Fond memories of trips to Indianapolis
Editor's note: Danny “Chocolate” Myers was a longtime gasman for Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team that won the Brickyard 400 in 1995. As part of the “Countdown to the 20th Running At The Brickyard,” Myers -- who co-hosts “Tradin’ Paint” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET every weekday -- recalled that memorable race, and the years leading up to NASCAR’s debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
I have some great memories of the Brickyard 400 and actually, they don’t start with Dale Earnhardt winning the second annual 400 in 1995. They start from when we tested there the first time in the summer of ’92.
For me, to roll in that first day was just an awesome experience, because I’d never been to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I was always working at a NASCAR race. Once we got inside, you immediately had this feeling you were in a historic place.
That day, we got right with the program. Dale was a guy who wanted to be first to arrive at the track, first at the end of the race, first out of the race track, first to get to the airport -- first at everything. Well, we unloaded and Dale went out and actually raced Rusty Wallace -- and beat him -- to the finish line on the very first practice lap NASCAR had ever run at Indianapolis. Dale was proud of that, too. He wanted to be the guy who led NASCAR’s very first lap at Indy.
The race in 1995 was unique for me because I had the opportunity to have my family with me. That wasn’t something we were able to do all the time. Me, my wife Caron and my daughter Alexi drove up to Indy that year.
On race day, it kept raining and raining and we kept waiting and waiting. We didn’t think we’d race. Then, finally, we got the word that we would.
I was the last guy on the crew to walk out to pit road. I remember walking under the grandstands, coming out to the pits and looking left, then looking right and there were people everywhere. Then, to watch the race play out as it did with Dale winning, it was one of the coolest experiences in the world.
You know, Dale really wanted to win the first Brickyard in ‘94, that Jeff Gordon won. And I remember what Dale said when he did win the next year: “I’m glad I’m the second man -- if not the first -- to win the Brickyard 400.”
Now, Dale wasn’t trying to be mean toward Jeff when he said that. He was just joking about Jeff being a kid compared to him. He and Jeff were actually pretty good friends. As people remember, Dale did love to get a joke in there now and then about Jeff, which is what he did that time.
Looking back, I’ve been pretty blessed to be part of racing for a long time. I was also blessed to have my family with me when we won the Daytona 500, and with me when we won at Indy. To think about those places -- those great places -- well, it’s pretty dadgum cool.