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Competition is fierce in this NASCAR bowling league

by Brendan Gaughan
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With the hectic weekly schedules consisting of sponsor, fan and media commitments, it’s nice to go back to the motorcoach, sit down and have a nice, quiet dinner. For me, I enjoy this "quiet time" with "Cheezburger" (my motorcoach driver, Johnny Kaufman.) But every once in a while, something enjoyable comes along that gives us a break from all of the travel. This past weekend at Pocono, we got a break – bowling.

Now, you may think, "Bowling, give me a break," but this is no ordinary outing. This is a once-every-month-or-so bowling tournament organized by the GBA. Never heard of it? The GBA is the "Garage Bowling Association" and it was started by a few NASCAR officials.

Of course, there are rules. First, to be eligible for a team one must possess a NASCAR license, though no skill is required. This is one of those activities that a few of us have come to anticipate and I am surprised at the turnout. Approximately 17 teams are represented in the tournament along with, of course, the NASCAR officials.

There are trophies and even prize money, along with the most important aspect of the tournaments – bragging rights. The fans that have heard about the event and attended it are provided with a great time and are usually courteous enough to recognize that this is personal time. They just enjoy the spectacle of the teams and some drivers enjoying themselves among friends. This weekend’s festivities once again saw a great turnout. This time though, there was a showdown between the two winners from previous events this year. The mighty team made up of Penske Racing South and Penske-Jasper Racing facing off against our arch-nemesis, the NASCAR officials. The Penske entry won the event at Charlotte (by a huge margin) and the officials won the next event in Dover (by the slimmest of margins and with a controversial action of showing up late, claiming that rain during the Busch race was the reason for their tardiness). This was the much-anticipated showdown.

So here are the lineups. The NASCAR officials have "Exree," the chairman of the GBA. Then there is "Wee-man" who, despite his name and stature, can roll a decent game, even if it does look like it hurts. (Notice there are no real names here, to protect the innocent.) Third, is "Mark," who has the nicest-looking throw of the officials, and "Tiny," who may not have the prettiest throw but can still knock em’ down. Anchoring the officials’ team is "Surfer Joe," from California. This lineup has proven to be very successful.

Now for our heroes! All three NASCAR teams in the Penske organization are represented and, of course, your’s truly is by far the worst bowler on the team. My very weak average of 160 has killed us. Next in the lineup for Penske, representing the Kodak team, is Kaufman, who has been known to do the truffle-shuffle after a strike and carries about a 195 average. Third up, representing Ryan Newman’s team, is Joe Piette, who has the prettiest stroke of our squad and is the most consistent with about a 215 average. And what would a team be without a crew chief? So, also representing the Alltel team is Matt Borland, who has been a real asset until we realized the officials are inspecting our balls for proper size and weight because they think Newman is just way too fast. Since the driver may have prior obligations, we have to carry a sub, but not just any sub. Our sub is also our coach, Larry Robinette, the catch-can man for the No. 77 Penske team. Larry should be starting in the driver’s position with a 205 average, but because the driver likes to bowl he ... well, yeah, he sits out.

Finally, the captain of the Penske Juggernaut is Earl Barban, representing Rusty Wallace’s team. "Earl the Pearl" has what might be the most explosive pin action on the entire tour.

Since I can only take up so much space, you will have to stay tuned-in until next week, "Same Bat Time, Same Bat Paper," to find out who were the big winners, what famous people were seen, and what other wacky events happened during the Pocono GBA event.

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