Texas Motor Speedway

Pit stops: Having a ball with the Monster Energy athletes

What a rush.

Monster Energy knows how to entertain a crowd and bring an adrenaline rush to an unsuspecting sports writer. Yours truly — with no regard for life — stood inside the “Ball of Steel” as motorcycle riders Cody and Kyle Ives spun around in circles, and later rode shotgun in a stunt truck with Cody Currie.

Both were exhilarating experiences. There’s nothing scarier than standing inside the “Ball of Steel” in everyday clothes with motorcycles zipping by. At least the Ives brothers were nice enough to mess with my hair as they warmed up. Then, after saying a couple Hail Marys, it came to an end to the amusement of fans nearby.

The stunt truck is a different sort of rush in its own right. Currie went over ramps, did spin-outs and kept me on edge throughout the entire show.

It’s quite a feeling hearing fans cheer throughout an event, and Currie didn’t disappoint them. I, on the other hand, tightly held the harness like a wimp for most of the ride. That truck has more power than it appears to the naked eye.

The “Ball of Steel” and stunt truck were only part of the pre-race show. There were Harley-Davidson riders called the Unknown Industries that jumped ramps and did head-to-head races.

All in all, the pre-race show entertained most. And scared others.

Football racers

Dallas Cowboys reserve tight end Rico Gathers and Detroit Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson were among the celebrities at Sunday’s race.

Gathers and Robinson both consider themselves “car guys” and soaked in the atmosphere before the main event.

Gathers recently customized his Dodge Challenger, getting it supercharged and body-wrapped.

“It’s a beauty,” Gathers said. “It’s my baby. I really love it.”

Gathers had attended only one other NASCAR race — when he was 8 years old at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

His favorite driver?

“I’ve always been a Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick fan,” Gathers said. “One of my favorite drivers back in the day was Dale Earnhardt before he passed away, then after that it was Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“But, man, this is a great experience to come out here and embrace it.”

Robinson, meanwhile, made his maiden voyage to TMS. The Fort Worth Arlington Heights product had never been to the track until Sunday.

“It’s great to be out here and to have this opportunity,” said Robinson, who drives a souped-up Jeep Wrangler. “I never came here as a kid, so to have this opportunity to come to Texas Motor Speedway is great.”

Star watch

Outside of the NFL players, TMS had plenty of other celebrities.

Rock star Ozzy Osbourne and his son, Jack, gave the “Drivers to your cars” command. Sports personality Jim Rome delivered the “Drivers, start your engines” command.

Also on hand were actress and Stephenville resident Ruth Buzzi, comedian Michael Jr., Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, and MSNBC anchor Brian Williams.

He said it

“I gave up hoops after high school. After we lost state [in 2013], I put the sneaks away. ... But I can still dunk. I still have my athleticism. That didn’t go away.” — Robinson, who went to the state basketball tournament as a senior with Arlington Heights

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram