frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/18/18 6:14 a.m.

I apologize in advance for this but through racing with them, good luck, hopeless snooping, and unusual circumstances I’ve met some of the great racers of my day.  

Richard Petty,   Sterling Moss, A.J.Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, Al Unser, Bobby Rahaal, Roger Rager  etc. 

I met Richard Petty through Hopeless snooping. I was a salesman for Stewart Sandwiches, the company flew me to their headquarters to drive a freezer truck back to Minneapolis. On the way back I saw Level Cross wasn’t that far out of my way. So naturally I had to see where Richard Petty lived. A stop at a local gas station gave me directions and I parked the freezer truck on the street and went snooping.  

I didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t that imposing. No barbed wire fence with search lites ,  growling guard dogs,  or even armed guards. 

Not many windows either darn it. Finally saw a pair and tried to peer in, face against the glass hands on either said of my face, you know the classic snoop position. 

“What are you doing” in his Southern drawl.  It might have been “ ya’all” too long ago to remember exactly but in any case I jumped back only to stare right at Richard Petty himself. 

I stammered about being a fan  and just curious.  Blathing on about vintage racing, apologizing for bothering him, etc. and after a few minutes he relaxed and invited me to join him in a glass of lemonade on the porch.  

I did! I actually sat on Richard Petty’s Porch and had a glass of lemonade. Really nice gentleman,  seemed at least as interested in me as I was about him. 

I thanked him politely ( and forgot to get his autograph ) and left with a stupid grin and joy in my heart.  What a nice person!  

The next evening I was going through  Indianapolis, it was late and I was tired.  Had to drive by the Speedway, and thought what the heck!  I’ll pull in that motel right opposite the race track, I’m on an expense account.  

Place was pretty crowded but I found a spot to park the truck and walked in. Overnight bag in hand.  Walked up to the check out counter and asked if they knew of anyplace that had a room. 

Clerk looked me up and down and turned to his left and said, “ Mr. Foyt, will you want your room tonight? “ 

A.J.Foyt looked me up and down and said, “yeh let him have it.”  Turns out his father was dying and he was flying home instead of staying with the team for final qualifying tomorrow.  

The next morning I made inquires and was told commercial trucks could enter gate J or whatever.  I didn’t know what a ticket would cost but darn if I was going to miss my chance.   Well everybody kept waving me in, finally someone pointed and told me where the concession trucks parked and I was in!! No ticket. 

Wandered around until qualifying started and then found a seat right past the start finish line that was empty.  

Dale Earnhardt I met through being a fly on the wall. Or Elk. Whichever.  I was selling scissor lift equipment for the Caterpillar dealer. And down in southeastern Minnesota was a shop that painted and put decals on trailers made nearby ( featherlight)  I was busy explaining to the owner why he should use, well you don’t want my sales pitch.  When  he apologized  and explained that Dale Earnhardt was here and needed him. 

I begged to stay, He said Dale was very private and hated dealing with fans on “his time”   I promised to be a fly on the wall, not say a word etc.  

Dale came in glanced my way and the owner explained who I was.  I nodded politely in his direction and stepped back into a corner of the office. 

Friendly chatter back and forth, turns out they both owned Elk and I guess this guy had sold some to Dale in the past etc.  

Dale was complaining how hard it was to keep them penned in. Saying that he had one guy who was working full time replacing railings because the elk were eating them.  They both agreed.  

That’s when I opened my big mouth. I told them they were using the wrong kind of wood.  

They were using Pine which hooved animals consider candy. Not just elk but cows horses deer all like chewing it. 

I told them to use wood high in Tannins that they will find very bitter and avoid.  Black walnut and white oak both are high in Tannins. 

I explained that right now mill run white oak was selling for 40 cents a bd ft and an 10 foot long 2x6  would cost about $4.00 . I warned them they’d need to use stainless steel nails or lag bolts because other wise the tannins would quickly eat through the nails.  

Suddenly I was their friend and they took me to lunch at a local VFW. Great conversation not much about racing. But pretty interesting. Talked about farm equipment, Hunting, and family dealing with racing. 

