Gossage: Cancer in remission
IRVING, Texas -- With his own introduction, Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage indicated just how much he feels like himself again after a bout with cancer that he said is now in "complete remission."
Gossage made his first public appearance Thursday since revealing in July that he had cancer, though at the request of his family hasn't disclosed the type diagnosed last fall.
"You may not recognize me," said Gossage, who wore with his customary dark suit a NASCAR Sprint Cup cap on his mostly bald head that resulted from chemotherapy. "I spent the summer pulling my hair out over the lack of media coverage of the new Cowboys Stadium."
That lighthearted jab at the Cowboys, the popular NFL team in the same market as his 1½-mile track, was classic Gossage, the showman known for his enthusiasm and promotional stunts.
Gossage took a leave of absence in June after the IndyCar Series race at the track. He returned to work in August and his first public appearance since was to promote the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nov. 8 race at Texas.
"I feel great, better than I have in years," Gossage said.
The 50-year-old's hair is starting to grow back, though his dark beard has been replaced by a goatee that is predominantly gray -- "I haven't seen my face since the 70s," he said. Gossage has also slimmed down, losing about 30 pounds after not wanting to eat for five or six weeks during his treatment.
Gossage has been in Texas since the track's inception, initially promoting a construction site in a rural area north of Fort Worth with the promise of races to come. The first NASCAR race was in April 1997.
Among things Gossage has done to promote events at the track include escalating Danica Patrick's light shove of Dan Wheldon on pit row at a previous IndyCar Series race into a weeklong "Rumble at the Speedway" buildup, and billboards for a NASCAR race that raised the ire of the Earnhardt family.
Gossage once offered NASCAR drivers $15,000 for throwing a helmet in a fit of anger during competition (he got no takers), and tried to lure open-wheel drivers Michael Andretti and Al Unser Jr. out of retirement to race with sponsorship offers. There was an all-female pit crew for a NASCAR truck race, prerace motorcycle jumps by Robbie Knievel, and much more.
Track officials long lauded the fact that eight Texas Stadiums could fit on its infield. The Cowboys make their regular season debut in the new nearly $1.2 billion stadium this week -- Gossage has said 4½ of those would fit.
While Gossage said he got a few new ideas while away from work, there was plenty of time he didn't even think about the job.
"Honestly, I put my mind in idle and just didn't think a lot about it," Gossage said. "There were a few weeks there where I was so sick that I didn't think about it. ... I didn't worry about the speedway because (the management staff) had it well in hand, and that helped me focus on my recovery."
Gossage described the outpouring of support during his illness as "pretty amazing." He said he got cards and letters from people worldwide, including drivers and fans.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
MORE RACING HEADLINES
- Rosberg wins, Ricciardo DQ'd in F1 opener
- Alonso: Ferrari needs a sharp improvement
- Pedregon tops Gatornationals FC qualifying
- Ganassi gets 1st win in Twelve Hours of Sebring