When race fans head to the track, they know that they’ll be making some memories with their family and friends and for one little girl, her memories are going to last a lifetime.
For four-and-a-half year old Josie Portell, she started watching races with her father and like most NASCAR fans, quickly found herself a favorite driver – Danica Patrick. While her dad had spent most of his life as a Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, he quickly adopted his daughter’s favorite driver as well.
The family, who hails from the St. Louis area, had attended a race at Gateway International Raceway, but when the facility closed down, they decided to make the trek to Kansas Speedway knowing that Patrick would be participating in the Kansas Lottery 300 on Oct. 8, 2011.
The family purchased Sprint FanWalk tickets so that Josie could get a closer look at Patrick’s car. While in Sprint FanWalk, Josie visited Victory Lane and got her photo taken with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy. Her mom, an avid Facebook user, took advantage of Kansas Speedway’s Social Squad and “checked in” from Kansas Speedway on Facebook. By checking in, she was given passes to the NASCAR Nationwide Series garage, which allowed Josie to get a close look at Patrick’s hauler.
Hoping to catch a glimpse of Patrick before the race, the family waited at the hauler. As the crowd grew larger, Josie moved to the side. Patrick’s public relations representative approached Josie’s parents and let them know that Patrick planned to come out and meet with Josie.
Not letting Josie know, her parents moved her to the designated location and Patrick came out and spent a few minutes with her. During their time together, Patrick asked Josie who her favorite driver was and Josie responded that Patrick was her favorite. After sharing a high five, Patrick signed Josie’s t-shirt before heading out to driver introductions.
During the race, the family spent time in the pit area and Josie was given some lugnuts from the crew. The crew, who also gave Josie some high fives, let her check out the pit box between pit stops.
For Josie, she’ll always remember meeting Danica Patrick at Kansas Speedway.
Photo used with permission and submitted by Robert Portell.