Christmas In Fresno: A Reflection

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I have just returned from my annual Christmas trek to Fresno to be with my family for the holidays.  These days the Christmas holiday season is such a bittersweet time of the year for me.

I had great fun shopping for some toys for Cole and Hannah with my youngest son, Jeremy.  Even though the actual shopping was hectic, as I have written about. That event, “Santa” Christmas shopping for Cole and Hannah, put the Christmas spirit back into my soul!  It was re-invigorating, and I might add, it also was an opportunity to have some all important one-on-one time with Jeremy!

The most exciting part of Christmas was watching Cole and Hannah open up their respective Christmas gifts.  The sheer joy and exhilaration that came over each of their faces as they opened up all their gifts really gives this old grandfather joy! Additionally, getting gifts from Cold and Hannah that they made for me was very special!

The Christmas holiday also comes with food, lots of food.  After the grandkids opened up their gifts, Stephanie cooked a little breakfast to begin the Christmas day eating fest.  After the breakfast at Jeremy and Stephanie’s, I had to hightail it over to my sister’s house for a “brunch” with my Mom, sister, nieces and nephews.  It was also a time to deliver Mom’s Christmas gift for her to open.  The morning-time also provided some quality time visiting with, and celebrating Christmas with my mother, as well.

The early afternoon found me back on the road again to Jeremy’s house for their Christmas dinner.  Also there for dinner was Jason and his girlfriend, Jana.  As is mostly the case, Jason, in all his creativeness, made everyone a Christmas gift.  And as usual, he did not fully accomplish the task for everyone!  Surprise, surprise, it was just Jason being Jason!!  Notwithstanding that fact, I always look forward to what his creativeness produced!

I was privy to know what he was creating for Cole and Hannah.  He and Jana were trying their hand at tie-dying.  Now for those who are familiar with Jason, know that tie-dye t-shirts and Jason are one and the same.  Hmmmmm, that’s kind of like me and NASCAR/sprint car t-shirts!!!  But I digress.  The finished product, the tie-dye t-shirts, were really cool looking for their first attempt at that process!  This could turn into a financial thing for them in the future!

Now I digress once again, but I must do so to explain the gift I received from Jason.  Last year Jason wanted a painting set for Christmas.  So I agreed to purchase this for his Christmas gift with one caveat.  I requested that he paint something for me.  Well, that is what I received from him for Christmas this year.  Not bad, it only took twelve months for my request to be honored!!!

Nevertheless, I am now the very proud owner of a Jason Hammack original abstract!!

This part of the Christmas holidays, the family gatherings, the grandchildren opening their presents, the excitement in their eyes as the unwrap those gifts, is the bright spot and the joyous part that thoroughly thrills my being.  The older I get, the more that I realize that it is truly better to give than to receive.  Additionally, the feeling of giving someone something that they really need or want is really heart-warming!

Therein lies my reasoning for the “sweet” part of “the bitter-sweet” feelings that I have surrounding the Christmas holidays.

The other feeling that I have associated with this holiday, that “bitter” part of the previously mentioned bittersweet feelings, stems from an incident that occurred on December 30, 1995.  At approximately 10pm on December 30, 1995, I lost  my best friend, and my hero!  That evening my father passed away, leaving a legacy of honesty, humility, and honor.  As the youngest of five children, those are very big shoes to try to fill!  I am finding that, after 16 years and with all of my efforts, I am hard-pressed to succeed in filling those shoes!

I miss you, Pop!

Therein lies my reasons for viewing the Christmas holidays with a bittersweet tone!

May all your New Year wishes come true!

Christmas Shopping In Fresno 2011

Once again I am fortunate to be able to make the Christmas trek back to my hometown of Fresno, CA.  With most all of my Christmas shopping accomplished a few months again Yuma, I felt somewhat leery about tackling what little shopping that was left for my grandkids.

