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Interview with Becky Price

Price, Becky
Anderson, Dawn
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Childhood adventures
Becky Price talks about her family experiences on the NASCAR circuit in the 1970s and about hurricane Hugo.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Dawn Anderson interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
DA (Dawn Anderson): This is Becky Price.
BP (Becky Price): My name is Becky Price and I live in Mint Hill, North Carolina. I grew up in Mint Hill. Mint Hill is small town, um, east of Charlotte and I am one of the few original Mint Hillians and actually one of the, the few original Charlotteans. The story that I want to tell today is a story, um, concerning my dad and me, um, being that the south is known for NASCAR, the NASCAR business, and NASCAR fans. Um, in the early 70s, my dad decided to invest in NASCAR by, um, having a car on the NASCAR circuit. The circuit was the Grand Touring Division of NASCAR and the cars were small cars, as in Camaros. We had a Camaro on the NASCAR circuit. It was a black and gold number 22. And we raced at all the, all the tracks in the south. Most of the tracks were small tracks and most of the races were either on Friday night or Saturday. To my recollection there was only one on Sunday. Being, um, a part of the family I always scored for our car. And the way that you scored is you sat in a scoring, in the scoring stand which is actually a mini grandstand and each car had two scorers. One scorer was for the car, um, probably a family member or somebody that was close to the owner or the driver of the car. The second scorer was someone not known by the family or not even, um, the driver and just totally unrelated but nevertheless we had two scorers. We had to keep our eye on the car so therefore, we really could not watch the race. When your car came by you, you had to look at a number that was held up. That number represented the lap that the car was on. It also represented which lap your car was in at that time. And it just seems like a primitive way of scoring and even today in the modern, all the modern technology I understand that scoring is still done the same way. Um, it was fun meeting the different people in the scoring stands but when the race started you had to be serious and you had to keep your eye on your car. One Saturday afternoon, my dad and I, um, went to North Wilksboro where our car raced. Most of the time my mom went and my brother and a lot of, uh, family went but this particular Saturday it was only my dad and myself. So Dad was in the pits with our car, uh, the driver, and the pit crew. And I went to the scoring stand where, where I always went, um, at one of the races. As the race started, um, our car was one of the top five cars and all during the race our car stayed in the top five positions. At one time, um, we were in the lead position of the race. I was so excited by this time that when our car came around in front of the scoring. [Technical problems]
DA: Testing. ( ) And so the car came around.
BP: At the end of the race that particular day, um, we did not win. However, we came in second place that day. When all the scores were tallied, I had us coming in third place that particular day and the unknown scorer for our car had us coming in second place. My dad had thought we were second place as well as all the, the pit crew thought we were second place but because there was a discrepancy, all of the scoring had to be reconstructed. I knew all of a sudden that it was my fault. Dad mentioned to me, um, "I believe that you did not pick up the lead lap of the race." I was devastated and I thought surely he will never let me come to another race if I have messed up this badly. My dad went up into the, uh, the building where they had to reconstruct the scores. I waited below and I'll never forget, um, a legend in, in NASCAR racing, Bud Baker, came over to me and he knew what was going on because he and Dad were friends, he came over and put his arm around me and he said, "Oh don't worry little gal." He said, "Everything will be OK and they'll get it, they'll get it straight." He said, "I'm sure you came in second." And I said, "Oh I hope so," I said, "Because I cannot believe that I missed it." And he said, "Well just in the excitement you missed it and that's to be understood." We were delayed for over an hour but the final results were that we did come in second. So my dad was, was happy about that. I was so nervous to get in that, um, car with him on the way home because I thought, "He is going to let me have it!" But he didn't. Um, we just talked about it and, um, of course there was no such thing as cell phones then so we did not call home ahead to let, um, my mom know why were running late. And I said, "Oh Daddy! When we get home everybody's going to wonder why in the world are you so late getting home from the race especially if you came in second." And, um, my daddy was gracious enough to, to say to me, "We're gonna let this be our little secret that you messed up and, um, and that I had to spend over an hour helping reconstruct the scoring." And, um, he said, "That'll be our secret and, and I'll just say that I, I hung around and talked to some of the guys." And believe it or not we, we got home and if he ever mentioned it to my mom I, I did not know. As a matter of fact our family, um, who consists of two sisters and my, my brother and my mom and me and our extended families with spouses and, and children, we were all sitting together at a meal just not many years ago and we were talking about the days when we actually had a car on the NASCAR circuit. And I'm the one that blurted out, "Daddy you remember that time that I really messed up and thought, um, that we were going to be third instead of second and losing that money and, and that all the other things that go along with second place?" And, and everybody just stopped and looked at me and Daddy smiled and he said, "I thought that was going to be our secret." But however many years later we, we had a big laugh about it. Um, the, the car stayed on the, the NASCAR circuit for three years. There was a lot of work to that, a lot of traveling involved and, um, actually it became, it was wearing on our family because, um, my dad really is in the construction business. And, uh, and that was that was his main business. The NASCAR business, uh, business was more or less a hobby. So after three years he sold the car and continued to be a, a spectator instead of an owner of a car. But that's the story that I have to tell about my dad and me and, um, the, the NASCAR experience that we had back in the 70s.
