A Special 9/11 Connection

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Coming up with a couple of pit passes and tickets, Ricky Craven thought, was the least that he could do.

After all, New York City Adam Mazy and his cousin, NYPD member Eric Rowan, risked their lives to save others following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center last September. Through a mutual friend, the heroic pair made the small request to Craven for passes to the July Winston Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.), and Craven eagerly obliged.

“We actually got to know all of those people through my friend, Jeff Roberson,” the driver of the No. 32 Tide Ford said. “He told me the story of what happened, and when they called and wanted some pit passes, I felt compelled to help them out. I mean, that’s a small sacrifice for any of us after what those guys went through.

“There’s no disputing that Sept. 11 changed a lot of what we know as normal, and you’ve got to think about the people that risked their lives and had to think about the idea of not seeing their children or their wives again. The thing about these people is that they don’t make a million dollars a year. They’re just people who have a passion for what they do, and they didn’t hesitate to go into those buildings and do whatever it took to try and help.”

Mazy was one of the many who responded to the call of the World Trade Center disaster last Sept. 11, and was actually buried under fallen debris from the South Tower after it collapsed.

The past year has been nothing short of a phenomenal one for Mazy.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year,” Mazy said. “It’s probably one of the fastest years I’ve ever had. Some days are good and some days are bad. There are a lot of days where I can go through an entire day and not even think about it, and then there will be a couple of days in a row where I can’t do anything but think about it.”

Still very fresh in his mind, the 31-year-old native New Yorker recounted the events of 9/11/01 after the terrorist attacks:

“The way I got down there was convoluted,” he said. “The first plane had hit when I was at my original firehouse, which was Engine 3. I was there when the first plane hit, but I got hired to work overtime uptown at 34 Engine. So I tried to get uptown quick, but by the time I got there, they (34 Engine) had already gone down to the Trade Center. The 26 Engine is also in their quarter, so I jumped on their rig and got down there with them. Once we got down there, we had to put those masks on that we wear on our backs but they didn’t have a spare one for me.

“So I told them I would go and try to find 34 Engine. That ended up being lucky for me because everybody that I rode down there with on 26 Engine died. I never found 34 Engine, but I found Ladder 12, which is the other company in my firehouse where I originally worked. We were in the Marriott, which is attached to the South Tower, and we were told to go up to the 14th floor and start searching upwards from there for civilians trapped in the hotel. So we made it to 14 and we searched 14 and searched 15. Just as we were getting to 16 we got a mayday from another firefighter who was trapped on the 19th floor. So we went straight to 19 and just as we got there, that's when the first tower started to fall.

“The wind that came down the staircase blew us down like two flights. It just lifted us up like ragdolls and tossed us down the stairs. That’s when all the electricity went out and the whole place filled up with smoke and dust. You couldn’t see anything. We made it down to the fifth floor and there were three civilians there. We were trying to get ourselves out of the hotel, but the stairway was blocked with debris. All of the windows were shattered and everything. We looked out the windows and we didn’t know what had happened. We didn’t know the tower had come down at all. We weren’t sure if it was just another plane or a bomb or what, but you looked outside and the whole place looked like Christmas morning – it was all white and silent. There wasn’t anybody moving around.

“We finally managed to get down to the fourth floor and, at that point, we could actually walk out the windows onto the debris because it was already piled that high. Just as we were trying to decide how to climb down the pile of debris, that’s when the second tower started to fall. Some of us dove back in towards the building – me being one of them – and got buried beneath the staircase. It took us a good 10 minutes to dig ourselves out of that and, by then, the debris was piled even higher. There were big giant I-beams propped up against the debris pile, so we just straddled the I-beams and slid down something like four stories. We managed to get two of those civilians out of the Marriott. There were eight of us altogether from Ladder 12 that went in and five of us came out.”

Mazy, Rowan and Craven got together at the Pocono race, where the parties exchanged memorabilia and apparel. Coincidentally, Mazy’s father once worked for a company that sponsored Craven in the Bsuch Series, and Mazy had actually met Craven at Bristol a few years ago.

Since then, the three have become good friends, and Mazy’s firefighting company, Tower Ladder 79 out of Staten Island, N.Y., have adopted the No. 32 Tide Ford team as “their team” in the Winston Cup Series.

“Oh yeah, everyone is wearing Ricky Craven Tide hats and shirts,” Mazy said. “There were already a bunch of hardcore race fans, but nobody rooted for anybody. They just liked watching the races, but after I hooked up with Ricky and I told them about it, everybody’s got someone to root for now. We’re all Ricky fans in the firehouse now.”

Craven and his team will wear T-shirts from Mazy’s firefighting company during the New Hampshire 300 race weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway in tribute to the brave men and women of the FDNY and NYPD.

“It will be really neat to sort of carry their flag or be their team this weekend,” said Craven, a native of Newburgh, Maine, who signifies NHIS as his home track. “The timing of it is also special because it’s been a year already and I’m sure every one of us will be thinking about it.”

As for Mazy, he’ll be doing something a bit different around Wednesday’s anniversary of the tragedy – taking a well-deserved break.

“I’m actually going on vacation for the next three-and-a-half weeks,” Mazy said. “I’m going to Myrtle Beach (S.C.) for a couple of days and then down to Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) and Key West – driving all the way.”

Commemorative Deals
RMG3 and RacingOne.com’s Fan Shop is offering memorabilia in tribute to the heroes of the Fire Department of New York. T-shirts and hats can be purchased from the shop by clicking here: FDNY Products

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