Nevertheless, there was just a small portion of my Christmas shopping that was left, intentionally I might add, to be completed when I arrived in Fresno.  As it worked out, I was able to complete the toy portion of the shopping for Cole and Hannah with my son, Jeremy.  That, in and of itself, was lots of fun,and it served and enormous purpose!  I figured that who would know better what my two grandkids wanted for Christmas than their Mom or Dad?

I had scored a huge advantage!

As we entered into the “Kids Magic Kingdom”, better known as Toys R Us, the holiday shopper came out in both Jeremy and myself!  As we grabbed the ol shopping basket, it was obvious to me that we both needed to get tough and immerse our selves into the “holiday shopper/survivor” mode for this particular chore!

There were hundreds of carts trying to navigate the crowded lanes that encircle the rows of toys all stacked in their places.  The shopping carts were all jockeying to try to get the lead so that they could land one of their prized toys.

In actuality, watching the shoppers wheeling their shopping basket around the store resembled one of my favorite things to watch, Daytona or Talladega!  It was like a pack of race cars drafting each other until they reached the destination of their sought after toys!  Then there would be a sling-shot move to get into the lead, and grab that coveted toy before the other shoppers could have their chance!  Once we got into “the race spirit”, you could feel the adrenaline rushing through your veins!

I told Jeremy that I needed to be in control of the basket.  My reasoning for assuming control of the shopping basket comes from my past experiences.  I spent 2 1/2 years living in NYC back in the early 1980’s.  That experience of navigating through the sidewalks of New York City, walking shoulder-to-shoulder in that sea of humanity known as Manhattan, the experience of challenging the taxi cabs, as well as all the other car traffic in NYC at the intersections and cross-walks, I felt would give us an advantage navigating through Toys R Us!

Additionally, I thought that my knowledge of NASCAR, the bump drafting, the two car tango, and the knowledge of pulling off a sling-shot pass in a timely fashion would allow us to survive, grab our most coveted toys, thus allowing us to conquer the madhouse and even become a premier Toys R Us shopper!

Sports fans, it was game on!

With those thoughts in place, away Jeremy and I went, shopping cart, and shopping list in hand.  Initially I tried to be somewhat polite.  However, within just a few minutes of trying to navigate within the store, it was obvious that I must don my worst acquired NYC attitude, couple that with my NASCAR two car tango, and bump drafting techniques, it was time for full blown toy shopping!

Yes folks, we took no prisoners in our tour through the store.  As we aggressively steered the buggy on our shopping circuit. Occasionally we would bounce the cart off the rows of toys, other buggies, and now and then a few feet and toes that  had gotten in our way.  Nevertheless, never loosing our momentum!  Sorry about that!

Reflecting back on that shopping experience, it brings to mind the NASCAR commercial where the four businessmen bring back their rental car, badly wrecked with the side view mirror dangling.  The driver, in great NASCAR driver/crew chief form stated that, “overall he had a great car”.  “However, the front end was pushing in the turns”!  At that point, their boss slides his car to a screeching halt only after impacting their car.  His car, too, looked like it had been racing at Bristol Speedway, really bent, beaten, and crumpled up!

That my friends is what it was like shopping this week at Toys R Us for the last minute Christmas toys for the grandkids!  Overall, we had a great shopping cart!  However, at times it would be pushing through the turns, consequently, causing me to hit toys, other shopping carts, and run over a few legs, feet, and toes!

Maybe the other shoppers need to check into getting an Aflac or a Nationwide insurance policy!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

The Las Vegas Indy Car Weekend After Thoughts

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(Jim, Jeremy, and Captain Blowdri @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway)

It was billed as the IndyCar World Championship weekend on the IndyCar race schedule.  I thought that it would be a great getaway for my youngest son, Jeremy, to be able to experience a cool race weekend in Las Vegas.  Joining Jeremy and myself was one of my older brothers, Jim.

It was going to be a great boys family weekend in Las Vegas!  Jeremy had not been to a big NASCAR or IndyCar race weekend in almost twenty years.  It was going to be a time for the three of us to hang out in the RV’s, enjoy some great racing, and for Jeremy and I to have some good, longtime coming, Father/Son time together.

