Decker makes first speedway visit
Sunday, May. 27, 2012
CONCORD Brooklyn Decker is a little tough on herself.
As something called honorary race director for the Coca-Cola 600, Decker - who still calls Charlotte home though she lives wherever movie star/swimsuit actresses live with their famous tennis husbands - admitted she'd never been to Charlotte Motor Speedway before Sunday. She wasn't proud of it.
"I'm a horrible North Carolinian and an even worse Charlottean. I grew up in Matthews and this is my first time here," Decker said. "But what a great way to start. I've just been waiting for the moment to be (honorary race director). I can't imagine I could have had a better first experience here."
Decker was at the track to promote her new movie, "Battleship," which tied in to Coca-Cola's race sponsorship and the many overlapping links to the military.
She was also in Victory Lane before the race rekindling her acquaintance with driver Danica Patrick. It led to what had to have been the firstVictory Lane discussion about swimsuit modeling. Decker, of course, has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated's iconic swimsuit edition while Patrick has also appeared in magazine - and she wasn't wearing a driving suit. Here's a snippet of what they had to say about each other:
Brooklyn: I think (Patrick's career) it's incredible. I think any time a woman can do well in any sport it's to be admired. To see her transcend, to go from Indy to this, it's pretty incredible. It makes us women feel empowered and I love that.
Danica: Speaking of transcend, I knew Brooklyn when she was a smoking hot model. She still is a smoking hot model but now she's a superstar. I'm like, how in the world did she go from the cover of Sports Illustrated to make like three huge movies? It's pretty amazing. I don't think many other people have been able to do that.
Brooklyn: No one has been able to do what you do. Have you seen her in Sports Illustrated? She can do my job. She can do her job. It's pretty incredible.
Patrick: I have to diet like three or four weeks straight, hard core to get in shape for it and she's like, 'Tomorrow? I'll be there.'
Feels like home: Darius Rucker, formerly front man for Hootie and the Blowfish and now a country music star, is no stranger to race tracks.
Long before he became a music star, Rucker - a native of Charleston - knew his way around the sport.
"I've been to Darlington a couple of times, back before I got famous. I had to pay to get in and sat up in the nosebleeds," Rucker said.
"I love NASCAR. Michael Waltrip and I became buddies about 15 years ago. I became entranced. Now Jimmie (Johnson) and I are good friends. It's good to have friends to pull for instead of pulling for a number."
Rucker played a 45-minute pre-race concert mixing his country songs, some Hootie hits and a couple of good covers, including Steve Miller's "The Joker" and Hank Williams Jr.'s "Family Tradition." It's his fourth pre-race concert as a solo artist.
He might as well rent a condo at the track. Rucker said he did a private corporate concert earlier during 600 week, did the pre-race show and will be back at nearby Verizon Amphitheatre on June 9 on tour with Lady Antebellum.
Any word on a possible Hootie and the Blowfish reunion?
"We're talking about it," Rucker said. "It's not going to be next year. I have a record coming out in October."
The Red Carpet: OK, it's not Oscar night but the Coca-Cola 600 did a good job of bringing in the famous, the near famous and plenty of others.
In addition to Decker and Rucker, there were politicians (it is an election year, you know), including West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the race's grand marshal and honorary starter Pat McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor now running for governor in North Carolina.
Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher, the man about whom the movie "The Blind Side" was based, made the scene along with Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, the couple who took him in. Though Sandra Bullock, who won an Oscar for her performance as Leigh, wasn't in Charlotte, Tim McGraw, who played Sean Tuohy in the movie, was at the track also, though he didn't sing nor reprise his role at Tuohy. He just introduced the drivers to the crowd before the race.
The Avett Brothers were checking it out, as were Edsel Ford II and Albert Ford of, you guessed it, the Ford Motor Co. There were plenty of CEOs and military officials, as well.
Now that's a flag: Leave it to Charlotte Motor Speedway, which sees things on a super-sized scale, to create another first.
The track unveiled the world's largest free-flying American flag Sunday when it unveiled an 8,000-square-foot version of the Stars and Stripes before the pre-race national anthem. The flag is 65 feet tall and 123 feet wide and weighs 200 pounds.
Rusty's thought: As a newly minted member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, driver Rusty Wallace made an interesting observation Sunday.
He thinks NASCAR might be better off trimming a few races from its Sprint Cup schedule. Wallace said he thinks going from 36 races to 32 might help the sport, which has struggled to regain the momentum it had a decade ago. He didn't specify which races should go but he made a valid point.