…slides to the infield…..
In 1990 I was racing a Ford 4-door Maverik on the pavement at LVMS. The car was slow, I was terrible, and finishing on the lead lap was not an option. For some crazy reason we decided to tow over the hump to Pahrump Valley Speedway for a race on a Saturday afternoon. I had never driven on dirt before, especially slimy wet dirt. I went out to pack the track and the car was all over the place, or should I say I was. I couldn’t keep the car going forward in a straight line and wound up in the infield more times than I care to admit. It would have been comical if I wasn’t so darned embarrassed. However I got going and was able to hot lap the car pretty well. Nothing spectacular but I at least didn’t make a fool of myself. Just before the heat race they put a little mist of water on the track. As they pulled us out there, we were the first heat, so they stopped us to play the national anthem. My car was fine all the way through the anthem and they started at the back to announce the number and driver for every car. Just as they got to mine and announced my name, my car made a loud creaking noise. I had no idea what it was but it was almost like a slow moaning creak. As they said my name, my car promptly slide sideways down the front stretch and into the infield. As if packing the track hadn’t humiliated me enough. Dang. The heat race didn’t go much better but the feature wasn’t too bad. I think I was 5th out of the 8 or 9 cars there with some good old fashioned dirt track damage to boot.
Four Races, 3 days.
In 2004 we were “chasing points” and towing many miles to find races on weekends. IMCA counted your best 30 events at the time and had just recently changed the rule about running more than 1 race within a 24 hour period. A racer in Texas, Henry Witt, Jr, was racing at two different tracks on Saturday nights getting in a ton of races during the allotted point window. While we were not competing for the National Title, we did need more races to attempt to win the regional championship. Our weekend began with a Friday night feature in Elko, Nevada. The night went well and we picked up the win with a late race pass. The Saturday race was run in the afternoon and we were fortunate to lead most of that race for the win. Following the race we loaded up and headed across the top of Nevada along I-80 over to Fallon, Nevada. We almost ran out of gas on our way to the track and the last minute stop for fuel forced us to miss our heat race. That relegated us to the back of the field for the feature, but we were pleased that they were going to allow us to tag after arriving so late. A couple of late race yellows bunched up the field and allowed me the time and opportunity needed to slip by and take the win. Exhausted, we grabbed a few hours of sleep at the hotel and then made the 2 or so hour trip back to Winnemucca, Nevada for a Sunday race. The wear and tear from the brutal travel schedule took its toll and everyone was at each other’s throats. The arguing got so bad that I just took off walking down the main street and left the team and rig at the gas station. About 20 minutes later the truck pulled up alongside, I got in, and we were on our way to the race track. The daytime race was a dusty one and the racing was a little more physical than I would have liked, however we picked up the win. Our 4th win of the weekend. Considering the first win on Friday night came after midnight, 12:35am on Saturday, and the win on Sunday happened around 4:00pm, we had won 4 races in less than 48 hours. I remember getting to the general store in Battle Mountain, grabbing a bite to eat and heading down the road as the team slept. A few hours later I was on the side of the road sick to my stomach with a miserable migraine headache. My dad took over driving while I tried to sleep it off. We didn’t arrive home until after midnight on Monday morning. Such a long weekend of driving for such little time on the track. But, I look back on the memory fondly. Not too many people can say they won 4 features in one weekend. That’s World of Outlaw type scheduling.
One late summer night in 2002 we were returning from a race at Mohave Valley Raceway in Fort Mohave, Arizona. The racing was a little rough and ran a little late after having our engine claimed. Pulling the engine is brutal. It’s hot, it’s not yours anymore, and the officials are watching over you like you are a criminal expecting you to do something to sabotage the engine. Plus it’s difficult to pull an engine and keep an eye on a ticked off pit crew that is ready to tear someone’s head off. But, believe it or not, that wasn’t the real story of the night. Under clear skies we were headed up 95 between I-40 and the Laughlin turn off on the windy, up and down two lane road towards home. It had been threatening thunder storms on our way down, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky as we rounded the corner and saw our lives pass quickly before our eyes. As the truck crested one of the little hills I saw something out of the corner of my eyes floating quickly through the desert. I glanced forward to see the road completely flooded out with water running quickly from my left to my right. We were going at least 65 and had no time to do anything. Blake yelled “water, water!!” Mom, Carly, and my dad quickly braced themselves on the seats in front of them from the back seat. We skimmed across the first 100 or 200 feet as I lifted off the accelerator and tried to keep the wheel pointed straight. We were about half way across when the truck and trailer sank into the water and a huge wall of muddy water came over the hood, blacking out the windshield and darkening the cab. I continued to hold the wheel straight and a few moments later Blake said, “I can see yellow line,” as he looked out the passenger window. The wipers cleared the window just as we were exiting the raging water. About 1/2 mile down the road we pulled over just behind a gentleman in a truck who was surveying the damage to his vehicle. The rush of the water had ripped the windshield wipers from his truck. We were all just reviewing the parts of our lives that had just flashed in front of our faces, thankful to have made it through.