The trip from Fresno to Las Vegas was a 7 hour road trip with Jeremy in my RV.  This was a first for him in many ways.  It was his first road trip in the RV, his first trip to see the Camping World Trucks, the first time to see the Indy Cars in 20 years, and his first time to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

For all of the seven hours driving to Las Vegas, Jeremy and I talked.  We talked about the great time that we both were anticipating it would be, once we were at the race track.  We talked about how our relationship had its ups and downs over the years, and where it stands these days.  We talked about what LIFE has dealt each of us.  We talked about the raising of his son, my grandson, Cole.  But mostly we just talked about LIFE!

Through all of the conversations, I tried to depart some “fatherly” wisdom to my youngest son, doing so very carefully.

The next morning, Friday, Jeremy and I went over to the race track.  As part of our weekend race tickets we purchased weekend Neon Garage/Paddock passes that gave us free reign to all of the pit road, garage, and any other area in the infield area.  During that day we walked throughout both the Trucks and Indy car garage areas, pit road, as well as the technical inspection areas.

While walking down along the pit wall we encountered several of the race car drivers.  Some of the drivers included, former Indy Car driver Mario Andretti, Camping World Truck driver Todd Bodine, X Games participant Travis Pastrana, and the 2011 Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon.  All of the above drivers were captured in photos with Jeremy.

Of those four individuals, the one that stood out in my mind was the jovial Dan Wheldon.  On Friday, when Jeremy was talking to Dan Wheldon, he was very upbeat, very positive.  He was very sure that he was going to win the $5 million dollar bonus that was posted for the non Indy car regular that could come from the pack of the pack to win the race.

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(Jeremy and Dan Wheldon @ LVMS)

On Sunday the IndyCars were the headline.  From the drop of the green flag to the eleventh lap, the 34 car field looked like pack of angry bumble bees, running two and three wide all the way around the race track!

Then the unthinkable happened! 

One driver made a very small mistake that turned 15 race cars into a pile rubble, three cars blazing on fire, and one very popular, likable British driver, Dan Wheldon, lost his chance to win that $ 5 million dollar bounty by losing his life in that fiery crash in turns 1 and 2 on lap 11of the IZOD IndyCar World Championship race.

Wheldon, 33 years old, left his mark on the race car world by winning the Indy 500 twice, most recently the 2011 race.  He was also a past Indy Car Series champion.  Today the news was announce that IndyCar Series is naming the newly designed race chassis that will appear next year after Wheldon in his honor.

For the last four days I have been pondering and trying to digest the events of last weekend, all the while trying to make sense out of it.  But all that kept popping up in my head is what my Father told me many years ago. My Dad said that, it is not what you take with you when you are gone that is important.  However, it is what you leave on Earth when you are gone that is important!

Wheldon will be greatly missed by all who had come into contact with him in his brief stay on this Earth!  With just that short conversation with Dan Wheldon along pit road, Jeremy and I had felt like, after the events of Sunday afternoon, we had lost a new friend that day.

Go rest high on that mountain, Dan Wheldon, your work on Earth is now done!

TIL NEXT TIME: ROGER, WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!

My First Summer In Retirement Has Concluded

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Well gang, my first summer in full fledged retirement has officially come to an end.  What a cool summer vacation I had!  As it turned out the maximum temperatures that I had to deal with was 81 degrees!  So it was literally a very cool summer!!

I headed out of Yuma back on June 8th in my 38′ Fleetwood Expedition on a summer tour of the Pacific Northwest with my traveling companions, my brother Jimmy and his wife Edie, in their 40′ Fleetwood Revolution.

The first stop on the agenda was a week long stop in Fresno,CA to celebrate a milestone for our Mom.  Back in June, specifically June 13th, we celebrated her 93rd birthday.  There was a large gathering at my sister’s house of family for the celebration.  In addition to my sister were all three of my brothers, my two sons, one wife and one girlfriend, and my two grandchildren, a few of my nephews and their families, as well as my cousin and his wife from Vallejo.  It was a joyous celebration of life!

