Jump to content


Photo

Celebrity story


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 Buford

Buford
  • Member

  • 11,173 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 14 May 2009 - 09:07

I posted this in the Chicago Bears forum in a thread about stories about meeting players. Thought some of you might find it interesting or amusing.

This was told to me by my neighbor in the Mid-1980's. He had been on my pit crew when I raced sports cars and Sprint Cars in the 70's and 80's and went on to be on the Newman-Haas Budweiser Lola Mario Andretti driven CART Championship Indy Car team based in Lincolnshire, Illinois. In those days despite being one of the top teams, they only had 6 crew members, a crew chief Darrel Soppe and 5 crewman. They worked their *** off day and night. My neighbor, John, was the team gopher. Meaning he didn't do a lot of work on the car, he loaded and unloaded the truck, worked the pit board on race day, and spent most of his time driving back and forth to Midland Texas returning and retrieving rebuilt engines from VDS.

Anyway, they were not that impressed with celebrities. After all one of the team owners was Paul Newman, and they were used to celebrities from Hollywood, politics, and sport around all the time. When they were busy, they simply had no time for them. One night only John and Darrell were there loading up for a race when there was a knock on the side door at the race car shop. John ignored it but the knocking was persistent. Finally in a huff he went over and opened it a crack. There a man said, "Hi, I'm Walter Payton." John said "Hi" and closed the door in his face and went back to work. More knocking. John yelled "Darrell (who was in another room) Walter Payton is at the door and wants in. What do you want me to do?"

Darrell yelled back "Is it really him?" John said "Yeah I think so." Darrell said, "Well let him in, Carl (team owner Carl Haas) probably told him he could come by. But keep an eye on him. Don't let him touch anything." So John goes back to the door and said "Sorry Mr. Payton I had to ask the crew chief if you could come in." Walter said that was fine, that Carl Haas had told him he could look around. John said "OK but don't touch anything we are loading up."

So John was doing whatever he was doing and not really watching Walter and after a few minutes, in the open quiet garage there was a loud CRACK!!! that boomed through the room. John looked up and Walter was standing in the seat of one of the cars. John yelled "What the hell are you doing?" Darrell who heard the crack sound comes running into the room as Walter jumps out of the car. Darrell is yelling "What did he do, I told you to watch him." Walter is apologizing profusely. They quickly strip off the upholstery and found no actual damage. It must have been the seat kind of shifted down when Walter put his weight on it and made a cracking noise that was magnified by the empty building.

Anyway Walter beat a hasty retreat but went on to be a pretty damn decent race driver himself for a couple years, assisted by Carl Haas. Just goes to show though, even if you are Walter Payton, you aren’t always welcome everywhere you go!



Advertisement

#2 Giraffe

Giraffe
  • Member

  • 7,015 posts
  • Joined: January 08

Posted 14 May 2009 - 09:37

As a Liverpudlian Limey,I know absolutely nothing about American football, but I once sat next to a guy on a flight out of Chicago O'Hare who I think was named Ed Debevic? He was some kind of big dude at the Chicago Bears IIRC, and people kept asking for his autograph.... :confused:

#3 Buford

Buford
  • Member

  • 11,173 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:10

As a Liverpudlian Limey,I know absolutely nothing about American football, but I once sat next to a guy on a flight out of Chicago O'Hare who I think was named Ed Debevic? He was some kind of big dude at the Chicago Bears IIRC, and people kept asking for his autograph.... :confused:


Sorry I forgot not everybody would know who Walter Payton was. One of the greatest American Football players of all time who after football raced in Trans Am and co-owned Indy Cars with Dale Coyne..

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Ed Debevic is a restaurant lol. I am wondering if you met the famous coach Mike Ditka?

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Mike_Ditka

Edited by Buford, 14 May 2009 - 10:27.


#4 Giraffe

Giraffe
  • Member

  • 7,015 posts
  • Joined: January 08

Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:29

Sorry I forgot not everybody would know who Walter Payton was. One of the greatest American Football players of all time who after football raced in Trans Am and co-owned Indy Cars with Dale Coyne..

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Ed Debevic is a restaurant lol. I am wondering if you met the famous coach Mile Ditka?

