COLUMBIA — Going along Highway H on the way to the Columbia Regional Airport, one may notice an enormous number 99 – two digits familiar to racing fans around the country, especially those in Boone County.
For some time now, Carl Edwards, a Rock Bridge High School graduate, has been one of NASCAR racing’s brightest stars. Edwards’ number 99 car is never far from winner’s circle, and his all-American smile can be found in advertisements and sports pages alike.
Ever since Edwards was an unknown rookie working his way up from the dirt tracks, Steve Peuster said he has been a tremendous fan.
Peuster, a long-time delivery driver for MU printing services, is proud of what the kid from Columbia has accomplished. Since the 2005 racing season, he’s been showing his support by mowing an enormous 99 into the hill in front of his home.
“I figured he’s (Edwards) running back and forth, in and out of here (the airport). I just wanted to let him know that one more poor fool is rooting for him,” Peuster said. “It’s a noticeable item. When the grass is real high (around the numbers) it stands out like a wart right in the middle of a forehead.”
And people have noticed, including Edwards himself. Once, Peuster found a short letter of appreciation with Edwards' unmistakable signature on a page torn out of a book. Possibly a remnant of some in-flight reading material, it’s a unique souvenir that Peuster and his wife, Jayne, enjoy having around the house.
It’s gestures like this combined with his prowess on the track that have made Edwards a fan favorite.
Columbia appreciates Edwards, and thanks to Peuster, air travelers to Boone County are greeted with his number carved into the thick Missouri grass.
“I’m not getting the correct font, trust me,” Peuster said of his hillside tribute. “It’s kind of a controlled slide sometimes.”