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via Imago

via Imago

The world of NASCAR is a bizarre one. Weird things happen all the time and they always hit the news. From outlandish behavior from drivers to fans doing extravagant shenanigans, little furry animals, and some peculiar occurrences on track. We have seen a lot! Along the same lines, today marks the 19th anniversary of one of the funniest “mishaps” in the world of NASCAR.

The giant orange rolled along the track of Chicagoland, which is famous for its absurd trophies and celebrations. This atypical event added to the already significant history of the Chicagoland Speedway.

With a rich history that is graced with entities like the Elmhurst Express and Bob Dotter, the orange joined some good company.

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Caution: Orange on the Track!

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It is exactly how it sounds. On July 9, 2004, a giant inflatable balloon, courtesy of the marketing team of Tropicana, got loose on the track. It seemed like the “big orange thing” was trying to beat Todd Szegedy for the best time in qualifying! The orange was 30 feet wide and  60 pounds heavy.

As they commented, Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons, and Wally Dallenbach Jr were all amused and dumbfounded. They even cut off a Kyle Busch interview just so they could cover the orange pacing to set the best qualifying time! Even Busch couldn’t help but laugh at the hysterical debacle.

Even the safety car assigned to deal with the balloon was as helpless as Todd Szegedy. The balloon deflated on its own after rolling against the barbed fence for about a quarter of a mile. But the Havoc didn’t stop there as the giant deflated balloon flew into the spectator area and caused a lot of problems.

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Allen Bestwick made another joke saying, “It has a mind of its own”.

PR Fail or Inadvertent Success?

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People would argue on whether Tropicanas’ marketing blunder was a hit or a miss. Whatever they thought, it got Tropicana noticed more than they initially thought. And as they say in the PR world, “All publicity is good publicity”.

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That humongous orange will forever be part of Chicago’s NASCAR History. Drivers and fans alike still look back at the day and break a smile, thinking about that giant orange chasing Szegedy.

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It is safe to assume that Todd Szegedy, along with a few spectators, were definitely seeing orange for the next couple of days.