A Late Start
I got a little bit of a late jump-start this morning. I was up past midnight shooting pool and sharing beverages with my buddy Joe Pagels in the Ramada Inn lounge in Titusville, Fla., after spending some time with the campers in the infield.
Joe and I worked together for about eight years at a newspaper in Washington. But we can't hang much nowadays since Joe cashed out of his northern Virginia townhome, moved to New Mexico and had a log cabin built on a little mountaintop in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. He's living his dream there now with his white german shepherd, Wolfie.
We had a few beers and won a few sloppy pool games that we played with some locals and some race fans who were also staying there. We lost just as many as we won, I'd say.
I guess I had enough beer in me to get up and sing karaoke, some Willie Nelson and some Johnny Cash. That'll give you an idea of what condition my condition was in.
Joe and I don't see much of each other, but we still meet up for the 500, and we made a late night of it Saturday. We tried calling some of our race buddies who haven't been able to make the trip for a few years. Didn't have much luck, although we did connect with Steve Kerneklian's father Mickey, who was visiting Steve's home in upstate New York. Steve and his wife Sarah were out, taking advantage of the free babysitting, so we didn't get to chat.
My 4:30 a.m. wake-up call was right on time. But I closed my eyes for just a second after the call, and woke up at 6:20. Yikes! A quick shower and I was on the road. I pulled into my parking spot at 7:45, not too bad for the day of the 500.
I'm heading out now to check out the gear in the merchandise trailers parked outside the speedway. I'll post on that later, then head for my seat on the backstretch for the 48th running of the Great American Race. I can't wait.
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