Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Acts of Nature Beyond Anyones Control"

  Hopefully,  you're wondering "What Happened With Phoenix"..  I'll probably make a short story long, but here's what went down.
  Like I said in my last post, we were waiting on our clutch and ONE rear tire, we received ONE tire three days earlier.  I think the other one must have ridden with Judy.  Now I know not everybody out there is a gearhead, but it would be a sure bet that those two big ole Goodyear slicks might just be a "PAIR".  But I guess not, when it comes to freight companies. We were suppose to leave Wednesday February 16th, no later than noon. Yeah, noon at the latest,the very latest. Its only 750 miles, but we need to be at the gate Thursday morning. And we have to stop for fuel a couple of times,get the motorhome and trailer washed and add in a couple of stops for mexican food. And that's not even figuring in any unknowns, like a blown tire or such. A blown tire on the trailer, although unwanted, is not as bad as it would be on the motorhome. We carry spares for the trailer and can fix them on the side of the road.  The motorhome is another story, you have to call a road service and that usually takes a while.  Anyway we are suppose to get the tire and clutch on Tuesday, that will be fine.  Tuesday comes, no clutch, no tire.  Ok,ok,  we mean, you will have them both on Wednesday.  Wednesday @ 2:30 pm ,we get the clutch,no tire,must be on another truck you should get it by 5:00 pm.  Did I say something about noon ? Hmm. Trying to track the tire though the freight  company was futile, The only information I got was," Due to acts of nature beyond our control ".  Geez, the snow was a week ago.   Well anyway, we got the clutch set up and installed , and got the car all put back together, we are just waiting on the tire. So we look like this.

   The received and signed for by side.  OR Hollywood side.

               And this!

The "Due to acts of nature beyond our control" side.

  While all of this waiting was going on, we have been looking at the weather forecast  for Phoenix and things are not looking all that conducive to drag racing.  They were calling for rain on Friday evening, lasting through Saturday and into Sunday, with high winds and blowing mud-pies, with snow in the higher elevations for a nice safe trip home.  
  This is something we sometimes wrestle with before a race, "The weather forecast".  These race cars do not appreciate high winds, especially cross winds and they won't come out in the rain.  We love being at the racetrack.  But sitting in the motorhome for two or three days waiting out the weather is not a lot of fun.  Coupled with the fact, you lose qualifying runs that are cancelled due to weather.  After a 3 to 4 month layoff, we need all of the runs we can get.  This is starting to sound like a bad way to start our season.  The weather report did not improve, it only got worse and the tire was a no-show.  So about 6:00 pm we decide to scrap the mission.  Someone is trying to tell us not to go.  This is no way to start off this year.  Houston is in two weeks,  lets just get ready for that.
  Well, we did the right thing for a change.  The weather in Phoenix was awful all weekend. They did have to cut out Qualifying runs and sat around in their motorhomes and trailers for two days. The wind did blow hard, and the rain made some nice mud-pies.  Wind and rain in the desert is nasty.  Im glad we didn't go. They did finally get to run the race on Monday,  the top sportsman final was at 7:30 pm.   Been there, done that!  Later in the season when you are in the groove, you can "afford" to lose a run or two.    But at the first race, you are still looking for "Murphy" to show his hand, and we need those runs.
 Over the past 20 years, we have dealt with all  sorts of weather, rain,snow,wind,hail and even tornadoes.(lucky for us we didn't know it at the time)!  I remember a time in Cordova,Ill.  The wind blew so hard the porta-potties were blowing around the pits. (Speaking of mud-pies).  We have been rained out almost as much as we have been out of gas.  I spent two weeks in Bristol,Tn. one time.  The race got rained out and rescheduled for the next weekend.  Greg and Steve Hughes flew home to work and I stayed with our stuff and secured a better pit spot.  Wow, tough job, but somebody gets to do it.  We have been rained out in Norwalk,Ohio 1400 miles from home.  We sat in the rain in Rockingham,N.C. all day, hoping the rain would stop or slow down enough to take our awning down and load our stuff.  Im glad  we waited, So we could do all of that in the rain and the dark!  Once  in Darlington,S.C.  1420 miles from home, a little cloud came up and it rained for just a while.  It didn't seem like a big deal.  All of the sudden the track announcer says, "We are gonna call this thing off and just run it next weekend, see ya then".  Ah, yeah ,sure, see ya.  I can't think of all of the rain we have dealt with at the track, there has been a lot.  Sometimes  they cancel the race.  Sometimes we spent three or four days working around the rain, running when the weather will allow. (Like they did in Phoenix.).
  I want to congratulate our friend Ray Martin (alaskan 
  We are now looking forward to Houston Raceway Park - March 3rd --March 6th.  Here are a couple of pictures of the car at Houston.

