One of the highlights of the entire weekend for Alex occurred Friday. He was able to get a few autographs and he was absolutely THRILLED!!! He likes Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Alex had to get a new hat because Jr. switched teams for this year, and that's what he asked people to sign.
As I've said before, being a role model comes along with the territory of being a race car driver. And something that we all should remember is that our actions are a direct reflection of how we were raised.
For instance, back in 2002 I was able to get the autograph of a NASCAR driver. He was sitting at his souvenir trailer the morning of the Busch race, signing things for people. I was next in line, and as I approached him, I very nicely asked for his autograph. He wouldn't even look at me, but was talking to someone else while he signed. As he finished and shoved the program back in my face, I thanked him for his time and wished him luck in Sunday's race. He never even acknowledged me. Not a glance, not a "you're welcome", not a "thank you", nothing at all.
I WAS NOT HAPPY.
As I walked away I told Ted that I would never EVER even cross the street to see that man again. I have bad-mouthed him wherever I could. But the thing that makes me madder than anything is that he has made his parents look bad. Surely they didn't raise him to be rude intentionally. It would have taken him less than a second to glance at me and smile. He probably doesn't even realize that he has alienated at least one fan, and quite possibly hundreds more, if that's how he normally acts at autograph signings. He hasn't done too well in the sport in the last few years, and the vindictive side of me continually says, "That's what he gets!"
Anyway, to get back to last Friday, the first autograph that Alex got was Mike Helton's. Mike is the president of NASCAR and obviously knows how to treat the fans of the sport. He was very nice to Alex, looked him in the eye and smiled and nodded when Alex thanked him. Now THAT is how you treat someone.
The others he got were also nice, but the one person who made quite an impression on Alex, in addition to Ted, was....
The Pettys are one of the most famous families in NASCAR, with four generations.
His son, Richard Petty, is NASCAR's all-time race winner and seven time Cup champion, and raced from 158-1992.
Richard's son, Kyle Petty, started in NASCAR in 1979 and is still racing.
Kyle's son, Adam Petty, ran his first NASCAR race in 1998 but was sadly killed in the spring of 2000 while practicing for a Busch race at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Kyle Petty made a point of coming out to talk to the fans and sign autographs. He took his time while doing it and made a HUGE impression on everyone who saw him. Ted said he saw Kyle reach into his pocket and take out his blackberry, look at it for a second, then put it away, and go right back to signing autographs. He stayed and signed for quite a while.
Obviously Richard and his wife Linda raised Kyle properly...and taught him to appreciate what he has. What he did for my son that day has gone way beyond just simply signing a hat. And as a mother, that means so very much to me.
I've mentioned before that Joe Gibbs left a terrific impression on me when he waved to us at Bristol, and at his shop in Huntersville, NC, ( http://anotherdayinmylife-cindi.blogspot.com/2008/01/joe-gibbs.html ) and now we can add Kyle Petty to that list. Alex was even able to get a picture of him, although it was a little blurry.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was another rude driver who looked at Alex, then just walked away when Alex asked him for an autograph...he never even said anything. I liked this driver too...until that happened. Now he's been moved to the Rude List.
All in all, they had a wonderful time and it was a great bonding weekend for them.