After the Rolex 24 At Daytona's final Friday practice Chip Ganassi was standing in one of his two garages watching as the crews of his No. 01 Telmex and No. 02 Target Lexus-Rileys Daytona Prototypes checked off line items on a mechanical "to-do"...
After the Rolex 24 At Daytona's final Friday practice Chip Ganassi was standing in one of his two garages watching as the crews of his No. 01 Telmex and No. 02 Target Lexus-Rileys Daytona Prototypes checked off line items on a mechanical "to-do" list, making sure the two cars were ready to take on the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona that gets underway at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Whiling away the time talking with a reporter, a boy of about 8 years emerged from the shoulder-to-shoulder paddock throng, walked up to Ganassi and graciously asked for an autograph.
Ganassi got down to eye-level with the young man, asked his name and wrote down much more than just his signature.
With his "hero card' in hand, the boy turned away and blended back into the crowd.
Picking up the conversation where it had been temporarily interrupted, the reporter and Ganassi returned to solving the world's problems when the same 8-year-old returned with a camera-toting father and politely asked to have a photograph of him standing alongside Ganassi.
Mission accomplished with another "Thank you, Mr. Ganassi," the boy and father again disappeared into the crowd.
"People who've known my family for awhile think I got my racing from my mother (Marie) because she was a lead-foot driver - she was always getting pulled over for speeding," Ganassi started saying.
"But it was on one of our trips together to New York's Finger Lakes region that we stopped for lunch one day at this place called The Glen Motor Inn.
"Over at another table were Mario Andretti, Ronnie Peterson and Francois Cervet. They were at The Glen doing some testing for Ferrari. I went over and got their autographs.
"Now imagine if they had've said 'no.' I can't say I wouldn't have been when I am today if they had said 'no,' but it might've changed everything if they did.
"That was a big deal to me; still is," Ganassi said. "That's why I'll take a little extra time with a kid."
There are none who stand so high as he who'll stoop for a child.
-DC Williams exclusively for Motorsport.com