BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 20, 1998) Following the last two NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons, the people of Japan have extended their hospitality to the NASCAR family during an annual exhibition race. This weekend at Bristol, the Philips Racing Team...
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 20, 1998) Following the last two NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons, the people of Japan have extended their hospitality to the NASCAR family during an annual exhibition race. This weekend at Bristol, the Philips Racing Team will return the favor, hosting two Japanese citizens making their first trip to the United States for the sole purpose of seeing a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race.
Rich Wolsky, a shop foreman at Mattei Motorsports, met the couple during last season's trip to Suzuka, Japan, and opened up a friendship despite the language barrier that exists.
"Basically, they don't speak any English and I don't speak any Japanese, so I guess it's kind of amazing that we have been able to communicate this much," Wolsky said.
Wolsky met the two, Tsutomu Nakayama and Hiroko Hanada, in the garage area at Suzuka, and despite the lack of spoken words, he said it was obvious they were big NASCAR fans.
"He (Tsutomu) just kept hanging out at the back of the car, watching everything we did," Wolsky said. "He was obviously really interested in what we were doing, and he also had a Davey Allison T-shirt on, so it seemed like he was a big fan."
After spending the weekend around each other at the track, Wolsky returned home to Charlotte, N.C., where he received letters from both Nakayama and Hanada. The letters, which had been translated into English, indicated their desire to one day come to the United States, or as they referred to it, "the home of NASCAR."
Wolsky and his wife, Terri Korkes, then received word in July that the couple had arranged for time off this summer and wanted to make their dream trip during the 1998 season. With Bristol being driving distance from Charlotte, it was a natural suggestion, and the plans became real.
Thursday night the couple will arrive in Charlotte and will spend the day with Wolsky and his wife touring a few of the race shops in town, including the Mattei Motorsports shop, which fields the No. 7 Philips Ford for Geoff Bodine. Then on Saturday morning, the foursome will make the trek to Bristol for a full day at the track, which will culminate with the running of the Goody's Headache Powders 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"I'm really looking forward to this. I've always been intrigued and impressed with the Japanese people and culture," said Wolsky, who lived in Hawaii for 12 years before coming to Charlotte in 1992. "I thoroughly enjoyed the trip over there last year and I just hope that they have a good experience here this weekend."
Source: NASCAR Online