May 20, 2009
When I was 17, I was playing Riff, leader of the Jets, in the Fergus Falls High School production of “West Side Story.” I was also running cross-country, playing in the orchestra and painting houses in the summer for a little extra cash. I thought I was a high-achieving young man.
But I had yet to win my first Olympic gold medal, triumph in a nationally televised reality show or serve as an honorary official at one of NASCAR’s biggest races.
Shawn Johnson, ya got me.
The pint-sized dynamo, fresh off her triumph in the latest series of “Dancing With the Stars,” is making appearances this weekend at the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.
We’ve had the privilege of planning and organizing several fun events for her, including a 160 mph ride on the track with NASCAR fan favorite Kyle Petty, and a meet-and-greet with pit crews who will teach the 4’9″ gold medalist on the balance beam how to jack up a race car and change a tire.
She will not, as far as I know, actually take a parade lap on the hood of the Toyota Camry Hybrid pace car. But at this point, I wouldn’t put anything past her.