Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Marshall County, Kansas Officer Down; Price of gas

OFFICER DOWN - A Monday evening incident in neighboring Marshall County, Kansas put local law enforcement on high alert. According to a news release from the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Fernando Salcedo made a routine traffic stop on Hwy 77 in Blue Rapids, Kansas about 8:15 PM. As Deputy Salcedo approached the vehicle, a suspect got out of the vehicle and fired a handgun at Deputy Salcedo. Deputy Salcedo suffered wounds to a wrist and his lower back. He was able to return fire, striking the suspect once.

The suspect, Steven A Macomber of Topeka, is a suspect in the killing of a Topeka man on Monday afternoon. Macomber stole Salcedo’s patrol vehicle after the shootout with Salcedo and drove a short way to a residence in Blue Rapids, where he forced his way into the house and took a hostage. Law enforcement quickly converged on the residence and set up a perimeter. Negotiators spoke with Macomber and he released his hostage about midnight. He surrendered about 6:40 AM on Tuesday and was taken by ambulance to a Marysville hospital.

Deputy Salcedo was taken to a Lincoln, Nebraska hospital by air ambulance where he underwent successful surgery and is expected to fully recover. Deputy Salcedo started his law enforcement career with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department as a Corrections Officer. He attended the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and has been a Sheriff’s Deputy since fall of 2009. This goes to show that as law enforcement officers, we can NEVER, EVER be complacent on even the most routine of traffic stops.

Most generally, when something such as a murder has occurred and a suspect is at large, local, regional and statewide bulletins are put out with suspect information to include possible vehicles the suspect may be driving. The little information I have been able to find from news reports does not indicate whether there was any suspect information in the Topeka case. We should treat every traffic stop as though the occupant may try to kill us until we determine that is not the case. BE SAFE OUT THERE, and ALWAYS COME HOME AT THE END OF YOUR SHIFT!

Gasoline prices tend to somewhat dictate how we plan our lives. Last summer, gas prices were as much as $1 a gallon lower than they are now. With a gallon of gas almost $3 recently, a lot of people are looking at how they will be spending their vacations. However, I am confused as to how the price of a gallon of gas is set.

From 2003 through 2009, we made an annual trip to Las Vegas at the end of February to attend the NASCAR weekend. We took a couple of different routes and found regular places to get fuel, eat and stay overnight. We always tried to fill the gas tank before we got to Vegas, because gas there was always a bit higher.

In 2009, the highest price we found for a gallon of gas was in BEATRICE!! It was even less expensive in Las Vegas than in Beatrice!

I believe in promoting the idea of buying in your own community. However, when I leave Beatrice to go to, say, Grand Island, I will try to find out ahead of time how much gas is in Grand Island. If it’s less than in Beatrice, I’ll hold off on getting gas until I get to Grand Island.

When I left to go to Columbus last Thursday, gas in Beatrice was $2.729. I filled up in Lincoln on the way home for $2.499. I got a total of 40.6 gallons; at 23 cents a gallon, I saved $9.34. That may not sound like a lot, but it paid for my supper!

I’ve just never understood how Casey’s in Beatrice can charge 15 to 20 cents a gallon more for gas than Casey’s in Crete, or Wilber, or Exeter. I’ve heard rumors why Beatrice is higher, but have never been able to confirm those rumors. For people who are watching their budget and are going that way anyway, so much for spending your money at home.
We'll be riding to St Joseph, Missouri in a few days, so it will be interesting to see how much gas costs in Kansas and Missouri.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Race track prep and advertising

After a Thursday night, June 3rd, road trip to Columbus to watch it rain, I’m thinking I could be a weather forecaster when I retire. I can be wrong a lot more than I am now and not get in trouble for it. That makes two trips at 234 miles each to: pack track, hot lap and run a heat race; and pack track and hot lap. As much as I want to run double features, I sure don’t like driving all those miles and then not racing! It looked like the track was going to be decent as the massive holes in turns 1 & 2 did not seem to be there any more during hot laps.

Most of the mud got washed off the race car Friday afternoon in getting it ready for Jason to race. Weatherman said 40% chance of rain, so it was wait & see for a bit whether or not he would get to race. Thunderstorm watches were posted until 11 PM for our area, and the weather radar showed some heavy storms between St Joseph and Maryville, Missouri. Normally, that would not have been a concern, but radar showed it was turning and coming back this way. If we’d been going any distance to race, it would have been a sure bet that it would have rained.

Friday evening ended up being a decent night at the races. Even though there was lightning in the distance in all directions from Beatrice, it stayed dry all night! Jason had never been in this car before. He started in the back in both his heat race and the A Feature. The track was VERY heavy, especially in the heat race. After starting 13th in the Feature, he ran a consistent race and missed a couple of spinning cars, finishing 8th. It looks like the worst part this week will be getting the car clean!!

