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Joe Cahn is no ordinary tailgater - he's the king

Category: Spokesperson
Source: The Birmingham News
Publish Date: Sunday, April 27, 2008
Summary: Cahn's at home amid masses; likes eats, vibes at Talladega

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

MIKE BOLTON

News staff writer

Joe Cahn and his 40-foot-long RV are inconspicuous in the mass of humanity that has steadily filled the campgrounds at Talladega Superspeedway this week in anticipation of Sunday's Aaron's 499.

Like more than 30,000 others camping at the speedway this week, the Fort Worth, Texas, native loves the races and Talladega's atmosphere of tailgating for as far as the eye can see.   Make no mistake, though. Cahn is no ordinary tailgater. He's the king.

The 60-year-old Cahn, backed by a corporate sponsorship, travels the United States full time, going from event to event.

It started in 1996, Cahn said, when he grew weary of the real world and decided to do something about it. He sold his home and his New Orleanscooking school and purchased an RV. He grabbed his cat and set off to see how Americatailgates.   In the years since, he has recorded 500,000 RV miles and has visited 31 NFL stadiums, 123 college stadiums, nine NASCAR tracks and a bunch of Jimmy Buffett concerts.

"I love Alabama," Cahn said. "This is my third Talladegarace. I've also tailgated at two Alabamafootball games and a game at Auburn. I especially like Auburnbecause they open up the lots for RV parking on Wednesdays."

Arrive tight, get loose:

Talladega, Bristoland Daytona are his favorite tracks and for different reasons, he said. He likes Daytona just because it is Daytona and the first race of the season. Bristolis special because more than 150,000 people cram into what is basically a football stadium. He loves Talladegabecause of the party atmosphere and great food.

"You might have 20,000 RVs at Talladegaand then you have the pull-behinds and the tents and it is like one big family. It is nonstop partying and good food," said Cahn, who cooks for the tailgaters around him.

Talladegadoesn't have a large number of motel rooms near the track, so that brings people together at the speedway, he said.

"People obviously come to Talladegatight and get loose," he said.

He has seen more than 500 college football games and 47 NFL games and has visited every NFL stadium since he began tailgating across the country.

The SEC leads the college football world in tailgating, he said, and Southern hospitality is real. The Grove at Ole Miss is his favorite tailgating spot in the SEC.   SEC football is the most fierce, he said, but he prefers to watch a football game at one of the military academies.

"There's no fighting or badgering like there is in the SEC and some other places," he said. "The academies don't seem to have lost sight that it is just a game. I think they know in their hearts their lives will have bigger battles."

Lose? Move on:

He gets a kick out of NASCAR racing as fans side with certain automakers.

"It's funny to see people screaming ... `Pack up your Toyotas and go home,'" he said with a laugh. "The best thing about NASCAR fans is that unlike NFL and college football fans, they don't grieve when they lose. They just get ready for the next race."

In his travels, Cahn chooses scenic back roads where he can check out the countryside and mom-and-pop eateries.

He says his endeavor is getting more and more expensive as gasoline prices rise, but sponsorship from Bull's-Eye Barbecue Sauce helps.

Why does he travel the United Statesalmost every week? Simple, he said.

"Tailgating is the last American neighborhood."

 

 


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