autographs, Batesville AR, Bob Craig, Buddy Baker, Curtis Bolt, Danica Patrick, Fan Appreciation Day, fans, lines, Mark Martin, Mark Martin Ford, Mark Martin Museum, NASCAR, Q & A, qualifying, Talladega
Fans filled the service area of Mark Martin Ford and waited in line to get him to sign autographs on their T-shirts, their hats, model cars, even a piece of a car he wrecked,
Mark was there on and off all day but Patrick, who was busy qualifying 7th at Talladega, didn’t get there until 4 p.m. and the 250 fans who got arm bracelets waited in line for a couple of hours to see the diminutive, tough little racer who said she was going to win today. (Danica led six early laps Sunday, ran into Brad Keslowski on lap 14, then had some engine overheating problems and finished 22nd, ahead of Terry LaBonte, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr.)
The fans, some of who have been to several of these events were in fine form and screamed and hollered when their racers came into sight.
Many of them came a distance to see Mark Martin. Curtis Bolt and his wife Sandie have traveled to Batesville every year for this event since 2006 all the way from Michigan. Curtis grabbed the mike and helped stir up the fans to greet the racers.
Another loyal Mark Martin fan, Bob Craig of Branson, Mo., was also there .. Craig said he has watched Martin’s career since he was a “kid in the mid ’70’s.” He told us he had seen him race at the fairgrounds in Springfield, Mo., then followed him as he “reached the pinnacle” as a NASCAR racer.
Talking about the young Danica Patrick, Craig said “she’s good or better than a lot of them out there.” Talking about the racing game, Craig said “you have to perform or you’re gone.”
There were more than 300 fans at the Mark Martin Museum and car dealership Saturday, and Craig said that when Dale Jr. was a featured racer he brought in a bigger crowd.
Those who showed up were devoted. There were women, young and old, lots of guys, some wearing military uniforms, some in wheel chairs, young kids, even a monkey who had it’s racing jacket autographed by Danica Patrick.
Buddy Baker, who raced back in the ’70’s and is now a commentator, like Danica signed a limited number of autographs and was there to talk to the fans after the autograph sessions ended. Martin, Patrick and Baker answered fans questions. When asked if he missed racing, Martin who said he is “retired” said he missed the adrenalin rush . Asked about the race at Richmond last week, Patrick said “I sucked”.
To view our video of the first part of the Q&A session, click HERE.
To see and hear more of the Q&A session, click HERE.
Update: Danica Patrick finished seventh Saturday night, May 10. in the 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway, her career best in the Cup series. She had qualified ninth. Teammate Kevin Harvick led 119 laps and finished second.
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