The Frontstretch: Driven To The Past : Darrell's Cheap Battery by John Potts -- Friday May 22, 2009

Go to site navigation Go to article

Driven To The Past : Darrell's Cheap Battery

John Potts · Friday May 22, 2009

 

Some of the good memories and stories come from experiences off the track. This one has to do with a show car…

We used to make an effort to bring all kinds of show cars to Indianapolis in the week prior to our Busch Series race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. That might sound easy now, but this is in the days before the Brickyard 400, and Indianapolis wasn’t always the preferred destination.

The summer that “Days of Thunder” was released, we managed to get four or five show cars and put them in front of theaters, suitably accompanied by posters for the Kroger 200 (Bob Daniels, our GM, never missed a chance). I even took one of those standups of Darrell Waltrip and pasted a Kroger 200 poster over the Tide box he was holding. Kroger, who still sponsors the race and I believe is still the longest-standing race sponsor in any NASCAR race series, was also great about putting cars in front of their stores when we could get them. Tommy Houston said he didn’t have a show car, but sent his superspeedway car a couple of times so we could use it. He even said we could use it in parade laps at prior races (with specific instructions that I wasn’t allowed to drive it).

Darrell Waltrip was gracious enough to help out a friend, sending a show car over to Indianapolis to promote the Kroger 200.

Anyway, there was one year when Darrell sent us his Busch Series show car, and we met the driver for lunch at Union Jack’s, a very popular watering and feeding hole and gathering place for the race crowd, a mile or so from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Crawfordsville Road. I explained that we wanted to show the car in front of the pub that day, then in front of the Speedway motel the next day, then bring it to the track. The driver asked if we could get a wrecker to move it, and naturally I wanted to know why. Turned out that DW was using the souvenir trailer to transport the car, and once the guy had the trailer set up at the track he needed another way to move it.

I told him to sit tight and have lunch on us, then headed out on a mission.

First stop – Fately’s Auto Repair on Crawfordsville about halfway between the pub and the Speedway. Two old friends from my ARCA days ran that place. I asked if we could leave the car there overnight, and they graciously agreed. I just asked that they put it back together after they finished checking it out.

Stop No. 2 – the Speedway Police Department. Jeff Dine, who I believe is still the chief, was a race fan and a good friend. Just a couple of weeks before, he had stopped me and my 1965 Corvair on 16th Street. The speedometer cable was broken, and Jeff walked up and said, “Potts, do you know how fast you were going?”

“Uh, no, Jeff, I was hoping you knew.” After I explained how hard it was to find parts for one of those things, he let me go with a warning.

I walked into Jeff’s office and told him I needed an escort to take a car from Union Jack’s to Fately’s, then to the Speedway the next day, and back to IRP.

“Why can’t you just drive it?”

“Well, this car doesn’t have a license plate, headlights, taillights, or mufflers, Jeff.”

“Let me guess, does it have a great big number on the side and a sponsor on the quarter-panel?”

“As a matter of fact it does.”

For the mere price of some comp tickets for Jeff and the officer who would perform the duty, we made the arrangements. Made a pretty neat parade, really—a police car with lights on, the IRP pace car, and this race car headed down the road. The only hitch came when we couldn’t get it started the next morning, but the boys at Fately’s took care of that with their battery charger.

As I walked back through the office door at IRP and headed for my office, I heard a familiar voice say, “John Potts, you’d better stop and talk to me.”

Turning around, there was DW at the front desk. As I’ve said before, we had been friends since I met him while he was in his teens and racing in the Owensboro area. He wanted to know if I was on banker’s hours, getting to work late. I explained what I had been doing, and he was actually somewhat impressed by the whole deal.

“Didn’t have any problems, did you?”

“No, just a little delay this morning. And we wouldn’t have had that if you weren’t using that cheap battery.”

I resisted the urge to tell him that it was one of his sponsor’s batteries.

NASCAR NEWS, RIGHT TO YOUR INBOXAND IT’S FREE.
The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities
FREE NEWSLETTER! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

 

©2000 - 2008 John Potts and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Douglas
05/22/2009 08:18 AM
permalink

Reminds me of a personal “battery” story, obtained
sponsorship from a “battery company” for my SCCA GT-1 race car. Went thru a solid dozen or more batteries that year, theirs obviously, I would sit on the grid with a brand new battery, command to start engines, CLICK!

As in NOTHING!

Happened throughout the year. Towed all the way to Brainerd, MN from Michigan, and folks that’s a long haul, glad I went to the early practice day, CLICK! Yet another dead “sponsor battery”.

Hopped in the dually, went to town, bought a no-brand battery, installed it in the race car!

V-ROOM!

And for the rest of the season and next, this very same $30 battery provided all the starting power ever needed!

Win some, lose some!