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Haha definitely confusing setup here. I just set it to "Message List" up top and scroll down to the bottom and read upwards. To Reply I just pick a post that has the box for it ;-)
Anyway my name is Cliff as y'all can tell and I took a roundabout way to NASCARland - long story longer I paid some attention as a kid but didn't think much of it until watching the 1987 Daytona 500 my senior year in college (just to date myself - behave!). There was a commercial to come see the stars of NASCAR at Pocono in June (btw I live in NJ - fuggedaboudit!) and I thought that would be pretty cool so a friend & I bought 2 tickets. The week before the race our local paper had daily stories on various drivers, and always being one to pull for underdogs I was drawn to the article on J. D. McDuffie. At the track I cheered him to his 28th place finish :-D and became a fan.
I went back to Pocono by myself in July and then with my friend to Dover in Sept. At Dover I purchased a copy of Grand National Scene and to my delight discovered J. D. had a Fan Club listed in the classifieds. Signed right up of course, and in the January 1988 newsletter they said that they could use volunteer help, especially at the Northern races - bonus! I wrote a letter expressing interest and forgot all about it until early August when Chico Reyes, a crewmember whose wife ran the fan club, wrote back. He said they had some new help for Watkins Glen but to get in touch with him about Dover. I did, and unfortunately J. D. failed to qualify but I had been to Martinsville in April and had gone to Buddy Arrington's shop after the race. Buddy wasn't around but his son Joey was and we had talked briefly. Anyway, at Dover in September I went up to Joey and he actually remembered me from 5 months before and agreed to let me help the 67. So I was fuel runner for the day :-D
Fast forward to June 1989 and I went back to Dover, and most impressively got in on the pass I had kept from the previous September :-D Unfortunately J. D. had wrecked at Charlotte the week before and didn't come up, and Arrington's team wasn't running, so I asked around and hooked up with Dave Marcis' team. Did the same thing and became a semi-time volunteer, going to all the Northern races -Dover, Pocono, Watkins Glen, plus a few others I travelled to - Martinsville, Rockingham, Atlanta and later Talladega & Phoenix amongst others.
I know I've carried on for quite a while and I'm still only up to 1990, so let me just fast forward to say that along the way I also volunteered for various Busch Series, ARCA, Truck & Busch North teams, notably working for Mark Martin & Jeff Gordon at Bill Davis's BGN team in the early 90's, and Jason Keller's team for many races in the mid-late 90's, and Terry Cook's team in the Truck Series in the late 90's-early 00's.
Notable races I've been involved in were J.D.'s last race at Watkins Glen (I was actually on his crew because Marcis had wrecked in practice and wasn't running the whole race) - that was pretty surreal and even though I and most of the volunteer guys weren't told J. D. had died until more than an hour afterwards, it still hit me as a total shock as I figured they were just taking their time getting him out and he was probably upset he was going to have to miss Michigan the next week because his car was wrecked.
On a happier note, I've been to Victory Lane 4 times, with Ron Hornaday at Flemington in 1995 (got on his team on a cold call a couple weeks before :-D ), Terry Cook at Flemington in 1998, and Dale Quarterley in Busch North at Loudon & Dover in 2004.
Anyway, as big time racing has gotten even bigger, I've had to "step down" and now work with John Salemi in the K&N East Series. I've also graduated from fuel runner/general lackey to gasman and occasional jackman :-) And the most awesome part about that - I have pretty much zero mechanical ability but have used my good looks & charm (har!) to weasel my way into the inner circle of things.
That's my story and I'm sticking to most of it :-)
- 2 Replies to Rickster
Thanks Rickster! BTW don't know how many on here do the face + book thing (not sure if that's a banninated word so I'm posting it that way), but just search for Cliff Cherry and you'll find me pretty quick :-D
I am a good eye aren't I. I knew you were a smart cookie. (censored) awesome story. You just became an instant celeb on here. LoL. Be careful, that could come with a whole bunch of trolls. Glad to have you participating on my thread... The only driver I have ever met was Rusty, I met him after a telecast at AMS. He was doing a story on Kaesy (who is my other favorite driver) I waited till after his broadcast for him to sign an autograph. Oh yeah there was last year too, We walked right by Kyle Petty. He was just walking around in the crowd. We were right next to him and my wife (with that star struck look in her eyes) Said, "Is that Kyle Petty?" I looked at her and said "Ah, So what." LoL.
My 1st full race I watched from beginning to end was, the worst race in the history of NASCAR. The 2001 Daytona 500. Which is really funny because in 2000 I took the family to Disney and when we had trouble booking a room, she finally asked one of the hotels she was trying to book why all the rooms were gone, the lady replied "Well sweetie it's the Daytona 500" LoL. The next year Dodge jumped in. I was bored as hell with Baseball. Living in Atlanta would do that to you. 10 years in the big game 1 Championship. So I got all excited about the race. My wife was like "we've been married 10+ years and except a rainy boring Sunday, when nothing else was on would you watch a race. Now, all the sudden your a big nascar fan?" I just looked at her and Said "Dodge is back Baby!!!" I was on the edge of my seat the whole race especially at the end when Sterling Marlin was pushing to the front. It was the crowd favorites Earnhardt, his car Michael Waltrip and Jr. leading all in front of him. And then it happen........ Earnhardt blocked Sterling as he was trying to make a move to put Dodge in victory lane on it's 1st race back. We all know the out come of that, and my wife to this day can't believe I still watch it. Even more she can't believe she is the one who introduced me to Yahoo fantasy racing. If she knew then what she knows now she would have never have done it. LoL.
- 1 Reply to tombo
Thanks again guys - and I definitely know I've been privileged to be able to do what I do for so long now. Just the right circumstances came together to get me in the door and I've been able to keep at it since.
Something I think MoToR will appreciate - I worked with Bob Keselowski's Truck team at Flemington in 1996 and again for a few races from 2001-2003 when Terry Cook drove for them. I remember hanging out with one of his sons at Flemington, but Brad would have been 12 and he was definitely older than that so it might have been Brian. Kaye (Brad's mom) was very nice but I can tell you ran a tight ship as "Team Mom" - I don't remember the exact circumstances but I remember her getting on somebody about something before one of the races :-o
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