300: Expert tailgater sports $20,000 trailer, school spirit

Katie Walsh

Editor's note: In 300 words or fewer, this series spotlights people in our community whose stories typically go untold.

It was pitch black when Johnny Harvey pulled up to the 40 Acres in his pickup truck, towing a $20,000 Longhorn tailgating trailer. 

UT hadn’t hosted Notre Dame in 10 years, and Harvey and his crew arrived on campus at 6:30 a.m. to secure their ideal spot. Despite their best efforts, someone beat them to it.

But that’s how the game is played.

Five years ago, Harvey bought a bare-bones trailer and tricked it out to include a fully equipped kitchen, complete with a keg and LED lights. On the trailer's exterior, a flat-screen TV rests inside a custom-made shelf lined with Longhorn-patterned carpet. 

After being denied his preferred spot Sunday morning, Harvey parked in a quiet, low-key parking lot off of Red River Street. In the dark, he started setting up camp with his tailgating partner. Just as they had for every home game last season — and the four before that — they unloaded three tents, set up several lawn chairs and plugged in the Crock-Pot. 

“Then we start drinking beer,” he said. 

Around noon, he’ll cook up a pot of chili. For dinner, ribs are on the menu. 

Sometimes, stragglers will wander over and ask for a tour. Harvey is happy to oblige. Anyone is welcome at his tailgate — Longhorns and Notre Dame fans alike.

Harvey didn’t graduate from UT, but he moved to Austin in the ’80s and has been a Longhorn fan ever since. He makes it out to every single home game, trailer and all. 

Sometimes his vantage point is from the stadium, other times he’ll stick around and watch the game on the trailer’s flat screen with 10 of his closest friends. 

“It’s about the whole camaraderie — hanging out with friends and drinking and high spirits,” he said. 


This story has been updated since its original publication.