When most people think of NASCAR, they think of country music. For example, during the season, the same Nashville AM station that broadcasts music from the “Grand Ole Opry” every Saturday plays the radio feed for the NASCAR race the following day. However, other forms of music are having an influence within the circles of the sport.
On June 6 at Nashville Superspeedway, the sport’s most dominant driver decided to add a little rock ’n’ roll inspiration to his victory celebration.
Kyle Busch took control of the Nationwide Series race, the Federated Auto Parts 300, winning for the fourth time this season in the series. He led 173 of the 225 laps or 77 percent of the race distance.
Since 2002, each driver that has celebrated in victory lane at the 1.33 mile oval in Gladeville received a Gibson Les Paul guitar, which includes a design by famous motor sports artist Sam Bass. Most drivers would go to great lengths to take care of the prize. On a warm Saturday night, Busch decided to destroy his like the group KISS.
“Well I will be honest with you, just like everyone else in victory lane I was stunned when it happened,” Bass said after the race.
Busch told him that he meant no disrespect toward him or the trophy. He just wanted each member of his crew to have a piece of the guitar. Busch added he was ordering two more to be made for himself and his winning crew chief that night, Jason Ratcliff.
“I told them I was going to give them a piece of that guitar,” Busch said. “I can always buy another one so I gave them pieces.”
Busch took the lead for good on Lap 202, after a cycle of green flag pit stops put his No. 18 Toyota back in front.
The first caution came out on Lap 5 with a four-car accident in turn four. One of those involved was the No. 09 Ford driven by John Wes Townley.
Townley finished in 42nd place, but the team raised the most money: $13,348.41 in a weekend fundraiser for the Nashville Area Red Cross. The team also put a Red Cross logo on the car during the weekend.
“We are really passionate about this whole deal,” Townley said. “We just did the best we could to raise money for the American Red Cross.”
On race day, the weather was warm, but there was no rain in the area. The last time the series came to Nashville Superspeedway in April, the weather became the biggest story of the weekend.
The track is located on the Rutherford-Wilson County line. On April 10th at about noon, most of the drivers, crew members and NASCAR officials were huddled inside the media center watching an EF-4 tornado hit the Murfreesboro area and hoping they would not be next in line.
On that day, a member of the No. 27 Ford pit crew, Butch Waugh, was keeping a closer eye on the weather than most of the others. Waugh is the rear tire carrier for the Baker-Curb Racing team based out of Nashville, and he lives in the Rutherford County area.
“When it first started happening nobody really knew why we were shooed to the media center,” Waugh recalled. “We just thought it was going to rain really bad and the storm was coming through. We really didn’t understand what was going on. We finally got in here and kind of saw that there were a lot of tornadoes. Living 10 miles away (from the track), I started to get a little more concerned, because watching the television you could see where the circles were. A couple of them were right on top of my house. So you start to get a little nervous and wondering if your house is still going to be there.”
Waugh added he communicated with his wife in LaVergne, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and was glad his five-year old daughter was in Nashville.
According to a press release on April 21 by the Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency, 845 homes were damaged, 111 were destroyed and the cost was $41.8 million.
Waugh’s house was one of those that were spared. The next day, however, Waugh had to go to work.
“That was the stressful part of it knowing the next day I was going to come to the race track and go racing, and they are going to be without a house. That was hardest thing to deal with is that so many people were without stuff and I’m coming to the race track to have fun.”
His team donated $5,900 in the team challenge. The series sponsor, Nationwide Insurance, held an autograph session with several of the drivers earlier in the day, which raised $852.10. The total for the whole weekend was $22,263.51 and that includes the team challenge and the autograph session.
“It’s awesome,” Jill Gorin, spokesperson for the Nashville area Red Cross, said. “NASCAR is a huge deal, not only in Middle Tennessee, but all across the country. We are so honored to be a part of NASCAR and Nationwide, and the experiences with them.”