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Riding Shotgun with Dale Jr.

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Think about the fastest you’ve gone riding shotgun. Now, add about 100 mph to that speed. Oh yeah, and instead of your friend’s car on the highway, you’re in Dale Jr.’s #88 Nationwide Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

That was the experience for Dave Maddison, the grand prize winner of the Whisky River Sweepstakes. While riding with Dale Jr. would be a dream for any racing fan, it was especially meaningful for Dave. In early 2017, Dave suffered double kidney failure and had both of his kidneys removed. His wife, Liz, is a retired nurse and has been giving him dialysis treatments at home since the operation. Due to his condition, they didn’t leave the house much all year until their trip to North Carolina in October.

We recently caught up with Dave and Liz to talk about winning the sweepstakes and riding in the #88 car.

1. What went through your mind when you found out you won the Grand Prize?

Dave: “Liz actually entered me in the sweepstakes, and I didn’t even know about it.”

Liz: “When I got the email saying he was the grand prize winner, I was like, “Oh my God.” I was so excited to tell Dave, but I was a little sad because I originally entered the sweepstakes to take his friend Doug along. Doug is donating one of his kidneys to Dave and we wanted to take him and his wife to Charlotte for payback. The prize package we won was for two people and Dave can’t go anywhere without me due to his condition. Doug was still very happy for us and thankful that I thought of him.”

2. After you climbed into the passenger seat, did you talk to Dale Jr. before he hit the gas?

Dave: “He told me he can’t hear too well with his helmet on, and that was about it. But, I did get four laps around the track instead of three. When we came around to start the fourth lap, he looked over and gave me a thumbs up. I gave him the thumbs up back and that’s when he tromped on it. The last lap was pretty spectacular.”

3. Describe what was going through your mind as you sped around the track.

Dave: “It was all so overwhelming it wasn’t even funny. I was just so happy. I’m one of those people who has a need for speed. The faster I go, the happier I get.”

4. What are your favorite memories from the trip?

Liz: “It was so neat to go to Whisky River. People who I talk to about it say, ‘Oh, I’ve been there.’ And I say, ‘No, you’ve been to the restaurant. We went to Dale Jr.’s property.’

“We also made friends on the trip and are still conversing with them. One of the women was a retired RN as well. After the first night, we’d always sit together on the bus and anywhere we went. It just made it so enjoyable that the people that we met had a lot of fun as well. It was also very special to spend time with Elliott (Sadler)and Dale Jr. like that.”

Dave: “When you’re on dialysis, you’re literally tied down to a machine. We had to do dialysis eight or nine days in a row to switch my days off so we could go to North Carolina on a Monday and Tuesday. The best parts for me were the go-karts and the whole experience at Whisky River. It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

“Another great thing about the trip is that it gave us the confidence to leave the house for long periods of time. Considering I’ve spent most of my summer at home, OneMain really made my life great. We’re very thankful.”

Keep an eye out for our next blog in January 2018!