Chat with Eddie Gossage
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, President of Texas Motor Speedway Eddie Gossage stops by to help celebrate Jimmy V Week here at ESPN.
In the 18 years since The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the foundation has raised more than $100 million. The V Foundation started with the dream of Valvano, the former NC State basketball coach and award-winning broadcaster, as he battled cancer. For more information, or to donate to the V Foundation, call 1-800-4-JimmyV or go here. Every cent of every donation goes directly to cancer research.
In the summer of 2009, Gossage was diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to early detection, seven months later Gossage's cancer was in remission. Gossage started his career at the Speedway in 1989, before being named vice president in 1995 and president in 2004. The track hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races annually, as well as Camping World Truck Series and Indy Racing League events.
Send your questions now and join Gossage Monday at 3:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:29 PM)
Eddie is here!
Before you bout with cancer, how aware were you about the disease?
Eddie Gossage (3:30 PM)
My father died in 1998 of lung cancer. That was really the only experience I had, but I was in Texas and I was in Tennessee, so I didn't fully have an appreciation for the difficulty, the treatment and everything you go through until I personally had to go through it. I wish in retrospect that I could have known how difficult it was for him to go through his bout and I could have been more supportive. I just didn't know.
Eddie, have you had much of a chance to work with the V Foundation?
Eddie Gossage (3:33 PM)
The experience or the exposure I've had is through Dick Vitale. He's been here for races. To watch and listen someone like him who is so passionate and strong in his convictions, more emotionally strong than I am over the issue, it's an amazing thing. I don't talk about it much, but when I do, I get emotional and chalked up. Watching Coach Vitale, I covered him a little bit when I was a sportswriter, so he's still Coach Vitale to me, tell stories about the things he's seen with cancer and kids, I don't know how you tell that story without getting choked up, but he tells it with such strength that you want to do something. That's my experience. And like others of millions of people watching Jim Valvano and his speech, it really speaks to you. Don't ever give up.
Jenny (Elizabethtown LA)
Hi, Mr.Gossage how do you think of all the cool stuff to do at your races. (like the mokeys) thanks for your time, P.S. How do you get a mokey
Eddie Gossage (3:36 PM)
We were talking about a year ago in a meeting about how souvenir programs are no longer trendy. A lot of NFL teams don't even have programs. Bruton Smith came out and said a trained monkey could sell a program. You just call your contacts. It's not in the Yellow Pages. You just start calling people and see if you can find someone that knows someone in the field. Our staff found the monkeys. They were fun to deal with. I was at a World Series game here and had to do a TV interview. I had to leave the game early to do a TV interview and it was the first time I was going to be around the monkey. My son, a 29 year old lawyer, but he told me 3-4 places to go to see where an animal attacks someone. I didn't know if this was a big or little monkey. I just didn't know. But he was just messing with me.
Jimmie Johnson winning 5 straight....good or bad for the sport?
Eddie Gossage (3:38 PM)
Jimmie and I talked about his. My opinion is that it's not necessarily good for the sport, but that has nothing to do with Jimmie. It could be Dale Sr. or anybody. It could be any sport, whether the Patriots win five in a row. But Jimmie's going to try winning 6 in a row and I wouldn't expect anything less. He's really setting the bar high. It's a level playing field. Everyone has the same opportunity to win.
In your fight with cancer how much credit do you give to the awareness organizations like the V Foundation have brought to the fight?
Eddie Gossage (3:41 PM)
At the time that you're struggling with it, it's a very personal battle. But the V Foundation and other such organizations, 24/7/365 are working to help find cures and improve treatment regimens. Also, if I've been paying attention, that they try to raise the awareness levels of what you're getting into. It's not something I talk about, but once a year. In part because I really don't care to recall it. Although there are some really great moments along the way. In general, I try not to think about that I had it. Same with mumps, measles and appendicitis. When you're told the horrible news that you have cancer, I've talked to others who got the news like me - going to the computer and researching it. You need to go to good sites like the one for the V Foundation. It's helped so many people that it's the logical place to turn. There's so much bad information and old information out there.
Eddie, this might be a dumb question, but you have NASCAR twice a year at your track. While I guess those are good weekends for you, from a business standpoint, what does the track do the other weekends of the year?
Eddie Gossage (3:42 PM)
We have about as busy a schedule as any major race track in the country. We have an Indy Car weekend. We have a couple of car shows and an occasional concert. We have 300 days a year where the track is being used. We have commercials. TV shows. A car manufacturer might come to test out cars. It's just that those days are not as big as, and what else is?, a NASCAR weekend.
Adam (San Diego)
Do you like the basic set up of the NASCAR schedule? Too long of a season?
Eddie Gossage (3:45 PM)
The answer generally is yes. But I don't know what events you would take off of the calendar to shorten it. It's difficult to sustain events all year long. You're doing different things different times of the year. The seasons get in the way of what you're doing. It's a difficult thing to maintain a naturally evolving storyline from February to November. The story ebs and flows. Some events are more dramatic and nailbiting and others just aren't as exciting or even boring. If you have two not so exciting races in a row, that third race is tough. It could be too long.
Eddie, your pick for the 2011 Cup championship?
Eddie Gossage (3:46 PM)
Oh man. I didn't get the 2010 one right...I don't see Jimmie Johnson winning a sixth straight championship. The numbers just don't favor him. The numbers don't favor him winning two or three or four or five. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kevin Harvick or Kurt Busch. And I would love to see Tony Stewart win again.
Eddie Gossage (3:48 PM)
In a strange way that I will tell you that having had cancer is a blessing in my life. I found out about my own strength and my family's love and strength. While I don't wish it on anybody, I do know that it was a time to learn a lot about my life. Those that struggle with it are having a more difficult time than they can explain. You need to support them and the people around them the best you can. I know in my case, I know there's no way I could have survived my battle without my wife who was there 24/7. Those caregivers work harder than you do. They're making sure you're doing what the doctor says. I feel really blessed, looking back on it. God bless the Jimmy V Foundation and all the work they do.
Buzzmaster (3:48 PM)