Race Weekend Central

Jeff Gordon’s Duck Tour–Was It Really Wicked Awesome?

Jeff Gordon Duck BoatJust how special was Jeff Gordon’s pre-race lap in a Boston Duck Tour boat? Did you miss its five seconds of fame during the Countdown to Green? Well, to this New England sports fan, it was the highlight of the entire race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway–one chock full of firsts and new records. Yes, it outshined the ground breaking ceremony for the Northeast Motorsports Museum on Friday afternoon. It bypassed the thrill of having the Camping World Truck Series take its 500th green flag. It totally blew by the second race in the 2015 Chase. And it even managed to eke past Jeff Gordon setting a new Iron Man record with 789 consecutive race starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.


Really? It was that grand? The boat is kind of silly looking, something you find in tourist attractions across America. How can one with a No. 24 banner stuck to its side mean something extra?


Because this is New England.


In 2002, the New England Patriots had just won the Super Bowl. Boston needed to put on a celebration. The mayor asked around at the various trolley companies for transportation through the city streets in our first rolling rally. No, the team wouldn’t just get on a stage and make speeches. Millions of fans would jam the city sidewalks in the middle of winter and scream out their adulation for their champions. The Boston Duck Boat Tours–a fledgling company established just eight years earlier–stepped up to the plate and offered up their ducks for free.   The parade was awesome!


Over the next thirteen years, including during Snowmageddon in 2015, the Ducks have been called upon repeatedly to carry our championship teams, the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics, and they’ve answered the summons each time they’ve brought home the hardware. Not only do the members of the winning teams ride the ducks, they bring their families, support staff, trophies and anything else that can be jammed on top of the crafts. It is a party of epic proportions.


Now, Jeff Gordon may not be the reigning NASCAR champion, but his twenty-three years as pilot of the No. 24 Chevrolet is certainly something to celebrate. Add to that this being his final appearance at NHMS as a driver and notching that epic 789th start at the same time–it called for more than just a collector coin and extra handshake during driver intros. The Duck Boat filled the bill.


Every New England fan in the stands understood in their very bones what that Duck meant. Jeff Gordon is our Champion. One who ought to be held up and thanked in as grand a fashion as humanly possible.


So we did, under a cloudless September sky in the tree covered hills of New Hampshire. His entire team and family were welcomed onto the Duck. Ella even gave a little jump of excitement when she climbed on board. They toured the track for the very last time and the stands erupted in cheers of gratitude.


It was a nearly perfect day. One I shall always cherish.


Sonya’s Scrapbook


So, we’re in the Chase.  Jeff Gordon sorely needs a win. Well, do you think he might be able to repeat his performance from last year’s AAA 400?

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