Ben Fischbeck blogs about his trip with the Nos. 5/24 teams to Victory Junction
There’s just something incredible about visiting Victory Junction, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go twice now with my team members here at Hendrick Motorsports. Last week, a group of us from the Nos. 5/24 shop went to the camp for its NASCARnival. We performed live pit stops, played games and even danced with the campers after dinner. Now that really was a sight to see – a bunch of pit crew members doing the chicken dance. But being able to participate in something like that is just so cool, and what’s funny is you show up there around 6 p.m. —you’ve been working all day in the shop, at pit crew practice – you’re drained. But that feeling of exhaustion just evaporates when you see the smiles on the campers’ faces. They’ve been up all day, too, and yet they’re still running wide open. They’ve got so much energy and you just feed off that. It’s infectious.
This time around, visiting camp was even more special for me. I could relate to what some of those children were going through. During our particular week, campers were ones battling gastrointestinal issues. I was hospitalized with those myself years ago so I can understand to a degree where they’re coming from. You almost get choked up a little bit thinking about it – I got lucky and they could fix mine. Some of the kids aren’t quite as fortunate, but it doesn’t slow them down at all. They’re truly inspirational.
One of the highlights of the night was our pit stop. The campers lined up next to the pit stop area, and they challenged us. They wanted to see if we could complete a four-tire pit stop in 13 seconds or less. Now keep in mind, we’re doing this while wearing feather boas and pirate patches (Check out our pictures here). One of our crew members –Brad Pickens, gas man for the No. 24 Chevrolet, – even had a parrot strapped to his head – to add to the fun.
Well, the engine fired up on the pit car and the kids began their countdown. If we did it under 13 seconds, we were good. If we went over that number, then we had to do 10 pushups. Why 10? One of the campers was celebrating his 10th birthday. So when it came time to do the stop, the kids were counting and we were hustling. Fortunately, we did it. It was a really good pit stop, actually, and the kids were cheering. After that, we gave them a shot at turning lugnuts. Between that and drowning No. 24 front-tire changer Kelly Kellis in the dunk tank, I’d say they have some real athletes there. Overall, it was an incredible experience, and I know I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to visit Victory Junction.