If you read the Ramblin’ Wreck story, you saw the comments from Paul Johnson saying his only dealings with it have been “to tell ‘em to get out of the way,” and a former driver recounting another driver’s account of Johnson’s enthusiastic encouragement before a game to make haste out of the tunnel.
I have to thank Ramblin’ (W)Reck driver Mike Macmillan for pointing this out to me, a video from the 2009 season opener. Listen closely to the first few seconds. You might recognize the voice. Watch till the end, though. Pretty funny.
I want you to think about the situation for the driver. It was his first-ever ride-out onto the field (the 2009 Jacksonville State game; each driver takes the keys after the previous season, so the home opener is his first drive onto the field) so he’s got to be amped, nervous, not wanting to screw up. Maybe he’s hearing the football team in the tunnel behind him, shouting and yelling that they want to take the field, the noise reverberating in the enclosed space. Maybe he’s thinking about instructions he’s heard over and over to wait for the game-production staff’s signal before putting it in gear.
And, then, Johnson appears in his window, hollering at him to get going. I give him a lot of credit for keeping his cool and staying on the course, because it’s not like the situation gets any calmer once he drives out. Fans are cheering, the cheerleaders hanging from the side of the car are presumably shouting and also obstructing his field of vision, the band is blasting the fight song into his window and there’s a piece of the banner stuck to the front of the car, further hindering his vision. And he’s got a camera in his face.
If it had been me, I probably would have plowed into the trombone section. Well done, Winfield Tufts.
By the way, the Ramblin’ Reck Club, which maintains the (W)Reck, is building an endowment that will help pay for the car’s upkeep. Information here.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat