Pit Note: Memorable Day for Anthem Singer; Harvick Visits Fort Bragg
Pit Note #10
Saturday, May 25
KOLBY GARRISON, SPEEDWAY STAR: Kolby Garrison's smile said it all. As she talked to TV and radio reporters in the media center Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, she nervously fingered the leash of her service dog, Mo. The grand prize winner of the Speedway Superstar competition hosted by CMS, Garrison sang the national anthem during today's HISTORY 300 pre-race.
"This is the biggest venue I've ever sung at," said Garrison, 24, her face lit up by a wide smile. "It's especially an honor because it's Memorial Day weekend, and being able to sing the national anthem for this particular race, it's amazing, especially since NASCAR is my favorite sport. I am amazed and overwhelmed and so thankful."
Garrison is a lifelong NASCAR fan, but because she is blind, she has never actually seen a race.
Perhaps that's why she's more excited about meeting the radio announcers than the NASCAR drivers.
"That's pretty much how she watches NASCAR on a weekly basis during the season," Kolby's dad Bob Garrison said of her interest in radio personalities. "We've had a great time with just about everything you've got here. I told her when we leave here she's done everything short of actually getting in one of these cars and driving."
"And I said I didn't think they'd let me do that," Kolby interjected, laughing.
Instead she's relished the opportunity to meet the men and women who have brought racing to life for this longtime fan, who traces her love of the sport back to family.
"I actually ended up getting Sirium XM satellite radio so I wouldn't miss a race, because they took away the coverage on the local station I used to listen on," the Greensboro, N.C. native said. "I just love everybody at MRN and PRN, and Claire B. Lang does an amazing job at bringing the sport to the level that I'm able to understand what's going on and get the details - just like being there."
Hearing Kolby single her out made Lang, a veteran racing reporter, feel a tug on her heart.
"Meeting Kolby made my day," Lang said. "Since my job is to tell the story of the sport, to paint a picture over the radio, her saying that is the biggest honor ever."
Kolby's visit to the race track helped her more clearly define the picture that Lang and the many other radio reporters have helped form in her head.
"Actually being at the track has brought everything full circle, and I was able to experience the sounds and the smells of NASCAR," Kolby said. "I had no idea the pit wall was smooth. And I didn't know the cars went counterclockwise."
After a full morning of taking in Charlotte Motor Speedway on race day, Kolby capped off her afternoon by performing a near-flawless rendition of the national anthem. And then she smiled.
RICK DALE DESIGNS HISTORY 300 TROPHY: The winner of Saturday's HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race will earn a one-of-a-kind trophy designed by Rick Dale of HISTORY's "American Restoration." Dale and his wife Kelly will present the trophy to the winner.
Dale was last year's Honorary Starter for the HISTORY 300 and presented a trophy to winner Brad Keselowski, who commented that Dale should have designed the trophy. The rest, as they say, is history.
The trophy features a 1940 Ford Coupe steering wheel, which represents the beginning of stock car racing; two gas pump nozzles from a 1936 North Carolina highway gas station on Route 18, frequented by moonshine runners; and a Custer Car gear, that symbolizes the first go-kart a child builds when dreaming about becoming a race car driver, rounds out the trophy's base.
"I'm very proud of it." said Dale. "I'm just honored to have been a part of this. It took us about two months to design. We tied it all together."
Also making the rounds with Dale were the hosts of HISTORY's "Counting Cars," Danny "The Count" Koker and Kevin Mack, who are serving as Grand Marshals for this afternoon's race.
"Being here today is a bit surreal," said Koker. "It's a thrill for me. I've been to NASCAR events but have never had the pleasure of doing it from this angle, and seeing behind the scenes everything that is going on. The show is seeing the cars running around the track, but man, when you step inside this whole big beautiful place…..it's a city inside. It's amazing what goes on here."
HARVICK SURPRISES SOLDIERS: Kevin Harvick surprised the military men and women of Fort Bragg (N.C.) Thursday with a special visit to the Warrior Transition Battalion's (WTB) Soldier and Family Assistance Center. The center provides primary care and case management for warriors who have suffered injury or illness while serving as a member of the U.S. Army.
"I'm always at a loss for words for how to express my utmost gratitude to the men and women who serve our country," Harvick said. "I know the entire NASCAR community is behind me when I say I can't thank these individuals enough for their dedication and service."
While at Fort Bragg, Harvick presented the installation with the firesuit he wore while driving the No. 29 Budweiser Armed Forces Chevrolet to victory in the 2011 Coca-Cola 600.
Harvick's visit to Fort Bragg was a part of Budweiser's "Red, White and Blue Summer" initiative, which benefits Folds of Honor Foundation. Since 2010, Anheuser-Busch has raised more than $5 million for the Folds of Honor Foundation. Harvick's No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet will sport a special patriotic paint scheme this weekend that reflects Budweiser's limited-edition red, white and blue packaging and features the Folds of Honor Foundation on the rear deck lid and TV panel.