RECORDING PAUSED THEN RESUMED BP: ( ) The next, um, the next story that I'm going to tell is my recollection of Hugo. The night that, um, Hugo hit, which was in 1989, the wind was very high and I was not aware that we were about to experience a hurricane. Um, my husband went to bed. Our son was actually two years old, he was already in bed and I was working in the kitchen. I was doing laundry and the more I worked, the higher the wind got and I could hear it. Our house was surrounded by, by large trees and you could see the shadows from the streetlight even, um, with the, the limbs and, you know just kind of cracking at times, and I'm not that big of a TV watcher so, I didn't have the TV on. But the winds got so high that I decided to turn the TV on to see maybe what the weather had to say about the high winds. About 11 o'clock that night I sat down to watch the news, and the winds were, were higher and higher, and heavier and heavier. And I can remember just getting up and going into the kitchen and I looked at my kitchen window and I felt like that my kitchen window was going to blow right out. It also made me think of those times when you see out in the cartoons how the windows bow, you know they just, just are so flexible and you know, blow back and forth like a cartoon, and I thought, "I think that wind is going to do that." Um, it was just, the winds were so strong. So, the news came on. And I will never forget, I sat down to hear what the weatherman had to say, and it was not just the weatherman, it was the whole news cast that night around the weather and about the time I sat down a newscaster said that a tornado had been sighted in Mint Hill. And the minute the newscaster said that, the power went out, just went out. The TV went black. The house was black. It was black outside because all the streetlights were out. And it just scared the daylights out of me. I made my way to Christopher's room. Got him out of his bed and put him in the bed, in our bed, and I went to bed. He barely woke up, and I just told him, "I'm going to put you in the, in the bed tonight with Mommy and Daddy." And he just went right back to sleep. My husband laid there and was practically snoring. I could tell he didn't know what in the world was going on. And I can remember not sleeping most of the night. There were, um, woods behind our house, and I can remember at one point hearing a tree just crack in two, and it was such a loud crack and I still did not realize what was going on because I thought, "Well surely a tornado has had time to go over by now." But the, the winds were still very high. An elderly aunt, who lived by herself at the time, and then there was an elderly gentleman in our church that, um, I thought a lot of, he lived by himself, and I can remember just laying there praying for my aunt and Mr. Camill, the man in our church because I knew they were alone. And if they knew what was going on, that they must be frightened. So, um, I was really concerned about those two people, I just can remember that. The next morning when the sun came up and I looked outside, I could not believe the devastation. There were limbs everywhere. There were a couple of tree behind our house that had cracked in two like, like a little stick. My husband was still asleep, had no idea what had happened. I had to wake him up and I said, "Get up. You're not going to believe what has happened outside." Um, of course there was no power, so we didn't know what was going on. He got up and looked outside and said, "What in the world has happened?" And I said, "I don't know. The last I heard was a tornado had been sighted in Mint Hill and the TV shut off because the power went out." Well, he got dressed and he said, "Well, let's go down to my mom and dad's to see if they're OK." Which is, they live in a, a town, another small town about 15 minutes from Mint Hill. So we started out and much to our amazement we could not even get out there. There were trees across the road, power lines down, and we just stopped and talked to people and everybody was saying, "Can you believe a hurricane came through our town?" It was, it was just amazing. It was, it was shocking. It was, um, amazing to see that, um, people's roofs had been damaged, um, fortunately, um, in our area there were not too many houses damaged but a lot of shingles were blown off of roofs and of course we had no power. Um, we then tried to go up to my parents. We did make it to my parents. They live closer then my husband's parents. And there is a little store, um, in our community that has been there for quite some time and, uh, the owner of the store did not have power, but the parking lot was full and we thought, "Well, what is going on? Nobody has power and how can the store be open?" But, as, um, as this, this particular person would do we had, um, he had a pencil and a piece of paper in his hand and he was doing business. He was selling bread and, um, anything in his cooler that had not, um, ruined, and, um, mainly it was just bread and dry goods, canned things like that, and, um, he was actually operating, and, and a lot of people were there helping each other out. And I can remember the comradarie we had in the community. It was, it was really a good feeling to see everybody pitched in to help everybody out at a time like that. Believe it or not, we were only without power for 24, about 24, 26 hours, something like that and our power came on. And we were so, we were just so shocked, because we had already gotten the charcoal out and, um, decided we have got to start cooking because our, everything in the freezer was ruining so we started cooking on our, on our charcoal grill, and, um, had plenty of food. So, um, actually had people over and, um, it was just kind of a fun time even though it was, it was also a time of devastation. The after about 26 hours our power came on. We don't know what happened, but our power came on and believe it or not, the lady who lived beside of us still did not have power and she was without power for almost a week. Well, only a few homes in our area had power and we were one of those homes, and word got out that we had power. So, people were calling saying, "Can I plug my freezer in?" Or, "Can I do this?" And, "Can I do that?" And we had a detached garage at the time, so I can remember we had three freezers, people had brought to our house, and they, we moved our cars, and moved their freezers into our garage. They plugged their freezers in, and fortunately it didn't trip anything, so, um, we were blessed in that respect. Um, people also found out that we had hot water and I had a friend call and say, "Well, is it OK if we come over and take a shower?" This was after, about two or three days, and no hot shower or anything and I, we said, "Sure. Just, just bring your own towel and your soap and come on over." Well, that word got out, and believe it or not, we had 17 people take showers in our house in one day. We would have to give them time, give, give the water time to warm back up and build back up. But over a period of about 24 hours, we had about 17 people take showers at our house and that was kind of fun, and, um, and it was, um, it just showed that in, in times of trials that people really do, um, stick together and work together and help each other out. And, um, even though it was, um, it was a scary night of Hugo, uh, and many days and weeks ahead when people didn't have power, we just saw the goodness come out of people, and that's, that's the good thing that I like to remember about Hugo.