My nephew, Scott, made a very cool video of Mom’s life.  For me it was very touching and emotional.  The video incorporated some really old family pictures of all of us kids, my Dad and Mom, all the while accompanied with some really appropriate music for the video.

It was a celebration of life, longevity, of our heritage, and of our extremely humble beginnings!

Additionally while in Fresno, I met with my old college buddy of a thousand years, Steve Detjan, well honestly it was not really that long ago!  However, I have known Steve since that extremely hot day in the gym during college registration in the summer 1969.  It happened that Steve had knee replacement surgery on June 13th.  So I got to visit him a couple of times, once the day of the surgery, and the next day during his recovery, as well.

From Fresno I headed northwest to a place called Duncan’s Mills, CA.  This very small hamlet is located on the Russian River about 8 miles west of Guerneville, a northern extension of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, and about 8 miles east of Bodega Bay.  While hanging out in this area for a week, I visited two wineries, did a little wine tasting, and, oh yes, purchased a few bottles of wine from the Sabastapol area!  The two wineries that took some of my money were; the Russian River Winery and Dutton Estates.

From Duncan’s Mills I headed up  the California coast on US 101. Within a very short time I was driving my motorhome right up through the Giant  Redwoods of northern California.  The view was awesome, and awe inspiring to say the least!

The next landing place was Klamath, CA, in a little RV park right on the Klamath River.  Klamath is about 20 miles south of Crescent City, CA.  It was very quiet and peaceful along side the river.  The highlight of the seven day stay was the last three days of that visit.  Early one morning Jim and Edie called me to tell me to look out the front of my RV and just observe.  Quite to my dismay, there was a Momma and young baby gray whale that had found their way into the river from the Pacific Ocean!  Both were just frolicking in the river fro the last three days of my stay there.

From Klamath my summer journey continued north to Gold Beach, OR.  This neat little hamlet is located at the juncture of the Rouge River and the Pacific Ocean.  The highlight of the weeks stay here, and for that matter my whole summer, was the 104 mile Rogue River jet boat tour.  That is 52 miles up the river and 52 miles back down river!  The tour launched from the dock at 8am and returned at 3:30 pm, with a 90 min lunch break on the return down the river at a riverfront place called Agnes.

This stay encompassed the July 4th weekend.  That weekend there were many neat and fun things to see and do.  There was a hydroplane boat race on the river that was really cool to watch.

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Additionally, I got my first glimpse of “Outlaw Go Kart” racing. These were not your regular little go karts, with lawn mower engines running slowly on a small dirt track!
See what I mean!

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The July 4th weekend culminated with a really cool display of fireworks that was much bigger than I was expecting!

From Gold Beach I continued northward on US 101 all the way up to the northern coast of Oregon, to a little town called Rockaway Beach, OR.  Rockaway Beach is about 75 miles west of Portland.OR.  There wasn’t too much at Rockaway Beach.  However, there were two very fine eating establishments in that coastal town, Beach Bites at Rockaway, and Upper Crust Pizza!

Additionally, the Tillamook Cheese Factory was only 21 miles back down south on US 101.  The tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory was a really fun experience.  The cheese is to die for!!  But their ice cream was totally phenomenal!!  Therefore, on that day I decided that I was not a diabetic!!!!!  Did I say that their ice cream was fantastic?

After Rockaway Beach, I headed on up into the Washington coast, at Ocean Shores.  That week was totally forgettable!  It rained every day, all day long for 6 days! (there is an old Washington adage that goes something like this:  If you can’t see Mt. Rainier, it is raining.  If you can see Mt. Rainier, it is getting ready to rain!)  I couldn’t see Mt. Rainier for six days!!

So it was time to pull up stakes, fire up the ol RV, and head to central eastern Oregon for some good weather.  The spot in central Oregon chosen was La Pine, Oregon.  It is a very small town just 24 miles south of Bend.  I spent a 10 day period at La Pine where the day time temperature was in the mid 70’s and the nights were in the mid 30’s!  Man, you just gotta love summer weather like that!!

