By Don Coble | Morris News Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Brendan Gaughan is rarely lost for words; just wind up him and let him go.
Gaughan's father owns four casinos in Las Vegas and he owns all the slot machines at the McCarren International Airport. He played both football and basketball at Georgetown University, but his love is racing. The driver for the Kodak Dodge at Penske-Jasper Racing has seen a lot in 28 years, so he's got an opinion on everything from gambling to politics. Take him away from racing, and he's an even-more compelling person. Here is Brendan Gaughan, in his own words:
If I wasn't racing, I probably would have tried to stick it out with football a little longer. And if I wasn't in football, I'd be in the casino busi-ness. I love it. I have as much passion for casinos as I do for racing. I still love to hang out and do some of it.
An old wife's tale is the slot machines at the airport have smaller odds than a casino. That's not true at all. I can answer that from experience.
Allen Iverson is the toughest per-son I've ever gone against. Playing basketball with Al is probably one of the most-difficult assignments I've had in my life. There are days when I had to guard the centers, go box them out or go do whatever with the power for-wards or the centers because that was my job, but every day for two years my assignment was Allen. That was by far the most difficult.
I don't have a favorite game in the casino. I grew up around all the casino games. It's very much a part of our lives. I can play all of them. It just depends on the mood. I like to shoot dice when I'm in the mood to concentrate and play a game that's difficult and challenging. When you're in the mood to hang out with some friends, blackjack is easy. I like Pai Gow. It's a lot slower if you're not looking to lose money or make money fast. The best game in the house for the player is shooting dice, if you know what you're doing. If you know how to shoot dice correctly, you can actually give yourself a very small percentage edge over the house. The only person that knows it that well is my father.
When I was little, they used to call me "The Governor." When I was 8, I showed up to a thing with the governor with the same suit. People say my personality is great for politics. I say absolutely not. After living in Washington, D.C., for four years, you learn real fast. There are great people and some great politicians in this world, but there's a lot of them that aren't. I just don't like the style of most of them. I don't like taking public-opinion polls, then making that my opinion, which is what certain presidents in the past did. When I was at Georgetown, the president actually hired kids to go out and do public-opinion polls. Whatever the majority was, that was his opinion. I also disagree with party-line politics. What's right is right, what's wrong is wrong. There are gray areas, there are tough issues. Have an opinion.
The reason I like Arnold Schwarzenegger as the governor of California is, three months ago I heard him say something you never hear from a politician: "I was wrong." I'm sure it's not hard to figure out which way I lean, but I don't believe in the way most politicians do business.
Coach (John) Thompson came to Richmond last year to watch a (truck series) race and we finished seventh. Coach came to the Bullring one year with Bill Russell of the Celtics and they both told me I was nuts. I told him I had to be nuts to play for him for four years.
Interview conducted by Morris News Service's Don Coble.
Each month, a driver shares his thoughts on a variety of topics Gaughan Profile CAR: No. 77 Kodak Dodge
TEAM: Penske-Jasper Racing
CREW CHIEF: Shane Wilson
CAREER STARTS: 15
CAREER WINS: 0
CAREER POLES: 0
2004 TOP-10 FINISHES: 1 * as of June 21
Finished fourth in 2003 Craftsman Truck Series points standings
2003 Craftsman Truck Series Most Popular Driver
2002 Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the year
Two-time champion on NASCAR Grand National Division West Series RACING HISTORY: Gaughan began racing off-road events at age 15 and won the first race he entered. He won the world off-road championship for trucks in 1996, which led him to the Busch Grand National Division, West Series and eventually the Craftsman Truck Series. He won Grand National Division titles in 2000 and 2001 before moving up to Craftsman Truck in 2002, where he won two races and the series' rook-ie of the year award. He won six Craftsman Truck races last year.
BIRTHDATE: July 10, 1975
HOMETOWN: Las Vegas, Nev.
RESIDES: Las Vegas, Nev.
MARITAL STATUS: Single
HOBBIES: Off-roading, basket-ball and snow skiing