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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And the winner is...

Walking down the street
Distant memories
Are buried in the past forever

Today I’m going to tell you about the time my dad almost “won” a race car.

June 1998

My dad was definitely one of those parents who sacrificed a lot for his nagging wife and his crazy, hyper kids. He had to suppress his love for racing by hiding out in the kitchen every race day and hope to god that no one comes around to bug him. His wife and kids had no interest in racing…at all so he didn’t really have anyone to talk racing with.

At this point in time he’d been at least twenty years since his last race that he attended. I remember asking my mom about their honeymoon, which was in Daytona and included the Daytona 500, and she reminisced with multiple eye rolling action about how bored she was. Clearly (and humorously) my dad planned their honeymoon around his wishes--since it runs in the family I plan on taking my future wife to the Winter Olympics where I can hang out--and apparently not only did they attend the Daytona 500 but they went to different driver’s garages and my dad actually got to meet Richard Petty (the Babe Ruth of racing).

With Me and my bro finally being old enough to where we could fend for ourselves (and be tried as adults) he bought tickets and made reservations to attend the Coca-cola 600 which is one of the premier races in the NASCAR circuit. He was elated and although he never really shows excitement, you could tell he was pumped. He wasn’t going with anyone but just to get the hell out of dodge was vacation enough.

He was gone for a week and things went fine--I stole his truck a couple times and my bro and I bugged our mom.

When I picked him up from the airport he had his usual bags but another huge bag that I’ve never seen before.

“What the hell is that?” I said and he mentioned that with all the stuff he collected, he had to buy a new duffle bag to hold all of it. Alright, whatever so drove him home.

When we got home he emptied out his duffle bag and out came tons of merchandise, flyers, and just miscellaneous junk he grabbed from the race and visiting different drivers’ garages. Apparently one can buy outdated and irregular merchandise for dirt cheap and my dad was all over that.

The one thing he did mention with a big grin that he visited Jeff Gordon’s garage (Jeff Gordon is actually not well liked by my dad but he visited his garage anyway). Gordon had a ‘98 (new at the time) limited edition Monte Carlo he was auctioning off with the money going towards charity. My dad saw this and, with help from the attendant, made a bid using the “internet” or the “information superhighway” at the time.

The internet was still in the beginning stages of whatever it is now and my dad clearly did not understand it. My only guess is that he felt it was a big computer game in which everyone loved except him because he’s never really cared about video games. I think he considered it a toy--in this sense a NASCAR toy.

I can only guess that my dad got caught up in his naivety and his vacation fun that he actually placed a bid on this car. Without any previous bids my dad bid $33k which was a bit of a deal for a car valued at $38k. He didn’t want the car but felt that he’d probably be in some raffle for being a losing bidder or something. Also he didn’t think he’d be the winning bidder by bidding $5K less than the value for it.

He was probably right and indeed was before a short time. In no time at all there were four bidders who out bid his bid of $33k. So the dream was over. He laughed it off and wanted a good story to tell others when he came back home.

Fast forward the clock about a couple weeks…

My dad checked up on the website (with my help) and found that the winning bid of the ‘98 limited Edition Jeff Gordon Monte Carlo was for $33K.

“Thirty three thousand? That’s what I bid. Haha.” and he kind of laughed and went on with reading the rest of the website. Apparently the 4 other bidders ahead of him were “illegal bids” due to bad credit card numbers or just not being eligible.

I went to the living room to where my dad walked by, walked the opposite way really fast, then went the other way, and then followed his steps really fast. I asked if he was okay.

Dad rocking is chest forward and back: I think I just bought a car

Mom who was also in the room and very calm: You just bought a car?

Dad: yeah I…I think so.

Mom: I see. You didn’t give them a credit card number or anything did you?

Dad looking at the floor and then sheepishly nods.

Mom: you did WHAT!?! You fix this right now!

You see my mom didn’t like the idea of him going anywhere by himself for an extended period of time. She also didn’t like how he ended up buying a car from his first real vacation.

I remember walking outside and trying to hide my laughter and I envisioned driving to school in this phat Monte Carlo.

My dad was freaked out and he entertained thoughts of actually buying it but he knew he couldn’t actually A) afford it and B) be able to keep it without worrying about keeping it in pristine condition with two kids who both knew how to drive.

He wanted out of the auction and called up the company about it. They were firm about him buying this. My dad then panicked and called a work buddy.
He panicked and then called up the state attorney generals office. I forgot what they said but I’m sure they were like,
“You’re the dumbass that bid on it! That’s your problem fella!”.

As it turns out because my dad’s bid was lower than the estimated value of the car, the auction place actually let him off the hook somehow. They had my dad sweat a couple months before they gave him the news and all was good. After all the stories that my dad would embarrass me with at all times I would be salivating to bust out this nugget of a story which would always trump whatever story he had of me.

So the moral of the story is: don’t bid on cars you don’t intend on buying-- especially if you have kids.

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