Three-time Olympian Darvis “Doc” Patton has retired from all things speed, so don’t expect him to take on a new career in motorsports.
That doesn’t stop the former TCU All-America sprinter from appreciating the work of motorsports professionals.
On Friday, Patton spent a few hours at Texas Motor Speedway getting a taste of life as a pit crew member at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Challenge, an NFL-like combine of sorts designed to identify and recruit qualified minorities and women interested in becoming a pit crew member.
The TMS stop is the first of five across the nation. Top competitors at each site will be invited to compete at the NASCAR D4D Showdown at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 9.
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The combine continues Saturday in the Midway at TMS. Those interested must be between 18-26, a female or a male classified as a minority.
“The Drive for Diversity, that’s exactly what it’s for,” said Patton, a silver medalist in the 4x100 relay in the 2004 and ’12 Summer Games. “You don’t know what you don’t know. I was a three-time Olympian just because of the exposure” he had to track and field.
Patton got a taste of trying to change a tire (crew members do it at what seems the speed of light) and fueling up.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys,” Patton said. “It takes a lot of athleticism.”
Helio’s hot air
Names of motorsports legends grace the streets and roads in and around Texas Motor Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Way, Gordon Road, Luyendyk Lane and Foyt Drive are just a few of the 21 streets, roads and paths that offer the means to arrive and depart the grounds of the Fort Worth superspeedway.
IndyCar’s Helio Castroneves, who is seeking his fifth victory Saturday night in a TMS race, wants in on the streets with names.
“Helio said to me, ‘what does it take, five wins to get a street named after me?’” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “I said at least five. He looked at it as a lock, solid guarantee.
“You got to be careful when you talk to Helio.”
Gossage joked (presumably) that a street would have to be built to accommodate Castroneves or “see one we have named after who has ticked us off since. We’ll just change the name.”
“Helio has a colorful mind except when it comes to paying the check. Then he has to go to the bathroom.”
Foyt’s horse sense
A.J. Foyt, IndyCar owner of the No. 14 (Takuma Sato) and No. 41 (Jack Hawksworth) cars, also has history as an owner of racehorses.
What does he think about American Pharoah’s chances at the Triple Crown? Good, but … “horse racing is about as unpredictable as car racing.”
“Way he’s been running, I don’t think anybody can run with him,” said Foyt, 80.