His syrupy-thick Southern accent is a bit out of place in the lobster-laden land surrounding New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but Bassmaster Elite Series pro angler Terry “Big Show” Scroggins feels right at home here.
Toyota graciously invited Scroggins, who has hooked more than $1.7 million dollars as a pro, to be their guest for a weekend of NASCAR racing in New England, and he’s grateful for their hospitality.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a truer fan of racing among all Elite Series pros than Scroggins. It’s not uncommon for Scroggins to catch word of a dirt track race taking place near one of his tournaments, and round up a few fellow fishing pros to go watch.
“There’s nothing cooler than goin’ to the dirt track with your buddies on a Saturday night, eating boiled peanuts, and watchin’ them slide around the corners,” said Scroggins, who in his former occupation as a painter in the family auto body business, added color to the fabricated bodies of his buddy’s racecars around native Northeast Florida.
Amid the 30,000 miles Scroggins logs towing his bass boat around the country he meets a lot of folks, and some of them are professional race car drivers, like Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Tundra in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series.
Hence, as Scroggins made his way from his hotel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he offered Timothy good luck wishes for the truck race that was about to take place in Iowa. Peters joked that if he were to win the race, he’d dedicate the victory to Scroggins – a chuckle followed between the two friends – and ironically so did a victory. So perhaps Peters will call Scroggins more frequently.
Once at the track, final race prep is underway for the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry driven by Matt Kenseth as Scroggins enters the garage for a fast tour. In an ironic twist, wrenches stop turning, and Car Chief Jason Shapiro and mechanic Leo Thorsen light up like brakes glowing at Bristol’s night race. These guys love to fish, and seeing “Big Show” enter the garage area lessens pre-race stress.
Shapiro can’t hide his passion, and offers Scroggins a tournament tip for the next time the Florida pro visits Charlotte, “When all else fails on Lake Norman, cast a 1/2-ounce jig,” says the car chief, as he wipes sweat and grime from his forearms. Scroggins admits that Lake Norman often troubles him, thanks Shapiro for the tip, and in turn tells Shapiro to be sure and phone him the next time NASCAR heads to Daytona or Homestead, so that he can take him fishing in Florida.
“I like people that are passionate about what they do, and like to hang out and have a good time,” says Scroggins. “You walk through the garage and see those guys bustin’ their butts, getting sweaty and dirty in an effort to run a fast lap, and you can’t help but respect what they do, and how hard they work at something that might appear glamorous and fun from the outside. It’s a lot like what we do in many ways,” adds Scroggins.
Passion and pressure to perform is the common thread for those who fish, and those who race for a living. Terry Scroggins understands that. And that’s why he felt so at home in New Hampshire, despite his syrupy-thick Southern accent.