NASCAR, Big Trucks, Historic Inns and Fried Chicken

-a Canadian’s quest to experience the Old South

Jo on the driving simulator at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Jo on the driving simulator at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

In the first email she wrote, Jo posed a simple question:

“Can you help me get to Bristol Motor Speedway for the night race? Please respond with a YES or NO”

Over the next few weeks through emails and phone conversations, I grew to admire the dainty Canadian woman for her hutzpah and her resolve to live life in spite of her health challenges.

Jo grew up in the capital city of Canada and her parents were humble, hardworking people. Jo was an athlete in adolescence and could be described as a tomboy. However, in her early twenties, she was diagnosed with an incurable chronic illness that would prove to challenge throughout adulthood and limited her from participating in the sports that she had excelled at in childhood.  Jo turned her focus to linguistics, mastering four languages and she spent time abroad honing her skills. She worked until her condition became too severe to continue and when that time came, she volunteered for worthy causes to aid those less fortunate.

Jo contacted us at because she had planned an intense itinerary for her vacation in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and she realized that we could help her make the most of her time. She knew she would need help with transportation, hauling her luggage and prior to her trip she had a flare-up so knowing a nurse would be on hand for support seemed like a good idea.

I knew that we were dealing with a racing fan when I was making arrangements for a rental car for our team members to transport Jo. “I have a request”, she said as we discussed the rental car options. “I’d like you to rent a Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up truck, preferable with a V8, 5.7 Liter Hemi.”

Jo GPI Truck

Jo is a small woman, just over four and a half feet. When we met her in Charlotte, NC, the first task was to get her into the truck. We stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought a step-ladder and some pillow so that she could see over the dash-board and we were on our way. At the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, Jo proved that she had been paying attention to all the races that she had seen on TV. On the racing simulator, she took her turns with ease and shifted and accelerated like a pro.

Asheville, NC often tops national lists as a foodie town. The city, tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has renowned hotels and inns and Jo had booked some serious spa time at the Grove Park Inn Resort. However, most pressing on her itinerary was to make it to the NASCAR race in Bristol Tennessee and we arrived in style in our big ol’ truck. I can’t say that I ever wanted to attend a race but I soon became caught up in the excitement at tens of thousands of people made their way into the coliseum. The license plates in the parking lots were from the four corners of the US and everywhere in between and I had been told by many racing enthusiasts that if you see one race in your life-time, go to the night race in Bristol.

Jo can walk fairly well but we had rented her a wheelchair since there were many miles to cover from the truck into the stadium. Our seats were handicap accessible and we could see the entire track from our vantage point. Jo had brought earplugs and I was glad to have them because once the motors revved of the forty-three cars racing. The sound for the following three hours could be described as having a massive hornet equipped with a bull-horn bouncing around in your brain. Honestly, it was a bit numbing and Jo even decided to take a break out in the parking lot after a few hours. On our drive back to Asheville late that night, I was reminded of why we do what we do at Assisted Vacation. Jo was thrilled to have witnessed a race in the sport that she had loved for so long and she thanked our team for helping her make it happen.

Jo at Bristol Motor Speedway

Jo at Bristol Motor Speedway

Over the next few weeks, with our support, Jo visited Savannah, GA, The Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC and ate plenty of southern fried chicken along the way. She clicked with each of our team members who accompanied her and when her trip was coming to an end, she decided to stay on for an extra week to attend drag races in Charlotte before returning home to Canada.

Our team grew very fond of Jo during her Assisted Vacation and we all admired her sense of humor and gumption to live life to the fullest. When it was time to say goodbye, Jo mentioned that there were upcoming championship drag races in Las Vegas and that perhaps she’d be calling us to make that trip happen too!

My Best,


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