RACING WITH THE INTIMIDATOR
The first time I ever had the opportunity to race against my dad was in a 1998 NASCAR exhibition race at Twin Ring Motegi Speedway, Japan. I had just won the NASCAR Busch Series championship, and we were given the opportunity to drive competing Coca-Cola-sponsored Chevrolets. I couldn't wait to race on the same track as my father and,
yes, even trade paint with him if the opportunity presented itself. It did.
While racing hard for position at one point during the race, I gave him
a little nudge, got his car out of shape, and drove on by. I thought
it was just good fun racing, but I soon found out he wasn't too
pleased with my driving tactics. I finished sixth; he finished eighth.
"...I couldn't wait to race on the same track as my father and, yes, even trade paint with him if the opportunity presented itself."
He got me back the following year in an International Race of Champions (IROC) race at Michigan International Speedway. He was in the lead, and I was right on his bumper. I spent 10 laps trying to figure out how I was going to get around him. On the final lap, I got a good run off of turn four and pulled up beside his car with the checkered flag in sight. It was now a drag race! We leaned on each other, bumped once… twice… three times… and battled furiously to a photo finish. He beat me by .007 seconds, the smallest margin of victory in IROC history. It might've been the most fun I've ever had in a race car!
With our paint-trading days behind us, my father and I teamed up with Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins to drive a Chevrolet Corvette in the 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It was another cool moment in American motorsports, as father and son – NASCAR drivers finished fourth overall and second in class in our first-ever sports car race.