We had a wonderfully unbelievable, unforgettable experience on Saturday, April 9, 2011: we saw Jake & Josh's footprints and signatures zooming around a racetrack at 200 miles per hour.
Jake and Josh were co-designers of NASCAR's No. 11 car driven by Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing. The car is sponsored by FedEx Racing, and each year they donate a week of their paint scheme to promote March of Dimes and March for Babies.
The last three years, the folks at JGR came up with their own way of honoring the organization. This year, they decided to bring in a few kids to help, and our boys were fortunate enough to get the call.
All five of us visited JGR headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., on March 8. After getting a tour of the whole "shop," the boys got down to business - drawing right on a car featuring just a few stickers. They drew pictures, put down strips of tape for racing stripes and experimented with all sorts of things. They worked with JGR's top designer, chatted with Joe Gibbs then spent time with Denny. It was as if Denny and the boys had been friends forever. They clicked right away, and he had all sorts of good ideas about what they should draw and where.
These videos look the same here, but they're different. The first focuses more on the design of the car, the second is more about our story.
On April 7, we were at Texas Motor Speedway when the final product came rolling off the truck.
The most amazing feature was seeing the boys' original footprints blown up on the back of the car, just below the March for Babies logo, with their actual signatures.
The boys had put generic footprint tickers on the back during our visit to Charlotte, but the designers scanned the footprints off our business cards and used the real deal; what a genuine touch!
We returned the next day for a news conference featuring Denny, Jake & Josh and a full-scale model of the car. The boys answered questions, and even asked Denny a question. Denny was terrific talking to them, and about them.
(Josh mentions us "secretly visiting Victory Lane last year." He meant the day before, when no one was around. Since Denny won both races at TMS last year, he thought we might've been there for one of them. He repeated this in later interviews, which shows he was paying attention!)