Don Wolf e-mails this week to ask,
Just wondering what has happened to Dale Jarrett. Since he left the booth I have not seen or heard anything about him. Is he OK?”
The source I check with on all questions like this says he is sure DJ is only gone for three or four more weeks until ESPN takes over the Sprint Cup Series telecasts, starting with the Brickyard 400. Dale is just taking a little time off before he goes into 17 consecutive race weeks.
Got a good question from George Milton, who wants to know,
What was the most embarrassing thing to happen to you while flagging a race? I’m pretty sure it had to be dropping a flag…
No, George, although I will readily admit to dropping a flag at least twice. Green once, checker once. Green wasn’t a problem, because it happened when I was using two of them at the time. Same with the checker, which caught on the cover of a light switch at Springfield, Mo. The only problem was that both times, I’m sure a couple of drivers ran over them deliberately. Neither was in good shape when I got them back.
Same thing with the cowboy hat I wore before we had radios. That came off at Salem, during an Australian Pursuit race in an ARCA program. Veterans will recall those races, where the procedure required any car that was passed to pull off the track. The hat came off early in the race, while there were still eight cars out there, and Ramo Stott was leading. I pointed at the hat, and Ramo acknowledged that he saw it.
He saw it OK. He changed his line going into the first turn to make sure he hit it, and he led the whole field right over it. It ended up in the middle of the backstretch. When my brother tossed it back up to me, I told him Ramo ran over it.
He replied, “EVERYBODY ran over it…”
Very funny. I put it back on and looked like I’d been in a gunfight.
But the most embarrassing thing to happen, which also came at Salem, didn’t have anything to do with dropping anything. It was an early ASA program, and I had come back from a break and climbed back up to the flagstand between practice and qualifying. This was after a new flagstand was built. The old flagstand at Salem, shown in the accompanying photo, was a box secured to one of the support poles for the roof of the grandstand. You climbed up to reach the outside ladder with a couple of steps cut in the wall. This situation wouldn’t have occurred with that old flagstand.
Anyway, I had my back to the track and was talking to a friend of mine in the second or third row of seats, when I notice a ripple of laughter from the fans right in front of me. This became a bigger ripple, expanding from where it started, and it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten something very important when I came back.
Would you believe I got an ovation when I turned my back to the crowd and zipped up my fly?
What did I do? What could I do? I turned around, bowed, and acknowledged it.
Like my father used to say, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you have no business laughing at anybody else.
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