I don't have any great stories about Bob. He was in retirement and covering NASCAR for a magazine (or magazines) when we met. He went out of his way to try to find extra magazine writing work for me when I was unemployed, and Bob was one of the most upbeat writers I've ever met. He was one of the people I looked forward to when I went to a race.
One of my favorite memories of Bob came in 1991; Bob was a minor actor in what happened that day, but he got everything started.
We were at Talladega Speedway a day after a Winston Cup race was rained out by one of the worst storms I've ever seen at a race track (lightning hit behind the stands, among other things).
I walked into the infield media center, and Bob was interviewing Dale Earnhardt, someone I've written about in four books. They were talking about Earnhardt's airplane and pilot, so I went over, got my tape recorder and taped the interview.
Dale memorably stayed in the media center that day. He fixed the TV monitor, and he participated in a Hangman game on the computer of publicist Ray Cooper (Earnhardt wasn't very good, but he was competitive), and he showed me his Rolex watch (I'd never seen one up close). Most of all, he finally answered a question for me.
He was sitting down, with us standing around him. I wanted to ask him about his racing dreams for a Winston Cup Scene story. When an opening came, I pounced. "You're not going to win 200 races, but is your goal to match Richard Petty's seven Cup championships."
With his head still down, he said that Petty was his hero, but he wanted to match The King's seven titles.
Then he stood up and looked me in the eyes. "Last week at Martinsville, I didn't know it was my 50th (career) win ... but I knowed it was my 40th birthday."
The story behind that is that he'd been saying that his 39th birthday, but his mother Martha Earnhardt was saying that it was his 40th. She was right, of course.
Bob was among the many people in that crowd. Tons of them are on my Facebook page, including Bob. I've often wished him happy birthday, and he's done the same for me. I've heard from him now and then, and I've felt better when I did.
Now, I won't hear from him again. Goodbye, Bob. You're already missed.
EDITOR@WORK blog entries
Entries from The Dog Blog