The plan was for four friends was to pile into the "Mini-Winnie" this afternoon and head straight for the place where Virginia kisses the North Carolina border. We would stake our claim on a tiny piece of land and camp out for the next three days.
It was going to be the common ground where fans from all walks of life would meet for the love of the race. Our group in particular had a good cultural mix and "Who's yer driver?" representation.
Me, Dale Jr. fan:
The fierce Texan of Irish decent. The girl with the alabaster skin who looks as if she should be wearing a wide-brimmed Derby Day hat and carrying a parasol to shield the sun.
Instead, she is right in the middle of the melee: meeting new people, reliving crazy stories, heckling Kyle Busch fans, sharing shots of Crown Royal with perfect strangers, and having the time of her life.
Bubba and his wife, Harvick fans:
Born and raised here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, they represent the good that comes out of our state. Kind people who would give you the shirt of their backs before you even thought to ask.
I work with Bubba at the hospital and thankfully that is not his birth name; he was nicknamed by our friend Bruce.
Nicest guy you'll ever meet, standing tall at 6-foot-4 and weighing close to 300 pounds, the name just stuck and that is what he is what he has gone by for the last two years.
Don't ever refer to him by his real name, because the employees of the ER will have no idea who you are talking about. His own Mother calls him Bubba now.
Bruce, Jeff Burton fan:
Another work buddy. He was born in Korea and came to the States as a child. He is suave and sophisticated (in his own mind), mixed with a little bit of the stereotypical computer geek.
He is the go-to guy when it comes to all things electronic. He knows the best deals, what equipment to buy and can fix just about anything with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back.
We took him to his first race last year in Richmond. He showed up wearing khaki shorts, a baby blue Polo, flip-flops and an expensive camera hanging around his neck. We died laughing and poked fun all night.
He couldn't have looked more out of place, but embraced it whole-heartedly: camera in one hand, fried bologna sandwich in the other. He loved every minute of it, and with that, a new fan was born.
We were to meet up and camp with another group of people at the track, their fearless learder was...
Paul, Kyle Busch fan:
A native Australian complete with the Steve Irwin accent, who came to the States for a job with the fire department. He is a paramedic whom we've come to know through his ER visits, dropping off the sick and injured.
It would have been a blast to hang out with Paul and his Aussie friends. They don't yell out "Y'all" as freely as we do, but I know they have the same inner redneck that shines proudly on race day!
We could have exchanged our grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for their "shrimp on the barbie." Clinked bottles of the "High Life" with oversized cans of Foster's.
It shoulda, woulda, coulda been a wild and wonderful weekend for us in Martinsville, where different cultures and race would come together in a tiny melting pot.
Alas, the main ingredient didn't come together at the last minute. Our ticket connection fell through, and our little pot will not boil this weekend.
Disappointing? Absolutely, but what can you do?
That's just the way things go sometimes, good recipes go unmade for lack of that one key additive! If only it was as easy as running next door for a cup of sugar!
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