When The July Daytona Race Was A Casual, Laid-Back Affair

The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, scheduled for this weekend, is one of the glitziest and most-anticipated races of any NASCAR Sprint Cup season. And why shouldn’t it be?

It is run during a major holiday weekend in one of Florida’s most recognized resort cities and on a speedway many consider NASCAR’s most famous.

It is conducted under the lights and night racing has long been vastly popular with NASCAR fans. It comes complete with speed, the intrigue of carburetor plate racing and there are plenty of fireworks – always a good thing for both night events and Independence Day.

Might seem hard to believe, but there was a time when the race, formerly known as the Firecracker 400, was anything but spectacular.

It was one of the most laid-back races in NASCAR. It wasn’t conducted with a lot of fanfare. DIS officials sure didn’t spend a lot of money marketing the event.

Racing under the lights? Hardly. Instead, the Firecracker 400, always held on July 4, got the green flag anywhere from 10 – 11 in the morning and by 3 p.m., fans and competitors alike were gone – back on the beach.

There was really no need for DIS to get overly involved in race promotion. People were already amassed in Daytona Beach for the holidays and it wasn’t difficult for the track to sell tickets to folks who wanted to smell gas and burning rubber along with salty sea air.

For years it was tradition for nearly everyone to take their summer holidays during the week of July 4. In fact, textile mills, factories and other businesses throughout the South deliberately shut down for a week or longer because their employees were off on vacation.

Beaches were extremely popular as family getaways. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina always did a bustling July 4 business (still does) as did other sand-and-sea sites in the Carolinas and Georgia.

It was, and is, the same for Daytona Beach. But along with an established reputation as a family resort, the city also benefitted from its reputation as the heart of stock car racing, along with the sport’s most famous speedway and race, the Daytona 500.

While it was all about racing and its fans every February Speedweeks in Daytona (no one cared about getting a suntan, after all), when it came to the July 4 holiday, folks could spice up their walks on the beach and dips in the pool with a couple of hours of NASCAR.

And they did. DIS didn’t pack ‘em in like it did for the Daytona 500, but that wasn’t necessary. The Firecracker 400 was perhaps more of a diversion than a singular event and thus never cost the track nearly as much money to produce.

That it was so casual made the race fun for fans and media alike.

In fact, it’s likely the media preferred the Firecracker 400 to any other race on the NASCAR schedule. It was so easy to cover.

Every team and competitor showed up at the track early in the morning and went perfunctorily through preparation, practice and qualifying. Unless there was some type of controversy, which did arise from time to time, it was all simply a matter of getting the work done as quickly and satisfactorily as possible – then get the hell away from the speedway.

There were a couple of reasons for all of this. First, it was hot as hell – the main reason why the race started so early in the morning. Second, drivers and team members didn’t want to stay at the track any longer than they had to. They wanted to get back to the beach, motels, pool and the families they had brought on vacation.

It got to the point where any team spotted working in the garage area around 1 p.m. or so was obviously having problems. Otherwise, the place was almost abandoned. Hardly anyone else was around.

Most of the media wasn’t, that’s for sure. We’d file the news as quickly as possible – didn’t have to do much since the space our newspapers allowed us was drastically reduced because of the holiday – and then get back to the beach as quickly as we could.

Oh, we didn’t shirk our responsibilities. We just met them in a different way. For example, if there was a team or two still laboring after 1 p.m. we had to make sure we knew what was up so it could be duly reported.

Therefore, we appointed one writer, usually a rookie, to stick around and give us a full report when he finally made it back to the motel.

As fast as we could get back to the comforts of the beach, drivers and crewmen, who were splashing in the water by the time we arrived, nearly always beat us there.

Perhaps the perfect example of all this was the Firecracker 400 of 1979.

It was a very fast race that took just over two hours to complete and thus allowed everyone – competitors, fans and media – to get back to the beach with plenty of sunlight remaining. As far as everyone was concerned, it couldn’t have been any better.

It had been a tumultuous year for Wood Brothers Racing. That February, with driver David Pearson, it had barely lost the Daytona 500 to Petty Enterprises in one of the most historic finishes in NASCAR history. The Woods fell short of winning the first race ever broadcast flag-to-flag by a national network.

