Eugene Hicks of Clarksdale, Miss. claims to be one of the biggest NASCAR fans in the country, and he even fueled the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr., for a while.
Hicks, who owns Nick's Tamales, sent care packages to make sure that "The Intimidator" and some of his friends were fueled on and off the track.
"Well I say I am an action man, I like action, and any time a man will get in a car and do 200-plus miles an hour, man he's got guts," Hicks said. "I watched the first race that was on TV in 1978 or '79. I got to where I was so deep into it, that my wife was going to kick me out because every Sunday I was watching racing."
Hicks' all-time favorite driver was the late Mr. Earnhardt, who died during a last-lap crash in the Feb. 18, 2001 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
"Naturally when you watch NASCAR the name Dale Earnhardt pops up, because he was Mr. NASCAR and the guy could see wind," Hicks said. "They say he could see wind. I don't think he could, but he would stick the nose of that No. 3 car anywhere and do anything."
One season, Hicks got the notion to send Dale Senior some of his hot tamales and sent them to Earnhardt's dealership in North Carolina.
"That's why I always sent them to there, because Earnhardt came in there, because that was his dealership," he said.
A little while later Hicks got a call from Earnhardt himself, who told him he liked the tamales.
"I was just like hello, and I hope you win some more races," Hicks recalled. "Said, 'man we want some more of them hot tamales you sent out here.' You do? Yeah right! Alright. 'Send some more anytime you want. We like them (explicative) things."
After that Hicks started getting thank yous from Earnhardt's staff. They are on the wall behind the register at Hicks' restaurant.
"You know I miss that guy," Hicks said. "I miss watching him out on the oval track."
The last order of hot tamales Hicks sent to Earnhardt was before the racing legend died in 2001.
"That is when he lost his life on Feb. 18," he said. "I sent them to him. He got killed at Daytona. That was the worst day of my life, to see that. People crying. I was crying."
These days Hicks is still a NASCAR fan and has a lot of drivers out there he would like to send hot tamales to still.
"Oh I like watching Jimmie Johnson," Hicks said. "He wins too much. Kasey Kahne. I like Brad Keslowski, and he's a little cocky. I like that boy from Horn Lake, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. He's with the big boys now."
As for who he thinks is going to win this year's Daytona 500, which airs on FOX13 this Sunday, Feb. 24, Hicks thinks it will go to Kahne. As for who will win the championship in 2013, he said get back with us around mid-season.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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