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Mike_Ditka


That was him! Was he a partner in the restaurant? I thought Ed Debevic had been a coach? There was some connection, and he autographed a matchbook from the restaurant!


#5 Tony Matthews

Tony Matthews
  • Member

  • 17,499 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:39

... a crew chief Darrel Soppe


Great story, and one that strikes several chords, having mechanic'd for several people! I think Darrel Soppe was with Penske Racing in the late seventies - I seem to remember meeting him on my first trip to Reading PA.


#6 Buford

Buford
  • Member

  • 11,173 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:41

That was him! Was he a partner in the restaurant? I thought Ed Debevic had been a coach? There was some connection, and he autographed a matchbook from the restaurant!


No he has his own restaurant Ditka's. A quick web search for Ed Debevic's doesn't show any Ditka connection so I don't know. He was Walter Payton's coach and a huge hero in Chicago for being the only Bears coach to win a Super Bowl, although the Bears being the first professional football team won many championships in the years before the Super Bowl was started.

Edited by Buford, 14 May 2009 - 10:42.


#7 Giraffe

Giraffe
  • Member

  • 7,015 posts
  • Joined: January 08

Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:40

No he has his own restaurant Ditka's. A quick web search for Ed Debevic's doesn't show any Ditka connection so I don't know. He was Walter Payton's coach and a huge hero in Chicago for being the only Bears coach to win a Super Bowl, although the Bears being the first professional football team won many championships in the years before the Super Bowl was started.


I should have looked at my matchbook display first; it is indeed Ditka's that has the autograph inside, and not the Debevics! :blush:
Mindyou, not taking them off my den wall for 20 years or so might have something to do with it!
Typical bloody Limey, can't tell my Ditka's from my Debevic's!!!! :(

Edited by Giraffe, 14 May 2009 - 11:41.


#8 watkins

watkins
  • Member

  • 145 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:42

I met Walter Payton at Watkins Glen during a SCCA Trams Am race weekend in the early 1990's driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass owned by Paul Newman and Bob Sharp. I only saw a few people approch him, as most didn't realize who he was...Just another driver. He was a real gentlemen, willing to give autographs and answer questions to those who did recognize him.

Posted Image Posted Image

Posted Image Posted Image

Edited by watkins, 14 May 2009 - 12:48.


#9 f1steveuk

f1steveuk
  • Member

  • 3,195 posts
  • Joined: June 04

Posted 14 May 2009 - 14:51

I met Walter Payton at Watkins Glen during a SCCA Trams Am race weekend in the early 1990's driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass owned by Paul Newman and Bob Sharp. I only saw a few people approch him, as most didn't realize who he was...Just another driver. He was a real gentlemen, willing to give autographs and answer questions to those who did recognize him.

Posted Image Posted Image

Posted Image Posted Image


Walter was one of the first American Football players to get any recognition in the UK, when Channel 4 started to broadcast games. He, John Riggins and Marcus Allen. I played in the UK league and we had a training scrimmage with NFL players at Cyrstal Palace. I managed to intercept a pass from Brian Sipe (and I am still staggered by the speed the ball hit me at!) and met some quite big names. However as I was leaving I mentioned I was going to look at parts of the old track, within 30 minutes I was being followed around by about twenty BIG NFL names, all motorsport mad who wanted to see as well!!! One, Gary Barbarro (??) was really keen and knew his stuff. It was one of those really surreal moments!

#10 RA Historian

RA Historian
  • Member

  • 3,426 posts
  • Joined: October 06

Posted 14 May 2009 - 15:26

Walter Payton was just one heck of a nice guy. I saw him race many times, first with a Lola S-2000, then the Newman-Sharp Racing Oldsmobile, and finally with the Jerry Clinton Gray Eagle Racing Ford Mustang. He won GT-1 at the 1990 Road America June Sprints. I interviewed him a couple times, both for Sports Car and On Track magazines. Each time he was very accomodating and gracious. He had a playful streak in him and like to pull the occasional practical joke. Career as a driver ended when he flipped his Trans Am Mustang into a spectator area at Road America and had it burst into flames. I think that was when Mrs. Payton became the Head Coach!

