One Oh Ten!


(photo by Leon Hammack)

A couple of days ago I bought a USA Today in the LAX airport and I was just appalled at the transaction of dialog that took place!

I walked into the newsstand  in terminal 7 at LAX to pick up a USA Today to read on my flight home to Yuma.  I grabbed the paper and headed over to the  cash register to pay for it.  The lady in her South of the Border, heavily accented, English told me that would be “One Oh Ten”.  I repeated one oh ten??  She confirmed, one oh ten!

So I reached onto my pocket, grabbed a $1 dollar bill, handed it to her, then told her that I think that I have the oh ten in my other pocket!  I gave her the dime and reiterated here is the oh ten!

The previous exchange was very humorous, but somewhat understandable with all the influx of “quasi immigrants” to California and the rest of the nation!  But I am finding that I get these types of exchanges from people who have spent their whole life in our education system in this country!  It appears that our society is successful in teaching our youth to set extremely low goals and that it is alright to fail miserably to attain them!!!  Go figure!

My parents were the victims of The Great Depression.  We were inspired by them to get an education, it was our ticket to prosperity!  What changed???

What I see these days are baggy pants, baseball hats turned about 1/4 to 1/2 off center, tattoos galore, low self esteem, and a general free-fall in morale fiber and character!  Every generation, since the founding of this country, has out-performed and succeeded more than the previous generation.  However, it appears that string is about to be broken.   What happened?  Anyone got a clue?

If my observations are all screwed up, then I guess that I need to come to the party!!! 😉 Maybe it is me who needs to lighten up, do  you think?

Who knows my next purchase  at Mc Donalds may cost me “Five Oh Forty Nine”!!!!!! LOL

Anybody got some size 51 Levi pants for me to wear?  I need a NY Yankees hat so that I can put the bill over my right ear.  Man, I just about there!!  Now I just need to learn how to hang those bad boys just below my butt cheeks and walk so that the pants won’t fall all the way down to my ankles.  Can anybody teach me how to strut??

Somebody help me please!!!!!  I am a good student!

Is the sun setting on our civilization?

Kyle Steps On His Crank!

Kyle Busch trashes the trophy after race at Nashville Superspeedway earlier in the season.

(The infamous guitar smashing event)

Following his win at Bristol, Kyle Busch went to Nashville to compete in a Champion Racing Association event at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.  Sparks started to fly WAY before the waving of the green flag for the start of the race.

Busch told a track PR representative that it was “STUPID” to incorporate his (Busch’s) pre-race press conference with that of Chase Elliott, the 14 year old son of “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” Elliott, and the 16 year old female driver, Johanna Long, who was to start on the pole for that race.

As the press conference began, Busch was asked if he regretted the smashing of the guitar that Sam Bass had custom crafted for the winner of that event at the other Nashville race track back in June.  “Nope”, replied Busch. “we had a great time and a lot of good has come of it.”

When asked another question about the guitar smashing, Kyle Busch snapped, “You have been told to ask only about the CRA (Champion Racing Association)”.  One of the Busch entourage heatedly confronted the reporter whom he called a“BLEEPING” idiot” for asking Busch about the guitar incident.  That same unidentified person made a slashing motion across his throat signaling Busch to end the exchange with reporters, which had become very heated!

One veteran TV sports reporter said that the press conference was the most heated, tension-filled press conference he had ever witnessed.

Once again ol Kylie Busch (The Las Vegas Weasel) lives up to his childish, spoiled little boy, bad loser, very arrogant, pompous, self-centered reputation!

Will he ever grow up?


It Was The Summer Of 1969!

