Last week I had the opportunity to meet Mike “Ike” Iaconelli who is also from New Jersey. He is the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion and the 2006 Bass Angler of the Year. He’s one of the best professional anglers out there and it was cool to do an appearance with him for Toyota. We actually swapped jobs so-to-speak. I took him for a spin around the Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) and then he took me fishing on Lake Norman. It was an experience I will not forget.
It’s always cool for us to switch things up a little. It’s fun to take people for rides around the track. The original plan was to put Ike in a two-seater NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota, but the weather did not cooperate. It rained in the morning so I drove him around in the CMS Toyota Camry Hybrid. Believe it or not, I have never driven one of those Camrys before, and I was impressed! I enjoyed showing Mike how to get around the place because he hasn’t been around racing all that much. He was really interested in experiencing as much as he could from my perspective. It’s hard to show people the true experience and feeling we go through, but I think he understood a lot more than the average race fan because of being a pro angler.
I really enjoyed the experience because I love to fish and I knew who Mike was since he’s from my home state. It was awesome to go out with him on his boat with his fishing gear on Lake Norman. It’s a place I fish on a lot when I am home. I used the opportunity to learn as much as I could, and I watched how he approached the lake. It gave me some insight as to how he does things when he goes to a new lake and gets ready for a tournament.
Ike didn’t share his biggest secrets with me, but I did see how much work goes into fishing a lake professionally. It’s a lot of hard work. He fished fast and hard. That’s what pro anglers do. When he starting catching them, he really looked for all the little details and tried to break it all down. He wasn’t afraid to move on if he wasn’t catching anything. I learned that time management and making smart decisions are crucial in being a successful angler.
At the end of the day, I learned that his job is tough. It’s an extremely tough job with some of the same types of challenges as being a NASCAR driver. He goes to a lake for a tournament and it’s pretty much a week-long event. He participates in practices and then fishes the tournament for three days. It’s a much longer work week than our deal. Our practices and race are combined into two or three days.
I definitely saw similarities in our jobs during the swap. There are a lot of ups and downs in our professions. He talked about how sometimes he has a great day and then the next day he can do the exact same thing and have a totally different and devastating result. I see the same thing in NASCAR. We both have to stay focused on what we are trying to do and do the best job we can.
I am hoping Mike and I can get together again. I would love to have him come to Dover and I’m checking my schedule to see if I can go to one of his tournaments. Our day at the track and the lake was neat experience and I’m glad to have made a new friend from it all.
Before I go, I want to thank all of the NAPA Belden Sweepstakes winners who visited Michael Waltrip Racing last Tuesday night. It was nice to sit down and have dinner with them. They are extremely hard workers who enjoy the auto industry. They were really impressed with our race shop and how good our NAPA Know How pit crew is. The crew did a pit stop seminar and then had the winners try to jack up the NAPA Toyota and change a tire. There were some pretty big guys who had a hard time getting the car off the ground. We also had a good time the following day at the Charlotte Motor Speedway even though the weather didn’t totally cooperate.