We will be there Thursday, with all four tires on the ground,well sometimes all four.Barring any "Acts Of Nature Beyond Our Control".

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Where's The Parts ? And " Where's our rent car"??

It's Sunday,February 13th, we need to leave for Phoenix in three days,and we are still waiting on parts.  Only some "non-essential" stuff, like rear tires,rear axles and our clutch.  I really thought we would have the car on the ground by now.  We should be washing and waxing. We should be putting all of our tools in the trailer,making sure we have all of our supplies.  But no, were waiting on parts.  My being a partsman for the last 29 years, I have heard those words more than I care to remember. But I am still sure we can get this all together. It takes almost as long to write this blog as it will to set the clutch up and get it installed.  Not that much longer to mount the tires and install the brakes.  Well, almost. But anyway, if we get these parts by Tuesday, we should be good. It takes a lot of work to get ready for one of these trips without being held up on parts. The waiting gets you out of sync. We can't install the brakes because we don't have an axle,we can't make sure our new starter is set up right without a flywheel (and it is with the clutch), and if we did have all of that, we can't put the car down and roll it around without tires.  You get the picture. We are suppose to have it all by Tuesday and we can make that work.  Then, all we have to take care of is groceries and a new cooler.  My girlfriend  (Judy), says that our cooler is broken.  Do coolers just quit working ? I have never heard of that. It does not look broken, it has no visible damage, I don't think I believe this. But she says if we don't get a new cooler, well,  she's not going, so we're getting a new cooler! Like I said before, this racing can turn into a lot of work, and she is great help. She can't always go with us, because she has a job too.  I sure miss her when she is not there. She takes care of the motorhome, adds a feminine touch and smell, and puts out some little snacks, and some candles, and really pampers us.  When it is just Greg and I, it's more like a camping trip, so Im glad she is going.  And besides all that she does..  I love her company!
  Now, Im  pretty sure that Judy is not a descendant of Columbus, or Louis and Clark, or any of those other people who could find their way around. Let's just say she is very geographically challenged. One time, she went from Arlington to Dallas via WACO. Really???   So, we are at the racetrack on Thursday. That is the parking and setup day most of the time. At a lot of the tracks there is a "Test and Tune" on Thursday. A good time to test any new parts or setups, and do a little tuning. We don't always run on those days, but after a long winter we like to see "Where were at". This particular day, Greg and I have been going back and forth on whether we should make any runs or not. I went off roaming around somewhere thinking we were not going to make any passes that day. I do my visiting, or whatever, and I head back to our pit. The track announcer has been yacking all day, I don't really pay attention to what he saying most of the time, but I do hear him saying something about a "Halt" in the action because someone is on the racetrack. This is during alcohol funny car runs. These cars run in the 5 second @ 260 mph range. Well, someone is on the track, so they have to shut down- so what? I get back to the motorhome and Greg says "I sent Judy to enter us in this test and tune". I say " YOU DID WHAT ? !!"...YOU MEAN IN THE CAR ??  I have this sinking feeling in my gut. That announcement I heard, what was that? "Someone is on the top end of the racetrack during funny car testing" . Judy is gone in the car?  This can't be good.  Unfortunately, my suspicion's are correct..  JUDY IS ON THE RACETRACK!!! It seems she had a little trouble with her navigation skills again. Some very nice and understanding track personnel, finally got her attention and told her "Lady you're on the racetrack"! He ask her where she was trying to go and then said " Follow Me " and he escorted her to the tech shack to sign us up for test and tune, and then escorted her back to our pit. She said, " They were not happy about it, but were very understanding". But--- Greg and I are in a heap of trouble!!  Wait a minute, what did I do ?  This one should be on Greg, I am innocent!  Not in the eyes of a very mad woman.  I must be just as guilty, cause this woman is MAD !  My buddy Greg goes in the motorhome and holes up in his bedroom for a "Nap". Yeah right!  So I am left on my own, with one angry little girl.  Thanks Greg. He still thinks it's funny, and so do I, when I'm out of arms reach of Judy. Good fun times.
  After all of the excitement settled down, we made a couple runs .. If I remember right ,we went 6.67 and 6.68. Two really good runs for a "green track" that hasn't even been prepped by NHRA.  We should be good for Qualifying. We were good, we Qualified #1 and got to the semi-finals.  I had heard some not so good sounds coming from our starter the round before.  Man, these big ole 820 cubic inch engines are hard on starters. But, we dont have much time to change starters, and don't have a great spare either. It should live two more rounds. Besides, we have a bye in the semi-final, (odd number of cars or a broken competitor will give you a bye run). All we have to do is stage the car, take the tree, and we are in the final. In the staging lanes, Greg and I are concerned about this,but all we need is one more start and then we can address this before the final.  Well, of course, it won't start.  And you have to stage the car under it's own power.  A bunch of our competitor's come to our aid. I here someone say "Lets pushstart it'', well that doesn't work.  So we take off the front end so that I can "Jump the solenoid" - now I have a small fire. I said, maybe I could hit the starter with a hammer, and get it to bust off just one more time.  No one had a hammer, but someone gave me a broom that was at the starting line ( for small starting line cleanups). " Here, use this", he said.  Man, what is this made of ?  Lead ?  This is the heaviest broom I have ever held.  " JUST HIT IT " .  I raise the broom a little and  BAM , I whacked it.  No start. " HIT IT AGAIN " .   KA_BAM!!  Uh oh.  That last ka- bam broke the starter  in half , we are done now.  A bye into the final, GONE !  But, whats done is done. We start thinking ahead to Tuscon, which is in three days.  In Tuscon,with our "new" starter installed, we again qualify #1, still stinging from the heartbreak of losing the race in Phoenix because of a parts failure. Parts failure or crew chief failure, or a combination.  But,Greg always says " We win together and we lose together".   I heard Doug Herbert say one time, "That's why they call it Drag racing.  Cause sometimes it's a DRAG"!!
    Happy Valentines Day Judy.  I love you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hey Greg,There's $.99 Gas...No Terry I saw it for $.98.... SOMEWHERE!!!

