Day One at the Martinsville track.
This is the story of a trip to Martinsville, Virginia, to not only the race, but to come to it with a Pass that opened up the world of NASCAR to us even more than it already was…..
Pastor Rick met someone who had contacts in the Hendrick organization.Through a conversation, Pastor was able to talk to this man and tell him about Korie and her love for NASCAR. This man graciously was able to give us Hot Passes for the week at Martinsville Speedway. I don’t know if you understand how hard these Passes are to come by. You have to know someone who knows someone. It was a great privilege and we were more thrilled than you could ever know to experience it!!
This would be the best chance we had ever had for Korie to meet her childhood (and adulthood) hero. We had tried so many times. I wasn’t sure if it was something to pray about but I prayed often through the years that we would get the chance to meet the #24 someday. When this opportunity came up and I knew we would be in the garage area, I felt that this was the best chance we would ever get. I began to pray. Did God care about us meeting a NASCAR driver? This was something I kept wondering about but I prayed anyway. The week before we left for the race, I even asked my choir members to pray. Friends and family members were praying. The night before our trip, with a sincere heart, I even asked God to bless us above all that I could even think to ask.
The first practice for the drivers that weekend was at 9 am Saturday morning. We had an hour (plus) drive from our hotel to the track. We knew we had to get there and pick up our credentials. Getting into the track garage would be an adventure with a wheelchair. So we had an early morning!! We left the hotel around 6:00 am. When we arrived, Everything was quiet and empty except for the vendors who were checking in, the media arriving and others getting their credentials for the garage area. We were the second ones to park in the handicapped parking lot. It was a crisp morning and very cool. We had to wear coats. We could see our breath when we talked.
We had a lot of trouble finding the credentials hauler. We were in the wrong area and we had to go back and get our van to drive to another entrance. It was kind of frustrating because we knew there was a good chance to see the drivers this early in the morning and it wouldn’t be as crowded in the garage. We finally found the hauler and got everything straight.
We had a late start in the garage. I ended up having to take the van back to park in the handicapped spaces. More people were there now. Steve and Korie had gone to the garage. Because of her chair, she and Steve had to walk on the back of Turn 3 and 4 of the track to enter the garage. When I arrived alone, I walked over the steps from the track into the pit area. I had never been in a garage and I wasn’t sure what all I was allowed to do. I called Steve and he and Korie were already in. We finally found each other. All the cars and the crews, as well as officials, and members of the sheriff department were there. But there were not a lot of fans there yet.We were just meandering through the garage enjoying the cars. All of them were being worked on by their crews. We looked at the cars of Kasey Kahne, Dale Jr, Jimmie Johnson and we saw Jeff’s!!. Korie sat for a while watching them work on his car.
We weren’t yet familiar with the garage so we were walking down the middle of it looking around. Through all the troubles that morning, we didn’t yet understand that all of it was for a purpose…so that we would be walking down this part of the garage at this very particular moment….because…the very first driver we saw was Jeff Gordon!! I spied him first. Steve had gone ahead of us and I was with Korie. I turned to look behind us and there was Jeff Gordon walking right toward us. He was in a coat and had a cup of coffee in his hand. My heart was beating hard and it was all so unexpected and happening so fast. I took a deep breath and bravely stepped up to him and asked if he could please talk with my daughter, Korie, who just loved him and would love to meet him. He very kindly said, “Sure!” He said hello to her and shook Korie’s hand and walked around her chair and let me take the picture. As he got up, you could tell he was in a hurry but he gave Korie another goodbye, took my hand before he left and then he went on his way! God had answered our prayers!!
Part 2 will soon follow