By Mark Carpenter-
When there is a crowd as big as there was at the Dec. 13 Peebles-North Adams boys basketball games, it might be easy for someone to go incognito and not be recognized, and that was the case when NASCAR driver Austin Dillon, in the county on a hunting trip, decided to check out some high school basketball. Blending right into the capacity crowd, Dillon got a first-hand taste of small town basketball rivalries.
Dillon was in town on a deer hunting trip, the guest of Chad and Lear McCoy of Peebles.
âAustin contacted me about a month ago wanting to come up and do some hunting with me and my brother Lear,â explained Chad McCoy. âLong story short, I picked him up at the airport there in Flemingsburg (Ky.), and as we were sitting around the dinner table just getting to know him, he told us how he was fascinated with basketball.â
âHe actually puts on a three-on-three tournament in North Carolina as a fundraiser and while her was with us, he got to know my son Alan (a member of the Peebles JV boys team) and Alan was telling him about their big game coming up with North Adams and he was telling all about the rivalry. Austin looked at him and said, âI tell you what, Iâll be there as soon as your Dad gets me out of the tree stand.â
As Chad explains, Dillon arrived at the game, guest of a Peebles family of course, he and a friend, who happened to be a basketball coach from Michigan, were wearing green camo jackets and when lots of people began looking at him, the driver wondered if people were recognizing him.
âI told him no, youâre wearing green even it is camo and youâre sitting on the Peebles side,â said Chad. âIt wasnât long before someone handed him a Peebles shirt to go change in to.â
According to McCoy, Dillon just couldnât believe the crowd to watch the Indians and Devils do battle and my son had a pretty nice game too. There were six or seven people who actually recognized Dillon and asked for pictures but there certainly wasnât any rush to a celebrity sighting of any kind.
âHe was just amazed at the competition and the atmosphere at the game and the friendliness of the rivalry,â Chad added.
McCoy further explained that a lot of his hunting clientele come from North Carolina and Dillon was at a bow shop around Hickory and was just looking for a different place to hunt.
âThe reputation that southern Ohio and Adams County is getting with the trophy deer appealed to him so he called and asked to come hunt with us,â said McCoy. âHeâs planning on coming back next year and is planning on attending another game once he checks his schedule. Weâve taken him to a lot of the different restaurants around the county and the friendliness of everyone amazed him.â
âIt was pretty neat that he would take the time to come see Alan play.â
âIâm just simply a big sports fan,â Dillon told The Defender on Monday afternoon.
Austin Dillon drives the historic No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet owned by his grandfather Richard Childress, a 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. Dillon is a two-time winner in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, earning his first career win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in 2017 followed by winning the 2018 Daytona 500. Dillon has nine career wins in the Xfinity Series and seven career wins in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He was the 2011 Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion and the 2013 Xfinity Series champion.