Well its February 5. Two short weeks until we roll.Phoenix sounds like the place to be after the last weeks weather here.-25 degree wind chill,frozen pipes,ice and snow and did I mention wind chill."Yikes".If we were not ready to start the season last week,well, we are now.
 We are still waiting on a lot of our parts to be returned to us.The ice and snow across the country has thrown a kink in shipping.Some of the vendors we deal with have lost power at there homes and businesses.So things have been slow this week.So next week should be very busy.I imagine most of our stuff will come in at one time.And then the thrash is on!!
  Sitting around the house,not wanting to be outside over 30 or 40 seconds at a time,gave me a lot of time to reflect on past years.Those years before we got a motorhome,when we towed with a 1-ton dually pickup and a 36 ft trailer.Man, we thought that rig was huge.Although we could pull through any motel parking lot and find a place to park,eat at any restaurant we pleased,Heck, we could even pull that rig through the drive-up at McDonalds,to everyone's amazement including me.But,What Greg loved about it was we could get that rig in all of the small "cheap gas" stations.Anyone who knows Greg very well is very familiar with Greg and his "save a penny a gallon" game.It has driven some into drag racing retirement.But Greg loves this game,so Game On!!!
  Name a place that you have been in the lower 48 states and chances are we have been out of gas there.One time at about 4:00 AM somewhere between Memphis and Nashville,I  have been watching the gauge for probably 60 miles{.In our gas game as long as the needle has some "bounce" we are good to go}.Well, we have lost our bounce and the next town is about 40 miles,No way,we are going to run out of gas.If we were on the way home we could fall back on some $6 a gallon racing fuel.But we are on our way to the race and we might need that fuel for the car.So I spy an exit with a sign showing gas and motel .EXIT,turn right 1/4 mile,station on the left.CLOSED.Well the motel has a restaurant,lets have breakfast  and wait for them to open,cause we have a fuel range of approximately twelve feet.(of course the pump is fourteen feet away).We go into the restaurant that has "just" opened and sit down for breakfast.when we came in, it was dark and very foggy.We notice a lot of pictures on the wall of people with fish.So Greg asked the waitress if there was a lake nearby. She looks over at the cook and says did you hear that.They chuckle a little,then inform us that we are blocking the boat ramp.While we ate breakfast,the station opened,we got gas and were off.
One time in Monroe,La. no bounce on the gauge,we spy a station on the other side of the interstate.If we can just make it half way over the overpass we can coast down the other side into the gas station,perfect,no problem.Just a little short,now we have to try to keep this rig from going backwards to where we just came from,blocking traffic and not making any cajun friends.The cool part of this one is we did get a new 2 gallon gas can,that we still use today.And then there was the time, we again had no bounce on the gauge.We are on the turnpike between Tulsa and Oklahoma City and there is not a lot of opportunity for gasoline on this turnpike anyway.I am getting pretty nervous about running out,but I know there is a Phillips about 15 miles up the road.If we can just make it fifteen more miles.Sweating,Sweating,alright there it is ,on our side,its open,were gonna make it. $1.20 a gallon,I saw it for $1.18 I think,says Greg as we pass the station.PASS THE STATION,you have got to