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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Tony Vickio Lap 12

Presidents Seats
Originally uploaded by Sally Ann.

Experiences of "The World Famous"
by: Tony Vickio

Painting at the Famous Race Tracks

Lap 12: Race Day

I can barely hear. I strain to listen more closely, maybe it's nothing. It was nothing, it's gone. No, there it is's so far away; I can't quite make out what it is. What the hell is it? I strain to hear it again. I know I heard something. That's really's comes and goes. There it goes again!........a little closer this time. It's a little louder now. It's coming towards our room. Holy s***, its right here! It's in the room! I open one eye........... It's here!!! Suddenly, I realize it's the damn phone ringing with our "wake-up" call! I can't move! A moonshine hangover is the worst! My tongue is actually stuck to the roof of my mouth! I open my mouth and stick two fingers in. I have to peel it off with my fingers! It's just like peeling "Velcro"! It even sounded like Velcro peeling apart! RRIIIIIPPPPPPP!!! Finally, I actually have to pick my head up by my hair to answer the phone! I go to speak. My mouth is so dry; all that comes out is an "AAaaagttttttthhhhh". Oh my God!!! I think of the worst happening, I might live! Oh God, my head! I try to get Bobby up. I am not alone with this moonshine thing. Bobby is as bad as me, maybe worse! He's sitting up now, eyes still shut, and says, "I'm stayin' right here and watchin' it on TV". "No way", I say," we are going to the track"! I don't know how but we made it to the track. It is 6:00am and we are just getting so we can breathe! You see, up until now, I could only breathe out! If I inhaled, my head would blow off of my shoulders! This was a rough start to a hell of a Race Day at Talladega!

We are at the sign shop in the maintenance building, slowly going about our task of packing things up, as we are headed home right after the race. Coffee is good!! The coffee is brewed fresh in the Maintenance Office. There is this room with a couch, a few chairs and a counter top where the coffee maker sits. In the morning, it is the "hangout" room. Mike and other maintenance guys gather there to talk over the game plan for the day. On Race Day there are boxes of cookies and all types of pastries, thanks to the Hospitality Vendors at the track. They do keep us supplied with "stuff". We hang out in there, telling anyone who would listen how bad we feel. After talking to Mike and a few others, it becomes clear we were "suckered" in! As I look back, I don't remember any of them drinking the "evil brew"! "Those bastards", I thought laughingly. My friends got us, as I smiled to myself. That isn't going to happen again! If my head hadn't hurt so badly, I would have started planning a way to get them back, but I just said the hell with it for now. I'll get'em some other day.

We walk outside, the sun is up and you can feel the warmth on your face. It is a beautiful day! Coffee in hand, we walk over to where Mike is. He is leaning on the side of the box of a new, red, GMC pick up. One foot is up on the rear bumper and his elbows are on the top of the box, holding a cup of coffee. We walk over and lean on the truck. Just like him, foot on the rear bumper. Not to be cool, but to keep from falling over! There is activity all over the place! Race Day! Everyone is hustling to get last minute stuff done. We are lucky! Our work had to be done by Saturday night. We look over to our left and there is Bill France (President of NASCAR) standing next to us at the Maintenance Shop Office. Over to our right is a group of maintenance guys who are filling a pick up with waste cans. It is awesome! All different pay scales are mixed together on Race Day!

We have been at the track for 2 hours and its only 8:00 am. I say to Bobby, "Let's go over to the Main Grandstand and see how the logos look". He looks and me and doesn't say a word, but by his look I get, he says, "are you s******* me"! I go alone. I drive over to the gate that leads to the main grandstand and park. People are coming in, it looks like a dam opened, they look like they are "flowing" instead of walking, there are so many of them. It is easier to walk than drive. I get to the grandstand and walk up a few rows and look out at the Tri-Oval. Thank looks good. Not as good as it would look if we could have repainted it, but it is good enough. What a relief. I didn't lie to Mike. I walk back down and in those five minutes, the crowd coming in has doubled. It's like swimming upstream walking back to the car! Back at the shop I tell Mike that the logos look good. He says, "Why are you surprised, you told me they would". Yeah, I guess I did. Time for another coffee. I go into the room thinking, "I feel better now, after that walk up to the grandstands".

Bobby is not doing good at all! He is sitting there, in the car, not moving. I feel bad for him. If I had my pistol with me, I think he would have pleaded with me to shoot him. He was that bad! It is really boring being there so early. It's basically, get there early, or wait in traffic for hours. I'm leaning against a post that holds the roof of the canopy of the maintenance shop up. I'm just contently watching people run around like ants getting last minute chores done. I sip my coffee, "aaahhhhhh"! It's cold! I toss the remainder out onto the asphalt and turn to go back inside to get another one when I spot Dick Hann walking towards me. Dick is a Vice President at Daytona Speedway. I met Dick at Watkins Glen Raceway when he was up there observing a race weekend when ISC (International Speedway Corp.) took over the track. We became good friends. Whenever he came to Watkins, he could eat lunch anywhere he wanted, yet he would have me take him to the Mechanics Club (a private club which I belong) in Montour Falls for their "hot dogs"! He loved their hot dogs! I thought he was headed to the Maintenance Office when he spotted me and turned, walking towards me. I waved and said, "mornin' Dick". He says, "Beautiful day in Talladega. How did your painting go"? I say, "Went good. Glad we're done. I'm ready to go home"! "Where are you watching the race today"? he asks. I say, "I don't really know". I didn't want to tell him Bobby wanted to stay in the room. "I guess we are going over in Turn 2", I say. He reaches in the right hand pocket of his brown tweed jacket and pulls out some sort of paper. He holds it out towards me and says, "My guests can't make it so I have two tickets to the "Presidents Seats", do you want them"? I think, "holly s***"! Not wanting to look like a little kid turned loose in a candy store, and said, "Yeah, I guess I could use them"! I can't believe it! I take them and thank Dick and turn to show Bobby. His eyes are now open, but I don't think he's here! I tell him of our good fortune and he just stares at me. God he looks like s***! If I had a gun I would shoot him. It would be the best thing for him.

