Daytona, Grad Rates, Parking Ripoff and other Random Thoughts

If you’re not going to win the Daytona 500, the next best thing might be a crash that lands you on the front page of the morning paper.  54-years today, the # 81 Romy Hammes-Brannan Ford Galaxy 500 placed 37th in a 50-car field.  Driver Dick Goode, from Mishawaka, lost control on the 69th lap.  No one was hurt.  My Dad (who ran the Romy Hammes Fordland dealership in South Bend) had a good racing friend in Dick Brannan and one thing led to another.  (Brannan went on to set world records in NHRA drag racing in Romy Hammes sponsored cars.)  Next thing they know, the #81 car went through qualifying and made the race.

Among the memories Dad shared with me this morning, “I remember the inspection. We had metal windows trips we wanted to take off and the inspector said they had to stay on.”  Dad was perplexed, “But the car next to us took theirs off.”  The inspector snapped back, “Yeah, but a veteran drives that car.  You have a rookie.”  The Daytona 500 museum actually has an area dedicated to “cheating” but I’m guessing this example isn’t among the exhibits.

Tribute Car 2008

Other tidbits:  the car was delivered from Ford factory right to my parent’s house.  The color is what came from the factory.  Dad calls it “school bus yellow.”  There was no cost, per say, to sponsor the car (Today that privilege is in the millions.  How times have changed).  A few years ago, Dad had a “tribute” built that was spot on to the original.  It was unveiled at the Studebaker Museum and appears at regional car shows from time to time.  There seems to be a resurgence of interest in this era of racing.  Poke around my dad’s website, for a trip down memory lane if you’re a car nut.

One last thing, Dad never stayed for race day.  He says he had too much anxiety (He does like to point out that the #81 car beat Junior Johnson and Ralph Earnhardt).  He also had to get home to a pregnant wife.  I was born five months later.


A recent article in The Tennessean keeps gnawing at me.  The headline reads:  “State says 1 in 3 high school grads don’t meet requirements.”  Click here to read it.  It is all the more reason why Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) is needed in more public high schools.  JTG prepares at-risk students for what life throws at them after graduation.  JTG students will have a “tool kit” to explore how to find the right post-secondary education opportunities while having an edge in job interviews.  I visited Wayne County Technical Center, Giles County High School and Houston County High School this week and came away convinced more than ever that JTG is a game changer in young people’s lives.  I heard it from school administrators, the “boots on the ground” in these rural communities.  The JTG students I met were confident and engaging, despite the barriers they face to graduation.  JTG isn’t on an island in these schools as there are several support systems in place but there is no doubt that JTG has a positive impact on these students’ direction in life.  In short, it’s very cool and humbling.

From the “every day you’re violated” department, I parked in an East Nashville restaurant lot (Beyond The Edge) that recently flipped to a paid lot.  Okay, no biggie but then it took my $10 bill and didn’t spit out any change.  %#@!&!  And now that I think about it, the machine was charging one-dollar for 15 minutes (who eats lunch in 15 minutes in a sit down restaurant?) and then the rate leaped to five-dollars for two hours.  Total rip off (I don’t know whether the lot is privately owned or owned by one or more surrounding businesses).  I wanted to play nice but now I’m going to do what others do, park in front of a house cluttering up a quiet street.  That lot used to be free and packed.  When I parked there this week, I was one of only five cars in the lot.  That means some 30 cars that used to park in the lot now park on nearby streets.  I spent my lunch looking out the window as a Metro officer was called to a fender-bender.  A woman pulled out because she couldn’t see traffic around parked cars.  Progress.  Geesh.

I will give kudos to the new parking lot in back of Burger Up East and some other stores.  That parking lot owner make you put in your license plate, with the machine printing a receipt to put on your dash, but the first 90-minutes are free.  Smart way to ease into the neighborhood.

