Race Weekend Central

Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Graceland, Fine Wine & Bad Luck

At Memphis the truck was in the top five in each practice session and running really good. I had an early draw for qualifying, went out and was the fastest of the trucks that went out before me. I was pretty optimistic and thought we had a really nice piece but got knocked out early. Some dramatic things happened during that particular wreck that have just never happened to me before. We exploded a battery and the battery blew the back of the truck off. The crew did a fantastic job fixing it but we lost two or three laps in the pits when we had to install a new battery. We just made laps and finished where we finished.

In Kentucky we practiced about where we qualified and were trying to move up as soon as the green flag dropped. I don’t know, it just got away from me and that’s one of those things. I save it probably 90% of the time but there’s that 10% chance that you’re going to lose it. Let’s not forget Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International and all the guys at Circle Bar Racing put in a great effort the last two weeks. I still feel like we’re carrying trucks to the racetrack that are capable of winning and we sure would like to win this one coming up at ORP (O’Reilly Raceway Park).

When we went to Memphis we got a special tour of Graceland. It was a special evening tour, a private tour of Graceland. I found out a couple of things I really didn’t know and got what you might call a first-hand tour explanation of different things throughout the house. It was nice. What was really fantastic about it was driving through the gates of Graceland, I was driving up the same driveway that Elvis drove up and they let me park my car where Elvis parked. It was a fantastic treat for myself and Lisa Karnes (Tom Mitchell’s daughter and team manager) and David Starr to go to Graceland. It was a pretty neat deal.

Monday night of this week we went to North Wilkesboro and visited the Benny Parsons museum and Benny Parsons wine-tasting room. This was a dream come true for Benny. I’d give anything for Benny to have been there with us. There were probably 500 of his closest friends and people who admired Benny and admired his accomplishments through the years in NASCAR racing and especially his being a personal friend of all of ours. Finally his first bottle of wine was opened by his Mom. They’ve got five different brands, five great flavors.

Benny would have been so proud, especially being right there in North Wilkesboro, about 15 minutes from Parsonsville where he grew up, to have his wine-tasting room and winery there. It’s in North Wilkesboro on Rte. 421 in between North Wilkesboro like you’re going to Boone, and it’s right off the four-lane highway. It’s really neat. I’d like to put this on the website where everyone would go visit.

My friendship with Benny goes back probably 15 years. I’ve known Benny Parsons ever since I was a race fan when Benny started racing in ARCA and the Cup Series but really became personal friends with Benny probably 15 or 17 years ago. He was an inspiration to me racing and driving plus he was an inspiration to me as far as being an ambassador to NASCAR. I watched the things he did with the fans, I watched the things he did with the crew, and the drivers and the way he treated people on the racetrack, the champion that he was and just a great personal friend.

My son Adam is going to race this weekend in the Miller Lite Super Late Model 100s that run Friday night at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. He’s running a 100-lap race there and then the next night we’re traveling over to Mobile International Speedway where myself and Adam grew up and started our racing careers. They’re running another 100-lap race on Saturday night for the super late models.

I’m looking forward to Adam being there, and luckily this is an off-weekend for us so I get to go be with Adam and help him with his racing endeavors. When I go I’m in charge. Adam needs Dad’s input as far as the money is concerned so he gets his thinking input too! No, I’m just kidding. A

dam’s got some great sponsors in S&S Express, Circle Bar Racing, Turbo Blue Racing Fuel, and he does a great job along with Super Vac that sponsors his car and Russ Miley Racing Engines. So Adam’s got his own super late model race team and Dad helps him out. Dad is trying to put him on an accelerated course to get as much experience as he can in racing so someday maybe we can put him in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck.

He’s raced a couple times this year and he’s finished both races and done very well. I’m proud of everything I’ve seen Adam do so I’m sure I won’t be surprised this week. I’m proud of Adam no matter what he does and I still hold it true that if he didn’t want to race that I want Adam to grow up and be his own man and choose what he really wants to do because I know I did.

After Adam’s races on Saturday night we’ll come back Sunday and go to Bristol on Monday. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be the first series to test at Bristol on the new concrete. Tuesday we’ll take our ORP truck to Caraway for an afternoon test. Wednesday I go to Kenny Schrader’s place down in Pevely, Mo., for the Night of Stars where we’ll race a dirt-track race.

Thursday I’ll go to Indianapolis and be part of the Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International dinner for some of the employees and the race team and then Friday night we’re at ORP to try to win the Power Stroke Diesel 200 sponsored by International and Ford Motor Company so next week is pretty full!

I had never been on dirt track until I did Schrader’s race a few years ago and I won the first time out. I finished third last year behind Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader and beat out Matt Kenseth for third, so I had a really neat night of racing that night. Dirt-track racing is a lot of fun and he’s got a great place over there in Pevely at I-55 Raceway. It’s a lot of fun to go do, especially in the middle of the week, and I think Kenny makes a large donation to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

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