, or friend's Daddy" was a fan.
I was also amazed at the number of young men I met who told me they either were dirt racing or had been dirt racing before the money ran out. I must have talked to at least two dozen between the ages of 16 and 20 who made those statements. I also encountered many, and I do mean many, even down to the four-year old who had to sit in his Daddy's lap to drive the simulator, who want to be a "race driver" when they grow up. Oh, and that four-year old did pretty darn good with his Daddy working the gas and him working the steering. That kid may just make it.
I truly enjoyed my weekend hanging out with Jimmy, both for the time I got to share with him and for the time I got to share with visitors. There is just something about talking racing with folks that seems to fit me. I think I do that well because I do like it so much. I think those with whom I share the conversations enjoy it as well because they know we have that connection with racing.
Let me tell you this little story. There were 41 students who came to the event from the upstate as a part of a field trip. Several of the young men were hanging around the simulator engaged in racing discussions with me. Awesome group of young country boys. After a good thirty minutes, five of them walked on off to explore other exhibits while one continued talking with me. After quite a long time, a white-haired gentleman walked up and introduced himself as the teacher of this group and he had been observing my continuing interaction with his students. He reminded the one with whom the conversation continued that the bus was leaving at 2:00 and he would have to be there on time. Then the teacher asked me about the one kid who seemed to have been engaged in a lengthy conversation with me. The teacher asked me if the kid actually said anything and when I told him we had enjoyed quite a discussion about racing, the teacher said "I can never get him to say a word". I laughingly said "try talking racing with him" and, thankfully, the teacher laughed too, shook my hand, and told the student remaining with me that he had like 15 minutes and he needed to be at the bus.
As the teacher walked off, the student said "I could stay here and talk with you all day about racing". I nervously looked at my watch at it was 1:55. I asked him how far the bus was and he pointed all the way across the Fairgrounds. I told him he needed to go and he shook my hand and headed out. I think I would have enjoyed that bus ride back to the upstate because there were at least 9 kids who were going to be talking racing, thanks to Jimmy and the simulator.
So, I had a wonderful weekend and thank you, Jimmy, for that. It is also amazing that I missed the race in Martinsville and I don't even care!!!!