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Sonoma 2014- Happier TimesLast Thursday my world came skidding to a halt quicker than The Drive for Five after the incident with Keslowski at Texas Motorspeedway last fall. My driver dumped me. That’s right! Jeff Gordon is breaking up with us, his fans. He announced that this will be his last season as a driver in NASCAR. Initially I was shocked. Sure there have been murmurings for a few years about the impending R word, especially after the resurgence of some back pain a few seasons ago, but last season, man- last season seemed to have cleared all such nonsense talk out of the air. Jeff Gordon was back – Championship Contending Rainbow Warrior Jeff Gordon (though personally I never thought he went away). Sure the season ended in bitter disappointment for the 24 and his fans, but that just meant reason to look forward to the next season. Right?

Apparently, wrong! Jeff says he made the decision to make this his last season about midway through last year and that he is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. Well, just like any person dumped unexpectedly (no matter how evident the signs were) by their significant other, I say “Well bully for you, but what about me???.” I have shed tears over the announcement. I have received “condolence” texts from not just friends but from casual acquaintances! They recognize the suffering and pain I am enduring over this heartbreak.
I try to think positive. I try to visualize what it will be like without Jeff Gordon on the track and it does nothing to ease my heartache. I try to think about who I will cheer once Jeff is no longer driving. I have rolled a few drivers around in my head and as much as I like those drivers – I don’t love them. I love Jeff. I always have and I always will! I just can’t see myself in another driver’s jacket. It doesn’t feel right!

They say time heals all wounds, and I am sure that at some point there will be another driver, but I expect there will be a rebound driver or two in between that time comes, if it ever does. So fair warning to friends and family: don’t load me up on merch from the next driver I take up for ‘cause I can darn near guarantee that he ain’t a keeper. Not the kind I would take home to momma. It’s just too painful right now to think about giving my all to another driver. My relationship with Jeff lasted over 20 years, I am going to need some time to get through it.

It’s been nearly a week and talking about it still brings tears to my eyes as I think about all the experiences we will no longer share: knee slapping laughs at After the Lap, pit lane brawls leaving the villain spitting blood, pre-race invocation family shots, and most importantly Victory Lane fist pumps.

I am sure Jeff will stay in touch and still be in my life in some way, but it won’t be the same. It’s the end of a beautiful ride. Good luck, Jeff. What we had was special, and though you hate to hear it: DRIVE FOR FIVE, now is the time!
Love Always,
A Jeff Gordon Girl (Misty “24ever” Bethany)

I love to read. That is probably evident judging by the “Amy’s NASCAR Reading list” posts I make (and for those of you wondering I will be continuing that this year and already have some posts planned) but I can’t imagine a world without reading. That is why I love the speedway reading events. I know Fontana does some reading events around their race and Texas Motor Speedway has the Speed To Read program. This year Speed To Read has partnered with Lionel Racing in a Design-A-Diecast program! How cool is that?

More than 3,500 students in the seven schools that participate in the Speed To Read program will have the opportunity to use their artistic talents to design their a diecast paint scheme. Students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade will design a NASCAR paint scheme .  Winners will be picked in each of two grade categories:  grades K-2 and grades 3-5. The winner will have their diecast actually produced on a 1:24 scale diecast and presented to them in an acrylic case. That is such a cool idea- I would have LOVED that as a kid! Their classmates will recieve a 1:64th Lionel branded diecast as well.  The winner in each category will additionally receive tickets to the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11th, 2015. So not only do they receive a cool diecast as their reward but they will be heading to the race in April! How fun!

Tony and Teddy B. Caring (credit: Office Depot)* Yeah I know it’s an old picture- but it’s very Christmasy isn’t it?

Are you looking for that holiday gift for the NASCAR fan in your life? Here are some quick suggestions from your friendly neighborhood Smoke fan: (more…)

I have lots to write still to wrap up the season- but I wanted to congratulate the winner of the Ford EcoBoost 400 AND the winner of the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing #4 Budweiser Chevy:

Winner winner chicken dinner! Winner of both the Ford EcoBoost 400 and the 2014 Sprint Cup Championship Kevin Harvick hoists the trophy for the cup championship in victory lane in Homestead, Fl on November 16th 2014. (photo credit: 303081Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Harvicks in Victory Lane

The Harvick family celebrate the 2014 Sprint Cup Championship in victory lane at Homestead, FL on November 16th, 2014. (Photo Credit: 303098Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

And my FAVORITE picture of the night- Driver, Owner, Friends, Champions.

The Driver. The Owner. The Friends.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

Thanks Kevin Harvick- Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony needed that!!  So did the fans.

If you look up the word champion up on dictionary.com this is what the definition is:

dictionary.com definition of champion.

Do you see that very first definition there? A person who has defeated all opponents in a competition or series of competitions, so as to hold first place.  It’s makes sense right? After all if you look at probably the two most popular stick-and/or-ball sports in the United States that is what they use as a Champion.  What Super Bowl team does not have the BEST record for their division going into the big game. Same for the World Series- it’s a series of games between the two teams with the best records in their respective divisions. It’s what NASCAR use to have. (more…)

I know that I have mentioned the Lionel Racing Golden Ticket program before but here is the gist of the program: Buy a 2014 1:24 Lionel Racing Diecast and you could find a golden ticket in it for one of several awesome prizes.  I know personally that the private tour of Stewart-Haas Racing shop in Concord, NC followed by lunch with a pit crew member  would be my DREAM prize (and as of this writing that dream prize of mine? Hasn’t been claimed yet! Hmmm maybe I should consider buying another diecast)!

Sounds too good to be true right? Well just ask Judie Kochenower! She bought a Dale Jr Diecast for her collect and lucked into finding a Golden Ticket for a Dale Jr meeting n greet- which took place at Texas Motor Speedway.  Judie and her mom Ann Clark (A SMOKE FAN based on her attire! Go Ann!) were lucky enough to get to spend some time with Dale Earnhardt Jr!Here are some great pictures of Judie, Ann and Dale’s meeting:

Judie, Dale and Ann

Judie Kochenower and Ann Clark meet Dale Earnhardt Jr in Texas. Judie was the lucky winner of a golden ticket in the Lionel Racing Golden Ticket Sweepstakes. (Photo Credit: Lionel Racing/Tommy Grassmann/CIA)

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If you are anywhere near the Stewart-Haas Racing shop on October 12th – this might be something you might want to show up to- whether you have a hot rod to enter or just (like me) like to appreciate other’s hot rods. Click the flyer to go to the webpage!

 (This is what originally came out of my pen when I sat down to pen my weekly race review. It wasn’t my usual race report so I kept this and wrote a usual race report which became Oral B 500: Back In  The Saddle Again (Part 1) –  Amy).

Pre-Race Invocation in Atlanta

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

As I sit here, in a car wash of all places, scratching out the rough draft of my weekly race report, the song Back In The Saddle by Aerosmith is a constant refrain echoing against the walls of my skull and will not leave me. It echoes even louder and more constant then the golf tournament playing on the ancient television set turned up far too loud that needs two types of converters just to get the digital signal to the local station. I have effectively started and crossed out and then started over again (because I am old school and use paper and pen most of the time- then convert my posts to digital) this post at least three times, all while waiting for my SUV to be be brought around from the back where the washing happens to the front where the hand detailing takes place, because I just can’t seem to get the post quite right. Because obviously I have more to say about the emotion of the race than I do the race itself. (more…)