In the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 at Darlington in April, a pit-road miscue, caused when Pearson drove away before a four-tire change had been completed, created a crash at the exit of the pits and ultimately ended the Pearson-Woods relationship.

The Woods hired Neil Bonnett, who had shown promise driving for Hoss Ellington and Kennie Childers, among others.

Bonnett first won for the Woods at Dover in May. Then, on July 4, he was scheduled to compete at the track on which his predecessor had performed so admirably so often.

When the race began, Bonnett drove as if he knew he had big shoes to fill. He powered his way into the lead and kept his foot firmly planted on the throttle. If he knew anything about caution or finesse, he had forgotten it.

It reached the point where the Woods, concerned about the survival of their car, sent Bonnett a message via the pit chalkboard: “EZ.”

On the final laps Bonnett was leading Benny Parsons when the pair came up on a group of 10 cars. The daring Bonnett thought he spotted a hole just big enough to slice through, which he did to win the race by one second over Parsons.

Once his post-race interview was complete, Bonnett disappeared from the speedway. It didn’t take a genius to figure out where he had gone.

The media’s work done a couple hours later, it was time for most of us to get to poolside. It was just mid-afternoon.

When we arrived in our bathing suits, sure enough, there was Bonnett.

He was stretched out on a lounge chair, resplendent in his sunglasses and shorts. He had popped the top on a cold one.

He gave us a puzzled look.

“Where the hell have you guys been?” he asked.

 

Wood Enters Hall As Powerful Team Patriarch

Glen Wood was a successful driver on tracks around his home in Stuart, Va., but it’s not his on-track skills that make him a member of the third class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Rather, it is because he is the patriarch of one of the oldest, most venerated and most celebrated teams in NASCAR history – Wood Brothers Racing.

With brothers Leonard (who served as crew chief) and Delano (the jackman), Glen Wood started an organization that dates back to 1950 and continues to this day.

With some of the most notable drivers in NASCAR lore, a couple of whom have preceded Wood into the Hall of Fame, Wood Brothers Racing won nearly all the major superspeedway events. To date the organization is credited with 98 victories.

Unlike most NASCAR teams, the Woods did not compete for championships. They preferred a schedule that was limited to primarily superspeedway events. Their reasoning was that big-track races paid the most money and to do well increased the bottom line. Besides, it cost a lot of money to pursue a championship on a coast-to-coast schedule.

To say the Woods did well is an understatement. They did exceptionally well, so much so that their team was widely recognized as NASCAR’s best on superspeedways, regardless of who was doing the driving.

The Woods always seemed to find the combination that served them well on the big tracks – be it raw horsepower (which many believed) or the right mixture of power and handling.

Add to his another ingredient. The Woods, in their prime, were masters of the pit stop. They merged fluidity and creativity with speed to routinely produce the fastest stops in any race.

It’s likely there is no better proof of the Woods’ dominance on superspeedways and the contributions made by their pit skill than the 1973 season.

David Pearson, already a member of the Hall of Fame, was in his second year behind the wheel of the Woods’ Mercury. Impressively, he had won six times in only 14 starts in 1972.

The Woods planned to race in just 18 of 28 scheduled events in ’73, all but two of them on superspeedways.

Remarkably, they would win 11 times. It was an astonishing record.

“They ran against overwhelming odds,” said the late Harry Hyde, then crew chief at K&K Racing, “and they won anyway. Their record is incredible and may never be broken.”

Perhaps the season offers no better example of how, and why, the Woods dominated the superspeedways than the Motor State 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 24, 1973.

Roger Penske had take over the financially beleaguered track early in 1973 and the first thing he did was to cancel the speedway’s second NASCAR race, the Yankee 400, scheduled for August.

Penske felt the two-race NASCAR schedule was too tight and could have a negative financial impact.

Turns out he made the right move. The Motor State 400 drew the largest crowd in the track’s six-year history – 44,800 – and made a profit of $190,000.

The race itself seemed to play right into the Wood’s hands. It was free of any caution periods, something that has happened only three times in MIS history, which meant raw speed and pit stops could make all the difference.

