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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tony Vickio Lap 11

Tony Vickio Lap 11
Originally uploaded by Sally Ann.

Experiences of "The World Famous"
by: Tony Vickio

Painting at the Famous Race Tracks

Lap 11: The Bar Brawl

In the bar there was the normal "roar" of everyone talking at once, when above this noise we heard, clearly, "you stole a $100 dollar bill and I want it back"! Bobby and I looked at each other and turned to see what was happening. There was one of the men at the table of the "wealthy" people, hollering at the waitress about her stealing a hundred dollar bill. She is telling him, "Sir, I would never steal money, I didn't take a hundred dollar bill, you must be mistaken". The bartender spoke up. We turn in unison and look at the bartender. She says to the man, "She's my daughter and she doesn't steal"! Just then, Jerry, the bartender's husband turns around from the Poker Machine, cigarette hanging from his lips, head tilted to the left, so he could see through the smoke and just stares at the man. In unison, good thing we had swivel seats, Bobby and I turn and look at him. Jerry says the same thing to the man. The man at the table stood up (bad move) and said, "Why don't you sit down boy and go back to playing your f***** poker mach......." Yup..........."mach"! He didn't even get the word machine out of his mouth before a fist, about the size of my head, made contact with his face.

Jerry, the mower driver, is about 6'-8", 240 lbs and BIG! He came off that stool so fast, he was a blur! The speed of him moving combined with the speed of his fist lifted that guy right off his feet and crammed his head into the fake wood panel wall. He is now on the floor, sticking partially into the hole in the wall he made with his head with Jerry on top of him pounding away! The bartender is screaming at the top of her lungs, "Stop, stop! Somebody stop him! My husband is recovering from a heart attack, somebody stop him"! I knew them both, and she fed us good, so like "Wonder Dog", I jumped up (very stupid move) and ran to the two guys on the ground fighting. Just as I did that, the other guy stands up at the table. Bobby jumps up and takes care of him. I grab Jerry's arm as he is pummeling this man's face. He turns, eyes glaring and glazed and draws back! I scream, "Jerry"! out of pure fright and to get his attention! I'm ready for the blow! He looks and stares at me for a couple of seconds, seemed like a minute, and relaxes his grip on the guy and gets up. Holly s*+*, what the hell did I just do? That was really dumb! Really dumb! Good thing he recognized me! One hit from that fist and I wouldn't have seen the race!

Bobby lets go of the other guy. The wives of the two guys are screaming as they run over to help the guy sticking half way out of the wall. His face looks like a spaghetti dinner. They pick up the guy by the arms and sort of guide him out of the dinning room. They other guy picks up their coats and they leave. The whole place is silent. On the way out the one man, not in the fight, comes over and says, "She didn't steal a hundred, he was just an asshole"! We look at each other, turn and go back to our stools. As I'm sitting at the bar, I look up over the top of my Budweiser to the mirror behind the bar. Yup, I still have a head! Oh God, I couldn't stop thinking, "Why did I do that"? Everything got back to normal. Bobby and I were sort of heroes. We didn't have to buy a drink the rest of the night. We closed the place!

The alarm goes off.........oh God. I lay there for a minute thinking of last night. I cringe, hoping what I remembered was a dream! One good thing, it's Saturday and all we have to do is watch the Busch race! No work! All the work during the week is forgotten and now it is time to enjoy! It makes getting up a lot easier.

We don't even stop at the deli today. On race day you want to be at the track. You arrive a little late and you will be in traffic for hours! At the track Billy comes up and says, "See you boys had some trouble last night"? Seems Jerry is Billy's cousin. When word got around, it was the talk of the day. That day we watched practice and were looking forward to the Busch race! We have hit the weather perfectly! "Where are we watching the race from"? Bobby asks. When we work at these tracks, we have credentials that are "ALL ACCESS". We can even go on the racing surface! This spoils you! If you want to go up with the spotters or cameramen, just go! What a bonus! We even get NASCAR Garage Passes. I say, "Let's watch it from the Turn 2 Rescue truck". The Turn 2 Rescue boys are stationed inside Turn 2 at its exit. They are very close to the track, so close you have to look up at the cars on the banking as they go by. What a view! There is more on this banking later as the next trips down here, we do not do the grass, but letter the retaining walls. The race has its share of accidents but they all stay away from the grass. On the radio comes Billy. "Hey Signman, two more laps to go". I thought, "We are home free"! Then, "the last lap, you made it"!, he says. The leader is across the finish line....Checkerd Flag! I look at Bobby with a relaxed look. Now we can head to the bar! No......wait. On the radio Billy is hollering......"two cars sliding through the grass"! I'm thinking, "you idiot, that won't work"! and I'm laughing. "Nice try Billy" I say over the radio. The joke is on us! Come to find out, two back markers got together coming down for the checker and these two idiots slid through two logos! Tonight we work!