scan by captleon51.
(Senior picture McLane High School 1969)
The summer of 1969 was the beginning of the rest of MY life, I just didn’t know it back then!
What I was about to witness in the summer of 1969 would define my youth and ultimately define the “Baby Boomer Generation”.
But first I need to tell you what made the summer of 1969 possible.  The happenings of the previous year of 1968 made the events of 1969 all the more historic.  The Vietnam War had become the most unpopular war in the history of the USA.  The war  had dragged on for many years with no end in sight, all the while the casualties continued to add up daily.  The youth of our country had become extremely disenchanted with the Vietnamese War and formed a nationwide, and very organized, opposition to it.
In April of 1968 Martin Luther King, the most prominent civil rights leader in the nation, was assassinated in Memphis, TN.  The very next month, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles, CA while campaigning for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination.  Within those two months the hopes and dreams of this country’s youth and the disenfranchised were destroyed!  The country was in disarray and divided over many issues.  As the unhappiness boiled, the rest of the citizens watched the rebellion and demonstrations later that summer in Chicago, as the Democratic Convention convened in Chicago, IL.  It appeared that our very societal foundations were crumbling before our very eyes.
Fast foward to April 1969, an enterprising young man named Michael Lang, along with as associate named Artie Kornfield, had devised a plan to put on a rock festival similar to the festival that had been staged earlier on the West Coast as the Monterey Pop Festival in Monterey,CA.  The only catch is that he needed some investors.  Fortunately for Lang, he came across an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal under the name of Challenge International, LTD: “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions”
That ad had put into the Wall Street Journal by two young men that had just come into some money via an inheritance.  Those two young men were John Roberts and Joel Rosenman.
Lang, Kornfield, Roberts, and Rosenman eventually agreed and formed “Woodstock Ventures” for the purpose of putting this idea together.
After viewing many potential sites, Woodstock Ventures settled on a 300 acre site at Mills Industrial Park located in Middletown, NY.  On July 15, 1969, just 30 days before the scheduled concert date, the Walkill County Zoning Board of Appeals revoked the permit on the grounds that the portable toilets did not meet the county code.  Fortunately, a farmer by the name of Max Yasgur was willing to allow the Woodstock Ventures to lease his 600 acre farm as the site of the festival!  It was crunch time, could this thing be put together in less than 30 days???  Good old American ingenuity was about to shift into high gear!
Initially, there was difficulty signing up the entertainment, but once John Fogerty and Creedance Clearwater Revival signed up the other acts quickly jumped on board!
The line up looked like this.
Richie Havens
Ravi Shankar
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez
Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Canned Heat
Grateful Dead
Creedance Clearwater Revival
Joan Baez
Sly & The Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane
Joe Cocker
Country Joe & The Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Blood. Sweat, and Tears
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
Paul Butterfied Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix
Even though there were huge thunderstorms during the weekend, people came in huge masses to experience this once in a lifetime event.  There were traffic jams on the NY State Thruway that were many miles long.  People abandoned their cars and walked the remaining distance to the festival.
Little did the four people that were behind “The Woodstock Ventures” know that there would eventually be and estimated 500,000 people attend this festival.  Additionally there was no way of knowing the wordwide impact that the weekend of August 15-18, 1969  on Max Yasgur’s farm would have on our society!
The legacy of Woodstock is still being written 40 years after that magical weekend on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, NY.
Joni Mitchell wrote a song that Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young made famous about this event.  Oddly enough it was titled “Woodstock”!
Peace, love, and harmony existed for one weekend in August in 1969 at Max Yasgur’s farm in up state New York!!

Fun at The Knoxville Nationals


(Photo by Jim Hammack)

I have returned from six days of hard charging, dirt slinging, alcohol burning, sprint car racing!  For anyone who has been to the Knoxville Nationals, you can fully understand my feelings after returning!  Not only did I get to watch five days of the Knoxville Nationals (normally four days but we had a partial rain out), but I also went to Oskaloosa Tuesday evening for the 410 Wingless sprint car races.  What a great night of wingless sprint car races we witnessed!  That track is really conducive that style of racing.  You know what I am talking about, don’t you?  That’s the kinda of racing where they toss it into the turn, what I call backing it in and standing on the GAS!!!  COOL STUFF!

This was my sixth time to make the Knoxville Nationals.  For a sprint car race fan, these four nights at Knoxville are undoubtedly the absolute best sprint car races in the USA!  From the sprint car drivers and teams point of view, this is the single biggest payday in the entire year!  The winner of the Saturday night A Main won, are you ready—– a cool $150,000.00!!!!!!!!!  I don’t car how you cut it, that is a nice chunk of change to cart back home with the race car and the hauler!

The Knoxville weather was the typical summertime mid-western, humid, sticky, hot atmosphere.  On the first night of the Nat’ls, just as the cars to start their hot laps at 7:15 pm in preparation for the evenings racing, the heavens opened up and really poured!  The program of racing finally got started at 12:15am and ended at 3:00am!  That turned out to be a long night at the race track, but if you are a REDNECK at heart ( AND I WAS WORKING ON MY REDNECK!) it wasn’t bad!!!  After all, it was my first dose of dirt for this racing season!