At the end of the ten days at La Pine, I packed up the ol RV and headed back over to the coast of Oregon once again.  This time I spent two weeks in an RV park at Lakeside,OR.  Lakeside is about 15 miles north of Coos Bay.  The weather there was simply magnificent with daytime highs in the low 70’s and nights in the mid 50’s.

While at Osprey Point RV Park at Lakeside I made a Saturday trip over to Cottage Grove for a night of sprint car, midgets, and late model races.

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On the subsequent Saturday night I hit the local Coos Bay race track for some outstanding races, as well.

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After my two week visit in Lakeside, I returned to La Pine, OR for another 3 week stay that lasted until Labor Day.

On Labor Day I packed up the ol RV and started my southerly trek back towards Yuma, AZ.  However, I made a couple of pit stops along the way.  The first pit stop was in Chico, CA.  My week stay in Chico served two purposes.  First and foremost, I went there to really, really work on my redneck!  It just so happens that every year around Labor Day the Silver Dollar Speedway, located on property of the Butte County Fairgrounds puts on one whale of a four day sprint car show known as The Gold Cup Race of Champions.

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In addition to watching some high caliber racing, one of my old Eastern Airlines/United Air Lines buddies lives in Chico.  So I got to spend some quality time with both Tim Donohue and his wife Dorothy.  We go way back!  I first met Tim in 1980 when we both lived in this old two story commuter apartment in Woodhaven, NY.  Oh the stories that surrounded this place!  Someday I will have to write about the adventures of Woodhaven!

Also, I was hooking up at the race track with two very dear racing friends from the Bay Area, Dan and Bernie Clapp.  So the visit to Chico served a multitude of purposes!  The camaraderie with both Tim and Dorothy, as well as Dan and Bernie made Chico a great week!

The culmination of the event was the two day World of Outlaws show.  It was fast and it was furious!

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The last stop on the way home to Yuma was Fresno,CA.  I pulled into my old home town for a four day visit with my Mom, my kids, my grandkids, and of course my old college buddy, Steve Detjan.  Additionally, I had to pay a visit to my cardiologist as well.

On September 15th, a little over three months after I loaded up the ol RV for my northerly excursion, I rolled back into Yuma, AZ., I had come full circle!!

My first summer vacation in retirement has concluded!

It was good to be back home!

FOR NOW THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SIGNING OFF: ROGER, WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!

9/11: Ten Years Later

Tuesday , September 11, 2001, 8:46 am EDT.

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I remember, do you?

I have elected to keep this salute/tribute to all who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack upon the United States of America, very simplistic!

This is your humble captain reflecting on the Paul Simon song from 1966, “Sounds of Silence”, it says it all!  Give this song and video a chance.

Gold Cup Day Three: The World of Outlaws

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It was Friday night, day three of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Chico, CA.  So far, the action on the race track has mimicked the local temperature.  On Friday the local temperature was more than twenty degress hotter than, Monday,  the day that I arrived in this small northern California hamlet.  The afternoon temperature soared on up into the triple digits, around 102!

Notwithstanding the fact that I have been able to spend some good quality time with an old Eastern Air Lines/United Airlines buddy, Tim Donohue, I have also been the loyal sidekick of two very good racing friends, Dan and Bernie Clapp.  However, my main objective in Chico was to observe, enjoy, and inhale some very close, fast, competitive sprint car racing.

Day number three of the 2011 Gold Cup Race of Champions has given me a glimpse of just what I have been waiting to see in Chico.  After a brief delay, while the grounds crew rearranged and re-groomed the racing surface, the action began.

Paul McMahan had lady luck on his side as he picked up his fourth victory of the 2011 season at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. With a challenging racing surface, the Elk Grove, Calif. native made the best of his pole position starting spot to lead all 25 laps, wall -to-wall. The starting spot was by virtue of his win in the night’s dash. McMahan started the dash thanks to a drawing of six, which placed him on the front row.

