Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One of my insane interests.......

NASCAR.....or more specifically, JEREMY MAYFIELD! Hubby and I (and now the kiddo's too) have been HUGE, HUGE, HUGE Jeremy Mayfield fans for YEARS! I have been heavily involved with some of Jeremy's fan boards since 2004. I've really "met" some fantabulous (is that a word?) people over the years! Jeremy has been going through a really tough time over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, with this horrible economy, times ahead look even tougher for ALL of Nascar. Dave Rodman of Nascar.com recently wrote this fantastic article about the HUGE hearts Jeremy and his wife, Shana, have. Heck, all of his fans have ALWAYS known this, now maybe the rest of the world will! Good luck Jeremy!

Mayfield delivers Christmas spirit to area youth in need

Driver remains steadfast in trying to secure ride for '09

One of the surest ways to confirm the size of a man's heart is when he puts his own personal disappointment aside and strives to make a day -- no, make that a whole season -- better for some less fortunate kids and families.

It's a big part of what the blessed Christmas season is all about. And it's more poignant this season, since for many in the NASCAR community, being overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair would not be unreasonable, given the starkness of the motorsports landscape.
For years, Morgan Shepherd, who has a notable motorsports legacy, has become an even bigger hero in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia thanks to the bus trip he makes delivering Christmas cheer, gifts and provisions along the way.

Jeremy Mayfield's hoping that he just had a big part in starting a similar tradition in Charlotte, N.C.

Mayfield had a 2008 season in the Sprint Cup Series that would have beaten a lesser man completely into the dirt, and with driving opportunities dwindling as the economy droops by the day, 2009 is nothing but uncertain.

But for Mayfield and his wife, Shana, a commitment to community has never been far from their minds. So when Mayfield contacted ARCA team owner Doc Watson about making something happen, Watson helped engineer their support of last weekend's "Hope for the Holidays" celebration held at the KIPP Academy of Charlotte and organized by the Eastside Community Development Corporation.

Mayfield was there with Watson and his two ARCA drivers, Kory Rabenold and Rob Jones, and the event was a big enough deal that Charlotte mayor pro tem Susan Burgess and N.C. State Representative Becky Carney also attended.

But it was the mob of about 125 kids, aged 5 to 12, and their families that really struck a chord with the Mayfields.

"It was great to see the happiness on the kids' faces -- and their families," Jeremy Mayfield said. "They were so appreciative of the gifts and food we were able to give them. Even though we feel like we've had a tough couple of years, this really put in perspective how truly blessed we really are.

"It was such a rewarding experience to be able to interact, firsthand with the community. A lot of people give toys and donations and never get to see the people they give them to, so to be able to see and experience the joy firsthand was great. We hope to continue on and make this a bigger deal each year."
Might it be bigger than Santa Claus? Probably not, but it's appreciated. And being the huge optimists they are, the Mayfields are hoping to double the turnout by next year.

The only thing that would put the perfect cap on the holiday season for Mayfield would be to have a definite ride for 2009, which the championship-contending, race-winning driver certainly deserves -- with or without his charitable contributions.

"We're still having discussions with teams and sponsors, but as you know it's a tough time right now and there isn't a lot going on," Mayfield said. "I feel like we're close on a couple of things and I think I'll be in Daytona in something. There's a Cup opportunity along with some other things, we're just trying to work out the details. Nothing is finalized, but we're working hard every day to get something done."

Mayfield's perspective on the sport goes back to the mid-1990s, and he said the current climate is a numbing dose of reality.

"This is by far the toughest time [I've seen] in the sport," Mayfield said. "To think we may head to Daytona without a Richard Petty-owned car is unbelievable! It's just a tough time in general for the world and being that our sport is financially driven through sponsorships and manufacturer support, we're feeling the hit a lot harder than most businesses.

"NASCAR will rebound and will always be a viable, healthy sport, but it may take some time. I haven't seen anything like this in my career. The opportunities are dwindling each day with mergers and teams shutting down."

That's obviously true, but given his track record it's pretty incomprehensible that Mayfield would not create a larger presence on the "need to hire" radar screen.

"There will be more drivers available than rides," Mayfield predicted. "I honestly feel I'm not sitting here without a ride because of my ability to drive a race car. I think I've proven my abilities behind the wheel, I think it's just a bad time to be looking for a ride due to the economy and the number of rides closing up."

Mayfield's even said he would even consider some part of team ownership to facilitate making something happen, but like with everything else, it comes down to dollars and cents and that search, to date, has been as fruitless as one for a seat.

"Again, ownership depends on having sponsorship dollars and that's really hard to come by right now," Mayfield said. "I think if you have sponsorship money then you have a huge advantage in whatever route you decide to go. We're working daily -- hourly -- to try and pull some sponsorship together to take wherever we land. We have some promising leads on a few things, so we'll see."

So when it came time this holiday season to step up, Mayfield didn't hesitate, and now it's time, considering the season, for a well-deserved visit from Santa Claus.

If he gave back to the community this past weekend, the experience also brought some renewed appreciation to Mayfield, and that can never be a bad thing.

"We've had some really positive talks with some people and that's all you can really go off of," Mayfield said. "I know I can still get the job done. I feel like I'm a better race car driver now than ever before. I've grown a lot and feel like I have a newfound appreciation for my job and the sport.

"I've proven myself in the race car and if there's an owner out there who wants to hire someone who's finished in the top 10 in points under both the old and new format, has won races and has top-10s at every track we visit, then I'm here."

He'll even bring the gifts, if he has to.


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