Monday, June 22, 2009

The King and wine make great combination

I spent the whole weekend at the NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma and got my neck red.

I saw plenty of odd sights but the weirdest one of all was seeing Richard Petty drinking wine in the winner’s circle. What’s wrong with this picture … The King? Drinking red wine? In the winner’s circle?!

It’s about time. Richard Petty represents everything I like about NASCAR and since he retired as a driver in 1992 and became an owner his team had won only three times until Sunday. That’s three times in 17 times and none in almost 11 years.

And then Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge for Richard Petty Motorsports, came out of nowhere – a driver with no penchant for running on road courses winning a race for a 71-year-old owner who richly deserved it. It was a great moment, and then the King was ready for it. He was ready for the wine, too.

It seems Petty visited a winery over the weekend and was led into a wine cellar that the King called “a cave.” He said it was loaded with barrels of wine.

“I think we drunk something out of every barrel,” the King said. “(The cave) was straight and, when we got to the other end, and when I turned around, that dog gone was like that and like that (waving his hands). It changed after I went up through it. It was straight going in, it wasn’t too straight coming out.”

To quote rocker Peter Frampton: “What wine? Whose wine? Where the hell did I die?”

In a NASCAR world that has gone so high tech, it was so nice to see a good ole boy get a win for a change. The difficult economy has taken a big bite out of Richard Petty Motorsports, creating tension and causing cutbacks. Yet the King has handled all the losing and frustration over the years with class and dignity so it was such a treat to see him back up on the big stage and back in the spotlight again.

Petty could have whined about all his team’s misfortunes and bad luck. Instead, he wined and dined.

A toast. Long live the King!


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