When I called the girl at the Hampton Inn at Daytona Beach last week to tell her that my Daytona roommate of the past 23 years had passed away, she said she'd switch the reservation to my name. Shortly thereafter, the confirmation email arrived. My room was set, as always, thanks to my friend and colleague Henny Ray Abrams.
2 DBL BEDS POOLVIEW NOSMOKE
Preferences: Two Beds; Low Floor; Away From Elevator
This year the bed closest to the bathroom will remain empty. And that makes me sad.
The last time Henny and I weren't in that non-smoking pool-view room at the Hampton Inn was in 1989. Not sure there's much irony in it, but there's plenty of coincidence as that was the year my daughter was born and the year that Henny got called away from Florida after the unexpected death of his brother, Ricky. It was also likely the worst week of Brian Catterson's journalist career as he was suddenly on his own for Bike Week, or what most of us who work there every year in March refer to as hell week. Naturally, Henny and I always remembered the 1989 race for so much more than John Ashmead's victory in the 200.