Toni Montgomery · Tuesday April 11, 2006
Editor’s Note: Starting today and every Wednesday, Frontstretch is proud to produce a new column dedicated to the experiences at the track of the most important people in NASCAR…you, the fan! We’re going back to the memory vault and talking about our own experiences as fans at the track, bringing our own hilarious stories from anywhere from Pocono to Phoenix right into your own living room! Let us know what you think by commenting on this week’s first edition below, by Toni Heffelfinger.
I love those commercials where they show drivers getting up in the morning wearing those NASCAR pajamas. You know, the ones that match their sponsor’s colors and have their car number plastered all over them. It’s funny enough to see drivers going about their daily lives in driver suits, but I think it would verge on the creepy to see these guys getting out of bed in them; so, that’s led to the necessary and exciting invention of driver “jammies.” Those things are nowhere near creepy; as a matter of fact, I find them quite silly.
Suddenly, it hits me. Do I look just as silly as the drivers in MY NASCAR jammies? Yeah, I admit it. I have NASCAR jammies. They are Elliott Sadler jammies, and they’re black with Elliott’s name and car number all over them. They also have green M&M’s holding checkered flags. I thought they were quite nice, but I’m thinking now maybe those jammies are kind of silly to have. Especially since if you read my little staff bio, you’ll notice no mention of Elliott Sadler among my list of favorite drivers through the years. So why do I have Elliott Sadler jammies? That’s a Trackside odyssey, and I’m going to tell you all about it.
I first spied these jammies on a souvenir rig at Pocono a few years ago. I instantly decided I needed to have some of those, so off I went to my driver’s trailer to get me some. My excitement quickly turned to disappointment, though. No one had any Ken Schrader jammies; come to think of it, they didn’t even have a Ken Schrader souvenir trailer. Still, I wanted those jammies, so I’d just have to do what I’d done before when I spotted a really cool souvenir that didn’t come in my driver. See, when you are a Ken Schrader fan, as I’m sure is the case with some other drivers, too, they don’t always have the cool stuff in your driver. In the end, you have to compromise, and get them in some other driver that you at least find acceptable enough to wear.
So, I went to check all the souvenir rigs to see which drivers had NASCAR jammies. Certainly, I could find them in at least one driver I could live with. How hard could that be? First, it was back to the original trailer where I’d first spotted them, but they only had them in the Earnhardts variety…both Dale, Jr. and Sr.
Now, I do have a pair of Earnhardt, Sr. shorts, but that’s only because I overdressed one year at Nazareth and I had to find shorts before I burst into flame. After searching all of the souvenir trailers at that track, I determined they were the only ones to be had. I’m not particularly a fan of Dale, Sr., so I wore them only that one time, and I allowed no pictures to be taken while I had them on. They are so old by now that they tout Earnhardt, Sr. as a three time Winston Cup Champion! I thought about giving them to an actual fan several times through the years, but now I’ve elected to keep them, even though I couldn’t wear them if I wanted to. I can barely get my left thigh into them, let alone my entire backside. No, I didn’t want a pair of Dale, Sr. jammies to join my shorts in the drawer.
As for Dale, Jr., I like him well enough, but this particular visit to Pocono came just a few weeks after a trip to Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the 600. The girl in the No. 8 gear two rows behind us warned us that she was a screamer, but that still didn’t prepare me for what I was about to experience. This girl yelled out, "Juuuunnnniiiooor, I looooooove yoooooouuuuu," every time Earnhardt drove by the grandstand. There are 400 laps in that 600 mile race, folks. That’s 400 opportunities for a car to drive past a grandstand. By lap 100, I was trying to figure out how to turn my scanner past maximum volume in an effort to drown her out. With that fresh in my mind, I couldn’t bring myself to buy Dale, Jr. jammies, either.
So who else had them? The next place I found them was at Kurt Busch’s trailer. Uh-huh. Yup, moving on now, where else might we find them? There were little Alltel ones at Ryan Newman’s souvenir rig. I filed that away as a possibility, but somehow I didn’t think so. I’ve never really warmed up to the Rocket Man. I appreciate his work with animal charities as an animal lover, and I do enjoy his sense of humor. He’s got that dry, wicked, and sometimes downright evil sense of humor I really enjoy, but it never fails that every time I start to think he’s not so bad, he does something that pegs the pompous ass scale and turns me off. Still, Newman was running ahead of the others at this point.
I skipped the Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson trailers completely because, well, let’s be realistic here. People might actually see me in these jammies, and I couldn’t have that. I found some on Tony Stewart’s trailer next. Somehow I have accumulated a good number of Tony Stewart items. The teddy bear with the “I Love Tony Stewart T-Shirt” was bought with precisely the same reasoning as the jammies. They didn’t have a Ken Schrader one, and I wanted one. Tony has been somewhat of a go-to guy when I want a souvenir that I can’t get in my own driver. There was only one problem with the Tony Stewart jammies, though. They were Home Depot orange. That’s OK for a jacket, maybe, and it sure helps you find someone when you get separated in a crowd… but these were jammies. I wanted to sleep in them, not get spotted by them.
I was just about to give up and resign myself to the nice, calm, blue Ryan Newman jammies when I spotted the Elliott Sadler ones. Certainly, these were the best ones yet. I didn’t have any issues with Sadler, and they were a nice restful black. I could live with M&M’s all over them. After all, I’m a Ken Schrader fan and I’d just spent the last several seasons adorned in M&M’s. But wait. Some of my Ken Schrader fan buddies were stinging over the breakup of that sponsor/car/driver combination, and some of them blamed M&M’s. Would these jammies get me kicked out of the club if anyone found out about them? I decided it didn’t matter…I wanted jammies. So, I decided to take my chances and go for the M&M’s. Besides, they went nicely with the Ken Schrader M&M’s nightshirt I already had at home.
Things worked out fine after that, and here I am today, happily sleeping the night away in my Elliott Sadler M&M jammies. But I still have to wonder. Do I look as silly as the drivers in the commercials when I wake up in the morning?
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