Just home from a 1050 mile trip to Matthews, NC. A buyer currently living in Hong Kong wanted my Champion Pub dropped off to HEP and I told him I would do it if he covered my expenses. My original plan was three stops dropping off 4 machines - then things changed twice, the first guy decided he wanted 3 machines from me (not just one) and was headed past our place so he is stopping here to pick them up. And my other buyer fell off the face of the earth when I was trying to finalize the trip on short notice. By the time he got back to me it was too late to get his machines loaded and still be on time dropping off machine to Chris -- HEP.
So plan "B" was take the wife along and make a "mini vacation" out of the trip. Drive one day down - spend a couple days in the Charlotte area - then drive 500 miles home on the fourth day. That changed a few hours before I hit the road because my buyer for the 3 machines needed to pick them up tomorrow (Thursday). So now time for "plan C" - one day in NC but what do we do with it. Nascar Hall of Fame wasn't open to the general public on Tuesday so that was out, maybe go to a couple of the race shops in Charlotte? So after I dropped the machine to Chris we headed down the road to get a motel in Charlotte - guess what - no motel rooms! The Panthers had a home game and all the local motels were full.
Time for "Plan D" - head North and stop a Petty Racing Museum for a few hours Tuesday. So we drove about an hour North of Charlotte and found a decent motel, spent the night then Tuesday morning headed to Petty's old shop (now the Museum). As we pull into the driveway we see a guy that looks like Richard walking from one building to another (signature hat & walk kind of gave his identity away). My wife says "that is kind of cool to see him here".
So we go in the "front building" pay the admission and start checking the place out. Maybe an hour later we walk to the second building and we are their for about an hour and who walks in but Richard. He walks over and is talking to us like a couple old friends. After about 10 minutes he says have a great Christmas and we continue to look around for a while. By now it is like 2 PM and we decided to go out to the van and grab some lunch and get something to drink. As we are sitting there eating Richard pulls out of the yard and up to the side of our van and says "be safe traveling" waves and on his way he goes.
Trips like this are why we travel. Over the years we have been lucky enough to meet a lot of famous or semi famous people and have had nice conversations with them. But the last thing I would have ever expected would have been to be talking about spending some time with Richard Petty this week. We also met one of his daughters and several great guys that are currently working for him restoring cars at "Petty Garage" on the same site. Nothing like a little Southern Hospitality to make "plan D" better than Plan A,B,or C would have been.
I thought the highlight of the trip was going to be meeting & talking to Christopher Hutchins (my pinball hero) but I never expected to be spending time with one of my childhood hero's --- "The King" of NASCAR.