As has been stated, Walter was one of the greatest NFL players of all time. Even though he played on the wrong team (the Bears; I am from Wisconsin!) one had to admire his skill and ability. It was a pleasure to see him play. Further, Walter Payton never, ever danced in the end zone. He was a complete gentleman.

Co-owned Dale Coyne Racing until his sad, sad early passing from cancer.

Speaking of Mike Ditka, I heard it said of him that he was so tough that he moussed his hair with toxic waste.

Tom

#11 red stick

red stick
  • Member

  • 2,289 posts
  • Joined: October 05

Posted 14 May 2009 - 15:35

Thanks for the Payton racing photos. Number 34, of course!

#12 B Squared

B Squared
  • Member

  • 3,186 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 14 May 2009 - 19:54

Posted Image
photo: B²

Walter Payton (aka "Sweetness") at Mid Ohio in 1996 for the CART IndyCar race. He was co-owner with Dale Coyne at that time. As you can see, his Hall of Fame career in football was never far from the fans minds. A very decent man, taken way too soon.

Brian

#13 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 14 May 2009 - 23:48

Good story Buford . I had forgotten about Paytons racing until this . He was a genuine nice guy fram all accounts I've heard .

#14 AlMark

AlMark
  • Member

  • 82 posts
  • Joined: February 09

Posted 15 May 2009 - 15:47

As a Liverpudlian Limey,I know absolutely nothing about American football, but I once sat next to a guy on a flight out of Chicago O'Hare who I think was named Ed Debevic? He was some kind of big dude at the Chicago Bears IIRC, and people kept asking for his autograph.... :confused:



Could this possibly have been who you meant:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_O'Bradovich

Gil

#15 Gregor Marshall

Gregor Marshall
  • Member

  • 1,249 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 15 May 2009 - 16:36

Walter was one of the first American Football players to get any recognition in the UK, when Channel 4 started to broadcast games. He, John Riggins and Marcus Allen. I played in the UK league and we had a training scrimmage with NFL players at Cyrstal Palace. I managed to intercept a pass from Brian Sipe (and I am still staggered by the speed the ball hit me at!) and met some quite big names. However as I was leaving I mentioned I was going to look at parts of the old track, within 30 minutes I was being followed around by about twenty BIG NFL names, all motorsport mad who wanted to see as well!!! One, Gary Barbarro (??) was really keen and knew his stuff. It was one of those really surreal moments!


The Bears where my team when growing up and I loved Walter Payton, so thanks for the story Buford.
I went to school with the Luckhurst's, the oldest brother being Mick Luckhurst who was a kicker for the Atlanta Falcons but he also fronted the NFL on Channel 4 - nice bloke.

#16 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,175 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 15 May 2009 - 17:12

Darrell Soppe started out by racing Super Stocks at Cajon Speedway near San Diego. In an interview many years later, he commented that "I was no good, I knew I wasn't going to make it as a driver". When the interviewer pointed out he was named rookie of the year, Soppe replied "That just tells you there weren't many rookies that year." :)

#17 elansprint72

elansprint72
  • Member

  • 3,387 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 15 May 2009 - 21:59

The Bears where my team when growing up and I loved Walter Payton, so thanks for the story Buford.
I went to school with the Luckhurst's, the oldest brother being Mick Luckhurst who was a kicker for the Atlanta Falcons but he also fronted the NFL on Channel 4 - nice bloke.


Gregor,
I remember Mick on those Channel 4 programmes coming across as a guy who had no "edge" to him whatsoever; he seemed delighted to have been at the top level in, what was to us at the time a very "foreign" game.
My celebrity stories: bumping into your Dad on and off over the years as a photographer at Oulton and other "Northern places", top bloke sorely missed.... and.... working at Tesco as a 16 year-old when Muhammad Ali came to open the store, he shook the hand of everyone and, as I was the tallest in line, squared up and gave me a punch in the shoulder- glad he was only fooling around! :drunk:


#18 ensign14

ensign14
  • Member

  • 37,460 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 15 May 2009 - 22:04

I saw Ali down the Blues. Off-topic, but couldn't resist.

