Thursday, October 08, 2020

Escape from the Norfolk Scope

George Pantas Remembers
his Night with the Road Warriors

Lamenting the sad and untimely death of Joe Laurinaitis, better known to all of us as Road Warriror Animal, our friend George Pantas recently relayed a fond memory he had with Joe back in the 1980s.

"My first interaction with Joe was actually because David Crockett had asked me at the Norfolk Scope one time if I wouldn’t mind taking Joe, Hawk and Paul Ellering to their hotel in Virginia Beach that night. Of course I said yes!"

Hawk and Animal of the Road Warriors

But there was a flip side that came along with taking care of the Road Warrriors; they were "bad guys" at the time and the situation outside the Scope could get a little hairy when fans spotted bad guys leaving the building.

"I remember being worried that my car would get messed up because they were heels at the time and the fans saw them getting into my car. For some reason Animal carried all their bags and he was blown up by the time he carried them from under the Scope to across the street where I had parked. The fans saw them getting into my car.  I kept telling Joe hurry up, hurry up move fast, move faster. The fans got around the car, but when I started it, they made an opening and I was able to drive away as the fans had their fists in the air. Nothing else happened thank God."

Once in George's car on this hot summer night, though, something funny happened.

"I had a Chevette at the time, a very small car, but I squeezed them in there. It was summertime, I’m thinking July, the humidity was just horrible that night. Joe’s in the front, Paul and Hawk in the back. I have the air conditioner blasting and Paul says to Joe up front, 'Hey Joe, close the window, George has the air-conditioning on.'  

Joe says, 'I can’t close it.'

"I’m thinking, what’s his problem?  All he had to do is just turn the handle."

"Well it turns out, his arms were so big, his chest was so big, sitting in my little car, that something that you and I do for granted, tuck our arms in and turn the handle on the window to close it, he could not do. I still smile about that to this day."

Thanks to George Pantas for his story. Our condolences continue to be extended to Joe Laurinaitis' family and friends. 

Edited by Dick Bourne at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway 

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The late Rob Riddick, a great friend and wonderful photographer, took several special photos of the Road Warriors over the years. Here are links to a few articles with more:

Brothers in Paint
Road Warrior Face-Off

Heaven Needed Six Man Champions

Photographer Robert Riddick
Rob Riddick's Photo Pages on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archive