“To get a win here in front of (team co-owners) Dennis and Teresa Roth is huge for this team,” said McMahan. “The dash draw really helped us and it meant we got to start up front which was key. The track started taking rubber early on (in the night) and they worked it a little bit after time trials. For the feature, it still had a lot of rubber so I was trying to be patient as I worked my way around here. I knew Jason (Meyers) would give me a run for my money near the end and I had to keep him at bay. Great win tonight but we want to be golden tomorrow night.”

Here is the results from Friday night’s  feature:

A-Main – (25 Laps)

1. 83-Paul McMahan[1][$8,000]; 2. 14-Jason Meyers[4][$4,000]; 3. 121-Shane Golobic[2][$2,500]; 4. 63-Chad Kemenah[3][$2,200]; 5. O-Jonathan Allard[10][$2,100]; 6. 57-Jac Haudenschild[8][$2,000]; 7. 11-Steve Kinser[9][$1,800]; 8. 99-Kyle Larson[5][$1,600]; 9. 1-Sammy Swindell[15][$1,500]; 10. 5H-Mason Moore[14][$1,300]; 11. 55-Trey Starks[18][$1,200]; 12. 5W-Lucas Wolfe[11][$1,100]; 13. 83JR-Tim Kaeding[17][$1,000]; 14. 33E-Evan Suggs[22][$700]; 15. 7S-Jason Sides[19][$600]; 16. 25-Jason York[20][$600]; 17. 6-Kraig Kinser[24][$600]; 18. 9-Brad Sweet[6][$600]; 19. 1X-Andy Gregg[16][$600]; 20. 44W-Austen Wheatley[21][$600]; 21. 7-Craig Dollansky[13][$600]; 22. 2-Kyle Hirst[23][$600]; 23. 17-Justin Sanders[7][$600]; 24. 15-Donny Schatz[12][$600]

Listed below are the results of the heat races:

Heat 1 – (10 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 11-Steve Kinser[1] ; 2. 83-Paul McMahan[2] ; 3. 17-Justin Sanders[4] ; 4. 2-Kyle Hirst[7] ; 5. 19-Tyler Wolf[9] ; 6. 29-Justyn Cox[8] ; 7. 11VS-John Michael Bunch[10] ; 8. OO-Jason Statler[5] ; 9. 5H-Mason Moore[3] ; 10. 15X-Pat Harvey Jr.[11] ; 11. 24C-Colby Copeland[6]

Heat 2 – (10 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 57-Jac Haudenschild[2] ; 2. 14-Jason Meyers[4] ; 3. 6-Kraig Kinser[7] ; 4. 1-Sammy Swindell[3] ; 5. 89-Rico Abreu[8] ; 6. 2F-Brad Furr[9] ; 7. 26M-Sean McMahan[11] ; 8. 21-Mike Henry[1] ; 9. 92-Kerry Madsen[6] ; 10. 7Y-Clayton Snow[10] ; 11. 44W-Austen Wheatley[5]

Heat 3 – (10 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 9-Brad Sweet[4] ; 2. 121-Shane Golobic[3] ; 3. 55-Trey Starks[2] ; 4. 25-Jason York[1] ; 5. 28-Ian Madsen[7] ; 6. 21M-Peter Murphy[9] ; 7. 25M-Bobby McMahan[8] ; 8. 88-Brad Bumgarner[5] ; 9. 3F-Geoff Ensign[6] ; 10. 28X-Billy Strange[11] ; 11. 11MD-Mathew Davis[10]

Heat 4 – (10 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 15-Donny Schatz[1] ; 2. 5W-Lucas Wolfe[5] ; 3. 63-Chad Kemenah[4] ; 4. 1X-Andy Gregg[3] ; 5. 11C-Roger Crockett[8] ; 6. 5D-Jason Solwold[7] ; 7. 7S-Jason Sides[2] ; 8. 3C-Cody Lamar[6] ; 9. 6C-Jeff Paraday[10] ; 10. 92N-Andy Forsburg[9]

