Friday, January 31, 2014

Wayward pistons on the NASCAR media tour

Charlotte Motor Speedway has hosted the NASCAR media tour for more than 30 years. I went to 15 of them, but one of them stands out to me.

After breakfast, a couple hundred of us would ride buses to various race shops in the Charlotte area and often beyond. Sometimes we went as far as Asheville, N.C., Taylorsville, N.C., or even Stuart, Va.

After the day's doings this day, we were back at the hotel that held the media members, and CMS publicist Jerry Gappens (now the GM at New Hampshire Motor Speedway) was telling us a funny story. I've seen various versions of the story, but the only difference is the numbers thrown out.

We went to Andy Petree's race shop, and they didn't have enough ash trays for the tables, so they used racing pistons. After we left, Andy's people called Jerry and said that some of the media members had taken as many as seven of the pistons. They may have thought they were gifts, but they were real pistons used in race cars. They needed them back.

So it was announced that whoever took the pistons needed to return them. When Jerry told us, I understood that Andy's shop was missing seven pistons. The funny thing is that they got eight back.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dick Beaty, call BR-549

We were in the Talladega Superspeedway infield media center in the early 1990s — probably 1990 or '91 — and someone got on the PA system.

"Dick Beaty, call BR-549," the man's voice said; nothing else.

I had watched the old "Hee Haw" TV show years earlier, and I remembered the Junior Samples skit. The phone number for Junior's fictional used-car lot was BR-549. "Call BR-549," the super country Junior would say each week to canned laughter.

The late Dick Beaty, a nice man I talked to once or twice, was then the Winston   Cup director. I don't know if Beaty replied to the message. The announcement did draw laughter in the media center.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.