May 22, 2013 - A celebrity of sorts visited RLM Industries (100 Hummer Lake Rd.) in Oxford Township last week and spent a few hours with the workers there.
Oxford resident Don Parks, who’s a pro-type engineer at RLM Industries, got to climb into the No. 99 Ford Fusion once driven by NASCAR driver Carl Edwards. Photo by CJC. (click for larger version)
The No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion Gen 6 made famous by NASCAR driver Carl Edwards sat in the plant's parking lot as excited workers inspected every inch of it, snapped photos and took turns sitting in the driver's seat.
Alfac Agent Sue Feller arranged for the car to visit RLM because 100 or more of its employees are enrolled in the company's supplemental insurance program.
"Their employees love NASCAR," she said. "So, we brought it out here today to thank them for being an Aflac account."
A few lucky RLM employees, like Oxford resident Don Parks, got to start it up and rev that sweet 358 cubic inch, 800-horsepower Ford racing engine.
The noise was deafening.
"It was amazing," said Parks, a pro-type engineer who's worked at RLM for four years. "Being in (the driver's seat) really made my year. Just going through the experience of what (drivers) go through . . . just to feel a little bit of what they feel, that was enough for me. That made me happy.
"I have a respect for them and what they do. Just sitting in there made me nervous, so I can't imagine going 170 (miles per hours)."
Brian Bednarski, who lives in Silverwood (Lapeer County), was equally stoked about his first time sitting behind the wheel of a real NASCAR race car.
"It was awesome – definitely an adrenaline rush," he said.
Once he cranked up the engine, Bednarski, a casting supervisor who's worked at RLM for seven years, said he "wanted to take it for a spin."
"I appreciate them coming out, letting us start the engine and jump in," he said. "That was pretty cool. I didn't think they were going to do all that. I'll be rooting for Carl this weekend."
On Saturday, May 18, Edwards competed in the Sprint Cup All-Star race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. He won the pole in the all-star race with a lap time of 111.297 seconds and a speed of 145.556 miles per hour.
According to Jerry Rierson, who travels all over the country with his wife, Ann, displaying the No. 99 Ford Fusion, the chassis raced at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last fall. Unfortunately, it got wrecked during that race and Edwards wasn't able to finish.
"The nose got hit, so we cut the body off of it over the winter months and hung this Gen 6 Fusion body on it," he said.
So, what's top speed of a car like that?
"This one's geared around 217 (miles per hour)," he said.
Edwards, 33, who drives for Roush Fenway Racing, has been racing since 2002. He's currently ranked second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with 379 points.
In 2011, Edwards won the Sprint Cup All-Star race in Charlotte and received a $1 million prize. A replica of the trophy he received for that race was on display at RLM with the car.
Edwards is best known for his celebratory gymnastics. After winning a race, he stops at the finish line and does a back-flip off his car.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.