Heat 5 – (10 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. O-Jonathan Allard[1] ; 2. 99-Kyle Larson[2] ; 3. 83JR-Tim Kaeding[3] ; 4. 33E-Evan Suggs[6] ; 5. 91-Cody Darrah[5] ; 6. 19B-Bud Kaeding[8] ; 7. 7-Craig Dollansky[4] ; 8. 82-Robbie Whitchurch[10] ; 9. 6R-Bill Rose[9] ; 10. 64-Steve Tatterson[7]

With the end of the first night of action packed racing, the excitement builds for final night of the World of Outlaws, and the crowning of the Gold Cup Race of Champions!

THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SIGNING OFF: ROGER,WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!

 

Gold Cup: Night Two

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(captainblowdri file photo)

Last night was the second night of this four day racing event, called The Gold Cup.  The event was billed as “The Tiner Family Classic”.  Last night’s program consisted of  the USAC/CRA wingless 410 sprint cars, as well as, the Western States/BCRA “mighty midgets”.

There were 50 sprint cars and 24 midgets that showed up for the race.

Thursday turned out to be a very exciting, action filled evening of racing.  There was a rolling power outage in the greater Chico area that caused some delays prior to the green flag, temperatures hovering around the century mark, and a few spectacular crashes spread throughout the evening.  Early in the very first heat race of the evening, one of the sprint car drivers drove it very deep into turn one, launched himself over the berm, got on his head, then, began rolling with the race rapidly increasing in revolution speed, landing in the catchfence that protects the pit area from the racing action .

Nevertheless, the true entertaining portion of the night was not the wrecks, it was the hot, fast, keenly competitive races that unfolded as the night payed out.

The first two days of this four day event has given me plenty opportunity to work on my redneck!

So for now:

THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SIGNING OFF; ROGER, WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!

Civil War Invitational Racing: Silver Dollar Speedway Style

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(captainblowdri file photo)

As my summer vacation is slowly coming to it’s end, I still have one last opportunity to Work On My Redneck!  One of my last stops this summer is in Chico, CA.  The 320 mile drive from La Pine, Oregon, where I spent a total of four and a half weeks, to Chico, CA took about six hours.  Need I say that the drive was spectacularly beautiful.  The prettiest part of the drive was transiting the Lake Shasta area on I-5.

However, the goal on my 320 mile sojourn was to arrive in Chico, setup my RV, and then enjoy four fantastic nights of sprint car and midget racing in Northern California. The Silver Dollar Speedway is an action packed, high banked, 1/4 mile clay racing facility.  The Gold Cup Race of Champions, as this event is called, is the culmination of a hot summer of intense, close competition.  It is one of the most prestigious races on the West Coast for Sprint Cars.

The first night of racing consisted of winged 360 sprint car racing in the 2011 Civil War Invitational.  The top 35 drivers in the points for this series are invited to compete for some really big money.

Likewise, the top drivers in the in the Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Spec Sprint Car Series were invited to compete on Wednesday, the first day of this four day event.

There were 53 sprint cars, both winged and wingless, for the first night of racing.  The quality of the racing was top notched and rivaled racing that I have witnessed at The Knoxville Nationals, in Knoxville, Iowa.  In both the winged and the wingless sprint car A mains, the racing was fast and furious!  The size of the race track, 1/4 mile, facilitates tight, wheel-to-wheel, aggressive fast racing.

No matter where you were focusing your attention, front stretch, back stretch, turns 1 and 2, or turns 3 and 4, it was an action packed evening of thrilling, intense, throttle-jockeying!

This was just the first night of an action packed four nights of racing.  If this was just a precursor to what is the culmination, a two night show from “The Greatest Show On Dirt”, The World Of Outlaws, then it will be money well spent!

So for now:

THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING, ROGER, WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!