I don’t profess to be a farmer, but Beatrice Speedway needs to look at how the track is being watered. With a 7:30 start time, there should be no problem getting the track ready to race. Most weeks, the track is already being worked on Thursday evenings. Some water on Friday probably isn’t a bad thing, but what’s happening is ridiculous. There was so much water put down that the WATER TRUCK GOT STUCK!! We had 2 ½” of rain on Tuesday night, and more rain for an hour about 2 AM on Friday!

With all the water on the track, it took a lot of extra time to get the track rolled in. By the time the first heat rolled onto the track, it was 7:50 PM. In some circles, maybe starting 20 minutes late isn’t bad, but track officials always want the show to go in a timely manner. If there’s a problem with your car, the show is being rushed through so fast that there isn’t time to get it fixed. I know we have to get the show done in a timely manner, but that starts with getting the show started on time!

In these tough financial times for fans, drivers, and yes, even race tracks, we all need to be mindful of where our money goes. The race fan wants a smooth, well run show that starts on time and is done at a decent hour. If the races run too late, fans get discouraged and may not come back. On another note, people who live near the track may call the police and complain about the noise. If I was answering those calls, I would be in trouble because people who live close knew the track was there when they moved there. But, the track also has a responsibility of being a good neighbor and getting done at a decent hour.

I must say that I am EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED at the amount of communication, or rather lack of communication, from Beatrice Speedway this season. I have several points to make when I address this. In the past, there were always short rules/organizational meetings for each class in November. For the sanctioned classes, that was nothing more than talking about tentative schedules and registering for the upcoming season. For non-sanctioned classes, rules were discussed and, if needed, changed. Tentative schedules were discussed and registrations were accepted.

At the end of 2009, there was NO INFORMATION put out by Beatrice Speedway about the upcoming season. The first information we got was that the track was going to require all drivers to have RaceCeivers in 2010. They did not have any further information as to where to get them, how much they cost, etc. This ended up being an additional cost to each driver of $105 if they bought one. They can also be rented for $10 a night, but if you race every week, you’re a lot better off buying one.

The Women for Racing organization at Beatrice Speedway is, in my opinion, the saving grace of Beatrice Speedway. They sponsor the drivers’ points fund, and without WFR there would be no points fund. They do fund raising all season long with the goal of providing a points fund for the drivers. They sponsor a Kids Night in August, which includes a coin toss and bicycle giveaways. They have a Casino Night and Bowl-a-Thon before the season, once again to raise money for the points fund. Last season, they donated to the Beatrice/Gage County FOP Charity Race, as did Beatrice Speedway.

I don’t know if Beatrice Speedway has had a falling-out with the local newspaper, but the coverage by the Beatrice Daily Sun has been very minimal at best. Having interesting, informative stories on the race results amounts to FREE ADVERTISING, so why not take advantage of it? Isn’t the Daily Sun sending out a reporter any more?

I have been VERY DISAPPOINTED in the Beatrice Speedway website this year. Results and points are not being posted in a timely manner. If somebody is being paid to do this, they are not earning their keep! Somebody needs to take a look at the Eagle Raceway website. Greg Soukup, AKA Eagle Pit Shack Guy, writes an excellent article each week on the races at Eagle. It is posted on the Eagle Raceway website by 6 AM on Sunday morning, and his results include the complete finishing positions of EVERY heat race, B Feature and A Feature that was run that night. Something like that could be done at Beatrice and posted on the Beatrice Speedway message board on That would not cost anything except somebody’s time.

I don’t get a chance to listen to the local radio station a lot, so I don’t know if they still have a Beatrice Speedway show. That was an excellent source of information in the past. If they still have it, the word needs to be put out there so everyone is aware of it. Once again, post the times and dates on

So much for my ranting on that subject - for now!

Friday and Saturday nights at work were fairly quiet. It almost looked like the people who weren’t at the races left town, as the downtown bars were almost empty. With the nice weather, maybe everybody took to camping. One more night before my short weekend starts. I hope everybody behaves themselves.

My call of the night on Friday night was when dispatch tried to send me to Arby's to check on a snake near the entrance.  I am NOT a snake person, and even though it was about midnight, I think maybe that should be a call for Animal Control.  I let dispatch know that I would be stopping for binoculars, and thankfully the Sergeant jumped in and said he was closer.  Ended up being a dead snake that he disposed of. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Memorial Day & alcohol; ANOTHER rain-out!!

