Juan Heisman Tailgate 25th Anniversary

The Juan Heisman Tailgate

Sometime around Mack Brown’s first season in Austin, for games we no longer recall, Brad Hawley and his sons Yates and Carson, and Brad Laughlin and his son James, and my son Charles and I came to Texas Memorial Stadium a couple of hours before the game and met in Lot 38, near the Olmec Colossal Head we now know as Juan Heisman.  We probably just had a small cooler (probably a swing-top Playmate) with a 12 pack of Coors Light and some cokes for the boys.  Tim Crowley and his son Chris were there too in the first years.  Scott Ferguson and Walt.  Within a couple of years, we were trying to meet before every game, and we would often have 15 or 20 people.  Somewhere around 2003 or 2004, it really started growing.  That was when David Roche started letting us use his excellent smoker and pit.  The photo below sits by my home desk.  It is of me working the pit as my son Charles assists.  This was 84,000 gray hairs and all my wrinkles ago.  I am thinking this might be 2004, when we combined with the Finchers to have a 50th Birthday Tailgate Party for Debbie.  This is the oldest photo I have of the tailgate, long before it was named Juan Heisman (although the pit in this picture is parked right in front of Juan; UT was a little more relaxed 20 years ago).

The first really huge tailgate party I recall is the Ohio State game in 2005.  I think someone arrived with the Suburban the night before.  We worked all day for the party, and I remember we had a sleeping bag in the back of the truck so we could take turns grabbing a nap.

We had some parking pass issues at one point and left Lot 38 for the pink lot south of Mike Myers Stadium.  We joined forces with Nancy and Ted Heaton and had some epic tailgate parties.  Some great years with Nancy and Ted.

We were able to work our way back to the Navy lots around 2008 or 2009 I think.  We added some guys, and we also merged with the Dunn Family, who had been setting up on what we affectionately call Mount Juan Heisman (the beer & cocktail tent, for those of you who have been to our party).

The Cigar Girls were a big hit.  September 2010,

It was also in this stretch that we endured construction at and around Juan Heisman, making for some interesting tailgate set-ups.

Hawley, Laughlin, & Dewar.  A morning tailgate in September 2010

Family photos from 2011

Charles & Marshall

Charles, Marshall, and Claudia

Claudia, Bubba, and Teenie


Still under construction, if I have my years straight.

Stubbs.  We miss you boy.


The tailgate party for the Notre Dame game on September 4, 2016 was one of the Epic Juan Heisman Tailgates.  The game was moved to Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, a huge prime time game.  Texas would be the No. 10 Irish 50-47, one of the first false starts on the Texas Is Back Tour.  Regardless, one of the great JHT days.

Since son-in-law Mark was a Domer, we had a great Taylor family gathering, along with a lot of other Notre Dame friends.

Charles, TCT, Kathy, Kathryn Taylor Dean, Dr. Mark Dean, Helen & Rich Dean

One of the fun parts of the day was that our tailgate was the designated meeting spot for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Austin Mayor Steve Adler.  FOX 7 reporter RaeAnn Christensen and her cameraman showed up early in the day. We were good hosts.

The ND tailgate was the first with the new men who would come to be known as our Young Guns. Judd Messer, Butters Barton, Grant Martin, Collin Shaw, and Hunter Wilcox.  The fateful lunch with Judd Messer was one of the pivotal moments in our history.


Marcus & TCT.