Thanks to Sarah Palin, the story of Paul Revere has become a hot topic in the news.
Palin completely botched the history of the famous "British are coming" ride by claiming he warned the British that the colonials were ready to bear arms.
On Monday, we at NHMS continued to spin the story as we used a Brit to announce his own arrival.
Given, when that man is the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti and his NASCAR teammate at Ganassi Racing Juan Pablo Montoya, it doesn't take much to announce one's presence. Especially when the plan involves revving engines on Boston Common.
Part of the event's goal was to draw attention and promote the upcoming races: the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on July 17, the MoveThatBlock.com INDY 225 on Aug. 14 and the SYLVANIA 300 on Sept. 25. However, the main intent was to give the Boston area media the opportunity to meet the drivers, and that included me.
To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect.
The best way to describe Montoya's image in the eyes of fans is polarizing. At my first race, the 2009 Auto Club 500 in California, most of the fans started mildly booing as he was introduced. Yet, it didn't seem to bother him, in fact, he seemed completely oblivious to the boos and ran down the steps excited as a kid entering an amusement park.
For whatever reason, that image of Montoya scampering down from the platform stairs as a chorus of half-hearted boos shower him has been emblazoned into my memory.
Monday was a good opportunity to reinvent that image.
The first thing I noticed about Montoya, as is the case with most drivers, was that he's simply not as tall as I'd expected. I'm not saying he's short; he's about as tall as I am, and I consider myself of average height. However, he certainly isn't the hulking 6'2" basketball player you might expect.
The second thing that I noticed was that, while my image of him might be slightly reinvented, the overall boyish-type of enthusiasm he showed toward racing in California still existed.
Montoya spent most of the day with a smile on his face. He tended to use the word "excited" to describe his experience in NASCAR and the upcoming races at NHMS.
While he tends to get categorized like Kyle Busch as being an overly-aggressive driver, like Busch, who often races three NASCAR events a weekend, Montoya clearly just loves racing. In his career, the Colombian has won the Indianapolis 500 and a CART Championship, finished in the top-six for five consecutive years in Formula One and, since jumping to NASCAR in 2007, he has made an appearance in the Sprint Cup's Chase.
Montoya has been successful at every level but was forthcoming in his disappointment so far in five years of NASCAR. He told the media, "I haven't had the success I wanted to have and we've been working really hard at it to make things better, make the cars better."
Honesty. Another area where the driver currently 13th in the Sprint Cup standings excels.
Next to Montoya and contrasting him nature was his teammate Franchitti.
To be technical, Montoya drives for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Franchitti for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but they're both fall under the ownership of Chip Ganassi, so let's not dwell on a technicality.
Franchitti dominated the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010 and brought home the championship for the second straight season by overtaking runner-up Will Power in the final race. Last year, he also won the Indianapolis 500 and, in his career, he has two Indy 500 checkered flags and three series' championships.
However, despite all his success, Franchitti was similarly personable to Montoya. He definitely had a sense of success but he lacked the arrogance and cockiness that too often follows the success of a top athlete. He and Montoya joked on several occasions and exchanged jabs toward one another's driving abilities.
Both had a clear level of respect for everyone they encountered and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to welcome the race season to New England with a drive down Boston Common.
Over two hundred years ago, Revere played a similar role, when he announced with anticipation that the British were coming. On Monday, both drivers were excited to rally New Englanders once again.
However, this time, there's no battle to be fought, save traffic. Instead of filing your arms with all the ammo you can carry, you'll just need to grab a bag of charcoal, burgers and canned liquids of your choosing and you're good to go.
Of course, I wouldn't be doing my due diligence if I didn't also point out that you'll need an admission ticket. If you haven't purchased one, let me first point out that you're running behind the pack and best catch up! More importantly, you shouldn't fear, there are still tickets available for all three races and you can find them on the NHMS website or by calling here to the speedway ticket office at (603) 783-4931.