Four pit stops were required by each competitor to cover the 400 miles. As predicted, the Woods were fastest on pit road, which meant that each time leader Pearson left, he had a bigger advantage over his rivals.

Buddy Baker, then driving for Hyde and the K&K team, was Pearson’s only rival. In fact the entire race was a tussle between the two, with Baker leading 10 times for 119 laps and Pearson seven times for 67 laps.

Baker ran Pearson down on two occasions following green-flag pit stops. Throughout the race, it appeared that no matter how much advantage Pearson gained after pit stops, Baker was able to overcome it.

On the last stop with 22 laps remaining in the 200-lap race, Pearson dashed into the pits for 7.3 seconds. Baker followed and spent 10.5 seconds on pit road.

The question was, did Baker have enough time to get past Pearson and thus win the race?

He did not. While Baker closed steadily, he ran out of time and finished 1.1-seconds behind Pearson.

“Buddy was running real well,” Pearson said. “I knew he was coming up on me at the end. It would have been only a few more laps before he would have caught me.”

Pearson and Baker were the only two drivers to complete all 200 laps and they finished one circuit ahead of Richard Petty.

The victory was Pearson’s seventh in 10 starts to that point of the season.

There was more to come in 1973.

And for the team founded by Glen Wood, there was even more, much more, to come in the years ahead.

 

Mr. Smith’s Improbable Journey At Darlington Raceway

A couple of points to consider after the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway:

** Sometimes racing rewards us with the unexpected, the unanticipated.

Something happens that is so far beyond the limits of our belief that we really can’t fathom it. We can only can only stand there in amazement, somewhat slack-jawed as we say to ourselves and anyone else who cares to listen, “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

We had such a moment in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington. For years it has been one of NASCAR’s most prominent and venerated races. It’s the oldest held on an asphalt track. It’s conducted on a 1.366-mile layout that is considered the toughest in all of stock car racing.

It is a race that has been won by the likes of David Pearson, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and other giants of the sport. Journeymen and, essentially, nobodies do not win it.

Now, however, it has been done. The Southern 500 will go into lore as one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history and one of the most feel-good finishes of all time.

That’s because it was won by Regan Smith – yes, the same Regan Smith who is part of an underfunded, one-car team, which has 64 employees, uses a pit crew from Stewart-Haas Racing, engines from Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and chassis from Richard Childress Racing.

It’s the same Regan Smith who has routinely began regarded as, at best, an also-ran in any race he’s entered.

And, perhaps, the same Regan Smith many of us regarded as a nobody. Trust me, after Darlington he is somebody special, indeed.

“I’m not supposed to do this,” said the 27-year-old Smith as he choked up with tears in victory lane. “I’ve never even had a top five.”

At Darlington, Smith wasn’t handed anything. He earned it.

He gambled and stayed on track when most of the leaders pitted for tires with 10 laps remaining. He told us later that the strategy was one he hoped crew chief Pete Rondeau would adopt.

Smith appeared to be a sitting duck. Behind him on the restart was Carl Edwards, who had been a strong as nine rows of garlic throughout the trace and, unlike Smith, was on fresh tires.

Smith spun his tires on the restart but held the lead. He caught a bit of a break when Brad Keselowski wedged himself between Smith and Edwards.

He caught another when he bobbled – only to have Edwards do the same thing.

Despite his newer tires, Edwards could never reach Smith, who managed to keep his Chevrolet in the fresh air.

Smith led Edwards, the points leader, over the green-white-checkered finish and in so doing, put his name alongside those of the sport’s greats.

Smith’s accomplishment was not lost on others. Among those who congratulated him afterward were Kurt Busch, Greg Biffile and Edwards, who said that if he couldn’t win it was good that Smith did.

Smith is the 2008 Sprint Cup rookie of the year who has gained some notoriety of late because of excellent qualifying efforts.

But he’s seldom, if ever, been considered a victory contender. Everything seems to have worked against him – a small team based in Denver, Colo., of all places, and one that has never been given any chance against the sport’s powerhouses, like Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and the like.

Smith, however, came close to victory prior to Darlington. In 2008, he passed Tony Stewart for what appeared to be a win at Talladega until NASCAR took it away because Smith went below the yellow, out-of-bounds, line.