I’ve heard back from a few people that took me up on my recommendation to check on NBC’s Tuesday night drama “This Is Us.”  I knew I wouldn’t steer you wrong.  This week’s episode had some of the best acting you’ll ever see on the small screen.  The way the show skips around to different time periods isn’t nearly as jarring as it sounds.  Once you watch the first few episodes, you catch on.  Believe me, if Lynley and I can follow it, anyone can.  We get “lost as an Easter egg”(one of Lynley’s favorite phrases) just watching Looney Tunes.

I rarely “unfriend” people on Facebook but I’ve been doing it more and more the last few weeks.  The political rants that some folks go on (both sides) are completely absurd.  You are done stealing seconds out of my day.

What a beautiful Friday in Nashville.  I just fell into a cool event tonight that I’ll reveal Monday.  As always, feel free to poke around and that donation button won’t bite ya!  Have a great and safe weekend.


By |2017-02-24T15:01:00+00:00February 24th, 2017|Random Thoughts|10 Comments

About the Author:

Call it John Dwyer 2.0 After 29 years as a TV Broadcaster, Dwyer is President & CEO of Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). JTG, an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit organization dedicated to stewarding at-risk high school students toward graduation with follow through toward post-secondary education and/or job opportunities. Associated with JAG since 1981, JTG consistently obtains a graduation rate above 90-percent with a full-time job rate at nearly 70-percent. The most vulnerable, socioeconomically challenged young men and women, graduate with self-esteem with the realization and skill set to achieve success after high school. Does it get much better than that? Dwyer, is a resident of the Nashville area since 1996. He was sports director and/or a news anchor at TV stations in Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Myers, FL and his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a 10-time Mid-South Region Emmy Award winner, along with winning numerous other awards. He is also a former Heisman Trophy voter. John is a 1985 graduate of Butler University, where he majored in Radio/TV while minoring in journalism. An avid running (or “plodder” as he likes to call himself), Dwyer runs in Nashville’s annual marathon. (Current tally: 7 Full, 10 Half). He accomplished a goal, once thought out of reach, be qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon in 2009. Married to Lynley, Dwyer resides in East Nashville with his wife and dog Lola. Dwyer served on the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee board from 2006-2012, and was board chairman for three years.


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JTG on the Frontlines for Equality

Supporting and Empowering our Communities of Color

COVID-19 Update

JAG and JTG Statement in Response to COVID-19

 As we are all feeling, COVID-19 has shifted how the world operates in a way that is unprecedented for our generation, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG), one of 39 JAG state affiliates, are no exception. The impact of the coronavirus and the immediate danger it presents has closed our education system, directly affecting students and their families. This is especially detrimental to JTG students, who often look to their JTG Specialists and classmates for steadiness and security in their lives.

We also recognize that our students and their families are disproportionately affected by the closure of restaurants, stores, bars, and other service-industry places of work. These jobs often provide the entry-level opportunities our students need to enter the workforce. A difficult environment is likely to continue for some time, so we are in the process to reposition our training and support to make the best case for our JTG students to be considered for employment.

At a time when we must social distance ourselves to protect each other, the thousands of JTG students we serve need us more than ever.  We are responding to and encouraged by the requests from many JTG Specialists to access online learning modules and platforms provided by JAG educational partners like the Skills to Succeed Academy, EverFi, and Tallo. We are excited to see the interest in the JAG Genius and the use of virtual connectivity and the online sense of community – something we all need in these times.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) recognize we need to modify the way we provide support and deliver competencies to our students during this time of uncertainty. In response to the way business and education are adapting (in real time) to COVID-19,  JAG National is establishing new protocols and processes to ensure full, virtual engagement with our young people to ensure they have the competencies they need to meet the very competitive job market ahead. That is why JAG is providing the immediate recommendations below that are of highest priority, which impact the day-to-day lives of our students and Specialists. Like our world right now, please know that these are in real-time and subject to change.


Moving forward, we will have ongoing recommendations that will be built into new practices that will serve as both short- and long-term solutions to continue JAG’s data-driven model. This will help us remain accountable to our students, our partners, funders, and each other.