Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Hey Rowdy, I Have a Cat Named !

Some articles give you great insight with a straight forward title, "Johnson Wins 6th Cup Title", others make you read them in their entirety to understand. To completely understand this title, we must journey back to early November.
My family and I just finished dinner and were heading out to our car on a frigid fall night. As we approach our car my 4 year old son, Rusty, notices two kittens hiding under our car, using the warmth from the engine to stay warm. These kittens were no older than 6 weeks and immediately my son was attached. While I don't share the same passion for cats as my wife and son, I am not heartless. I told Rusty that we could take them home, give them some food and a nice warm, safe place to sleep but in the morning we would need to start looking for their forever home. As we made the drive back to our house, Rusty was giddy with excitement. The kittens were crawling all over him, licking his face, and then I hear his little voice say, " The gray one is Newman and the black and white one is Rowdy."
Fast forward two weeks. We are in South Florida for the final race of 2013. This has become a yearly tradition for us. We attend the Camping World Truck race for a few reasons: they are shorter which is better for my son; in my opinion, competition from start to finish is best in this series; smaller crowds equal lesser chance to having beer spilled on you.
When we got to the track and saw that Rowdy was driving, my son smiled ear to ear. To him, Rowdy is more than a race car driver. Even though he has yet to shake his hand, they are friends. It's funny how we pick our favorite drivers. My wife is a Ryan Newman fan thanks to his work with the Rescue Ranch and because they are both Purdue Alumni. Rusty chose Rowdy for a different reason. CEOs and CFOs, get your pens out and take note. The brightly colored, oversized M&Ms strategically placed on the hood, quarter panel, and bumper cover is all Rusty needed to see to pick his favorite driver.
As we took the tram under the speedway and emerged inside the track, Cup practice had just started. You could see his eyes light up as that 18 car roared past and I hear "Rowdy!" from his little voice. We took some time to get settled in, then headed off looking to get a closer view of the man under that M&Ms helmet. We see his car come in to the garage and leave several times but never catch a glimpse of him, though we did see several others drivers and a couple legendary car owners. We still had one chance left, after the truck race we would try to find Rowdy one last time.
As fate would have it, Rowdy was in contention all night long. As the race came down to a third green white checkered, I figured Rowdy was sitting pretty with his efficient restarts. Sure enough, he took the checkered flag, did an unbelievable burnout, then waved to the crowd. Rusty and I headed to victory lane to catch a peek of his "friend."
Rowdy pulled into victory lane. He wiped his face, dawned his racing cap and crawled from his truck. The confetti flew and my son was in heaven. He grabbed up some confetti, climbed atop my shoulders and started screaming "Rowdy" while waving profusely. As the celebration was winding down, we headed toward the pit gate to leave; excited, tired, and fulfilled from the day's events. As we approached the gate Rowdy and his wife walked past us, shoulder to shoulder with my son. Next thing I know my son hollers out "Hey Rowdy, I have a cat named Rowdy!" While Rowdy doesn't stop to acknowledge, his wife Samantha turns and giggles.

By R Curtis Roehm

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