Thursday, September 9, 2010

Smoke Wins and So Does Spencer Roy

It’s fitting that as the traveling circus stops in Richmond this weekend we hear from Stephanie Roy, the Tony Stewart-loving mom whose son Spencer spent a memorable Make a Wish with the two-time NASCAR champ at Richmond International Raceway, chronicled in The Weekend Starts on Wednesday.

Stephanie had previously taken a big one for the team by getting Smoke’s tattoo on her arm. Spencer had asked to be branded with his favorite driver, but he was just a young boy. So mom caught Smoke at an autograph signing, got him to plant one on her bicept, found a nearby tattoo parlor, and made Tony’s signature permanent, all before dinner time, suprising her delighted son to no end.

Well, following Smoke’s big momentum-building win in the red Office Depot Chevy last weekend in Atlanta, Stephanie wrote to us with good news. Here is her email:

I wanted to let everyone know that we were all sooo excited to see Tony win Sunday nite; it was AWESOME!! And also, that we got some important information yesterday.

When Spencer was at Duke University Hospital in May 2008, they took some samples from him to be tested. Two years later, we’ve now gotten the results back.

Spencer has been diagnosed with Timothy Syndrome, a very rare form of long Qt syndrome.

They only know of 20 people in the whole world with this, and Spencer makes 21.

After reading everything about it and talking with his doctors, this has been one of the answers we've been looking for throughout 14 years of Spencer’s life...and it happened to come immediately following Smoke's win in Hotlanta.. I think that is what is making this so ironic: Smoke gets a win that was long over due, and we get questions answered that have been long over due.

We still have a long road ahead. But Spencer is a very strong-willed young man and will not let anything slow him down. He started high school yesterday, all dressed out his new Tony shirt and hat looking good!
When he got home, I asked how his first day went, and if he learned anything.

His response was, "OMG there are sooo many girls."

I cracked up laughing. Then he announced, "Yep and I’m goin’ to ask one out"

"Oh," I responded. "Do you know her name?"

"No," he says. "Not yet."

So as you can see, he still loves the ladies....just like Tony. Hahaha

If you get a chance, please let Tony know we were all excited for him on Sunday, and we’ve had a great start to the week as well.

So there you have it. Please, if anyone sees Smoke at the track this weekend, let him know about his and our friend Spencer Roy’s good news. Maybe Smoke will even lend a line for Spencer to use to get that date. Good luck, Spence!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Holy Bidet! Holiday Disptach from Venice

Oh, the irony.

For long-awaited vacation, NASCAR guy goes to Venice, the city without cars.

Yep, there are zero automobiles in the stunning lagoon city the Italians built on the Adriatic to fend off the Barbarians.

But that's where our family went on summer holiday. To get around this town, you walk, or board a Gondola, Water Taxi, or the Vaporetto, those ubiquitous water buses cruising the canals. Get sick, and there are ambulance speedboats.

(For taking my break in a city without streets or cars, please allow me to extend fast apologies to Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Darrell Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Jim Hunter, my favorite personalities in this sport, for their plain-spokeness, torpedoes-be-damned vision, and attitudes unaffected by the winds of political correctness.)

Venice's architectural treasure trove of well-preserved medievel buildings flush against the winding grid of canals will remove your breath. "Epic," as the kids say on Facebook.

At every turn, there's another unexpected find. You can't take a bad picture. Just point the camera, press the button, and you've got a postcard.

Suffice it to say, Venice is like nothing you've seen. Just go there someday, if you can.

As a personal plus, the apartment we lived in for a week, allowing me to discover my true inner Guido, had a bidet. And that alone is life altering. (Cue Mad Man's Don Draper describing daisys and a soft summer breeze.)

Depite Venezia's wondrous, historic ambiance, the soaring chapels and countless mask shops (Gaby bought one to wear when she plays bass on stage), the restaurants with aloof waiters who deliberately puff their cigarettes before sauntering over to present the check, the gondola captains in black trousers and striped shirts favoring their romantic cargo with Italian songs, etc. etc., my favorite Venician moment wasn't soaking in any of that, or slurping pasta lathered in black squid ink, or watching glassblowers ply their ancient trade, or waking up to the clang-gong-dong, clang-gong-dong bells atop the churches outside our bedroom, or any of the continual unexpected glimpses of beauty everywhere.

No, this trip, the enduring memory was relaxing in the town square's local cafe, sipping Venezian Cappuccino. A lithe Italian girl in a tight mini-skirt struts by, her four-inch stilleto heels clacking against the old stones, and Gaby declares: "Is that a HOOKER?"

My daughter's voice -- a mixture of childish innocence and hard-boiled mean-streets-of-New York City skepticism -- booming off tiles set hundreds of years ago in this unique city of my home country, made the whole trip worth it.