 

 

adam525i
adam525i Reader
10/18/18 9:06 a.m.

Thanks for sharing! 

Adam

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/18/18 9:27 a.m.

I’ve had tea with President Carter sitting on his front porch. wink

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
10/18/18 10:35 a.m.

Through racing I've been able to meet and talk to a few big named racers.  Nascar:  Benny Parsons was a seriously nice guy.  We had our Toyota Nascar on display at PIR and he dropped by and sat and talked for quite a while.  Also had conversations Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.

Indycar:  Met Mario and Michael Andretti but no real interaction, and rode in an elevator with Emerson Fittapaldi.  He said basically he going to win that day and damn if he didn't.  I was shooting pictures of the race and was in the front at the podium when he walked by, put his hand on my shoulder, smiled and said I told you so.  Hard to believe he remembered, but also a nice, nice guy.  

Met Stephan Johansen at a sports car race at Road Atlanta once, my only F1 connection, and Paul Newman said good morning in the paddock at Road Atlanta also, but never had Lemonde or Tea with any.  Oh well, nice write up as always French!

200mph
200mph New Reader
10/18/18 5:24 p.m.

Wonderful story, thanks for sharing!

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
10/18/18 5:47 p.m.

I have a few not all racing related - the best is me stopping Mike Ditka at Ohare airport one early Saturday morning.  I called him coach and he stopped and gave me that look like I was another drunk fan telling him how to run his team.  I mentioned I like his restaurant.  

I stopped Mary Tyler Moore at the MSP airport Northworst Airlines lounge and asked how her Minneapolis statue unveiling went that day.  She was nice and told me about it.  

Few others at Road America- my bro stopped Paul Newman for a picture but he kindly said he had to go qualify and had to run. I was the camera man.  

keithedwards
keithedwards New Reader
10/18/18 8:00 p.m.

I met Sterling Moss in the paddock at the Bahama Grand Prix in Freeport, in the mid-80s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Moss

I met Brian Redman in the paddock at Summit Point, probably in the late 80s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Redman

I met Don Healey a couple of times in the '80s, at Healey meets and at a Triumph meet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Healey

I met Tim Suddard in 1992 at Roebling Road/Savannah. First subscribed to GRM there. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grassroots_Motorsports

 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
10/18/18 8:43 p.m.

I stood next to Paul Newman in a driver's meeting at Brainerd one time.  That's all I got.

stu67tiger
stu67tiger Reader
10/18/18 8:44 p.m.

My friend and I were dragging our suitcases toward the elevator at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  Some motorcycle dude (instant conclusion based on his helmet and leather jacket) held the elevator for us.  As the elevator crept upward, I noticed  some familiar words on his helmet.  Then I recognised the guy.  Ronnie Peterson.  Yes, it was the 1978 Grand Prix weekend.

I was at Lime Rock for some dumb race in the early 70's.  The Car and Driver stock sedan race, perhaps?  Anyway I saw this guy walking around wearing a McLaren jacket, or was it Yardley Mclaren?  Anyway, the guy notices I'm trying to take a picture of him, even though I'm using a telephoto lens and am not that close.  He turned around and took off his sunglases for a good portrait..  Oh, that's why he had that jacket.  Peter Revson.

minivan_racer
minivan_racer UberDork
10/18/18 9:26 p.m.

The only thing close for me would be meeting Darren Manning because a guy I trained at my old job got the work order for his house.  He was super laid back and let us try out his training device that simulates the resistance of an indy car steering wheel at speed.  I did happen to run into Gerald Wiegert at PRI a couple of years ago.  He was chatting up the IMSA guys who were debuting the prototype car that year and talking about building boats.

pirate
pirate Reader
10/18/18 10:02 p.m.

