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Talladega Nights with ‘Fatback’ the next Rock Star

As seen at Speedwaymedia.com Tuesday October 9, 2007

By Joe Dunn joe@onpitroad.com
The nights of Talladega Race Week are never quite because the parties go on all week. The infield never sleeps and Talladega is famous for that, but just over the wall of turn 2 is the Talladega Family Camping area.
Those campers came alive on Saturday night in a park next to the south tunnel when the band ‘River’ was joined on stage by legendary Nascar Nextel Cup Crew Chief, Michael ‘Fatback’ McSwain. After announcing that he planned to retire as a crew chief after the 2007 season to spend more time with his family, Fatback grabbed a microphone and began singing Hank Williams Jr.‘s ‘Country Boy Can Survive’. The crowd of several hundred gave a roaring welcome and joined in singing with Fatback. No, he isn’t really planning a new career on stage, but he sure gave the fans something to talk about.

Also joining Fatback was ‘Preacher’ Barry Steed, the lead singer of the band which is headquartered at the Little Chapel Church in Harrisburg, IL. The band follows several Nascar races at select track such as Talladega, Michigan, Kansas, and Chicago doing free concerts in conjunction with Motor Racing Outreach. This weekend was the seventh year at Talladega, where they perform both race weeks. Steed spoke of his work with MRO in the past and his desire to do something for the race fans. When he approached the members of his church several years ago, there was no hesitation, they wanted to do what they could to help.
Because of Barry’s work with MRO he has come in contact with several drivers and team members, so it is not unusual that a Nascar ’name’ shows up on stage. Fatback’s crooning may not be the ‘norm’ for a crew chief but he also hung around to answer questions, sign autographs and generally just rub elbows with the fans.
So, on several Nascar Nextel Cup weekends about 125 members of the church pack up their stuff, load the tractor trailer and several vans with equipment and camping supplies and head off to the races. They ask for no pay from the tracks, the campgrounds or the fans, paying their own way as they performed both Friday and Saturday nights. They stay in the Talladega Free Family camping area, pay their own expenses and sell a modest supply of CD’s and T shirts in a tent next to the stage to help cover some of the fuel cost.
The next stop for River is at Atlanta Motor Speedway, October 26-28. So if your gonna be at Atlanta, look for a band called River. You will not be disappointed, in fact, you will surely be joining in singing with the rest of the crowd.
Wonder who attends these concerts? Want to see how much fun this band provides? Check out the photos from both the Friday and Saturday concerts by River at the Talladega Super Speedway family Camping area. Click on this link http://onpitroad.smugmug.com/gallery/3613739#205711618 or check the photo section at http://www.onpitroad.com .

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