#19 Giraffe

Giraffe
  • Member

  • 7,015 posts
  • Joined: January 08

Posted 15 May 2009 - 22:16

Gregor,
I remember Mick on those Channel 4 programmes coming across as a guy who had no "edge" to him whatsoever; he seemed delighted to have been at the top level in, what was to us at the time a very "foreign" game.
My celebrity stories: bumping into your Dad on and off over the years as a photographer at Oulton and other "Northern places", top bloke sorely missed.... and.... working at Tesco as a 16 year-old when Muhammad Ali came to open the store, he shook the hand of everyone and, as I was the tallest in line, squared up and gave me a punch in the shoulder- glad he was only fooling around! :drunk:


I had Ali as a guest in the hotel I was Sales Director in, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when he was on his way to Mecca for pilgrimage; he was a lovely guy.
Getting back to Motor racing celebrity stories, I once sat next to Jacques Lafitte on an Air France flight to Paris, and the co-pilot had to circle Paris CDG whilst the crew tried to prise the hero-worshipping pilot away from him to land the plane!!!


Advertisement

#20 Buford

Buford
  • Member

  • 11,173 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 15 May 2009 - 22:25

Getting back to Motor racing celebrity stories, I once sat next to Jacques Lafitte on an Air France flight to Paris,



I once peed next to Andy Granatelli. He wasn't tall enough to have a good shot at the urinal and so was up on tip toes leaning back and... oh the horror... the horror...

#21 RStock

RStock
  • Member

  • 1,341 posts
  • Joined: March 08

Posted 16 May 2009 - 00:45

I once literaly "bumped into" David Pearson . Sloshed my beer all over he and I both . It was my fault , not watching where the hell I was going . He was nice about it . Slapped me on the back and said "That's better if you drink it instead of wear it , hoss . "

Edited by REDARMYSOJA, 16 May 2009 - 00:45.


#22 Ross Stonefeld

Ross Stonefeld
  • Member

  • 57,525 posts
  • Joined: August 99

Posted 16 May 2009 - 05:23

Walter was one of the first American Football players to get any recognition in the UK, when Channel 4 started to broadcast games. He, John Riggins and Marcus Allen. I played in the UK league and we had a training scrimmage with NFL players at Cyrstal Palace. I managed to intercept a pass from Brian Sipe (and I am still staggered by the speed the ball hit me at!) and met some quite big names. However as I was leaving I mentioned I was going to look at parts of the old track, within 30 minutes I was being followed around by about twenty BIG NFL names, all motorsport mad who wanted to see as well!!! One, Gary Barbarro (??) was really keen and knew his stuff. It was one of those really surreal moments!


The IT chief at Haymarket/Autosport did the same. Lives in Crystal Palace and played in the UK league, were the teams 'affiliated' with a US equivalent because I think he played for whoever was linked to the Rams. His name is Steve Attwood. I randomly will pull the Heisman Trophy pose walking down the hall because he's one of the few people who will understand what the hell I am doing.

#23 Frank S

Frank S
  • Member

  • 2,157 posts
  • Joined: September 02

Posted 16 May 2009 - 05:56

The IT chief at Haymarket/Autosport did the same. Lives in Crystal Palace and played in the UK league, were the teams 'affiliated' with a US equivalent because I think he played for whoever was linked to the Rams. His name is Steve Attwood. I randomly will pull the Heisman Trophy pose walking down the hall because he's one of the few people who will understand what the hell I am doing.


I actually saw a Heisman Trophy in an unusual place: in the lobby of a local courthouse. The earner/owner was in for sentencing, and had brought it to impress the Judge. It worked, sort of. The Judge only gave him a few weeks in jail, suspended.

I believe I was the only one, other than the Judge, who knew what it was, and who the man carrying it was.



#24 Buford

Buford
  • Member

  • 11,173 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 16 May 2009 - 06:37

Brit football!!! I have a chat friend who lives in Colchester Essex. I have turned her into an American Football fan. She was going to go see her local team a week ago but couldn't go at the last minute. Too bad because the Colchester Gladiators won their last game 88 to 6 :rotfl:

http://www.colcheste...d...&newsId=148

And that was WITHOUT Walter Payton!!!