be kidding me.I am in total disbelief. No more than two miles further and we are OUT of gas,parked on the side of the turnpike.Oh yeah, at MIDNIGHT, of course.Well,not to fear,we are on the way home.Racing fuel it is @ $6.00 a gallon.We put in enough racing fuel to get us to the next gas station.Cool part of this one is I met the band for David Allen Coe at that gas stop.They were playing in Amarillo the next night and I was invited to be their guest.There are so many of these stories,I cant tell them all today,but I will sneak a few in here and there in these blogs.
 One gasoline related story though.Everyone seems love this one.Greg and I are coming back home,we have been driving all night,as usual.We had just gotten a new dually and did not have our big tank in the truck yet.So we are just running on the factory 34 gallon tank,which would go about 214 miles.(wonder how I know this?).We had decided that one of us would drive through a tank and when we stopped for fuel,the other would drive out that tank,just switching at each gas stop.Brilliant.It worked well all evening and all night.I remember getting to the Arkansas,Oklahoma state line and we need gas finally. I have been fighting to stay awake,each mile seemed like a week.But,now I can get some sleep and let Greg have this thing for a while.Awesome.We get our fuel,Greg coffee's up and were on the road.Its probably about 4:30 or 5:00 AM,the sun has not started up just yet.I immediately am asleep.We roll into Oklahoma and its down to one lane.Good ole road construction.Who cares Im sleeping! Well, It seems that Greg was having a difficult time also.Hanging his head out the window,holding one leg up,slapping himself, all the old standby stay awake tricks we had learned to that point.Not me,Im sleeping like a baby,sucking flies so I understand.About this time Greg has an epiphany.He thinks, how does he know how far we have gone? He has been passed out since we left that station.So,the very next station he see's,he pulls in,gets out,puts the nozzle in the tank and then slaps the passenger side window,waking me saying its your turn.WOW,have I been asleep that long?   WOW,it seems like just a minute ago that I laid down.WOW,how can that be.W O W!!!! Well I better get in there and get some coffee,splash a little water in my face and get woke up for "MY TURN"! We get back on the road and I keep thinking how short my nap felt,how it was still a long way to Oklahoma city.I must have been further from the state line than I thought when I stopped a "FEW HOURS AGO".It takes a few miles and the sun coming up to finally get my wings.But I did and I drove that tank out,because we had a "deal".Funny,I never did put that together.To road numb I guess.A couple of years later,some of us were talking about something and Greg's wife (Marshi Lair) says somthing to the effect of Greg short tanked ya.WHAT!!! I look over at Greg and I can tell by the look on his face that Marshi has let the cat out of the bag.Thanks Marshi,I guess I would have never known.But now,I know who Im dealing with,I have to stay aware of milage and mile markers and TIME.I got SHORT-TANKED.I've got to admit,that was Brilliant.I wish I had thought of that.
 I guess I had better wrap this up.I could go on and on.But there will be time to tell some other stories later.Oh yeah,one last thing.Just the other day at the dealership,Greg calls my office and says ,wanna go to lunch.I say sure.He says I'll pick you up,lets go to" Green Chili Willys."Have any of you been to I-27 & F.M.2219.Well we ran out of gas there.
OH NO,I see that diesel is $3.45 a gallon at Love's.Let the game begin!