The Knoxville race normally attracts “the best of the best” sprint car drivers and their teams.  It is the premiere sprint car race of the summer. Cars from all four corners of the USA, as well as some from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand participate in this event.  It is truly an international event for sprint cars!  The event is run as a four day event and drivers gather points each night.  Saturday’s event is a series of races culminating in the huge A Main event payday.

This year I think that the Sprint Car world witnessed a changing of the Guard.  Steve Kinser has long been “The King” of the Sprint Car world.  However, Donny Schotz claimed his 4th Knoxville Nationals in a row Sunday night!  Schotz has been a dominating force in that series now for the last four years.  Last year that domination just got a whole lot stronger!  In 2008 Tony Stewart bought Schotz’s race team and brought it  into his racing empire.  Now more than ever, Donny Schotz has been showing the rest of the boys the “fast way around the dirt”!

Once again I was very fortunate to have a brother and sister-in-law (Jim and Edie) bring their motorhome to Knoxville, and invite me to join them for the week. They made it possible for me to hit  Knoxville and enjoy two things that are an integral part of my life, family and good, good racing!!


Danger Zone??

Well folks I survived working 15 out of 17 days in row!  My employer is really trying to testing my physical stamina!  But I do have one thing to look forward to now…..four days in Knoxville, Iowa!! I am meeting one of my brothers and sister-in-law, Jim and Edie.  They have been there enjoying the  360 Sprint Car Nationals and going to Oscaloosa for more sprint Car races.

I am leaving Tuesday morning after I have some tests done to determine if I have carpel tunnel in both hands. YUCK!!! ( I hate needles and tests!!)

To describe Knoxville, IA during the four days of the Knoxville Nationals is very simple.  They are truly the nicest people around.  The whole community bands together to produce this great event.  The civic organizations like the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs put on “all you can eat’ breakfasts each morning for a very reasonable price.  Thursday evening the Catholic Church puts on a spaghetti feed.  There are all kinds of “good food’ to purchase from various other civic organizations as well.

But the true attraction, this time of the year in Knoxville, is that all the best Sprint Car teams from throughout the USA will descend upon this town to try to claim the $150,000.00 prize money for the winner of the Saturday Night Knoxville Nationals feature race!  It is a dirt track race fan’s dream come true!

So folks, for the next week this good ol boy is going to be sitting down just past the start/finish line, towards turn one at Marion County Fairgrounds, better known as The Knoxville Nationals!!!! I am going to get me a snoot full of Marion County clay and burned alcohol from the headers of those 1150 lb., 850 horsepower, mud slinging, alcohol burning, winged racing machines!!

They are driving on the very edge, the danger zone!! God, you gotta just love it!!



The 2009 Knoxville Nationals

(photo by Dave Hill)

On August 12th the 2009 Knoxville Nationals, the single largest Sprint Car races in the U. S. begins.  For four days this little sleepy ruraltown of 8,000 people southeast of Des Moines, Iowa evolves into the mecca of sprint car racing!  At this time Knoxville transforms into a population of 25,000, the capacity of the race track , plus the population of the citizens of the town!

The atmosphere of this tiny hamlet is that of a country, county fair.  The citizens of this community join together and produce this fun, fan friendly, “Woodstock” type event for Sprint Car racing!  The people of Knoxville, IA all come together and produce this great “community affair”!  They make this such a memorable extravaganza.   It is the single largest revenue event in this city each year.  Fans come from all over the U.S. to enjoy the absolute best Sprint Car racing for four nights in August.

This year celebrates the 49th annual staging of this racing classic.  The winners of this event reflect the Who is Who in Sprint Car racing history.  With the names  like Steve Kinser  (12 time winner), Doug Wolfgang ( 3 time winner), Danny Lasoski (3 time winner), Sammy Swindell, Jan Operman, and Kenny Weld reflect the history of this event.  It also reflects the importance of The Knoxville Nationals.  The winner of the four day event will pocket a cool $150,000.00!!! Nor a bad paycheck for four days of work!

