ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 MOOSE FRATERNITY CAMARO ZL1, met with the media at the Chevrolet Racing Display at Martinsville Speedway where the real No. 1 Moose Fraternity Camaro ZL1 responsible for the “Hail Melon” is on display throughout the race weekend.
You got a piece of the wall back in the spring.. where is it now?
“Mr. (Clay) Campbell still has it here. We don’t have a place for it yet. We haven’t figured it out yet. There are a lot of options for what to do, we’ve just honestly been busy racing.. busy with life. This thing has been sitting kind of in the back corner of the shop. We moved it up near the front lobby recently where fans could see it. It’s front and center this weekend with help from Team Chevy.
So I don’t know, we’ll see. No idea what we’re going to do with it. I want the car and the wall to be together, somewhere publicly and easily accessible. We just have to find that spot.”
“Yeah, absolutely. It’s over.. can’t do it. This car will never be raced again. The piece of wall we got will never be ran into again. There’s so many things about it that are done.”
The fact that NASCAR made a ‘Ross Chastain Rule’, you have to feel a little proud about the fact that you have a rule made after you.
“Well it’s not the first one.. it wasn’t even the first one last year after Indianapolis (Motor Speedway Road Course). After last weekend at Homestead (Miami Speedway).. with pit road and the timing lines of the start-finish line versus the end of pit road, I think we’ll get some clarification on that rule. So yeah, I did ask them after Indianapolis to implement the access road rule as like.. put a ‘RC’ in there somewhere. Now we’re just keeping track and we’re racking up rules (laughs).”
Chastain on how it feels watching back on the “Hail Melon” one year later:
“Just disbelief. I can’t believe what I’m watching, still, when I see it. To be able to stand by the car; touch the car and know everything that went into last year to get us to Martinsville (Speedway). And then to be out and then get back in to go fight for a championship – the move was one thing, but what it meant and the ripple effect it made for Trackhouse Racing to go fight for a championship was bigger than anything.. what that means for so many of us inside the team and our plans for the future. Touching this car, leaning up against it right now. Having the helmet for one race – I’ve never worn a helmet for one weekend and then been done with it. I’ve always used them over and over again. This one will just be used this weekend and then go on the shelf – something I can actually put in my house because I can’t put a car up on the wall.”
How often have you seen this car since last year?
“It’s been in the shop, kind of tucked away for a while. We finally got the suspension and the wheels, the actual wheels, back on it. I guess most of the suspension stayed, it was just kind of hanging there. The right-front upper is broken and a lot of stuff is bent – the front and rear clip are bent, the best we can tell. But yeah, it’s been there and then it finally got moved up to the front of the lobby recently. Yeah, it’s been there.. you see it.”
What about the piece of wall?
“We haven’t taken ownership of that, yet. We have to find a big enough space for it.. that thing was massive (laughs). I don’t have room for it right now in North Carolina. Whether or not Justin (Marks) gives us some space in the shop to put it, I’m not sure that’s in the plans either. I want them to be together though and I want people to be able to come and see it.”
One year later, is it still surreal?
“Unbelievable.. truly unbelievable. When I see a clip of it, video of it or the data on it, it doesn’t seem real. Looking at the car, it’s pretty wild to think what we accomplished in doing that.”
When you look at the car, what comes to mind?
“When I hit the wall into turn three, I actually hit it at more of an angle than I wanted to. I wanted to blend into it on the straightaway and never have a hard impact. The wall actually kicks-out to the right a few inches. But yeah, I didn’t know that – I hit it way too hard into turn three I thought and somehow it didn’t slow down. I think it was a combination of the body panels not being metal, not caving in on the tires and cutting them down. The tires still hold air – the same tires, same wheels.. they hold the same amount of air that they did before and for just as long. Everything about this car played into it, and leaning up against it right now, it brings back a lot of memories.”
When this “Hail Melon” went viral, how have you felt now that fans view you differently over the last year?
“It felt like a third win last year, really. The attention we got internally, and it’s really something that I just struggled to keep up with at the time. Same thing as COTA (Circuit of The Americas) and Talladega (Superspeedway), and then Nashville (Superspeedway) this year – so much gets thrown at you when you win in the Cup Series. It’s awesome.. it’s everything that I ever dreamed about and more, and the “Hail Melon” was another one of those. And then it went further than NASCAR – it went to places all around the world, and I got to do some really cool interviews and be on some platforms that I never would have gotten to with a win.”
How long did it process the “Hail Melon” being forever because months after the fact, NASCAR was using it to promote its 75th Anniversary. Does that add an extra element of, ‘I can’t believe that happened’?
“That night, I walked up to turn three – had some friends up there in a motorhome. We were walking back over to our cars in the grass there outside of (turns) three and four. We stopped and looked from up on the hill down into three and four and just couldn’t believe it. My family was there, my mom and dad. And then we got out of here and we were riding down the road, we decided to stop at Waffle House. We were sitting there about two hours after by the time we got done with all the media – we got out of here, got down there and we were just laughing. Nobody in there knew who we were or what was going on. I grasped it there that it’s going to be forever. I’m going to get asked about this forever. I woke up the next day and just told myself – it’s OK.. it’s going to be forever. Win again, win some more, and then I’ll be able to deal with it. I didn’t want this to be my last thing. We come out strong and win.. we did the “Hail Melon” and then you never hear from Ross again. So to come back this year and win – I struggle to put into words how big that was. A lot of people thought – oh yeah, it was big. He only has one win this year.. not as fast as last year. The speed we had this year to stay relevant; win and pass the guys we passed in Nashville.. (inaudible).”
Inside Track Communications PR