After a magnificent weekend of racing at Sebring International Raceway we spent some time with Ethan Wilson the driver of the #49 Lifograph/Western Grinding/Liqui Moly/usaautomotivesupply.com/Stevens Miller Racing Dodge Challenger at Orlando’s Gatorworld.
First stop was the Jumparoo Show where we enjoyed the comedic show and the feeding 12+ foot alligators and crocodiles. “Watching the giant creatures leap from the water to engulf the prey in their huge jaws was absolutely incredible!” Wilson said.
After seeing that it was off to do some feeding on our own. First was the giant Galapagos Tortoise – these animals can weigh more than 700 pounds and have lived in captivity for as many as 170 years. As the giant creature moved in slow motion to nibble the extended carrot Wilson was quite amused!
A man of action-Wilson was eager to move from the tortoise area and feed some gators!
Due to the nature of the beast the gators are separated by age and size… “the younger and smaller gators would quickly become lunch if kept with their fully grown brothers and sisters,” said our hostess.
So off we went, tasty morsels of fish on the line for our hungry reptilian friends…. Just like at the race it only took a couple of tries for Wilson to get a handle on feeding the hungry beasts. Soon they were leaping out of the water to engulf the tasty treat being offered on Wilson’s line.
After the excitement of Jumparoo and hand feeding mouths of 1,000 teeth, it was time for a walk in the swamp. Gatorland has many attractions including a monster truck style swamp buggy ride, restaurants, feeding and breeding ponds, as well as a beautiful walkway through the surrounding swamp. Team members attending were all quick to say how much fun they were having and what a pleasant surprise our trip to Gatorland was.
Enough of snacking, walking, and feeding the critters… It was time to get dirty and wrestle a gator! Wilson, never afraid of a exciting challenge (or a good photo op-LOL!) hopped into line and gave a giant grin as he grabbed the gator around the jaw.
The ensuing show was also captivating! Our gator wrestling host pulled a 10 foot gator from the surrounding pond pried open the jaw and showed the gathered the thousands of razor sharp teeth. Pretty cool start-this was one brave soul as he then used his chin to hold the gator’s mouth shut an then OMG-to hold it open…. one false move and the handler would have been lunch!
Now that we’d had our local and iconic Florida experience it was off the airport for the long ride back to California. As a team we are thrilled with the performance at the first race of the season. Our usaautomotivesupply.com/Prefix/Stevens-Miller Dodge Challengers performed flawlessly with only one DNF in the bunch cause by a minor electrical problem (the proverbial 50 cent part!).
Wilson’s 8th place finish was hugely satisfying as it was his first time behind the wheel of a TA2 Dodge. A leaking differential made his drive even more impressive as the leak was oiling down his rear tires. After just one slow lap Wilson made the adjustment and went on to finish the event in fine style.
While all of this was going on in the 49 car, teammate and lead driver Marc Miller had taken the lead of the race and Peter Klutt in his #11 LMC, Stevens-Miller Racing, usaautomotivesupply.com, Prefix Dodge Challenger had moved into 9th. An amazing performance by all and a great weekend for the entire Stevens-Miller team! Now it’s on to Road Atlanta for round two March 29-31.