Kevin Harvick’s Fan Club Gathering

By SCOTT VOISIN

— Autograph February 2009

Kevin Harvick with Sharpies in hands at his seventh annual Fan Club gathering in North carolina in October 2008

Of all the professional sports, nascar is arguably the one that inspires the most passion and loyalty among its fans. With drivers like Kevin Harvick to root for, it’s easy to see why.

Harvick’s success story was born from tragedy. He entered the NASCAR Cup series in 2001 after Dale Earnhardt was killed in a wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Having earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2000’s Busch Series, Harvick was hand-picked by car owner Richard Childress to replace the legendary driver. With Earnhardt’s shadow looming large over the newcomer, Harvick earned immediate respect—and fans. He won his first race in just his third start. But that was only the beginning.

Table of items waiting for Harvick's autograph

Since then, Harvick has compiled an impressive resume both on and off the track. He has won two Busch Series championships, has victories at the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 and he started Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI), an organization where he and his wife, DeLana, are the owners of vehicles in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

As his accomplishments grew, so did his fan base, which led to the creation of the Kevin Harvick Fan Club (www.kevinharvick.com). One of the many perks of membership is the opportunity to meet Kevin in person and obtain an autograph at the annual Fan Club Gathering in North Carolina. While other drivers restrict the number of fans that attend their events, Harvick welcomes each and every one of his members with open arms and a Sharpie in hand. For those who can’t make the party, Harvick gladly signs items through the mail and at the racetrack, ensuring that his faithful supporters leave happy.

Table of items waiting for Harvick's autograph

Harvick’s seventh annual Fan Club Gathering was held this past October, and although rain fell constantly during the chilly evening, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the huge crowd who showed up to meet Kevin and DeLana. Afterward, Kevin took a few minutes for an exclusive interview with Autograph.

Scott Voisin: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?

Kevin Harvick: I’ve signed many cool and interesting things in my lifetime. If I had to pick one it would probably be someone’s leg, shoulder or arm, which they would get turned into a tattoo.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?

A birth certificate. The weird part about the birth certificate is that the boy’s parents named him after me.

When you’re at the track getting ready for a race, is it distracting dealing with autograph seekers?

Hat signed by Delana and Kevin Harvick

I usually just sign while I walk through the garage area, and I usually always sign for kids or anyone that walks beside me while I try to get where I’m going. I don’t sign autographs when the time isn’t right. For example, when I’m talking with Todd Berrier, my crew chief, about the car or when I’m getting ready to get behind the wheel of the car. I feel those are inappropriate times to seek autographs as I’m concentrating on my job.

Is it frustrating to be asked during your off time or do you just accept it as part of the job?

I do get approached while out in public, but that’s part of being a professional athlete. I don’t mind signing an autograph or two for the people who are nice and wait until after I’m done eating or shopping.

A lot of drivers’ fan clubs hold a lottery for fans to attend an event, yet you invite everyone in your club to come out. What made you decide on opening your party to every single member?I don’t think it would be right to hold someone back who is a fan club member. We are very fan-friendly here at KHI. We’ve been doing these gatherings for a while now and they’ve gone very smoothly. It’s incredible to see some of the fans that show up at KHI from all over the country.

members of Harvick's fan club waiting in the rain to meet him

You don’t hear a lot about NASCAR wives, but DeLana is very popular at the gatherings. How did she get involved in the autograph line-up?DeLana has been a very big part of my racing career and always will be. She is very involved with Kevin Harvick, Inc. and many of the fans keep up with DeLana like they keep up with me.

 
 

Delana Harvick signs autographs of her own as she works a Fan Club Gathering booth

 

Does DeLana enjoy stepping into the spotlight during these events?

  

 

I think she does. The Fan Club Gathering gives DeLana and me the opportunity to give back to the fans. She’ll sit and sign autographs and talk to the fans before I arrive.

Have you ever collected autographs?

I do collect autographs. I have Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre signed uniforms, as well as a baseball bat signed by Cal Ripken and a 2007 New York Yankees team-signed jersey.

What bothers you the most about autograph seekers?

I don’t like when people get items signed and turn around and sell them to make a profit.

Have you ever gone on eBay to see what autographed items of yours are being sold and if they’re authentic?

