Indiana couple goes to great lengths to be first in line for second annual festival
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat the Stevens family of Pierceton, Ind., to the front of the line. Not only that, you might have to use a few tanks of gas.
The husband-wife team of Sue and Michael Stevens made their second straight trek to the NASCAR Preview portion of Acceleration Weekend on Saturday, but that journey actually started more than 48 hours before the doors swung wide open at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
By their estimate, the couple drove some 700 miles over 12 hours after leaving their Hoosier State home at 4:10 a.m. That put them front and center under the NASCAR Hall's video board in a steady rain at 4 p.m. Thursday, at the head of the line for wristbands to driver autograph sessions.
The Stevenses acquired Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s signature last year after four years of autograph hunting. This year's wish list? Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick.
"It's kind of a hobby for me," said Michael Stevens, an avid collector of die-cast model cars.
Both fans are no strangers to NASCAR-themed road trips, making the five-hour round trip to Michigan International Speedway on an annual basis. They said making the several-hundred-mile jump to Charlotte was worth it for a chance to casually interact away from the track with their favorite drivers, who haven't had much downtime in an offseason full of testing the new Gen-6 Sprint Cup cars and other obligations.
"I think it's fantastic that the drivers are coming out and doing this for the fans," Michael said. "We know they're busy."