On February 22, 2011, I had the distinct pleasure of representing Skirts and Scuffs at my first press conference. I would like to personally thank not only Skirts and Scuffs, but also Infineon Raceway's manager of media and community relations, Jennifer Imbimbo, for the opportunity to be a part of the event. Sitting up front along with Trevor, to the right, is Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway; Ken Clapp, who is Speedway 99 co-owner and promoter; and Steve Genzoli, vice president of research and development of Ghirardelli Chocolate Co.
Trevor Bayne was born February 19, 1991, in Knoxville, Tenn. This young man at the tender young age of 20 years, almost to the day, is living a dream. During his first Daytona 500, his second Sprint Cup Series race, he blazed across the finish line, taking the checkered flag and starting the 2011 season off with a bang at Florida's Daytona International Speedway.
Known as "The Great American Race," the Daytona 500 is a race that even non-NASCAR fans love to watch. It's the race that sets the tone for the upcoming season, and it didn't let us down. There's a new kid in town and many feel he is what the sport needs to renew its wounded pride. After a few years filled with much change and growth, NASCAR has suffered through a "depression." Many hope that with the recent changes, it can prevail as the sport it once was.
Trevor Bayne's racing career began at the age of 5 with go-karts, not unlike many of our favorite drivers. When he was 13, Bayne joined Allison Legacy Race Series and became their youngest top rookie. After a two-year stint with Allison, Trevor’s path led him to USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Southern Division in 2008, where he signed a contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI). During his time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck East Series, Bayne boasted one win, six top-5s and seven top-10 finishes. Bayne was awarded Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors after participating in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Raceway in California. It was onto the Nationwide Series with Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) in 2009.
I myself can honestly say that Trevor wasn’t even on my radar when it came to the up-and-coming drivers. While I was watching drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin, young Trevor Bayne was silently moving up the ranks. In the 2010 Nationwide Series, Trevor ran his first full schedule with decent stats - six top 5s, 11 top 10s and three poles - and ranked seventh at the season's end.
The 2011 Daytona 500 was only Trevor’s second time racing in the Sprint Cup Series, the first being Texas in 2010, where he finished 17th in his #21 Wood Brothers Ford. At Sunday’s running of the 53rd Daytona 500, Trevor started the race in 32nd position and of course as we all know, finished first. It was an extremely exciting win for not only Trevor and the Wood Brothers, but for many fans of the sport as well.
Trevor Bayne will now be known as a winner of the Daytona 500, no matter where his career goes from here. He joins a group of individuals who motorsports fans will remember for years to come, keeping company with drivers like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty and Fireball Roberts. Trevor is now the youngest driver in NASCAR’s history to win the Daytona 500. It was in 1997 that 25-year-old Jeff Gordon won the race. Trevor is actually 5-1/2 yrs younger than Jeff was when he won the coveted trophy.
Interesting side note: Trevor’s average speed during the race, 130.326 mph, was the second-slowest in the history of the Daytona 500. The slowest average speed was 124.740 mph back in 1960 by then winner Junior Johnson.
Is Trevor a “golden boy” or was Daytona just a fluke? When I took some time to investigate Bayne a little more, it's the numbers that don’t lie. But one question that I keep hearing is what in the world was Michael Waltrip thinking by letting this young man slip through his fingers? It sure seems as though what is Michael's loss now is the Wood Brothers' gain. After such a long time between races, can Trevor Bayne be what they needed to become a competitive team?
Last Tuesday, Trevor arrived in Ghirardelli Square fashionably late, as some would say. He was greeted by his fans, NASCAR fans and the press. He was led down a red carpet into the Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, where he would invent his own namesake sundae. Many fans and media waited outside at a media center for the actual press conference. Since he was running a bit late, we were kept apprised of the situation.
Hanna, from Infineon Raceway, stepped up to the mic and said, with a big smile, “Trevor has finally arrived. He will be out here as soon as he is finished. You should have seen it out there. It is almost like Bieber fever out on that red carpet. There are many fans out there making all kinds of noise.”
The ingredients for Trevor’s namesake sundae are chocolate, chocolate chips and rocky road ice cream with marshmallow and chocolate syrup, topped with whipped cream. Although on the menu it's referred to as the Trevor Bayne Sundae, Sundae, Sundae, Trevor later told the crowd at the press conference he would refer to it as the T-Bizzle Drizzle!
Infineon Raceway presented the Daytona champion with a couple of items to remember his visit by. The first item was a Golden Scoop. Then they handed him a mock sign that said “Right Turn Ahead” as well a mock (fake) I.D. so that he would be able to accept the third item, a Magnum of Wine. But the best item I felt by far was the map to Victory Lane at Infineon Raceway so he wouldn’t get lost.
After introductions and gifts were presented to Trevor, a question-and-answer session began. Skirts and Scuffs will have the highlights of this Q&A, hopefully in audio form, in part 2 of this interview.