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The Great Gonzo was indeed great

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. with The Great Gonzo at Fontana
Getty Images for NASCAR
I must admit I was rather surprised to learn that The Great Gonzo, of Muppets fame, was named to be the Grand Marshall for the Auto Club 400. I found myself asking: "seriously? A Muppet puppet is going to give the command to start engines?

With the Auto Club Speedway being so close to Hollywood, it's fairly easy for them to line up celebrities to come to Fontana for the opportunity to promote their latest projects. In this case, the promotional prize was addressing the 68,000 in the grandstands as well as the estimated 6.4 million reported to be watching on television.

The Great Gonzo, regarded as being the official dare devil of the Muppets, was at the Auto Club Speedway to promote the new movie "Muppets Most Wanted" which I'm told is a very cute movie, fun for the entire family and well worth the price of the ticket.

Prior to giving the official command to start engines, Gonzo said: "I want to remind the drivers that the legal speed limit in California is 70 MPH. Please obey all traffic and safety laws." After he finished laughing, Gonzo said: "I'm just kidding, these NASCAR drivers are as crazy as I am."

It's very rare for someone, participating in a NASCAR pre race ceremony, to say something that the fans will never forget. The last time we saw this was a few years ago when a Tennessee minister, in the process of delivering the pre race invocation, thanked the Lord for his "smoking hot wife."

The Great Gonzo's performance was on that caliber and it turned out that the decision to name him as the Grand Marshall of the race was actually a brilliant idea. Well played Auto Club Speedway.

HERE'S A TECHNICAL TIP FOR FOX SPORTS.

Speaking of pre race ceremonies. During the Auto Club 400's pre race ceremony a Fox Sports microphone was left on. All through the invocation and the singing of the "National Anthem" we could hear two voices talking over this microphone. Fortunately nothing spectacular, such as the launching of a dreaded F bomb, occurred during this time.

After spending 28 years in commercial radio I can easily testify to the fact that it's sometimes very easy to accidentally leave a microphone in the hot mode. However, usually it's discovered in an extremely short amount of time and corrected. The question here is: how did this audio interference continue this long before someone in the Fox Sports control booth discovered it?

OH MAN, THE NASCAR CONSPIRACY THEORISTS ARE AT IT AGAIN.

With two laps remaining in the Auto Club 400, driver Clint Bower suffered a left side flat tire and spun his Toyota through the entrance of turn three. The result was a caution flag that created the need for a green-white-checker finish.

Remembering the fact that Bowyer was accused of intentionally spinning his car last September during the Richmond race, the NASCAR conspiracy theorists again ran amuck and lit up "Twitter" with accusations that claimed Bowyer again spun his car on purpose. The theory said Bowyer wanted a caution flag so he could get fresh tires under yellow instead of losing important track position under the green flag.

Needless to say, there's not an ounce of truth to this "Twitter" campaign. It also goes without saying that the NASCAR conspiracy theorists are genuine bug eyed crazy people. But that's okay. I love you guys. Very often you have made me smile and sometimes you even made me write.

Thank you Auto Club Speedway for a very entertaining weekend.

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