Yes, we have someone who visits not only eBay but other online websites to make sure everything is legit. We’ve come across a few problems in the past, but they were eventually taken care of.

Why is it that NASCAR drivers seem to be more attentive to fans than athletes in other sports?

Harvick recieveing autograph requests

This is the only sport where fans have access to just about everywhere. You can’t go to a football or baseball game and stand outside the locker room waiting for autographs. This is what drives our sport. Fans can walk right up to you almost anytime, and you always want to uphold a good image when it comes to the fans. We understand what makes the sport go round and that’s the fans. We have to thank them for that.

 

 

 

Sports Guru: Basketball Floorboards a Slam Dunk

By TOM TALBOT
Featured in Autograph January 2009

Bob McAdoo.

Wood flooring sections are the new index card of modern day basketball collecting. For the past several years, roundball fans have been buying up blocks of floorboards at their local Home Depot and carving them up into 6×6 inch tiles; perfect for your favorite player’s autograph. They work effectively for theme pieces and are convenient for both in-person and through-the-mail opportunities.

I still miss the classic days of the autograph hobby, and there are some indications that the autograph community is going retro. Back in the day, a full ink signature on a snow white index card looked spectacular and was a true unadulterated autograph. But in the past 20 years or so, it’s no longer good enough to own just a signature. It has to be on a glossy 8×10 photograph, on a ball, even on a sneaker. The use of index cards has waned, since players refuse to sign them—identity theft has made players wary to sign their signature where it can be easily duplicated. In the last few years, signed cuts have become all the rage with insert cards. Often they are simply a signed index card that has been cut out and mounted inside a card. Because there’s such high demand for the cards, there is also high demand for the index cards used to create them.

Dell Curry.

Where am I going with this? The signed floorboard is similar to the old index card—it’s just a plain piece of wood that displays an autograph. No sports company produces them (yet), they are available at most home improvement stores and only your imagination can limit you as to how you display them. Some collectors have fashioned them into tables, some use them for bar tops, others just snap them back together and decorate an entire wall.

There are a few ins and outs to the floorboard game. Take a seat on the bench for a minute and I will instruct you on how to properly amass your own floorboard collection.

The tiles I use are called “Classic Parquet” and are packaged in a block of 10 square feet; each square-foot board can be broken into four equal sections. So a $15-$20 package of floorboards gives you 40 convenient 6-by-6-inch pieces. Some collectors prefer to keep an entire square-foot board as one piece and get a team to sign it. I do the majority of my floorboard collecting through the mail, so my first plan of attack is to split them up.

Splitting the Wood

Jim Boeheim.

It’s a bit tricky to get the floorboards to separate correctly. Remember, it’s cheap wood and you have to have patience. I broke my fair share of boards in the first box I purchased. The boards are tongue and groove, so when split correctly, and assuming that the signature is facing the same way on each of the boards, the sections can be snapped back together which makes for an awesome display.

First you need to break out the wife’s powerful hairdryer without her knowing. Turn that bad boy up to its most powerful, hottest setting. You are now ready to heat up the dried glue that holds the four sections together. It takes about five minutes to heat the glue effectively. Once it’s hot, use an exacto knife or screwdriver to peel the glue from the crack. It will usually come out in a few long pieces. Once all the glue is out, try to split the pieces apart—first in half, then in half again. You almost need to pull it apart with your hands and keep working it until what remains from the glue gives up. Don’t bend the board at the crack—the tongue and groove wood will break. After wiggling it back and forth, and applying the hairdryer over and over, it will come loose. Sometimes it splits right away, other times it takes forever. For the real stubborn pieces, place half on a flat table and the other half hanging over the edge. This will allow you to wiggle the one half without the other half breaking.

Mailing Them Out

Jerry Tarkanian.

I have received more than 50 floorboards back in the mail. When sending them out I use two standard large yellow envelopes and about $2 worth of stamps on each envelope. Some collectors prefer using the bubble envelopes—I go with the cheaper flat ones. Black or blue Sharpie look great on the boards and stand out well. I did send a black bold paint pen in my request to John Wooden to see how it would look. It came out decent, but the paint tends to smear if it’s not dry and the signature was almost too bold for the size of the item. Go with the standard Sharpie.

Who to send to?

Stephen Curry.

