By Lee Montgomery, NASCAR.COM
In conjunction with its season-ending top 10 lists, NASCAR.COM asked a number of drivers to answer the same 10 questions. Today is the final installment.
Brendan Gaughan has seen a lot in his time. His father has owned casinos in Las Vegas, and Gaughan has played college basketball at Georgetown.
In racing, Gaughan started in off-road vehicles in the desert before moving to NASCAR. He nearly won the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship before moving to Nextel Cup last season.
But that didn't go well, and he and Penske Racing split, leaving Gaughan to return to Orleans Racing, his family-owned team, and the trucks in 2005.
1. What's your dream vehicle that you don't already own?
A dream vehicle that I don't already own? Boss, you know what? It would have to be a brand new deal. I don't know if you've seen it, but Daimler made this Formula one-like race car that's called the 412 or something. I don't even know the name of it. But it's bad to the bone. It was at the SEMA show. It's got five-point seat belts in it. It looks awesome.
And Dodge couldn't hook you up with one of those?
I don't think Dodge can get quite that high up the food chain to get that one.
2. If time on the road wasn't an issue, what would be your ideal pet?
I'm a good old-fashioned dog guy. My parents had dogs, and I've had dogs most of my life. I'm an old-fashioned dog guy. Give me a nice retriever or a lab, and I'd be happy.
3. What's your biggest pet peeve when driving on the highway?
Just how people don't pay attention. You know, people on the road pay so little attention now. They're all doing so many things, whether it's cell phones, eating, whatever. I think it'd have to be the lack of attention people pay.
4. I know you travel a lot. What has been your worst hotel experience?
Oh, gosh. Tucson, Ariz. I won't name the chain out of respect, but it was awful. It was with my Winston West team in 2001. And we stayed in Tucson in this rat-infested place. It had this old kitchenette that they had walled up, and you'd look over the wall, and there'd be rat droppings. It had a gas leak, you had your streetwalkers outside, the cops were there all night, it was just hideous.
Did you get any sleep that night?
Actually, yeah, because we passed out from the gas leak. When we finally came to, we decided we weren't going to stay there the next night.
5. What is your favorite food?
Well, if you and fans have ever seen me, Lee, I don't dislike much food. I put on a bunch of weight last year, and that's not because I was picky and choosy. Mostly, I'm a good steak-and-potato guy. There's this one restaurant, Dressler's in Birkdale Village (in Huntersville, N.C.). You give me cowboy ribeye and some mashed potatoes, and I'm in.
6. If you had to choose, would you choose to be honest or nice?
Try to be honest. I'm probably nicer than I need to be to most people, but when it's comes time for it, you gotta be honest, even if you hurt somebody's feelings.
7. What's your fondest childhood memory?
Probably riding with my dad and my dad's partner in desert racing, riding in the passenger seat with them in the Mint 400 parade. Goodness, I was 4, 5 years old. Back then in the West Coast, the Mint 400 was big. It started in downtown Las Vegas, and you'd go right down Las Vegas Boulevard to the starting line. My dad used to sit me on a couple of phone books and put a pair of glass goggles on me and let me ride in the passenger seat.
Never let you drive did they?
Nah, I didn't know how to drive then, but years later I drove. I drove the Mint 400 quite a few times. But at that age, no. They let me sit there on the phone books and sit next to my dad. I used to love doing that.
8. What would your dream date be and where would be, and with whom would it be? Since you're single, you can answer that honestly, unlike some of these married guys we've asked.
Well, right now, the hottest chick out there for me is Keira Knightley, the girl from King Arthur. She's just gorgeous. Ohhh. She would have to be the dream date. The correct answer should be, "whatever girl I'm going out with tonight," but I'll have to change that for this moment to say Keira Knightley is ... she's just ... wow.
9. What's the worst prank that has been played on you or that you have played on some else?
It was played on me by my best friend. His name is "The Nightmare." He showed up at a Winston West race at Irwindale with my grandmother's silk jacket on. He's 6-7, 270 pounds. He put my grandmother's silk jacket on, and he found an old pair of old-lady glasses that cover your whole face like Elizabeth Taylor, a big, massive thing. He walked around sprinkling water on my car claiming he was my spiritual advisor and that the moons were in alignment. He did this all day and all night of the championship race of 2001 at Irwindale. Everybody was embarrassed of him. Everybody was like, "Oh, my God." They thought he was my mother or something. It was frightening.
Did it work?
Oh, what could I do? I just had to sit there and let it happen. He just kept going. I could not stop him.
10. What would you consider your "Welcome to NASCAR" moment?
I've had a few of them. Well, the one that really taught me the most was at California Speedway, big crash and a big fireball. I broke a couple of ribs, and from that point is where I learned to finish. I was in big pain, I had to keep racing. I had to learn the statement, in order to finish first, you must first finish. That was my biggest "Welcome to NASCAR" moment where you finally understood what they were talking about. I was fast, but I never finished. That would be my "Welcome to NASCAR" moment.