As soon as the cars are off the track we are out on the grass. I am on the radio to Maintenance to get the trailer (with the paint) and paint guns out to the grass. I hear a mower coming and it's the Grounds Keeper. I walk up to him and say, "What are you doing"? He gets off the mower and says, "I'm mowing the grass (and this means the logos), for tomorrows race. My eyes pop out and I say "WHAT"? "You are NOT mowing the logos"! You see, normal practice is when the grass gets to a certain point, you mow the whole thing. Logos and all! Then you repaint the logos as you can still see them. It doesn't take that long. I was afraid of this happening as we started the logos a day early because I wanted to leave a cushion in case the patterns didn't work out. "There is one problem"! I tell him, "number one, all my help went back to Michigan. Number two, there isn't enough paint. And number 3, they do not look that bad." As the grass grows, the logos will start to look fuzzy. He pays no attention and gets on the mower. I walk up to him and say, "you are not mowing those f****** logos"!!!! He starts to drive away and run after him. He gets off the mower and now we have a heated discussion on who is "boss"! Finally, he calls Mike (General Manager) on the radio to come out here. He arrives in a few minutes and sees there is a problem. I tell Mike the story. I want him to mow around the logos. After listening to both of us, he turns to me and says, "Will they look OK on TV tomorrow"? If it was going to rain, I would be in trouble. But as luck would have it, it wasn't. I said, "It will look OK". He turns to the Grounds Keeper and says, "Mow around the logos". He gets on the mower and does a "burn-out". Mike says "I'll get some construction lights out here for ya". Bobby and I walk out to survey the damage. Now when a car, going 180mph, slides through the grass, it doesn't stop in 100 feet. It's more like 1,000!! By pure luck, they slid right together and hit only two logos. All we repair is the tire marks. One problem here is, the one car had its wheel ripped off and it dug a 1000 foot "trench"! I called Maintenance to see if they had a truck load of sand. They said they would get whatever I needed. They got my sand and a tamper and a couple of men and they filled the "trench" and tamped it down. Bobby and I were painting, right over the sand.

We worked until about 8:00pm. It actually didn't take that long. I kept looking at the logos wishing I could have repainted them. Mike trusted my "big" judgment call on leaving them and that made me feel good. It was going to be close on the grass length on Sunday, but we really didn't have a choice.

We drive over the Maintenance Shop where everyone is gathered. The night before the race is exciting! The race reminds me of a tornado. You can see it coming in the distance, it gets closer and closer and you can't stop it. Whether you are completely ready or not, on Sunday the race comes! Everyone has last minute projects, except us. We are having a beer when Mike walks up to us with this jar. You guys earned it, take a sip! Yup! Good old Alabama Moonshine! The two fools that we are, we took a sip. In an instant, my windpipe closed completely off! It was like you would see in a movie! I'm gagging and making this horrible gasping sound, try to get a little air into my lungs. At the same time, the moonshine I swallowed allows you to trace the exact path of your intestines as it burns its way to your stomach! After I put on this pathetic show, everyone is laughing, what does Bobby do? The stupid nut, after watching me gasp for air in front of the staff, takes a slug! Yup! Same thing! Gasping, wheezing! A pathetic sight I must confess. Now I'm laughing. How can you be so stupid? I'll tell you how ............I take another sip..... and a slug! Pass it to Bobby! This is "smooth". I don't know what "smooth" means, it tasted like kerosene. Not only like kerosene, but light, on fire! Strange, but It had no effect at all........we thought. We headed for the Motel and our supper. Lucky we did.

We are on our stools, eating supper and having a Bud. Well, you remember that moonshine that had no effect? It finally got into the blood stream! I was just putting the bottle of Bud to my lips when the whole back bar, mirror included, moved in a "slithering" motion to the right! It was like getting hit with a train! I slam my bottle down and grab the bar so I don't fall off of the stool. I look at Bobby and say, "did you see that"? He said, "What"? Then, I don't know if he saw it or not, but he said, in a slow, low voice, "lets get to the!"

The alarm goes off!

Lap 12: Race Day


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, I really look forward to all these stories. You are putting into words something that every sign painter has experienced, the stress of a deadline on a huge project, and the feeling one gets when you are finished.

I do have some questions though...

What do you do if the weather is wet while you are applying the logo?

You said a while back that you no longer use oil base paints. Does this mean that you use a latex product? How do you keep from stepping on wet paint, and tracking it around where you don't want it?

Do you use a finer spray nozzle for cutting in an image, then widen it out for the backgrounds? Do you get a lot of overspray on you?

I clicked on your web site link and looked at the Indy Racing League logo you did at Nazareth Speedway. This looked much smaller in size than the Talledaga stuff, is it more difficult to do a smaller, more detailed logo than a larger logo?

Could you explain the patterns you use, are they a sort of spray mask, or how do you position the layout?

2:13 PM  
Anonymous The Famous said...

So far I have not had to attempt to paint in the rain. I don't see how you could do it. If you run into bad weather, you have to wait for an opening, even if you have to work all night. You have to attempt it no matter what. We repaired a logo at night once and in Alabama, the dew was so heavy, when we went to the track in the morning, and what we repaired the night before, disappeared! The dew made the paint fall right off the grass. You could see a faint shadow. We quickly resprayed it before the race. You really have to babysit these things.

We use a latex based paint, a "Turf Paint". When you paint, you have to plan your steps. You don't want to paint yourself in the middle. You need one man just to hold you're hose off the wet paint. This is a hard job as he has to hold it just right so he never pulls on the hose which would jerk the nozzle.

Not always. A nozzle is like a flat brush. Spray it "flat" and it is a wide pattern. Turn it 90 degrees and it is a thin line. The pressure controls overspray. There isn't much at all. Your shoes take a beating. We go to Wal-Mart and by cheap, throw away sneakers.

Believe it or not, the smaller the logo, the harder to paint.
Layouts are now done by using a giant "pounce pattern". They are made by Missouri Turf Paint. Huge sheets of plastic are unrolled and laid on the ground where the logo is to go. There are holes in the pattern, tracing the logo. You walk right on this huge plastic, spraying paint through the holes. Pull off the plastic and you have a series of dots laying out the logos.
I will have pictures to show this when the Tales go to Nazareth.

Hope this helps.

4:55 PM  

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