Daytona Brings To Mind

The first Nascar race of the 2019 season, the Daytona 500, took place yesterday. Motor Man and I went to that race a couple of times several years ago.

I shared this post in 2013, and since yesterday’s race, once again, brought to mind that fateful week in 2001, I thought I’d share it again (with just a few changes) today.

Motor Man and I were in Daytona for the entire week leading up to the 2001 Daytona 500.  A friend of ours with “connections” had given us passes to several media events being held that week.

One of those was the IROC (International Race Of Champions) luncheon on Wednesday. A brief background: the IROC race featured identical (except for the color) Chevy Camaros. Drivers from several racing divisions were selected to drive in the IROC race, and a luncheon was held to determine the color car each would drive, as well as his starting position. These were determined by the spin of a wheel.

Motor Man and I were seated at the table with Nascar driver, Jeff Burton, which was fitting, since he’s also a native Virginian.  The IROC race that year was sponsored by True Value, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation was also involved.  After lunch and all the wheel-spinning was complete, the emcee announced that there was a young man there (through Make-A-Wish) whose wish was to meet Dale Earnhardt, Sr.  He then asked Earnhardt to please come forward to meet and have his photo taken with this little boy; I think his name was Travis, although I can’t remember for sure.  But I’ll refer to him in this post as Travis.

Instead of just posing by himself with Travis for those from the media to take photos, Earnhardt asked all the drivers at the luncheon to come forward. He wanted Travis to meet and have his picture taken with all of them. Motor Man and I were impressed that Dale didn’t “hog” that spotlight for himself. I was blinking back tears to the point that Jeff Burton leaned over to us and asked if Travis were our child.

I wasn’t sure if we’d be allowed to take photos at the luncheon, so I only had a little disposable cameras in my purse. This isn’t a good picture, but I wanted to share it because it reminds me of the compassion “The Intimidator” showed when meeting that little boy. (That’s Dale in the yellow shirt.)

earnhardt-and-make-a-wish-bmp

I’ve blurred out Travis’s face, since, obviously, I don’t have permission to post his picture.  But I’ve always remembered what he said while the photos were being taken: “I’ve always wanted to meet Dale Earnardt, and now I have.”

Motor Man and I were in the stands that next Sunday for the Daytona 500. Since our seats weren’t very good, we left early. We decided that we could enjoy the race more by listening to it on the car radio as we started our trip back to Virginia.

We were in Savannah when Dale Earnhardt’s death was announced: 18 years ago today.

One of our first thoughts was of Travis and how his wish had come true.

~These Days Of Mine~

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8 responses to “Daytona Brings To Mind

  1. It’s wonderful that Travis got his wish…..and of course so very sad that the generous and compassionate Dale Earnhardt lost his life. It was amazing there wasn’t a tragedy with that huge crash yesterday during the race. I know if I was associated with one of those drivers I’d have a hard time NOT holding my breath during the race hoping for the best for everyone.

    Pam

  2. That is a story worth re-sharing for sure. What a compassionate gesture to encourage all the drivers to pose with “Travis” for those magical few moments. I am sure this is a day that many remember yearly for the rest of their lives.

  3. A bittersweet post. Thanks for sharing. xo

  4. Wonderful and bittersweet memories. I bet Travis still treasures the memory of how Mr. Earnhardt made the day a real celebration. God bless Mr. Earnhardt, he must’ve been an amazing person.

  5. Such a lovely and compassionate story. What struck me the most was that unselfish, giving moment Earnhardt graciously shared the limelight with his fellow drivers to make that little boy’s day even more special. And then Earnhardt was gone. May he be remembered for the great man he must have been.

  6. I remember this post, & the story of how this had taken place right before that tragic day.. Timing really makes you think sometimes..

  7. What a compassionate gesture and a tragic race. Marshall is right about timing – we need to seize the opportunities when they present themselves. We’re not ‘big name’ folks, but we can still take the time to be special to others. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Oh, my goodness…this brings tears to my eyes. Wow… what a memory.

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