 

Giants of the Northern Calif. Forest

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(Captain Blowdri and a 19′ diameter/297′ tall giant redwood)

It is July the 4th weekend and I sit in my motorhome in an RV park at Gold Beach, OR.  This small resort town sits at the intersection of the Rogue River and the Pacific Ocean.

It  has been four weeks since I pulled out of Yuma, AZ for a summer tour of the Pacific Northwest.  This is the first summer of my official “Medical retirement”, and time to fulfill my desire to take the ol Fleetwood Expedition out for the summer.

The first stop was Fresno, CA to celebrate my mother’s 93rd birthday.  I pulled the RV into an RV park about 25 miles north of Fresno, near the town of Coarsegold.  From there it was just a 25 minute drive back down the hill to Fresno.  The birthday was a very cool celebration of Mom’s 93 years.

The next week I moved the RV over to an RV park near Bodega Bay, CA, the little hamlet is known as Duncan’s Mills,CA.  This RV park lies right along the Russian River about 25 miles east of US 1o1/Santa Rosa, CA, and 8 miles east of Guerneville, CA.  This is in the heart of Pinot Noir country!

Being in the western end of the California wine country, it was only natural that a couple of visits were paid to wineries.  There were two wineries that I visited to taste their products.  The first winery was the Russian River Winery, and the second winery was Dutton Estates.  Both wineries were very interesting and very informative, when questions were asked about their processes and products.

The highlight of the week stay at Gold Beach, however, was the 104 mile jet boat trip up the Rogue River!  It was an eight hour boat right with an hour off for lunch at Agnes, OR.  The sights of the rugged river valley and the wildlife that abounds there was spectacular!  It was a worthwhile adventure that I would do all over again when I return to this part of the country.

So for now:

THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SIGNING OFF, ROGER, WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!

 

Slinging Dirt Saturday Night In Oregon

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(captainblowdri file photo)

Last Saturday night found ol Captain Blowdri again at Madras Speedway in Central Oregon.  The program included wingless sprint cars, modifieds, and the screaming dwarf cars.

For the last four weekends I have had the opportunity to sample some local dirt track racing at a few tracks in Oregon, like Cottage Grove, Coos Bay, and Madras.  Even though the car counts at Coos Bay and Madras were not as robust as they could  be, the racing surface at each track, and the program organization was excellent.  I also noticed that at all three tracks there was a conducive family atmosphere.  Something that I think will keep these tracks in business in the future.

Touring the various race tracks that have been close to where we have parked our RV’s has been a lot of fun for me this summer. This summertime RV caravan consists of me, solo in my Fleetwood Expedition, and one of my brothers, Jim and his wife Edie, in their Fleetwood Revolution, and for the last month, my cousin Richard and his wife Carole, in their Monaco.

For the last four weekends, going to the various Saturday night racing venues has brought back great memories of 50 years ago when, both Jim and another brother Jerry were young teenagers, and they would take me to race tracks when I was just a very little boy.  It has been a great time enjoying the local Saturday night venues, watching the locals and their families having some quality time, as well as, hanging out with one of my older brothers, reminiscing about “the good old times”, as well as, enjoying a good ol Saturday night race!  (You know that you are getting older when you are referencing things that happened 50 years ago!)

Now that nearly all of the “traveling caravan” has pulled up stakes and headed up to Washington for some salmon fishing last Friday, I am, however, hanging out in La Pine by myself, waiting here til Labor Day.  On that day I, too, will be pulling up stakes, heading the ol RV South for Chico, CA, and you guessed it, camping out for some outstanding Sprint Car and Midget racing at Silver Dollar Speedway located at the fairgrounds at Chico.  I will be in Chico from Monday-Sunday morning, Sept 5-11th.  (Naturally, I will still be working on my redneck!)

At Chico I will be hooking up with a couple of good racing fans friends, Dan and Bernie Clapp.  Additionally, I will get together with Tim and Dorothy Donohue, my old EAL/UAL friends of 31 years, having some lunch and catching up on all things that are important to us.

SO FOR NOW, THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING, ROGER WILCO, OVER, AND OUT!