The morning drags on. I'm full of coffee and the race is about an hour and a half away. I say to Bobby, "Let's go find these seats and sit there. At least we will be there and not fight the crowd at the last minute. Plus, the walk will do you good"! He struggles to get up. He's up! We head to the grandstand. The crowd coming in is unbelievable! At the time, there were 150,000 seats and they are all sold! We walk and walk and walk! This place is "huge"! We are walking under the main grandstand. It's like walking in a tunnel. There are signs hanging down from the steel I-Beams showing the grandstand sections. We keep walking. The crowd is elbow to elbow. It is hard to believe. I look over to Bobby and I swear he is sleeping, standing upright and the dense crowd is just carrying him along like a log floating down the river! "Bobby", I holler. He looks left, right, up and down. I say, "Over here. We are up there". He manages to pierce the crowd and we are at the bottom of the stairs to the "Presidents Seats". As we get to the stairs, I feel like we just swam to the shore of a river, as the crowd is still flowing by. At the bottom of these stairs, standing tall, hands behind her back, is a Security Guard. She is dressed in the typical uniform. Black shoes, black pants with a white and blue stripe up the sides of the legs, blue shirt with a patch on the left sleeve which I didn't bother reading. I stand in front of her with Bobby slouching right behind me, drooling, eyes half shut (he is looking really bad) and hand her the tickets. She releases her grip of the hands behind the back and reaches out and takes the tickets. Instead of tearing off the stubs, she looks at the tickets, and then looks back at us. She looks back at the tickets and looks at us. The look of, "where the hell did you get these" is on her face. I think she wanted to call for help as these tickets had to be stolen. The two guys in front of her, who wanted to get in the "Presidents Seats", looked like two "wino's that just came in off the street. She reluctantly tore the stubs and handed the tickets back to me. As we walked past her to the stairs, she said, "Enjoy the race". We nodded and walked on.

We walk up the metal stairs, turn left and out to a platform. The Presidents Seats are located on a platform just under the tower seats and just above the lower grandstand. There is a single row of seats. The "thing" about this is, no one is in front or behind you. It is great! The view is fabulous! Leg room, lots of space. We look over at some people down the row. They are looking at us. They don't wave. I know what they are thinking. "How the hell did they get here?" You have to be "somebody" to be in these seats, as they are not for sale, but reserved for VIPs. I felt like hollering down to them, "I got friends in high places buddy"! but we just sat there soaking in the sun and letting them wonder, "how the hell we got these great seats."

Finally, the race is ready to start. The pace laps are done, the Pace Car pulled in Pit Lane and the cars are coming down the line, right in front of us. I holler over to Bobby, "Here they come"! I look to my left and there he (Bobby) is, slouched back in the chair, feet straight out in front of him, head tilted back and to the left, arms hanging straight down with the knuckles almost dragging the ground, eyes shut, mouth wide open, even a little drool showing on his chin, out cold! Damned if he didn't look just like Homer Simpson! He snaps straight up and with half opened eyes sees the green flag waving. I could tell by the look on his face, what he was seeing wasn't quite registering. Damned if his mouth wasn't still open. God what a sight! I slid over to the right a little bit to make more space. Maybe people wouldn't know we were together. Bobby may have seen every other lap. He was not enjoying the day. A wreck took out half the field, including Earnhardt, and we were glad when the checker finally fell!

At the Maintenance Office, we are gathered for an "after the race party". No, we didn't drink anything! We are telling everyone goodbye as we plan to head out and drive home. They all tell us to leave in the morning. "Nah, we are headed back"! Our plan to head straight home didn't materialize. We were so tired, we made it to the first motel we saw and pulled in! We were sleeping by 7 pm!

Lap 13: Back to the Glen


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, A while back you stated that you no longer use oil based paint for the grass lettering. do you use some sort of latex or what?

Also, I cooked at your web site and saw a photo of the IRL logo you produced at Nazareth. This logo looks a lot smaller than the ones you have been writing about here, and this particular job looks much more detailed. There is a lot of text as well as the "Indy Car" looks quite detailed.

My question is; Do you use any sort of pounce pattern for a logo of this size, or do you just scale it out? Could you explain your pattern process? Also, did you letter the car and lettering first, then cut-in the background? Do you use a fine spray nozzle for the detail, and use a broader one to fill in the background?

Two more; How do you keep from walking in fresh paint and not tracking it where you least want it? And finally, what do you do if the weathewr does not cooperate when you are supposed to paint?

Sorry for all the questions, but I find all this so fascinating.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, sorry for the repeated questions, I asked some of them after lap 11, and missed your reply.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous The Famous said...

We now use a "Turf Paint". It is latex based and a heavy content.

The IRL Logo was hard to do because of the small size. A different type of pattern was used. I will tell of this is a future tale.

I use one size nozzle. I twist the spray gun to get a fine line or a large pattern.

A helper holds the hose while you are spraying. You have plan your steps to stay out of wet paint.

11:20 AM  

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