This victory will not be taken away from Smith.

“I’ll be honest with you,” said Smith, who earned his first NASCAR victory and admittedly, first of any kind that he can remember. “When I walked to the car today, I literally thought we could win the race. I think that every week when we walk to the car. The difference was this week, we did.

“I can’t believe his. It’s too cool.”

What Smith has given us, and NASCAR, is yet another unanticipated moment when an underdog proves his mettle.

We saw it in Daytona this year when young Trevor Bayne shocked, and pleased, everyone with his victory in the 500 – which restored immeasurable luster to the tarnished, yet venerated, team known as Wood Brothers Racing.

When you think about it, isn’t to have someone succeed despite odds and adversity a true essence and beauty of sports?

Of course it is.

 

 

** Now we move from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It’s too bad that with his victory, Smith had to share the limelight, even in the slightest, with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Truth is that after the Southern 500, most of the talk and TV highlights will be about these two.

They engaged in some bumping and grinding on the track and that carried over a postrace confrontation in which Harvick took a couple of swings at Busch as the two stopped post-race on the track, just above pit road.

Look, I’ll be the first to tell you fans and media alike enjoy driver dust-ups. If nothing else, they smack of the good ol’ days of NASCAR, when competitors settled issues among themselves with fists, tire irons or maybe even a .38.

And there’s nothing wrong with venting, if for no other reason than that given by Tony Stewart, who said that blowing off steam never fixed a car, but it often made a driver feel better.

Hope Busch and Harvick feel better because they certainly did themselves no service.

When it comes to incidents between drivers, NASCAR has tried extremely hard to let the issues be settled among themselves.

Doesn’t always work, as was made clear in the latest episode of Juan Pablo Montoya vs. Ryan Newman.

However, when NASCAR does decide to act that’s when a team can potentially suffer, especially if the sanctioning body responds with loss of points, probation, etc.

When Montoya seemed to show no signs of perceived over aggressiveness in the Southern 500, reportedly NASCAR conveyed its dislike.

Montoya retreated into a shell and was a non-entity for the remainder of the race. Didn’t serve him well in points.

As for Busch-Harvick, we don’t yet know if NASCAR is going to take the matter into its own hands. But you can bet the farm it will.

That’s because when Harvick decided to take a poke at Busch, Harvick’s unattended car rushed across pit road and slammed into the inside pit wall.

That car could have hit any number of people or, worse, pinned someone against the wall.

NASCAR may be relenting when it comes to driver vs. driver, but anytime their actions threaten the well being of others, the sanctioning body wastes no time in judgment.

They may not have been intentional, but Harvick’s actions posed a serious danger on pit road. This is something NASCAR will not tolerate.

I would be stunned if Harvick does not receive a rather stiff punishment sometime this week – maybe Busch, too, but certainly Harvick.

It’s just one example of how a confrontation can get out of hand and become, in the end, much more than for what a driver bargained.

 

Belatedly, Memories Of Bonnett Return

Recently, Neil Bonnett’s name came up in a conversation. When that happened all the talk was about him. Don’t even remember the other thing we were discussing.

I suppose I should be ashamed to say that, this year, I forgot about Bonnett’s death on Feb. 11, 1994, more than 17 years ago. He died in a crash during practice for the Daytona 500.

We can’t always remember everything or everyone. With the passage of time it’s inevitable that we lose many who have been so much a part of NASCAR that, frankly, we can’t fathom it all – as it has been with me. I’m not alone.

Seems we tend to recall only those who made an indelible mark that imprinted everyone – fans, media and, in some cases, the nation. So it was with Dale Earnhardt, whom we lost 10 years ago. The anniversary of his passing, this past February, prompted many memorials.

If he were alive today Earnhardt would most certainly remember Bonnett – and demand we do as well.

Earnhardt and Bonnett were the best of friends. Their bond was forged not only as fellow racers, but also through an affinity for the outdoors; hunting and fishing.

As a driver Bonnett was not, by some measures, a superstar – but he was successful. He won 18 races from 1977-1998, driving for such teams as J.D. Stacy, Wood Brothers Racing, Junior Johnson and Associates (as a teammate to Darrell Waltrip) and Rahmoc Enterprises, owned by Butch Mock and Bob Rahilly. He is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame.