NBA ballers are notoriously tough signers. They are paid such a ridiculous amount of money that many are spoiled and not real fan friendly. There are always exceptions to the rule, but of the four major sports I would say the NBA autographs are the toughest to obtain. But there are still plenty of opportunities in the wide world of basketball.

Legends. My advice is to start with the legends. Many appreciate their fans and respect the game. Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden is a must for any basketball collection. He’s 98-years-young and is starting to slow down—so if you haven’t received Wooden’s sweet signature yet—time is not on your side. Of all my basketball autographs, my Wooden autographs are the most cherished. There are also many Hall of Famers that are happy to sign. Bob McAdoo added his “NBA M.V.P. 1975 Hall of Fame 2000” inscription to his signature.

Detlef Schrempf.

Foreign Players. Some of the overseas players in the NBA are great signers, the best current NBA star being Dirk Nowitzki. Foreign players of the past, such as Detlef Schrempf, are also great signers.

Coaches. Whether its college or the NBA—coaches are almost always willing to respond to autograph requests. Two recent autographs I received via the mail are longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and UNLV legend Jerry Tarkanian.

NCAA Hoops. There’s nothing like March Madness to get the college fans all fired up. Before they are pros, they have to play at least one year of NCAA ball. Last year when Stephen Curry was lighting up the floor with the Davidson Wildcats, I mailed a floorboard to him in care of their Athletic Department. I also mailed one to his old man, Dell Curry. It looks like sharp shooting runs in the family, and father and son both returned a signed floorboard to the Talbot Sports Wall of Fame.

Masters of Golf: Byron Nelson

By RON KEURAJIAN
Featured in Autograph January 2009

Title page to Winning Golf, signed and inscribed by Byron Nelson in 2001 with his occasional paraph.

Fabled golf writer O.B. Keeler tagged Byron Nelson with the nickname “Lord Byron” for his gentlemanly and regal nature. As one of golf’s greatest ambassadors, Nelson set what many consider the greatest record in all of sports history—even greater than Ty Cobb’s 12 batting crowns record. In 1945 Nelson won an incredible 18 tournaments with 11 consecutive wins, a record that will likely never be broken. Nelson captured five majors, including the 1937 and 1942 Masters. Like Gene Sarazen (Autograph December 2008), Nelson is considered one of the 10 greatest golfers of all time.

Nelson’s autograph is simply one of the nicer golf signatures. He signed in a flowing hand with effortless strokes and a nice curvy look. It’s a signature that developed throughout the years. Early signatures are less appealing and appear rough around the edges when compared to modern examples. It lacks any measurable slant and is basically vertical in nature. Letter construction is marginal and letters tend to blend together, which adversely affects legibility. Nevertheless, the wonderful strokes of

Signed photo.

his hand make for a signature with excellent display value. Nelson’s extremely flowing hand makes replication very difficult, so there are no well executed forgeries in the market. Forgeries of Nelson exhibit a labored appearance with thick methodic strokes and generally stand out with little examination. One final note, on occasion, Nelson would add a paraph under his signature, a variant form of his signature that is uncommon.

Nelson was a gracious signer throughout his life and the amount of genuine material is sound, but not overwhelming. He is generally found on index cards, scorecards, photographs and gum cards. Letters are also available but should be considered scarce, albeit borderline. Nelson also signed golf balls but it’s my understanding that it was not one of his favorite things to do, so signed golf balls are uncommon and many forgeries exist.

In the last year of his life, Nelson restricted his signing due to

Close up of Nelson’s signature that he penned less than a week before he died.

health concerns, but he would still sign on occasion. Nelson died in September of 2006, and material signed only days before his death still exhibit good flow though a slight unsteadiness is evident. Nelson’s hand never produced a truly shaky signature.

As a price guide will show, Nelson material has increased greatly since his death and it’s safe to say that his is a very good investment signature. Index cards and other non-premium items are

Earlier examples of Nelson’s signature have less of a slant.

valued at less than $50. Signed 8×10 photos sell for $75-$100. Typed letters signed sell for $100-$150, while autographed letters signed sell for $250-300. Golf balls have, in recent years, jumped in value and now easily sell for more than $200. A signed copy of his 1946 book, Winning Golf, is a rare find and will sell for nearly $400.