by Brendan Gaughan
Another birthday has come and gone and I am happy to say "See
Dad, I told you I would make it to 29!" Birthdays, to me, are just
another day and I can say this without making Mom mad unless, of
course, the birthday is hers.
Making it to 29 is something l am proud of, but what makes me
even happier is that I can still be a kid. I think it is important to
enjoy life to the fullest.
Saturday night in Chicago, I had a surprise birthday party,
given by none other than John Kauthrnan, a.k.a. "Cheezburger." For
those of you who do not know,
"Cheezburger" is my best friend, my motorcoach driver and my "go-to-
guy." I know if I need anything handled, he will get it done. I can
count on him. (Man, I can't believe I admitted that He will be
impossible this week.)
Cheez and I have been friends since kindergarten, and when I got
the call from team co-owners Roger Penske and Doug
Bawel, "Cheezburger" gave up his career as a golf pro and moved east
with me. Making the move to the Nextel Cup Series from the Craftsman
trucks was huge for me. Equally as huge was the move from Las Vegas
to Carolina, and having a familiar face with me, well, there are no
worth to express the appreciation.
Anyway, Chee-Z-B, along with my mom, planned a surprise birthday
party for me at Chuck E. Cheese's, and, of course, the whole team was
there. When I was little we always had our parties there, and to
return when I am 29, well, I still love it. You should have seen this
group -- who call themselves grown-ups -- playing Whack-a-Mole in the
arcade and acting like a bunch of kids.
We played video games and gave our tickets and some tokens to the
little kids running around. We ate pizza, wings and mozzarella sticks
and I had orange soda. I love orange soda!
After the food and before the cake, we participated in a live
show. A live show at Chuck E. Cheese's consists of a bunch of dancing
around with the head mouse. Now, not only did I do the dance, but Mr.
Bawel, who celebrated his 19th (yeah right!) birthday the same day as
mine, also shook his tailpipe.
The story behind Doug being 19 is as follows. Before you do the
big dance, they ask you how old you are. Doug said he was 19, so of
course I followed my team owner's lead. When they asked me how old I
was, I told them I was Doug's son and I was 8! Not a complete lie.
Mentally some days I am definitely under age 10.
By the time the dancing activities ended, we were worn out. It was
a great little aerobic workout. The candles were lit, so Doug and I
blew them out together
Now, I have come to realize that blowing out candles is a lot easier
as you get older, especially when you ask for assistance.
We opened our gifts and then it was over, well, almost. Just
before we finished the cake and before the presents, Doug's wife,
Kathy challenged me to a hoop shooting contest. Not to back down, I
accepted the challenge. She beat me. Well, I went first and all I
could think of was, "OK, be smart here, this is the boss' wife. Don't
I am not going to share my score, but I will say that Kathy kicked
my butt. I took the ribbing, but I demand a rematch. Sooner or later,
we will make it back to a Chuck E. Cheese's and when we do, look out
It was nice to get back to when we were kids. Some of the guys
were accustomed to the noise and mayhem that occurs in the "Mouse
House." They are the ones with children.
Then there are the guys who have no children and swear the party
was a great form of birth control. The bottom line was, I had fun,
the guys had fun, and that's what it was all about
Thank you, Johnny and Momma G., for keeping it real.