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Sour April Fool's Joke Sweetened by SAS Fans

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For Immediate Release – June 4, 2006

Contact: Nick Holt, USRA Media Director

(210) 415-1251

(210) 690-8564




April Fool’s Joke Gone Sour is Sweetened by Generous San Antonio Speedway Fans


It started out as an April Fool’s Day joke gone bad, but ended up as a gift of love for a special San Antonio Speedway fan.


San Antonio Speedway announcer Milton Hope has many duties on race day and one of them is to keep the fans in the stands entertained during lulls in the racing action – like during oil clean ups. By any standard Hope is one of the top racing announcers in Texas – one who has a well-earned reputation as the best “Simon Says” leader ever and as well as a good-natured practical joker.


During the intermission at the big ASA Late Model race held had the half-mile, high-banked oval on April Fools Day, Hope came up with a bogus contest in which he asked for five contestants from the packed grandstands to come down to the front straightaway. All the contestants had to do was tell the audience what they would do with $500 if they were to win it in a contest. The contest winner would be selected by the applause of the audience after each had shared what they would do with the money. Of course, there was no $500 – April Fools!


People being people, someone wanted to buy some new tires for his friends race car and another wanted to spend in on some new clothes or something, but one the contestants, Leslie Pickett - a loyal SAS fan - shared that she would like to win the contest to help pay for a kidney transplant for her husband.


Hope, realizing that his joke was about to go hopelessly wrong, was stunned as the crowd grew sympathetically quiet. And, of course, Pickett’s response to the question drew a hearty ovation which quickly turned to dead silence (and a few boos) as Hope revealed the “joke.”


“If there had been a hole in the ground out there on the front straight, I would have crawled in it right then and there,” Hope shared.


Needless to say, the track received a few appropriately irate phone calls the next day, but what was even worse, no one knew how to get in touch with the Picketts. In fact, no one on the SAS staff even knew her name.


Fortunately, the staff at TexasSpeedZone.Com, the leading interactive racing website in Texas, posted an appeal for anyone knowing the identity of the woman to come forward with some contact information. It wasn’t long before Leslie Pickett sent an email to the SAS office.


“Richard and I attended the April Fools’ Day race. We attend as many races as possible every year. I was so excited to be included in the contest, as I had seen them go on over the years with prizes and such. I never even considered it was a joke, or I would have chosen a different answer to the question because our situation isn’t a joke. When asked what I would do with the money, my first thought was that my husband is in need of a second kidney transplant and that money would go to a really good cause. It was not my intention for anyone to feel bad about our situation. So, I hope that you pass this letter on to your staff and disappointed fans. We enjoy going to the races so much and would hate that because of me anyone would think anything negative towards the track and/or staff.”


Talk about an understanding individual.


SAS CEO Terry Dickerson responded by offering the $500 and promising to have all the drivers go through the grandstands with their helmets to take a collection for their transplant fund during the “Guitars and Stock Cars” event held at the speedway this past Saturday.


“We’re so glad that we’ve finally found the Pickett family, and first of all, I offer my sincere apology for our initial reaction at the races that night,” Dickerson said. “We felt really bad about the situation that night and we really want to make things right. So, to start things off, I’d like to contribute $500 towards the transplant expenses.”


And on this past Saturday, June 3, 2006, nearly every driver went through the grandstands with their helmets while the whole Pickett family watched from the VIP suite. They collected $1,826.94 as including a generous donation from Harold Smith, owner of the 13 San Antonio area Express Lubes, and the promised $500 from the Speedway.


Hopefully, others will step up with a donation for this deserving family.


San Antonio Speedway is the only NASCAR sanctioned short-track in the state of Texas. It is located 3.5 miles south of Loop 410 on State Highway 16 South towards Poteet, near the new Toyota facility.


For more information about San Antonio Speedway, call Rick Day at 210-827-4524 or call the SAS race hotline at 210-628-1499. The San Antonio Speedway website address is http://www.sanantoniospeedway.com.



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