How to survive at the Monster Mile. Plus, a local girl whoas 'em on the tube.
Photograph by Pat Crowe II
Light Beer and Lug
Our local fan of the year tells you how to fit in with the NASCAR crowd or die trying.
So you want to be a motor head, but don’t know NASCAR from NASDAQ. Consult Dover International Speedway Fan of the Year Doug Cushing.
Cushing, of Felton, is a machine operator at the Dover Procter & Gamble Wipes Company. He won the Fan of the Year title by random drawing. A NASCAR fan since 1994, he was thrilled. “I thought, Well, isn’t that something.”
He was especially thrilled to receive a custom leather jacket with a Dover International Speedway logo “on the front where the name of the auto mechanic would go,” he says.
Another perk: Cushing and his girlfriend, Tina LaFace, get to enjoy the June 3 Nextel Cup race at Dover from the DuPont Monster Bridge. The enclosure, constructed of steel and some sort of super glass, positions 56 sitting ducks, uh, lucky fans 29 feet directly over the track.
So what about the possibility of a stray Goodyear or a loose lug nut hurtling toward the bridge at 200 mph?
“I’m not worried,” Cushing says. “I heard they fired a weapon at it and it just bounced off.”
Following expert advice from the Monster Mile’s fan of the year:
Gearing up Make a list and gather necessities the night before. You’ll need seat cushions, extra cash for food and the park-and-ride ($20 per person), a spare long-sleeve T-shirt (in case the weather turns chilly), sunglasses, sunscreen, radio headphones or a scanner and headset, and last, but not least, a cooler and beer. More on the beer in a sec.
A false start Leave your tickets out so you’ll remember them in the morning. “You don’t want to be walking up to the gate and discover you don’t have your two $90 tickets,” Cushing says.
Exclusive duds The folks at the
souvenir trailers are kind enough to accept plastic, so leave some of that carrying cash under your mattress. Hats and T-shirts can cost more than $25 apiece. “Women’s stuff seems to be a little bit more expensive than men’s,” Cushing warns. On the other hand, you’ll find items at the track that you won’t find in stores—kind of a blue-collar Lady’s Image.
Cooler heads prevail “At the track, beer is a necessity. It’s a given,” Cushing says. He prefers a small cooler because it’s easier to tote. Unfortunately, some of that valuable real estate is reserved for Tina’s water and soft drinks. “That’s one of the things you have to bite the bullet on,” he says.
Miller lightering If the weather
cooperates, you’ll sweat so much that you won’t need to join the marathon to the comfort station (the true Monster Mile).
Buddy up “Go with someone who’s been before or who enjoys it as much as you do,” he says. “It’s much more pleasant.” (The race, not the bathroom.)
Skid marks When the race is green, just for a few seconds, stand as close as you can to the track. “It’s a blur of wind, noise and color,” Cushing says. “You can hear that power come by you.” (Warning: Make your pit stop first.) —Drew Ostroski
Gallo (center) with her co-stars, the “How you doin?” guy (left) and Josh Lanni.
What About the
Other 14 Minutes,
Our own Krista Gallo—aka “the Whoa girl”—hits the big time with her television ad. If you blinked, you may have missed it.
Don’t be surprised if the young lady who runs the umbrella rental at Wilmington Street in Bethany Beach seems familiar. You’ve probably seen her on television—though not quite for the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised.
Krista Gallo, a 19-year-old from Brandywine Hundred, is starring in a 30-second commercial for Ice Breakers Sours mints that began running on channels such as MTV in mid-April. Gallo and a guy she had just met named Josh won a contest to appear in the spot during a spring break trip to Cancun, Mexico.
Online voters determined that the pretend couple had the best “Whoa!”—the word they had to gush after popping flavors such as Mango Margarita or Tangerine Passion. As a fringe benefit, Gallo and her new pal got a couple extra days in Cancun, spending money and a free hotel upgrade while they stuck around to shoot the commercial.
During the competition, contestants rode Jet Skis, took part in goofy contests such as passing an orange from neck to neck with no hands and swam with dolphins.
“It’s not my thing to jump in a tank with large fish,” says Gallo, “but I pretended I liked it.”
Gallo, who wears a bathing suit but no makeup in the ad, claims to like the sour mints, but we’re not so sure. Each time the director stopped filming, Gallo spit her mint into a cup she kept under her chair. It became a running joke on the set. “They offered to give me a lifetime supply,” she says, “but I said I would pass.”
After a grueling half-day of filming—she lost count of the number of takes they shot—Gallo fell a bit short of her proverbial 15 minutes of fame. She appears for a full 11 seconds during the 30-second spot.
“It was 11 hours for 11 seconds,” she says, laughing. “I need an hour a second, I guess.” —Drew Ostroski