We got through the Memorial Day weekend with no major incidents. After a nice, quiet weekend, I got into the office shortly before 6 PM on Monday evening. Before I had a chance to get logged in on my car computer or the video camera in my car, I got sent to a domestic disturbance. Dispatch didn’t have much information for me so I didn’t know what to expect. I got to the location, and my Sergeant pulled up at the same time. When I got to the door, I was met by a drunk, belligerent guy who called me every name in the book. He told me there wasn’t anything wrong and to just leave. I asked where his wife was, and he indicated she was inside. When I asked her to come out, he grudgingly allowed her outside. Seems for some reason he wouldn’t let her out to go to work.

We cleared that and I followed her to work, where I asked her to stop at the Police Department when she got off work. She assured me she would. She did stop later, but would not wait for an officer to talk to her.

We no sooner cleared that call than we got sent to the Emergency Room. They had a drunk, loud person there that was causing a problem. When we got there, he was outside. We convinced him to take a ride home with a friend. Less than 30 minutes later, we were dealing with him again, and this time he went to jail for disorderly conduct. Just the way I’d want to spend the end of a holiday…..

The Nebraska Legislature has passed a law that will allow bars to be open until 2 AM, and the Game & Parks Commission has voted to allow alcohol in State Parks. I think alcohol sales need to be shut off at noon!!

Tuesday evening we had storm warnings with wind, heavy rain and hail threatening. It was just a couple of days short of the 30-year anniversary of the Grand Island tornadoes and brought back some memories. I spent that particular night at the house of some friends and when things finally calmed down, found the neighborhood was devastated. We tried to leave, but found trees and power lines across the road blocking our way. It was not an experience I would ever want to repeat. At least this time there were no tornadoes. We did have over 2.5” of rain in our rain gauge when I got home Wednesday morning.

With Wednesday and Thursday being great weather and only a slight chance of any rain, I headed to U.S. 30 Speedway at Columbus on Thursday June 3rd. About half way between David City and Columbus it started getting dark in the west. As I arrived at the track, it looked like it was raining off in the west. I was just getting ready to get in the car to pack track when Jeremy called. He told me there was a tornado watch for Greeley County, which is northwest of Columbus.

The track was rolled in and looked like it would be a good track if the weather held off. We started to get some mist about the time the drivers’ meeting started. The stock car feature, postponed from May 6th, was to be the first race on the track. However, we started to get a light rain and track officials decided to wait 30 minutes to see what the weather would do. About 20 minutes later, the rains came and the night was another rain-out. It’s one thing to have a rain-out at home, but driving a little over a hundred miles each way - TWICE - is a real bummer! I’ve always thought that race tracks are rain magnets.

At least there isn’t anything mechanical to do to the car before Jason takes the wheel tonight. Just have to wash the U.S. 30 Speedway mud off the car and trailer and we should be ready to go. It’s my weekend to work. Next week is the Blue Knights Spring MWRC and we’re schedule to attend that. A weekend of riding and relaxing is just a short week away!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Racing FINALLY happens at Beatrice Speedway!!

After a 2 week lay-off, we FINALLY got to race! Friday’s weather was perfect, with a temperature of about 85 when I left the house to go to the race track. I always try to go early so I’m not rushing around getting the car unloaded and doing a lot of other last minute things once I get there. Dave has gotten a job in the pits that actually PAYS him (maybe I should do the same) so I figured I may be by myself. However, on my way to the track, I got a call from a co-worker, saying he may be a bit late, but he planned to come help me. Later, Aaron Roth called and said his Dad & him were also on their way to help out.

The first 2 weeks of racing at the Beatrice Speedway were apparently an experiment in farming. Even though there had been plenty of rain, I’m guessing maybe the valve on the water truck wouldn’t shut off. After the first week, I must have scooped about 300 lbs of mud off the garage floor. Believe it or not, you can’t put dirt in the garbage! I got a nasty-note from the garbage company once because I had dirt in the garbage. Now I have to hide it a lot better.

Anyway, we loaded up all the mud and took it back to the track when we returned the next week. That week, the track was still plenty wet, but this week, it looked like they finally got it right!

I got 2nd row of the 2nd heat race. Seems like I always get the first heat race, but for once, I got to watch the first heat while I was buckled in my car. I’ve made some modifications to my RaceCeiver ear buds so they will stay in my ears and block out the engine noise, and that has helped tremendously in helping me hear what is being said as well as blocking the engine noise.

The 48 car started on the pole, and he was in only his 2nd race. I wanted to be careful of him, as he almost took me out on Test-N-Tune, even though it was not intentional. We get our one lap, then the lights on the back chute are out and we’re anticipating the green. In the middle of turn 4, the field is on the gas and the green flag waves. We’re racing!!

