In honor of the 70th anniversary of classic film, "The Wizard of Oz," and as a tribute to the NASCAR drivers running for the championship at Kansas Speedway this weekend, this classic story is being remade, yes with a NASCAR, and perhaps even an Indy car, twist.
Our tale begins many days ago with a most lovely race car driver named Danica. This unique and beautiful woman lived in the land of Indy, but was not satisfied with her plight.
Everywhere she went, she told her friends and her family that she longed for adventure in the new land of NASCAR. She wanted to break free and finally reach her full potential.
One day, at one of her favorite race tracks, young Danica lost control of her car. She crashed hard into the wall and the last thing she remembered was that she seemed to be transported through the air.
Danica landed hard with a thump. And when she awoke, she was in a very strange, new place.
This was a place filled with many seats and many people. There were also different kinds of cars going around the race track, cars of a different color that seemed strange and foreign to her.
As she tried to pick herself up and shake her daze off, a most beautiful woman in a firesuit descended from the skies.
"Hello Danica dear and welcome to the land of NASCAR," said this beautiful woman. "I am Krista, the good announcer, and I will make you feel most welcome here."
Just as Krista greeted Danica, very short men wearing all different colors, seemed to come out of the woodwork. Startled, Danica asked Krista who these strange little men were.
Laughingly, Krista told her that these were the race car drivers here in the land of NASCAR. They had to be so small in order to climb through the window net and into their powerful race cars.
After processing this strange information, Danica asked Krista what she should do next.
"Why you must go and see the great and powerful Wizard," said Krista. "He will know if you should stay here in NASCAR-land or if you should return home to your native Indy country."
"How do I get to see the Wizard?" asked Danica.
"Well, of course, you follow the checkered flag road," Krista said. "Just follow the checkered flag road."
"But I must share a warning with you before you go," said Krista. "There is a very evil owner who lives along this road and who just might try to prevent you from reaching the Wizard."
"Her name is Theresa and she has stopped many race car drivers, including her own step-son, from achieving their NASCAR dreams."
"How will I ever be able to fight the evil Theresa?" cried Danica. And suddenly, red ruby race shoes appeared on her petite feet.
At the same time, and just as suddenly, a checkered flag road also appeared and Danica, wearing her new red shoes, started following it. After waving goodbye, Danica set out on her long journey to see the Wizard.
Just when she was getting very tired and was almost ready to find a place to stop for the night, Danica heard a noise in a field just off the checkered flag road. To her surprise, it was a scarecrow hanging on a post in the field.
"Oh my," Danica said. "Can I help you off that pole?"
"You bet," said the scarecrow. "My name is Kurt and I've lost my brain. You see, my crew chief has suddenly left me and I don't know how I'll get through the next few races without his knowledge on the pit box."
"Well, I know just what to do," said Danica. "You must come with me to see the Wizard and he will help you."
So, the two new friends set off merrily on the checkered flag road. After a few more miles of walking, they suddenly heard a screeching noise.
Danica was the first to see the reason for the squeaking. It was a man made of tin, who made the most awful noise every time he tried to move.
"Can I help you?" asked Danica.
"Yes, please," said the tin man. After oiling all of his joints so he could move freely, the tin man introduced himself to his two new friends.
"I'm Juan Pablo and I'm looking for a heart," said the man of tin. "I race so hard and I've been so focused on getting into the Chase and winning the Championship, that I have lost my innate Latin ability to love my competitors."
"Oh my," Danica said. "You must come with us to go and see the Wizard. There is no doubt that he can give you a heart."
So, off the three new friends went on the checkered flag road. Darkness descended and the trio were becoming a bit afraid.
They heard rustling and some growling. And suddenly a lion came out of the forest and almost attacked them.
Danica reacted quickly, slapping the lion right across his face. To her surprise, the lion started crying and wailing pitifully.
"I never stand up for myself and I never believe that I can win," cried the lion plaintively. "I must find the courage to run to actually be a champion."
Danica took pity on the lion, who she found was named Mark. "You must come with us to see the Wizard and he will grant you courage."
Excitedly, Mark joined Danica, Juan Pablo and Kurt and they all skipped happily down the checkered flag road.
