‘Bad Brad’ scores positive points with Darlington fans

My friend Tammy hadn’t even changed out of her dress after coming home from her brother-in-law Darrell’s funeral before making an announcement. “Brad Keselowski is my new favorite driver,” she said.

We talk about NASCAR a lot in this neck of the woods – it is Darlington, S.C., after all – but even so, you may think this remark was rather unusual. Well, so were the circumstances.

Darrell Keith Gandy, who died on May 19, 2012 at the age of 48, was born with Down syndrome. The genetic condition may cause delays in physical and intellectual development, but from a social standpoint, it didn’t slow Darrell down. He was a popular and outgoing kind of guy, with many faithful friends in the community.

Darrell loved sports. He had a strong dislike for the New York Yankees – who doesn’t? – but otherwise, he was an equal opportunity fan. Over the years, his friends fell into the habit of supporting his sports passion by giving him hats, representing nearly every professional, collegiate and NASCAR team you can think of. His brother Artie says that when gift-giving occasions rolled around, all Darrell ever asked for was more hats. He literally had hundreds of them.

Growing up in NASCAR’s backyard, naturally Darrell loved racing, and had developed a particular fondness for Brad Keselowski, driver of Penske Racing’s famous “Blue Deuce.”

Keselowski’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing career has been brief, but memorable. Now in only his third year of fulltime NSCS competition, the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion has posted six wins, and earned a spot in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship field, finishing the season fifth in the driver standings. He is known for his aggressive driving style, his brutal honesty when asked his opinion on pretty much anything, and his absolute refusal to either back down or give in, earning him the nickname “Bad Brad.”

For the record, Keselowski has also become known for his ardent support of the U.S. military, particularly the Wounded Warrior Project, which offers experiential opportunities, such as spending the day at a NASCAR event, for soldiers and their families.

Who can say how or why we choose our sports allegiances? The decision is often geographical, hence the term “home team.” Some fan bases are inherited, as many of us tend to pull for the teams we watched as children with our fathers, or our grandfathers. Some people feel an affinity for underdogs, while others prefer more dominating types. Sometimes, opposites attract, and the most gentle, mild-mannered person you know may decide to vicariously live out his dreams through the fiercest of competitors.

Whatever the reason, Darrell chose Brad. And in the tradition of every loyal and loving NASCAR team, his family backed him up; Darrell was laid to rest on May 21 wearing a Keselowski shirt and hat. There was a church full of Blue Deuce fans in Darlington that day.

The story’s exact chain of events gets a little muddy at this point, but it surely involved some divine intervention. Apparently the manager of the Darlington Raceway gift shop fell into conversation with a random customer and told him Darrell’s story. The result was the delivery of a spectacular NASCAR-themed floral arrangement, complete with a Darlington Raceway license plate and a card that read, “With deepest sympathy for your loss … Brad Keselowski and the Penske Racing Team.”

So the Keselowski fan line may start with Tammy, but I’m right behind her, and I suspect it will get awfully long before we’re done. With a simple, caring gesture in honor of Darrell Gandy, a true Darlington warrior, Bad Brad and his team created a town full of goodwill.

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Coastal's bats continue to sizzle at Sun Belt tourney

Coastal's bats continue to sizzle at Sun Belt tourney Zach Biermann drove in five while Seth Lancaster and Kevin [more]

Yuracheks make next-level moves since exiting Strand

Yuracheks make next-level moves since exiting StrandThe Yurachek family has undergone a lot of life changes [more]

Familiar face returns to MB amid five-player roster flip

Familiar face returns to MB amid five-player roster flipThe Chicago Cubs have announced the following roster moves affecting [more]

'Coach E' earns statewide recognition for leadership

'Coach E' earns statewide recognition for leadershipLongtime local youth sports coach Eric Goings, better known as [more]

Chants mercy rule Mavs; Jags on deck at Sun Belt

Top seed Coastal Carolina scored four runs in the sixth, [more]

