My Holy Grail Card: Six Years in the Making
On November 25th 2016, my mailbox held a special package that I could never dream of. The package ended a nearly four year long chase for my most wanted card, and I'm so happy to finally get it!
2010 Press Pass Five Star PP-BK Paramount Pieces Melting 1/1
When I saw this card pop up for the first time in 2010, I knew exactly where the 'BR' patch came from -- I immediately recognized it from BradRacing.com on the back of his 2010 firesuit.
Sure, as a rare '1 of 1' card with a great patch, I always wanted it in my collection, but the last few years gave it an absolutely special place in my heart. Back in 2013, Brad started a year long contest on his site called the Crew Challenge, where members had to submit content (written articles, race experiences, videos, etc.) for points, and the member with the most points at the end of the year won a trip to Florida for the Daytona 500 in February.
As it turned out, I ended up being the runner up in 2013. Instead of receiving the Grand Prize trip to Daytona, I was given a consolation prize of a pair of garage credentials to any Truck Series race I wanted to go to in the upcoming 2014 season. My dad and I chose the MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway and had a great time -- we got to meet track owner Tony Stewart, most of the Truck Series drivers....oh, and I just happened to find Brad in the infield and watched nearly the entire race with him.
That year in 2014, BradRacing.com hosted the Crew Challenge once again, where this time it all worked out for me as I won the Grand Prize Daytona trip, which included airfare, hotel, rental car, garage credentials, and a private Meet & Greet with Brad. It was not easy by any stretch, but the nine months of work I put into the 82 submitted and accepted pieces definitely paid off in time for the 2015 Daytona 500!
Although nothing was ever said about it, 2014 was the final year of the Crew Challenge, leading me away from the site in 2015. Early in 2016, I was in talks with Athlete Interactive, the firm that manages BradRacing.com, saying that they are interested in having me join their team in a more official manner. With such a great opportunity, I couldn't pass it up.
Working on the site, my responsibilities were to create a weekly pre-race preview (one for Cup, and a separate for XFINITY if he drove that weekend), along with a post-race recap for each series. Without a doubt, I preferred working on a few special 'one off' articles about some off the track topics. Of them, my favorite was by far the interview I had with an integral part of Team Penske, Brian Wilson.
Serving as BK's race engineer in his 2010 Nationwide Championship, and moving up to Cup with him in 2011-15 (part of the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship), Wilson sat alongside Paul Wolfe to help set up the car, and make race winning decisions during the race. After so many years of success in Cup, Wilson moved back down to the XFINITY #22 car as a crew chief this year when I met him in the garage at Pocono in June. I explained to him who I was, and he was kind enough to have a half hour chat the following week, and answering some questions in a Q&A to be posted up on the site. That alone was huge for me as an aspiring Mechanical Engineer, to have the chance to talk with someone who fulfilled his dreams in that field. Unfortunately for Brian, a little over halfway through the year, the #22 still had not put up the numbers Team Penske has been used to, so he was placed to the R&D team, where he scored a win with Joey Logano at Charlotte later in the year.
The Q&A with Wilson was my only interview from 2016, but I did have a handful of other special articles that I truly enjoyed working on.
Back on topic to trading cards, I have to thank my friend Tony Davis so much for helping this card move into the right home. As a fellow Brad fan and collector, I know he didn't want to let it go, but I will never be able to tell him how thankful I am for letting me add it to my collection. It is a weird feeling knowing that I finally have my most wanted Holy Grail card. Maybe something else will come up some day, but with the significance of that patch, and it being 1 of 1, I don't think anything will top that.
Tony and I have been going back and forth on that card for the better part of a year now, and it's so coincidental how I picked this next card up just a week before receiving his package.
2013 Press Pass Ignite HT-BK Hot Threads Blue Holo 13/99
It's not as easy to tell as the first one, but I knew right where this patch was from: the back of his firesuit. While it's clear that the 'cin' patch is from the word 'racing,' I'll never know which website it's from.
Even though the card was released in 2013, the firesuit patch is definitely from either 2011 or 2012, but I am leaning towards 2011 as I have a 2011 Press Pass Showcase patch with the 'lerli' from millerliteracing.com right on top of BradRacing.com.
It's safe to say that the first card is the No.1 piece in my collection, and will likely remain that way for a long time. I'm just so extremely grateful to finally be able to call it mine after all of these years.