In a scene right out of the campy movie hit from 1977 Smokey and the Bandit, Interstate 77 was jammed with a miles long convoy of "tractor-trailers" making a mad dash to the many NASCAR team home bases scattered around Charlotte, yesterday.
The first "Hauler" rolled out of Daytona around 1:00AM on Tuesday heading north on I-95, inside 30 minutes nearly three dozen had hit the road for the eight hour drive to Charlotte.
The train of colorful trucks reached the South Carolina border just before sunrise. They were only slowed slightly by heavy fog just south of Columbia, fog that continued all the way to Charlotte's morning rush hour traffic.
The mad dash to Charlotte was prompted by the rain delays in Daytona and the need to be in Phoenix no later than Thursday morning.
The push to Phoenix International Raceway is detailed in the following "Release" by
JTR Daugherty Racing's Jennifer Chapple. Rather than pick through Jennifer's press and promotion release Cedar Posts has elected to let you the reader have the "full" content of the email including the Smokey and the Bandit derived hed.
For Immediate Release
Long Way to Go and a Short Time to Get To Phoenix
for No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota Team
AVONDALE, Ariz. (February 28, 2012) - - NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams hustled back to North Carolina to turn around the transporters for Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) following a rain-delayed Daytona 500. Today, JTG Daugherty Racing unloaded the Daytona 500 primary and backup cars to load Bobby Labonte’s No. 47 Kingsford Toyotas and put transport driver Dale Lackey and his co-pilot David Ott on the road again.
“While in Daytona, there were still several employees back at the shop getting the primary Phoenix car ready,” Labonte said. “The Kingsford Toyota Camry was fairly close to being done last week (before Daytona). The spare is already done. It’s basically waiting for the transporter to get back and make a changeover. Every team has to do the changeover with their race cars.
“There might be a few things that we’ll have to do,” continued Labonte. “But, I would say that Todd Berrier (crew chief) probably already has that handled. It’s going to make a tough trip for the truck drivers more than anything else. They left Daytona straight for the shops to make a swap. How many hours will that take? You have to make sure that you’re planned well enough that your truck drivers can get to Phoenix in the required time. It’s a long ways, but we should be alright.”
No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry transport driver Lackey is the right man for the job and will ensure the hauler is in Phoenix on time to park at PIR.
“It’s eight and a half hours to our Harrisburg shop,” said Lackey. “We’ll take the two speedway Kroger cars off the hauler and the rest of the speedway stuff like gears, motors, transmissions and restock with everything for Phoenix. Also, we have to refill gear oil buckets, restock all chemicals, restock drinks in the cooler, etc. I’ll take the firesuits to the dry cleaners too and pick them up Tuesday evening before we leave and place them back on the hauler. It will take at least four to five hours to turn everything around.”
Lackey knows it’s a long way to go and he has a short time to get there.
“It’s about 34 hours to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) to transport the No. 47 Kingsford Toyotas,” Lackey continued. “I’ll drive 10 or 11 hours and my co-driver David Ott will drive the next 10 or 11 hours and then we will switch off again. We’ll stop and get fuel, but we will pretty much drive straight through as hard as we can staying within the speed limits. Hopefully, we will not have any issues along our journey. We have to be out of the shop no later than 7 p.m. ET tonight to make it to PIR by 5 or 6 a.m. local time to park on Thursday. Also, we have to wash the truck before we park.”
Weather is usually a non-issue in Phoenix. It is the right place to kick off Kingsford’s sponsorship of the No. 47 Toyota Camry for select races and also remind fans it is time to get out and grill their favorite meats and vegetables on Kingsford Charcoal.
“It’s time to pull out the grills again because ‘Racing Season is Grilling Season,” Labonte said. “I always enjoy grilling chicken on Kingsford Charcoal. Grilling out is a great way to bring family and friends together. I’m also looking forward to Daylight Savings coming up and getting that extra hour of daylight to grill out too. Fans can go to Grilling.com for grilling tips, tricks and recipes for an awesome grilling experience with Kingsford Charcoal. Check it out!”
Labonte has three top-five, nine top-10 finishes and a pole award at PIR. His best finish is third-place (11/7/99). Last season, he finished 21st twice. During the second visit, drivers faced an unknown with a new track surface and altered layout.
“With the new pavement last year, everybody was skeptical of what it was going to be like,” Labonte said. “It was way better than I thought it was going to be. I think the racing was better. I hope it comes in quicker. It was a lot closer than it was in the past and you could pass better than I thought you could.”
Live coverage of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN Radio and SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio will also broadcast nationally.
Cedar Posts Bonus: In 1977, the theme song for Smokey and the Bandit, East Bound and Down, became a hit and Jerry Reed's best known song. It would spend 16 weeks on Billboard's Hot County Singles Chart topping out at number 2.
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'
a'we gonna do what they say can't be done
We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I'm east bound just watch ol'Bandit run
The film sent sales of Pontiac's Trans-Am soaring and censors swooning when Smokey and the Bandit was later aired on national television with considerable editing.
One classic line which in the 1980's was considered unacceptable for broadcast television:
Sally Fields - Carrie: Actually, my heaviest relationship was with an acid-rock singer... named Robert Crumly. We were together, oh, eight-and-a-half days. God, I really thought that was it.
Burt Reynolds - Bandit: And?
Sally Fields - Carrie: One day, I came home and found him in the shower... with a girl... and her mother!
Burt Reynolds - Bandit: Well, at least he kept it in the family.
The film also introduced the world to the phrase "Sumbit" which Jackie Gleason's Buford T. Justice used repeatedly throughout the film. But in 1982 the abbreviated son of a bitch was considered too objectionable for television and was dubbed over as the nonsensical Scum Bum.