The 48 washes up in front of me and everybody goes to the inside to pass him. I’m momentarily caught on the outside behind him. Out of 2 and down the back chute, I start to go under him, but he drops to the bottom and I’m blocked. I don’t want to take chances because I’ll be in the A Feature no matter where I finish the heat race. I move higher going through 3 & 4, then try to go under him on the front chute. We’re almost side by side going into 1, but I back off and let him into the corner ahead of me. Out of 2 I take a high line and make the pass on the back chute. The next car is already over a half straightaway ahead of me, but the car feels good and I’m confident I can catch that next car. Through 1 and 2, and back on the back chute again, and I’ve closed half the gap already. Into 3 and through 4, then back on the gas - TOO HARD!! I’ve just committed a stupid rookie mistake and spin out , hitting the inside wall at the beginning of the front chute. The car is still running, but by the time I get turned around, the field is coming through 4 and the yellow is out. In the heat race, if you cause a yellow you’re done, so it’s back to the pits for me.

Fortunately, there wasn’t any serious damage that would keep me from running the A Feature. When the line-ups came out a little later, I found myself starting on the outside of the 3rd row in the A Feature. During the rest of the heat races, I kept an eye on the track and it looked like it was staying fairly smooth. It was a lot dryer than the first two nights, but not dusty dry. We decided to top off the fuel cell and drop the air pressure in the tires by 2 lbs all the way around.

Time to strap in for the A Feature. With the RaceCeiver, it takes a little extra time as I have to be careful not to pull the ear buds out of my ears. Even with the medical tape holding them in, they tend to move around a little. So, settle into the seat, find all the belts and hook them, be sure somebody puts the window net up, helmet on CAREFULLY, then the neck brace, gloves, and be sure to get the steering wheel on SECURELY! Then double-check everything again!

The field is pulling onto the track. They’re telling us on the radio to move high to roll the track in a bit. It looks like it is a great track, and everybody is anxious to get the green. Out of 4 slow and in front of the grandstands and everybody is waving. We’re going green next time around. I grab my belts one last time and give them a tug to be sure they’re tight. Through 3 and out of 4 and the green flag flies and we’re racing!

The first lap or two always seems like a blur to me. Cars are usually side by side and bumper to bumper and you may not be running where you want to be on the track. I’ve always felt more comfortable on the bottom on a dry slick and was able to get there after a couple of laps. However, after a lap down there, the car felt tight and I moved back up a bit and found a spot to run. With just a handful of laps gone, the L2R makes a run on my outside going into 3, but blows in way too hard and goes clear to the top of the track. I don’t see him the rest of the evening. The 00 is off the track on the bottom just before 4 as a result of an on-track skirmish with another car. However, there’s no yellow. The next lap around, the 00 pulls back onto the track just ahead of me. He’s always fast so I try to follow in his tracks. A few more laps down and we’re half way to the checkers. Into 1 and through 2 and there are 2 cars spun to the bottom of 2, causing a yellow. When the field is set, I find myself in 6th. I’m not sure that I can hold it as the two cars right behind me are fast, having finished 1 - 2 last week.

We’re green again and back on the gas! I’ve moved my line up a bit - perhaps a little too much - but I’m comfortable where I’m at. The 69 and 4t pass me on the back chute and I try to get in behind them. They’re running about the same line as me, and the track has a lot of grip there. Meanwhile, the top 3 cars are battling it out, running side by side every lap. Out of 4 one more time and the flagman gives us the “2 to go.” I’m not sure if anybody is close behind me and don’t want to make any mistakes the last 2 laps. I’m still within striking distance if either the 69 or 4t have a problem on the last lap. The white is out and as I come out of 1 and into 2, one of the top 3 cars is sitting at the bottom of the track and they’re telling us on the radio there is a car there. We stay green and I go under the checkers in 8th place. Another fairly decent night at Beatrice Speedway for the R & R Racing, Fashionette Salon, Nancy Gerdes CPA, Shew Towing, Blue Knights Monte Carlo. Just normal maintenance and replace the front bumper this week, and we should be ready to go. Plans right now are for me to race at U.S. 30 Speedway in Columbus on Thursday evening and Jason will race the car at Beatrice on Friday June 4th.

Saturday turned out to be very nice, with the high temps near 90. There was a wind, but not so bad that it interfered with riding the Gold Wing a bit. I didn’t get as many miles as I’d have liked, but I did get to ride and my arms are starting to tan. Or is that rust from all the rain?

On Sunday I rode to Wilber for a family reunion with some of Mom’s cousins. When I left Beatrice, it was close to 80, but the sky was overcast. I left Wilber to go to Lincoln and the temperature had dropped 10 degrees. Luckily, I had a sweatshirt that I brought with me. Later, coming back from Lincoln, I ran into about 5 miles of light rain near Princeton. Wasn’t enough to stop and put on rain gear, though.

We’ll see what the rest of the week brings. Hope it stays dry for a while.