I believe his most impressive season had to be in ’88. That year, with Rahmoc, he won early at Richmond and Rockingham. During the interval between those two races, he was victorious at the inaugural NASCAR exhibition event at Thunderdome in Melbourne, Australia – three consecutive victories.

To win in 1988 was very emotional for Bonnett, if for no other reason than he suffered a fractured hip at Charlotte on Oct. 11, 1987, when his Pontiac experienced a blown tire and slammed into the wall. He returned to victory lane after many thought his career might well be over.

Just a couple of years later another incident again threatened his career. But, once more, he came back. Sadly, he never should have done so.

But this is not about Bonnett the racer. It’s about Bonnett the man.

He was one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. As a competitor, he did what drivers were expected to do, earn their stripes on the bullrings, attract attention from the elite circuit and then prove his worth – all of which Bonnett did.

A native of Alabama, he became one of that state’s NASCAR “gang,” which included Red Farmer, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Bonnett and, later, Bobby’s son Davey.

Bonnett was someone not many drivers have ever been – a unique and appreciated individual. He was personable, candid, witty and, dare I say, charming. He could converse with anyone. He was open and outgoing with fans and the media. He had the type of personality which, if he started racing today, would have instantly made him a huge favorite.

He was his own affable self, always. There was nothing fake. That’s what fans liked. I never read, or heard, a harsh word about him.

Here’s an example of his sense of humor.

He won a race in the ‘70s at Richmond. Back then Richmond was far removed from what it is today. Suffice it to say that writers, what few of us were there, had to go to the office of the director of the Virginia State Fairgrounds to write and file our pieces. That was the only place that had telephones.

Because Richmond was an afternoon race, I was always able to get my stuff back to the Roanoke (Va.) Times in time to make the three-hour journey home and catch the 11 p.m. sports broadcast.

This particular time I tuned in and heard the weekend sports announcer (obviously a guy who didn’t know anything about racing) say the following:

“And today in Richmond, the NASCAR race was won by the famous French race driver, Nyles Bounet.” He pronounced it “Boo-nay.”
When I heard that I laughed so loud I nearly wet my pants – not that I have ever done so, you understand.
I soon called my buddy Tom Higgins and told him what I had seen and heard.
We made it a pact to call Bonnett “Ze famous driver Nyles Bounet” from that moment on. And we did.

Bonnett’s reply was always the same – “Bonjour! What the hell are you guys doin’?” He was always smiling, even laughing, when he said it. He never failed to play along with the gag.

Bonnett’s career was virtually over after a crash in the TransSouth 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 1, 1990. A multicar crash on lap 212 of 367, triggered by Ernie Irvan, 10 laps down at the time, resulted in Bonnett’s transportation to a Florence, S.C., hospital with head injuries and severe amnesia.

Bonnett was out of racing for three years. During that time, among other things, he established himself as a solid TV personality with his own show on The Nashville Network. It was on that broadcast that he absolved Irvan of any blame.

Before all of that, though, I remember his first press conference at Talladega following his recovery. Bonnett said, “I want you guys to know that I’m just fine.”

Then he pointed at Tom and me.
“I’ll prove it to you. There sits Tom and there sits Steve ….”
To this day neither of us has forgotten how he singled out a couple of his media friends above all others.
It was during that same press conference that Bonnett said his funniest and most memorable words.

Bobby Allison had suffered a near-fatal, career-ending crash at Pocono in 1988. Among many other injuries, he, too, sustained a severe loss of memory, from which it took him years to overcome.

As Bonnett recovered from his incident he had the opportunity to chat with his mentor when they, both healing, reunited for the first time.

“You know,” Bonnett said, “between him trying to remember what he was a-saying and me trying to remember what he was a-telling me, we had ourselves a helluva conversation.”

Bonnett ran a couple of races for Richard Childress Racing in 1993, one of which ended in a frightening, violent crash at Talladega, the other with a blown engine at Atlanta.

Everyone, including Earnhardt, suggested he give it all up. There was no need for him to attempt to race again. He had successful businesses and a career in television was virtually guaranteed.

