NASCAR drivers meet, recruit fans

ERLANGER, Ky. - NASCAR drivers who race Toyota vehicles who were in the Tri-State to race at Kentucky Motor Speedway this weekend stopped in Erlanger Wednesday morning to visit the Toyota Engineering North American headquarters for a meet and greet with employees.

Toyota associates gathered in the building's atrium shortly before noon to listen to what the drivers had to say about racing, driving Toyotas and being apart of the same team.

"These guys take time out of their schedule to make this happen, not only for our team members but also our families," said Toyota Associate Michelle Roberts.

Roberts works in internal communications for the office and helped bring the event together: employees, drivers and families.

"It's fun for my son. Every time he gets to watch a race, he's in it," Roberts said.  "He's on top of the TV, and he encourages us to drive sometimes like the NASCAR drivers do."

Roberts said that she and her husband resist their son's temptations, but one of the employees asked the drivers if they ever get speeding tickets. That's when Darrell Waltrip chimed up at the microphone.

The 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee told of a time when he was driving between Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., and was pulled over for speeding.  

"The officer got about halfway back to his car and came back to may car and said, 'I'm sorry Mr. Waltrip, if I knew it was you I wouldn't have pulled you over,' " Waltrip said.

Waltrip chuckled that the officer gave him a "courtesy ticket."

This was the second year for the Erlanger Toyota meet and greet, and the drivers were there to do more than say hello to fans.

"That's one thing we're doing is that we're working that new crowd [to get] new young people involved in our sport," driver Kenny Wallace said.  "We definitely got a lot of new race car drivers."

"We come here and see the kids, who knows, future NASCAR drivers or future crew members or whatever it is, it's cool," driver Johnny Sauter said.

After the drivers took time for interviews with the media, they took to the auditorium, where the session ended with autographs and photos.

Follow reporter Tony Mirones on Twitter here.


Print this article Back to Top