Met Dale Earnhardt Jr at his shop JR Motorsports in Mooresville NC late one afternoon just before closing. I was only one in gift shop other then attendant when he walked through front door. As he walked by I said “Hi Jr” and he immediately turned around and came back to me and said hello. I introduced myself and we shook hands and then proceeded with some small talk about the shop and racing for several minutes. He then thanked me for visiting.  Very approachable and genuinely a nice guy. He really didn’t have to take that time but did.  I was really impressed. 

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
10/18/18 11:29 p.m.

I volunteered at a Ford event for all their drivers in the mid-90s, so I spent about two hours with Bobby Rahal and met Robby Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Dale Jarrett, and many more that I can't remember. The highlight was Rahal asking me to go get him a hot dog. smiley

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/19/18 1:06 a.m.
SVreX said:

I’ve had tea with President Carter sitting on his front porch. wink

Now that is a person I would love to sit on his front porch, for tea or anything.  

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/19/18 1:07 a.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler :

I raced with Bobby Rahal in the 1984 Bahama vintage Grand Prix. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/19/18 1:17 a.m.
stuart in mn said:

I stood next to Paul Newman in a driver's meeting at Brainerd one time.  That's all I got.

About 1975 or so Paul Newman was at Brainerd and he and a couple of local celebrities tried to set up a Noon time celebrity race. The evening before he came to the camp fire I was at and asked if he could drive my MGTD for that event. ( there were 6 MG T series cars there ) and even though I really liked his asking I knew nothing of his driving skill and assumed he was a Movie star who had all his stunt driving done for him. 

I explained the Vintage race was right after the noon break and if there was any issue I wouldn’t be able to race. 

They finally did get 5 semi trucks bob tailed to put on an event  and I was proved wrong by him winning the race

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/19/18 4:02 a.m.
keithedwards said:

I met Sterling Moss in the paddock at the Bahama Grand Prix in Freeport, in the mid-80s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Moss

I met Brian Redman in the paddock at Summit Point, probably in the late 80s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Redman

I met Don Healey a couple of times in the '80s, at Healey meets and at a Triumph meet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Healey

I met Tim Suddard in 1992 at Roebling Road/Savannah. First subscribed to GRM there. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grassroots_Motorsports

 

Wow I really like how you linked all those people in case some weren’t familiar with them. 

Ive got to figure that out next, but seeing as it took me more than a decade to figure out how to post pictures please don’t hold your breath.  

Oh and my Sir Stirling Moss story?  

The first time I raced him I beat him.  True story!  

1986 Bahama vintage races Autocross.  He was in the factory  restored and sponsored  Aston Martin DBR2 

I drove my home made Black Jack Spl . A 1958 Jaguar XK150 based special with a shortened frame and D type body built in1958 by Jack Baker  

because it had a Halibrand quick change I was able to gear it perfectly for the coarse and it was both shorter and narrower than the Aston Martin DBR 2 Moss drove. 

I never beat him on the race track, my best finishes were 2nds   And he was notably faster than I was.   However there I am in a picture with my sweaty arm around him! 

Took second place in class to Sir Stirling Moss in the week long  event

slantvaliant
slantvaliant UltraDork
10/19/18 12:25 p.m.

From the racing world, all I have is my Jim Hall / Chaparral story.

 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/19/18 12:59 p.m.
frenchyd said:
SVreX said:

I’ve had tea with President Carter sitting on his front porch. wink

Now that is a person I would love to sit on his front porch, for tea or anything.  

I've had a lot of close interactions with him over the years.  I lived close to his house, led several of his pet projects with Habitat for Humanity, went to Bible studies led by him, and did some work on his home and a community center he built in Plains.  

He's an interesting guy.  Pretty good woodworker too... He bought materials at the same supplier I did.  It was always a riot seeing a President of the United States show up at the lumber yard wearing bibb overalls, and leaving in a caravan of black tinted window Suburbans (one of which would have lumber sticking out the back window)!

But he's not too good a racer!

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/19/18 1:47 p.m.

In reply to slantvaliant :

My only connection with the Chaparral is I own a set of their wheels.  The early Chaparral mk 1 made by Troutman and Barns. Front engine ones. 

They are real magnesium and unbelievably light. Like 11 pounds!  I periodically zygote them and they still pass with no cracks or defects. 

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
10/19/18 7:03 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to slantvaliant :

  I periodically zygote them and they still pass with no cracks or defects.

I think you mean Zyglo.  However, if you actually do zygote them, I want to watch.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/20/18 11:43 a.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

Yes zyglo, I’m in Minnesota, but  next time you’re welcome. 

I have the supplies but need to borrow the lamp. 

My Al Unser story is about 1987? at  Elkhart Lake I was all set up for a vintage weekend when Al Unser asked if I could move. I was on high ground and there had been a week of heavy rain that had flooded out the previous weeks Indy car event. So they moved it to our weekend.  

Al was worried that if he got mired down in the soft muddy grass he wouldn’t be able to get out in time to get to Portland the next week.  

I may have looked stricken thinking of the same thing happening to me.  So he proposed we share the pit.  I’m glad I did.  He was a nice guy listened to my suggestions for a set up and places to pass.  Then credited me for the help.  

We ate pot luck meals. And shared the campfire. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/20/18 12:05 p.m.

In reply to SVreX :

Whatever your political beliefs you have to admit he has been a honerable Former President.   Habitat for humanity flourished with his support and activities. Promoted peace not just in the Middle East but around the world.  Written 25-30 books and still preaches in his local church.  

He’s the longest living former President with over 40 years since his inauguration.  

Suffered brain cancer and I never heard a Bitter word.  

I honestly envy you.  

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
10/20/18 12:15 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I was a big privilege. 

I didn’t always agree with him, and found it particularly challenging when local politics were involved. It’s pretty hard for the mayor of a town to do his job well when someone like President Carter lives there, or for Habitat for Humanity to say “No” when he asks them to do something outside of their guidelines. 

But the efforts of the Carter Center have been incredible, and his post-presidency accomplishments have been nothing short of amazing. 

I always considered it a great honor when I could talk with him. 

Gary
Gary SuperDork
10/27/18 7:40 p.m.

I really hate to be a name-dropper. However, I am happy and proud to have been able to meet a number of people related to cars and motorsports. In the paddock or at car shows I've met and chatted with Brock Yates, Paul Newman (at his SCCA driver's school at Thompson way back in the sixties), Dan Gurney, Stirling Moss (Annie took my picture with him as he signed a Klementaski photo from 1960 I'd brought with me), Bob Bondurant, Vic Edelbrock and daughters Christy and Cammee, Wayne Carini (I tried to get some justification to support his insane prediction of the price of Volvo P-1800s hitting $100K a few years ago), Syd Silverman and D. Randy Riggs from VM (Randy took a picture of me with my camera while I was sitting in Syd's Allard that Randy was racing that weekend). Also, I accidentally stepped on John Morton's toes at Coronado while I was looking at the rare Sunbeam Tiger coupe he was racing that weekend. Embarrassing. There are others that I can't think of at the moment. But I think the most impressive meeting to me was Bruce Meyer at his personal museum in Beverly Hills at a private showing back in 2016 with the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild group. His museum was spectacular. But to meet Bruce and talk one-on-one about cars, and have a picture taken by Annie with him (Bruce's arm around me, Annie didn't get jealous) next to his very early Shelby Cobra, I think that was my best moment to be with a significant car person. And then, the following year, Bruce was at Lime Rock with some of his significant collecticable cars, and I had a chance to talk to him again. He didn't remember me specifically, but he remembered the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild visit to his museum. Bruce Meyer is a very gracious and personable individual. He's a great spokesperson for our sport and hobby.

I also met and talked with Tom Cotter last July at Owls Head Transportation Museum where he was showing his Cunningham coupe. Then I talked with him again a couple months later at the Thursday evening race car parade in Falls Village, CT during the Lime Rock Vintage Weekend.

 

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
10/27/18 9:13 p.m.

In reply to SVreX :

There are American presidents I’m proud of. Bush senior impresses me. Eisenhower  as well.

But President Carter is head and shoulders above them all IMHO  

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