Feeling quite good about themselves and their journey, the four-some decided to stop and rest for the rest of the evening. They snuggled up amidst a field of bright red poppies, as red as Danica's race shoes.
When they awakened, all four found themselves being held prisoner in the Taj Mahal of Racing. It was an empty place, with dusty trophies and a few old race parts.
It was then that they met the evil Theresa in the flesh. She was skinny, with long brown hair, and talked very softly.
"I am Theresa and I cannot let you go to the Wizard," said the evil one. "You must stay with me and help bring my race team back to its glory days."
"But we cannot do that," said all four of the travelers at once. "We must find the Wizard so that we can get all we need to continue our success in NASCAR-land."
But Theresa took no pity. She locked them all in one of the Taj Mahal rooms, telling them that they would never escape her clutches.
Just then, Mark the lion drew up to his full stature and pushed Theresa as hard as he could. Juan Pablo passionately joined him and Kurt plotted the way out of the garage area so they could all escape.
The four-some fled quickly and returned to the checkered flag road. And there in the distance, they saw a most beautiful sight, a brightly lit area bearing a huge sign labeled "Victory Lane."
"We're here, we're here," shouted Danica to her new friends. "This is the place where we will find the Wizard."
Danica and her small group approached the gates carefully. A surly looking man asked to see their credentials.
"But we don't have those with us," said Mark the lion. "We only made this journey so we could see the Wizard and be granted our wishes."
After making several calls on his Nextel Sprint phone, the surly security guard grudgingly opened the gates for the travelers. They all walked through excitedly, ready for their audience with the Wizard.
But none of them were prepared for what they encountered next. It was the largest hauler that they had ever seen and across it was labeled in black and gold lettering one simple word, "NASCAR."
"I don't think I want to go in there," Danica said. Mark, Juan Pablo, and Kurt all agreed wholeheartedly.
Suddenly, the hauler doors opened and a strange looking man named France beckoned them in. And just as suddenly, they were confronted by the Wizard, hidden deep in the hauler and surrounded by a curtain.
"I am the great and powerful Helton," said the Wizard. "Why are you all disturbing me on race weekend?"
"Well, sir," said Danica haltingly. "We came all this way so that we could meet you."
Danica continued, "You see, I need your help to decide if I should stay in NASCAR-land. And my friend Kurt the scarecrow needs to find a brain for his pit box."
"My other friend Juan Pablo the tin man needs to find his Latino heart," said Danica. "And most of all, my friend Mark the lion needs to find the courage to run for the championship."
"How dare you approach me," said the great and powerful Helton. "I'm incredibly busy and I have penalties to decide."
Just then, a very strange thing happened. The great and powerful Helton pulled the curtain aside and the four friends saw that he was just a man, albeit a very tall man with a mustache.
And he was not scary at all. In fact, he even cracked the faintest of smiles.
"My friends, you already have all you need," said the Wizard kindly. "Kurt, you don't need a new brain on your pit box as you have demonstrated your intelligence in plotting your escape from the evil Theresa."
Helton continued, "And Juan Pablo, you showed your love for Danica by encouraging her to run and escape the Taj Mahal."
"And finally, Mark, you showed your courage by pushing the evil Theresa out of the way and saving all of your friends."
While all three drew up in pride, acknowledging their accomplishments, Danica started to cry. "But Wizard, I still don't know if I belong in NASCAR-land or the land of Indy," she wailed.
"Oh Danica," said the Wizard Helton. "The answer is right there in your heart. It is also in your pocket book too."
"Think carefully about what you want," continued Helton. "Close your eyes and click your race shoes together three times."
Danica did just that, closing her eyes and clicking her red ruby race shoes slowly three times. It was then that it dawned on her and she murmured to herself, "There is no place like home."
And when the young race car driver opened her eyes, she was indeed home. She had been transported right back to the land of Indy and right back into her open wheel car.
Danica gently caressed the steering wheel of her GoDaddy.com race car. And she knew without a doubt that she was indeed back home.
The telling of this NASCAR version of "The Wizard of Oz" is dedicated to Leroy Watson. And yes, our racers are in Kansas! Love, Aunty Em.