I am proud to say that I met David Gilliland at M&M's World on the Las Vegas strip earlier this evening.
From all perspectives, he is one heck of a nice guy. He seems relaxed with his fans and takes the time to look them in the eye and express his thanks that fans are there.
He appears to especially be great with children! Tme and again, I saw him taking extra time with each child, and listening to each of them. I saw several youngsters leave thrilled and excited, tightly clutching their prizes!
While most events work out very well for the fans, I find that driver signings can also be 'make or break' for the fans. Many fans will wait for hours in line, and then be upset that they were shuffled through the line. If the driver does not react within expectations, a fan can leave the appearance disgusted with the driver, and indeed so angry they are no longer fans. Other fans will assume that the driver is just having a bad day, and they will accept the poor reaction blissfuly, explaining away any apparant bad mood based on something bizarre and unusual.
Every one has heard reports about fans being upset with the drivers. Some drivers can start out very attentive to their fans, and at some point in their careers, the signings seem to be less enjoyable for both the driver and the folks who wait in line for hours. One would hope that the drivers take time to remember that they continue to be ambassadors for the sport, even if they have issues with circumstances that are not caused by the fans.
Fortunately, I have very good feelings that David will be steady and solid with his fans. I am confident that Mars/Masterfoods will continue to be proud of this new driver.
And from around town, I heard of the following experiences of other driver's signings. I was unable to attend any other than David's, but did talk with several who were at these other events.
- Kasey Kahne's signing was overwhelming and poorly organized, according to several who attended. Five hundred wristbands given out had to make for a long night for KK.
- Brendan Gaughan, as usual, put on an excellent open house. By now he is, by all reports, heading out to run around in the desert.
- Elliott Sadler's appearance at a local Walmart went well. The reports I heard was that he was in an unusually good mood. That may have something to due with his new ride, or it may be due to his posse coming in town too! There is some speculation that his new 'galpal' may be along for the weekend. YO! Elliott! this IS Vegas, known for a 24 hour marriage license bureau with drive up chapels!
- Several other drivers are still signing about the city. Many are at the Speedway Childrens Auction at Sam's Town. This key event for race weekend always draws a nice amount of people, and an equally nice amount for a great charity.
PS...Question of the Day!
As of late Thursday, it looks like Ken Schrader may win the Sirius Driver Fan Choice this week. Ricky Rudd won the first two weeks. I remember when Elliott Sadler's fans would vote in E. for the scanner 'Voted In' on Trackpass. One has to wonder if the closing of the message board has prevented the fans from being unified and banding together to work towards a common goal.