This will be my sixth trip to Knoxville, and I might add, I am extremely excited and waiting with great anticipation for the event to get rolling!  There is just something about the smell of alcohol in the air when those big 410 cubic inch, fuel injected, dirt slinging racing machines fire up and get running 2, 3, and 4 wide sliding into the turns!


Visiting Relatives

Tuesday I decided to stop in and pay a visit to a couple of relatives. I had not been to see them in a very long time, so I decided it was time to take a detour on my way home from the airport and visit them.  After all it had been 42 years since the last time that I had stopped by for a visit, it was the least that I could do!

After consulting a map I sat out to drive to where they are.  It only took about 12 minutes to reach their place from the airport in El Centro, CA.  As I pulled into their residence in Brawley, CA, I did have to stop at the office to verify both locations.  After I left the office, I drove very carefully to the first location.  I found it very easily, it was right next to the road.

As I got out of my car and walked carefully up to the location, I verified the residence……John A. Smith 1883-1957!  This is the final resting place for my maternal grandfather, John Addison Smith, my Mom’s dad.  From my recollection as a very little boy, Grandpa Smith was a very ornery, tough old man.  He was a victim of childhood spinal meningitis which left him with a bum leg.  I remember the leg brace that he fashioned for himself to help in his walking.  I was 6 years old when he passed away and I still remember the trip to, and  his funeral proceedings in 1957.

After spending some time there reflecting on some old faded memories, I said my goodbyes and walked back to my car.

I  proceeded to the second residence.  It was only about 75 yards on past my grandfather’s headstone.  Donald Ray Hammack January 19,1935-December 15, 1935.

This is the headstone on my oldest brother’s grave.  This is the brother that I never got the chance to know or see personally, he died 16 years before I was born!  But you see, I do know what he looked like.   My parents ALWAYS kept the one and only picture that I am aware of,  Donald sitting in a chair, hanging in their bedroom!   Donald was my parent’s first born son, their pride and joy, the beginning of  their legacy, that legacy was to be  a total of five boys and one girl!

But before Christmas came in that first joyous year in 1935, Donald became sick and passed away from apparently the results of pneumonia..  Donald Ray Hammack lived to be four days shy of 11 months old, and passed away just 10 days before Christmas!  So I am reasonably sure the  Christmas season of 1935, in the Hammack household, was extremely heart-breaking!

And so as I got back in to my car and proceeded to drive home, a ghostly emotional feeling hung over my head.  It was very hard to explain!  Something that I can’t describe!

For the 1:15 minute drive back to Yuma, I was putting the pieces of my heritage into perspective.  My parents got married in 1934 in Buckeye, AZ.  Three of my brothers were born in the Brawley-El Centro, CA area.  My grandfather and oldest brother are buried in Brawley, CA.  My oldest son was born in Phoenix, AZ.  Now I am living in Yuma, AZ.

Very interesting!


ESPN Cable Outage!!??

Lihue 080

(photo by Leon Hammack)

It is August 3, 2009, I am laying over at the Kauai Marriott on Kalapaki Beach, the NASCAR race was postoned til Monday morning at 6am Hawaii time.  So I set my alarm to wake up early this morning to watch the race live!!!  As I turn off my alarm, wipe “the sleep from my eyes”, go to the bathroom, and do all the morning stuff that has become “my morning ritual”  I turn on the TV and find the channel associated with ESPN on the hotel cable.  To my surprise, that channel is BLANK!  B_L_A_N_K!!! I have ESPN2, ESPN Classic, all the other channels are working fine…….BUT NO ESPN!!    How can this be?

So I call the front desk to report the malfunction. After 45 minutes they tell me that it is problem with their cable provider.  Well fire the cable company, don’t you know!!!  We can send a man to the moon, rescue our failing economy, lead the world in all of  technology, but the cable company can’t fix the satellite feed for ESPN to their cable customers!!!  Flatly, I can’t have ESPN on my TV!!!   Again how can this be???  Here I am sitting a  four star Marriott resort and I can’t even watch a NASCAR race from Pocono!!  Needless to say, this ol REDNECK was and is still LIVID!!

So I have come up with an excellent idea!  The picture of the Kauai Marriott weather station at the beginning of this article needs to updated.   Is is located between the pool and the beach on a very cool walkway that everybody uses. I am going to alter the sign  so that it is absolutely correct.  I will add another line to the bottom of the weather station that will read…….