Guns, Religion and NASCAR!

Roger Simon with Pajamas Media sums up his weekend at Texas Motor Speedways with Governor Perry and the #71 NASCAR.  It seems like we are slowly converting Roger into a Texan!

Guns, Religion and NASCAR!

I was standing in the center of the Texas Motor Speedway Monday morning, staring up at my … now I guess I could say friend … Governor Rick Perry of Texas as he was giving a brief welcome for the annual Sprint Cup, when he boomed out the words with his fist thrust in the air:

“In Texas, we love our guns, religion and NASCAR!”

The crowd went wild and I knew I wasn’t in the Hollywood Hills anymore, Dorothy. I was in reddest of red state America and this blue state boy — born in NY, father from Massachusetts, educated in New Hampshire and Connecticut, most of his life in LA — was lovin’ it.

Yes, this was my first NASCAR race and, truth to tell, I can’t say how much I would normally enjoy it because this was like going to your first Laker game as the guest of Jack Nicholson.

I had been invited down by Gov. Perry’s people for a weekend of auto racing and barbecue as opposed to my visit to Texas earlier this year when they invited me down for a weekend of shootin’ and barbecue (notice the common denominator).

Of course, there was, in both cases, a more serious side, some politics and new media thrown in, but we’ll get into that later.

About NASCAR. I was able to be inside the garage, the pits with the crew and the hauler (new word for me), a kind of all-purpose trailer (don’t say “trailer,” you dumb city slicker!) where the gear is stowed.

This particular race was something of a marathon since most of us arrived on Saturday evening for brisket at Cooper’s in the Ft. Worth stockyard. There Perry said a few words, which evolved into his pro-Tenth Amendment stump speech, and then introduced Bobby Labonte, who was driving the Rick Perry for Governor sponsored car in the race.

Now Bobby is something of a NASCAR star, though I didn’t know him from Adam, since the only drivers I ever heard of drove Ferraris. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much). Anyway when we met, he was a perfectly regular guy, which I’m told is the normal case for NASCAR.

More importantly, he was my height! When I go to Laker games, if I’m lucky enough to sit down close, I feel like I’m part of a race of midgets.

This race was supposed to be held on Sunday, but it was raining pretty heavily when we arrived that morning. So we all just huddled around the hauler (I got it right this time), eating more brisket and talking various forms of shop, waiting for the rain to stop. Much of the time, Perry was with us, chatting everybody up and having a good time. I even had a chance to ask the Governor the obligatory question about a White House run and he gave the obligatory answer. (I want to be the Governor of Texas, but would like to see someone in the White House who would give power back to the states.) He has to say this now, so who knows?

But it’s worth noting that he is Texas’ longest-serving governor at this point and Texas governors have, on more than one occasion, moved on to higher office. In any case, the rain didn’t stop and the race was postponed. But everybody came back the next day and had a splendid time, except Bobby didn’t win.

What was interesting about this whole Perry/NASCAR thing was how it was retail politics taken to a new level. Texas is no small state, as everyone knows, but it has a small town flavor compared to New York and California. And Perry is a people person on a level I have not quite seen before in politics. You even worry about him, if he ever does make a White House run.

When Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York, he had some of that people person thing, throwing out the ball at Yankee games and taking the role of America’s Mayor after 9/11. But he doesn’t have as much charisma as Perry. I say that speaking as a Hollywood guy, where, as you again know, we traffic in charisma, perhaps too much.

Anyway, I’m at DWF airport typing this, getting ready for the flight back to Lalaland where our own governor’s race is well under way. Some of our candidates might take Tenth Amendment tips from Governor Perry — that is if all Californians haven’t already moved to Texas.

The pictures you’ve been looking at were taken with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35. I also shot a ton of video, which will be up on PJTV later in the week. It will be kind of a sequel to my first video from Texas — Shoot First, Blog Later.

But do you think they’ll let me back in California now?

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