Sean checks in with a little message for our troops. Be sure to check it out!
The hang at the MGM was pretty cool; guys from Toby’s band were there, lot’s of other people that I’ve worked with, our new friends John and Dustin Frey and a wild-and-crazy table of policemen’s wives on a girls night out, waiting for their husbands to finish a relay marathon run at night through the desert. But for Saturday a night in Vegas I turned in early. The next morning I was scheduled to perform the National Anthem bright and early at the NHRA event out at Vegas Speedway and on the chance that someone might be listening I didn’t want to show up in rough shape (although I’m sure in Vegas that must happen once in awhile).
So I behaved myself and set the alarm and got up with plenty of time to make myself presentable before my ride came to pick me up at 9:45 am. Aubrey from the NHRA was already waiting for Lizzie and Hilary and me and she’s just this real nice girl from Georgia and we get to know her a lil on the ride; she’s been here two years, moved here for this job, love’s this job, we’re gonna have a good time today, etc…and there’s no trafiic on the interstate whatsoever so we make it out to the track in no time at all and we’re introduced to a whole bunch of people who’s names and job titles I don’t remember but they’re all real nice and thanking me for coming out and it’s “have you ever been to a drag race before?” “No, I have not.” “Well, you’re in for a treat, be prepared to be amazed.” And I’m lead around to the starting line and told where I stand when I sing and on of the NHRA guys is like “Now it’s real important that you don’t go over time with this.” Okay. “And it’s real important that you’re not under-time with this either…” Okay. And I realize the dude is messing with me. “When you’re almost to ‘Home of the Brave’, you’ll see an F-16 fighter jet off on the horizon and the pilot will get instructions from another pilot here on the ground as to whether he should throttle up or throttle down…we want him to be over your head just as your finishing.”
We all go hang out up in the track tower while we wait for start time. Aubrey hands us off to Jared, an enthusiastic coworker just out of school from North Carolina. One way or another Jared and I get started on quoting every line we know from “Talledega Nights,” which never gets old, I don’t know why, and it never fails to make the girls roll their eyes at why guys find that shit funny.
Before you know it it’s time to get the races going and we head down to the starting line and I’m introduced to the track chaplain and a few more folks and the chaplain takes the mic and says a prayer and blesses the track and hands the mic to me and I start in:
“Oh say can you see..”
And It’s always a little nerve-wracking at the start of the Anthem. You have to start pretty much as low as you can sing if you want to be able to hit the notes at the end gracefully. No worries, I’m pretty sure by the time I hit “twilight’s last gleaming” that I’m in the right key for me and about the time I get to “flag was still there” I can see the fighter jet in the distance and it’s getting closer and I start to hurry up just a little and at word “brave” the F-16 is directly overhead and then it’s the sound of that jet angine and the roar of the crowd and I wave and turn around to walk off and
This top fuel dragster does a burn out right behind that made involuntarily jump about a half a foot in the air. Holy CRAP are those things LOUD and the Jared is about doubled over laughing at me.
“Dude, you should have seen the look on your face!,” he says.
“I didn’t know THAT was coming!,” I say.
“That was only a burnout.”
Indeed, an actual race–as I would witness a minute later is waaay louder and it’s over in a flash and it is just cool as hell.
THAT was an awesome experience. Thanks ACM’s! Thanks NHRA!
Check out this video of Sean Patrick McGraw singing the National Anthem at the NHRA Summit Finals Race in Las Vegas, Nevada.