CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Aug. 29, 2000) - To his teammates, Brian Porter is simply known as "Honeybun" for his love of the pastry treat. But to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway fans, the mechanic and front tire carrier for the Square D/Cooper Lighting...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Aug. 29, 2000) - To his teammates, Brian Porter is simply known as "Honeybun" for his love of the pastry treat. But to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway fans, the mechanic and front tire carrier for the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevrolet, has been re-dubbed "Rain man."
It's not that Porter has a thing for Judge Wapner, nor is he afraid of hot water. The 36-year old Greenville, S.C. native's big heart just made the best of a bad situation for Darlington race fans.
The story begins on a rainy Sunday afternoon in March during the 1999 Transouth 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event. Weather conditions had delayed action at the track and loyal race spectators, who were waiting out the elements, had become restless. Enter the Rain Man.
"We had just covered up the car, and we noticed that a lot of the fans had decided to ride the weather out," said Porter. "One of the guys said we should get the fans to start the wave. He tried it, but the fans weren't buying it. I decided to continue what he was doing, but I just added a little craziness to it and the fans liked it. I did a little dancing, a few belly slides with my friend "Pop-tart" from the No. 33 team and everyone started to get into it."
Apparently, Porter was such a hit, an encore performance was requested at the next Darlington race in Aug. - the Pepsi 400.
"It rained again in Darlington, and some of the people remembered me from the previous race," recalled Porter. "They started to egg me on, and I started it all over again. It was fun, and I got a TV and a newspaper interview out of it. The fans got into it, and now they recognize me at other races. Now they yell, 'Are you that rain man?' It was sort of a good PR thing for the team. I would definitely do it again. All it takes is a few fans to get me going."
Porter has built a legion of admirers at Darlington with his "rain dance." While he hasn't even told his mother about his side job in the entertainment business, Porter has some ideas for future rain delays. When he isn't working on the suspension, brakes and the fuel cells for the Square D/Cooper Lighting Chevy, he is scheming other ways to entertain race fans.
"I'm thinking about buying a chicken suit," joked Porter. "There have been other rain delays where I couldn't communicate with the crowd because the track announcer was too loud and the fans couldn't hear me. If I were running around in a chicken suit, I could get things done. No way would they miss some crazy fool running around the track in a chicken suit. The problem I have right now is financial. I need to start a chicken suit fund."
All kidding aside, Porter doesn't take those two rain soaked afternoon performances seriously. He almost seemed embarrassed telling his "Rain Man story." Obviously, Porter would prefer sunny race days. But if he ever chooses to entertain a soaking wet crowd again, he says he will let his audience determine the next venue.
"If I ever do it again, it would depend on the crowd reaction," said Porter. "I think Darlington is one of the best places because the fans are so enthusiastic. Bristol might be another race I would think about. I think the fans need a little entertainment while they wait out the rain. Some people wrote to the Winston Cup Scene to thank me. Making a fool out of myself is the least I could do."