But he ignored that and paid the ultimate sacrifice in Daytona in 1994.
I wonder what Bonnett, today, would mean to NASCAR had he not perished.

He would be nearly 65 years old. Should he have chosen, I believe he would be a strong television presence and, more important, be one of NASCAR’s most respected elder statesmen – and remain immensely popular.

That’s not to be, of course.
But what has to be is that Neil Bonnett should never be forgotten.
I suspect there are many fans, and others, who would heartily agree.

A Glimpse Of The Past Can Enhance What Is NASCAR Today

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – I had something of a revelation the other day.

Videographer Billy Waller and I were at the staging area for the annual beach parade conducted by Living Legends Of Auto Racing of Daytona Beach.

We were acting on a tip from Len Wood, who, with brother Eddie and other family members, operates Wood Brothers Racing, the NASCAR Sprint Cup team that has been in existence for nearly 60 years.

Len and Eddie have attended the parade many times, and Len suggested that if I wanted to get video interviews with a few NASCAR pioneers, I needed to be at the parade’s staging area.

I asked him where it was. He told me it was at a drive-in church in Daytona Beach Shores.
Excuse me, but a drive-in church? Have to admit I had never heard of such a thing.

But it certainly wasn’t hard to find. Parked all over the open grounds of the church were classic cars, racing and others, of all shapes and sizes. There were also antique motorcycles and other vehicles.

There were sedans, coupes, roadsters, stock cars, jeeps, ’50s-model Chevrolets, Fords, Dodges – too many to count.

Some were easily recognizable, like replicas of Junior Johnson’s Chevrolet and Bill Elliott’s Ford. Others were classic cars of all types lovingly maintained by their owners.

Carloads of people poured in. Soon the grounds were teeming with spectators, most decked out in racing gear.
It was obvious they enjoyed exploring the cars. But there was something else. They also enjoyed each other.
Groups of folks gathered together amid conversation and laughter. I got the sense it was all a congregation of old friends.

Among the attendees were former drivers, some of whom are well into their ‘90s, and whose names have been largely forgotten – something the Living Legends of Auto Racing wants to remedy.

Without hesitation or encouragement they politely came up and spoke to Billy and me despite we were complete strangers. It was as if they simply enjoyed, and appreciated, our presence.

David Pearson, the three-time Sprint Cup champion and winner of 105 races, was also there. He had attended several times. He’s not in his ‘90s, by the way.

In fact, except for the fact that his hair is silver, he didn’t look much different than he did in his driving days. His hair color is somewhat appropriate given he was known as “The Silver Fox” during his NASCAR years.

Pearson is dealing in street rods these days, buying and selling them. He used to race regularly in vintage cars but hasn’t in some time. Why? He won every time. I knew that and wasn’t surprised.

“I can’t find anyone who’ll race me,” he said.
But let’s go back to my revelation.
After a period of time in the staging area it hit me: Where are the young people?
To be sure, there were some in attendance, but not many.
The population consisted mainly of folks who were clearly veteran race fans and had a connection with the past.

It appeared to me that as much as they knew each other they also knew the cars and drivers. I surmised they were there to be part of something they had known, enjoyed and experienced for a long time.

I asked L.L.O.A.R board member Nancy West if one of the organization’s causes was not only to preserve racing’s past, but also to bring it to the attention of today’s fans; especially the younger ones.

It was, she said. “I’ve been in garage areas with David Pearson and fans, and even young drivers, have walked right past him. They have no idea who he is.”

It occurred to me they should, because knowledge of racing’s past, and its pioneers, enhances the enjoyment of the sport today.
I admit it took me a while to realize that. Although I regularly received invitations to the L.L.O.A.R.’s annual Awards Banquet, held just days before the Daytona 500, I didn’t attend.

It wasn’t because I didn’t appreciate the past. Heck, I became friends with many who competed then – be it on the track, behind pit wall or in the shops.

I just thought I had better things to do.

Then it hit me that if celebrating the past for one night was good enough for Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Ray Fox, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and so many others, it was good enough for me.

And if some of today’s fans take the time one day if possible – and at no cost – to visit the staging area at the drive-in church and the parade afterward, I really think that will be good for them, too.

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