Seahawks see seven sign to play basketball, football

Seahawks see seven sign to play basketball, footballSeven Myrtle Beach High senior athletes signed college scholarships in [more]

Hurston to replace Lee as St. James athletics director

Hurston to replace Lee as St. James athletics directorSt. James High didn't have to look very far to [more]

Lancaster seventh Chant to earn Sun Belt weekly honor

Lancaster seventh Chant to earn Sun Belt weekly honorCoastal senior Seth Lancaster was named Sun Belt Conference Community [more]

Gilmore, seven Chants top All-Sun Belt baseball team

Gilmore, seven Chants top All-Sun Belt baseball teamAfter leading Coastal Carolina to conference’s regular-season title, Chanticleer head [more]

CAC swimmers race rivals, storms at Palmetto Invite

CAC swimmers race rivals, storms at Palmetto InviteWhile most of South Carolina was under rain showers this [more]

North edges South as rain keeps teams on their toes

North edges South as rain keeps teams on their toesThe Class 4A North-South All-Star Boys Tennis showcase managed to [more]

CCU takes series from ASU in de facto tripleheader day

CCU takes series from ASU in de facto tripleheader day Coastal Carolina played 22 innings on Saturday (completing game 1 [more]

NMB's Smith picked to kick at Ray Guy prospect camp

NMB's Smith picked to kick at Ray Guy prospect campNorth Myrtle Beach High's Zane Smith received the Ray Guy [more]

Rain plagues CCU's series with Appalachian State

Rain plagues CCU's series with Appalachian StateGame one of the weekend series between #16 Coastal Carolina [more]

Girls Soccer: McCoy, Hall top all-region for Panthers

Girls Soccer: McCoy, Hall top all-region for PanthersThe Carolina Forest girls soccer team cleaned up on the [more]

Strong finish lands Chants in top 10 but no NCAA bid

Strong finish lands Chants in top 10 but no NCAA bidThe Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot a final-round, 7-under [more]

Boys Golf: Seahawks earn repeat as state runner-up

Boys Golf: Seahawks earn repeat as state runner-upThe Myrtle Beach High School varsity boys golf team finished [more]

Lone Panther Fortenberry ties for third in Class 5A

Lone Panther Fortenberry ties for third in Class 5A Carolina Forest's Chris Fortenberry finished tied for third individually at [more]

Coastal ace Bilous claims Sun Belt Pitcher of Week

Coastal ace Bilous claims Sun Belt Pitcher of WeekCoastal Carolina junior Jason Bilous was voted the Sun Belt [more]

MB's Cahill, Wallen make deep runs at state singles

MB's Cahill, Wallen make deep runs at state singlesThe Myrtle Beach High boys tennis team sent a pair [more]

Chants climb leaderboard in second round of NCAA

Chants climb leaderboard in second round of NCAAThe Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot an even-par round [more]

Soccer: SJ's Williams joins MB trio on all-state squad

Soccer: SJ's Williams joins MB trio on all-state squadThree Myrtle Beach High soccer players and one St. James [more]

SJ's Bray, MB's Edwards at top of All-Region 7-4A list

SJ's Bray, MB's Edwards at top of All-Region 7-4A listFollowing a near-miss bid to the Class 4A state championship [more]

Locals top all-region team; MB's Bodge earns all-state

Locals top all-region team; MB's Bodge earns all-stateGrand Strand area teams dominated the All-Region 7-4A team, and [more]

MB's Grigg, NMB duo put teams in hunt for 4A title

MB's Grigg, NMB duo put teams in hunt for 4A titleDefending state runner-up Myrtle Beach is in a familiar position, [more]

Coastal's bats continue to sizzle at Sun Belt tourney

Coastal's bats continue to sizzle at Sun Belt tourney Zach Biermann drove in five while Seth Lancaster and Kevin [more]

Yuracheks make next-level moves since exiting Strand

Yuracheks make next-level moves since exiting StrandThe Yurachek family has undergone a lot of life changes [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach