Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!! Second-guessing the police; more trip planning

The scheduled opening of Beatrice Speedway on May 22nd did not happen due to weather. We had rain over the first and middle part of the week. Of course, when Friday came, the sun came out and the weather ended up being absolutely beautiful racing weather. Beatrice Speedway posted on the rainout report on on Thursday that it was too wet to get the track in shape to race for Friday. The first regular season race ended up being Friday May 6th.

When the cancellation was posted, Brandon Johnson made the comment about “all the rain we haven’t gotten.” I don’t approve of spreading rumors, but I’d heard several stories about the road grader the track had been using. The bottom line was that it was no longer at the track! I have to agree with Brandon’s reply “Having a race track without a grader is kinda like having a Hotdog stand with no hotdog buns. It just don’t work.“ There wasn’t anything else said about this until Wednesday morning when John Meyer posted a question about the comment. The road grader issue has since been addressed, and a HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Katz Farms of Jansen, Nebraska.

I spent an hour Tuesday evening, April 19th, talking to a fellow racer about what we feel are problems at Beatrice Speedway. We both agreed that the top priority for the track should be communication. Years ago there was always an information & rules meeting held in November. At that time, any rules changes were discussed and actually voted on by the drivers in attendance. The schedule for the upcoming season was released and car registrations were taken.

I guess with classes being IMCA sanctioned, the powers that be decided they did not need to have these meetings. They neglected to realize that just because IMCA dictated the rules, the drivers still want other information passed on!

I heard about a driver from Sioux City who had been at the 2010 Octoberfest. He really enjoyed racing at Beatrice and wanted to come back for the Beatrice Spring Nationals. However, as the date neared, there was nothing posted on the Beatrice Speedway website or In order to get information, he called a Beatrice racer to see if Spring Nationals were even going to happen. This sort of thing can not continue!!

Beatrice Speedway now has a great looking website, but the webmaster can’t post information that she doesn’t have. The track will have to continue to feed that information to her on a timely basis. That does not mean in a few days, but as soon as the races are over!

Greg Soukup has done an EXCELLENT job with the Eagle Raceway website as far as posting results. He is an example of how it should be done. When I get home at 6 AM, I check the website and complete results are posted, including heat race and B Features, from 1st to last place. All tracks should have a Greg Soukup! I hope that Beatrice Speedway officials can follow suit and provide information to the webmaster quickly so it can be posted.

Back gate – I’ve gone racing before when I felt like the racers were paying their own purse. We normally pay $20 for pit passes at Beatrice. A couple of years ago, we pulled up to the pit shack for the county fair races and found the pit passes were $25 for that day! As I recall, the purse was not increased except for the winner. Beings it was the county fair, the grandstands were packed. The track had to have made money that night.

However, I talked to a lot of people that night who did not know the pit passes were $5 more until they bought them. Even for practice days, if you look at what pit passes cost, there is a great disparity. I’ve seen pit passes for practice just this year range from $5 to $15. I understand the need to pay for insurance, utilities, etc. but why is there such a big difference?

Beatrice Speedway had a Fan Appreciation Night in 2010. Will there be another one in 2011? Judging from the packed grandstands that night, there should be. I posed the question to Jon Weichel and he said there is “talk about it.” Things like that need to be talked about and SCHEDULED before the season, and posted on the track’s website! All specials should be posted when the schedule comes out, and then those specials need to be ADVERTISED! Eagle’s website has a “special” night posted every night of the season! Why can’t Beatrice Speedway do that?

How about a “carload” night? An entire carload of fans gets into the grandstands for, say $25.… Or the same promotion for “SUV night.” How about a “pickup truck night?” Military Appreciation night for all current and past service members. How about everybody over 55 getting in free one night? Just show your driver’s license. Same with maybe letting everybody from Kansas into the grandstands for free some night. If that would not work, how about half price? Put all of these in the schedule that is on the website. Have the announcers promote the specials every chance they get!

Why didn't the Kids' Club continue? There were a lot of kids that were disappointed. Why don't we get more coverage in the Daily Sun? Will Track Talk continue on KWBE this year, and if so, when will it be broadcast? There are a lot more questions than answers right now.

I've seen and heard comments on other websites that promoters and track officials should stay off the internet, and have even heard of the same group of saying the internet is the reason their track is failing or has failed. I call BULLSHIT on that!! Use it to your advantage!! PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!! If the Fair Board doesn't want to spend the money on a membership to Dirt Drivers, I will pay it for you, just be sure to USE IT!!

There is a question on the Beatrice Speedway Facebook page that asks “Survey for all former racers. Please be honest here. Why are you no longer racing?” I know there are a lot of people on Facebook, but maybe they don’t look at Beatrice Speedway on Facebook, as there have only been 2 replies so far. Check it out and post a reply.

It seems like no matter where I look, there are things out there that get me fired up. On the website, I found a story about a fight in IHOP in Atlanta, Georgia. There has been a video posted on you of the video. I personally have no problems with people posting video of these incidents, but if they are going to do it, they need to post from the very beginning of the incident to the very end. This video shows the woman trying to scratch the officer’s eyes out and the results of that attempt. There are cries of “police brutality” in the background, but no citizens offering to help the officers. From what I saw, the officers were completely justified in their actions.

The actions of Police Officers are always being second-guessed. Officers have to make split-second decisions that will be looked at for weeks, months and even years to come. We all make a decision before our shift begins that we will be going home to our families at the end of the shift, no matter what. If the poor decision of a citizen means they are injured or, worse yet, killed, that decision is their responsibility.

There was an Officer Involved Shooting the last week of April where I grew up in Crete, Nebraska. Officers responded to a domestic disturbance. When they arrived on the scene, the male ran into the house and grabbed a handgun. The gun had a laser sight on it, and the laser was on one of the officers. The man was told to drop the gun, but he ignored commands and was shot.

The first news account I saw of this incident was when a neighbor was interviewed. She questioned what took so long for an ambulance to get on the scene. No questions were asked about officer safety. After shots were fired, the suspect retreated back inside the residence. Officers were told there were many more firearms in the residence. The suspect did not answer when officers attempted to talk to him. They had no idea where he was. It is an officer safety issue that the officers do not rush in to find the suspect.

It’s fortunate that the suspect will live, but the officers involved will be scrutinized for their actions for a long time, even though they did not do anything wrong. So far in 2011, there have been 63 Line of Duty Deaths in the United States. Of those, 30 have been by gunfire. The next highest number of officers killed was from vehicle crashes at 13. There have been incidents of multiple officers being killed in the same incident, so there’s no guarantee in “safety in numbers.” For the civilians reading this, when you are contacted by a law enforcement officer, PLEASE do what you are told!! You can ask questions later.

Mother Nature continues to tease us with nice weather one day and not-so-nice weather the next. With the cost of gas may have peaked here at $3.949. Since then it has dropped to $3.799, but who knows where it will be a month from now? If there is any way I can ride the Gold Wing to work instead of taking the pickup, I will. I am sure driving habits will once again change everywhere as the price of gas continues to change. We’ve already decided that the trip to Chesapeake will more than likely be our only “big” outing this season. With gas already being $1.30 more than last season, we’re all feeling the crunch. However, the trip to Chesapeake is still a “go.” We intend to get a lot of sightseeing done while we are there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

60 Years of Marriage; Beatrice Speedway Factory Stock rules are (FINALLY) posted

After making plans since late January, family and friends of my parents gathered in Crete, Nebraska Sunday, April 3rd, to celebrate their upcoming 60th wedding anniversary. After Mom decided on a date, my brother’s wife Anita and my wife Jan did a lot of planning. We took a Saturday to go to Lincoln with Dave & Anita to get table decorations and some other items. We split up a grocery list for the day of the party, and at our house Jan spent all of Saturday making a pasta and fruit salad called “Frog eye salad.” We ended up with 3 buckets full of the stuff - and now there are a lot of blind frogs out there!

With the weather being nice one day and not so nice the next, we hit upon a nice day. Sunday was pleasant but windy. Mom’s brothers, one from California and one from Arizona, were able to come. Dad’s brother Francis & sister Janice were both able to be there. Dad’s cousin Donald, who was Dad’s best man, was able to make it from Omaha. Janice had been Mom’s bridesmaid.

I never really looked at the guestbook, so I’m not sure of what the final count for the afternoon was, but there were still people coming in while we were packing things up getting ready to go. I think that in itself says a lot about the last 60 years that Dad & Mom have shared, not only with each other, but with family, friends and even the surrounding community. Even though they have both been long retired, they stay active by helping with the community Food Net and the Maples, which is a local historical society.


The 2011 racing season is supposed to start at Beatrice Speedway this Friday, April 22nd. However, looking at the forecast, I’m not so sure that will happen. We had a lot of rain last night, and the forecast shows that it will more than likely rain on Friday. If the opener does not happen on Friday, it will be pushed back to May 6th.

The practice at Beatrice Speedway was cancelled because of rain earlier in the week. Practices at Junction Motor Speedway and US 30 Speedway as well as Jefferson County were all cancelled because of rain. The season openers at Thunderhill at Mayetta, Kansas was also cancelled because of wet weather. Heartland Park at Topeka was able to get their opener in on Saturday, April 16th.

The rules for the factory stock class at Beatrice Speedway have FINALLY been posted! There is really no excuse for waiting until the last minute, but the rules were not released until the week of practice. I know the webmaster can’t post the rules until they are released, so it’s not her fault. In past years, we always had a meeting in November outlining the upcoming season and everybody knew the plans in advance.

The rules this year will allow the pro-am type cars to race with us, which is what some of us were hoping would happen. However, it looks like in 2012 we will once again be IMCA sanctioned and the pro-am cars won’t be allowed to race with us.

I like standardized rules such as IMCA provides, but I don’t especially like having to buy the license. My experience with IMCA is that when you race at one track, the money paid back from IMCA at the end of the season may cover the cost of the license. However, with IMCA sanctioning, teams will have to make a decision as to what engine package they will run in 2012. If they continue to run their current engine, they will have to buy a smaller carburetor. If they want to run their current carburetor, they will have to spend money to change their engines. Seems like every time there is a rule change to save us money, it ends up costing us money.

Before a final decision is made on IMCA sanctioning for factory stock/stock cars, I would hope the people making that decision would look at the past history of the IMCA stock car class at Beatrice Speedway. The last year that Beatrice Speedway had IMCA sanctioned stock cars, by the end of the season there were only 9 cars that raced week in and week out. In 2010, the factory stock class averaged 14 cars a night. I think that with pro-am type cars being allowed in 2011, the car count may increase a little. Of course, with the cost of fuel for the haulers, there are teams that will probably stay closer to home no matter what class they race, so it’s a toss-up as far as car count goes.

I know if drivers have to purchase a license in 2012, our car will not be able to be there every week. We have been splitting driving time between Jason, Jeremy and I, and I don’t think either of them will want to buy a license.

I know that the changing economy hurts our sport. There are other reasons that car counts decline - loss of interest, expenses, family, etc. We need to do everything possible to make it more attractive to fans as well as current and future racers. Maybe we could even attract some of the old racers to come back. Making the sport more expensive for the participants will not accomplish this.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Stolen Valor;" AKA lying about your military service, is "protected speech," Racing at I-80 Speedway

I receive an online publication called Last week, an article in dealt with a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals concerning “Stolen Valor.”

The concept of “Stolen Valor” goes back as far as I can remember. I know of people who now claim they served in the military in Viet Nam. However, if they had, they would have been 12 years old, and I know they were discharged before ever graduating from basic combat training!

In a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Stolen Valor Act, under which former water board member Xavier Alvarez was fined and ordered to perform community service in 2007, was upheld as being unconstitutional. The Court upheld an earlier ruling determining that a law barring people from lying about their military heroics was a violation of free speech.

The earlier ruling, which was made by three of the court's members in August, invalidated the 2006 act by Congress.

Alvarez, a Pomona resident and then a member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District board, pleaded guilty in July 2008 to falsely saying he had won the Medal of Honor. He was fined $5,000 and sentenced to three years of probation, which required community service.

Alvarez is currently at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County for defrauding the water district after being convicted of registering an ex-wife for health benefits with the district in 2007. It seems that he follows a pattern of being less than truthful.

Last week’s weather was still warm one day and cool the next. It warmed up long enough to be able to go to I-80 Speedway at Greenwood, Nebraska to raced on Friday night. Of course, before I left that day, the price of gas at the pump went up another 3 cents from 2 ½ hours earlier in the day. The manager told me, “Sinclair called and said we have to raise the price, so it got raised.” I still can’t figure out how that works. When I got to the interchange where the race track is, the price at the pump at SINCLAIR was 14 cents less than at Beatrice! Years ago, the price of gas on the interstate was always more than in town. I guess that doesn’t hold true any more!

Having never raced at I-80 before, I had no idea what to expect. On Thursday, I changed the rear end gear to the “tallest” gear I have. I even thought that may be too “deep” but in the end, I think I was about right.

I pulled into the pit area and got a pit stall right next to Al Humphrey’s late model. I figured that would at least be a good spot to park and if I needed any help all I would have to do is ask. Once the car was off the trailer, I had to register and draw for starting position. I NEVER draw a good number…. If there are 300 numbers, I’ll draw 299! This time - I drew #4, which would put me at the front of my heat race!

From there I hunted down a track official with some questions as to what I might have to change on my car. I also mentioned not having ever raced at I-80 before and made a decision to forego my draw and start at the back of the pack in my heat race. The only change I had to make to the car was to remove the rear spoiler. There were a couple of other things pointed out to me that need changing if I were to race there on a regular basis. Until I find a major sponsor who will fill the hauler with fuel every week, that will not happen!

At least the stock cars/pro-ams weren’t the first cars to race. We were the first ones to take hot laps, and the track was still “greasy.” Coming out of turn 2 there was still water in the middle of the track, and going into the turns at the bottom of the track got me into the slippery stuff and the car wanted to slide to the top. Thankfully, the late model heat races were first, so by the time we got onto the track it was in good shape.

Having given up my starting spot, I started 8th in the heat race instead of 1st. Once we pull onto the track, we’re lined up and get a full lap before going green. The track was a little rutted coming out of turn 4, but other than that, it was in pretty good shape. At the drop of the green there was a huge shuffle ahead of me and a couple of the cars got together, but everybody kept control. There was a black #50 Camaro just ahead of me and on the 2nd lap I was able to pass him. I was able to stay close to the next car, but not close enough to be able to make a pass on him, and finished 7th. By the end of the heat race I was feeling more comfortable with the track, but since everybody was going into the A Feature I did not want to push myself too hard and make any mistakes.

When the line-ups came out, I found myself starting on the inside of the 10th row. There were 24 cars scheduled to start the A Feature. At least the leaders would have to lap me before they ran me over!

I’d been told that the first few laps could be wild, with the cars up front jockeying for position. At the drop of the green, it was hammer down from the front to the back of the pack! The track was in good shape and the racing was great. I could actually stay with the cars directly in front of me, even though we just ran the first 3 laps before a yellow came out. Once the problem was alleviated, we were green again. There were multiple racing grooves with cars going to the bottom, middle and top of the track. The car that finished just ahead of me in the heat race was now just ahead of me, and I was having a great time racing with him. He was staying on a higher line, and I would try to go below him in the corners, but never could make the pass on him. With 11 to go, there was a yellow, and as we took the green, the leader blew up his engine, causing another yellow. Once the track was cleared, we were green once more. Another lap and another engine blew up in a HUGE cloud of smoke, engulfing the track from turn 3 all the way to turn 2. Everybody was on the brake to avoid hitting anybody. The car in front of me disappeared and I could not even see the end of my hood!

Once the smoke cleared and we were lined up again, it looked like I was in about 15th place. The green came out with 7 to go and there were 4 or 5 of us all racing for position together. I passed first one, then another car. At the same time, I was passed by other cars coming from behind me. During the final laps, Brent Schlake and I were side by side with me being able to pass him on the chute, but he passed me back in the corners. When the checkers fell we were still battling for position, with him coming across the line just ahead of me. I finished 14th with no major problems.

Having never raced at I-80 before, I had no idea if I was even in the ballpark as far as gear selection. I like to run my engines close to the 6,000 RPM range, and that’s right where I was. The car felt good except for a couple of laps from the end when I drove a little over my head and almost took Brent and I both out. He was driving pretty heads up and was able to keep me from wrecking both of us out.

I’d love to race there on a regular basis, but by the time I get the NASCAR license, register the car, and put gas in the hauler, it can’t be done. Being able to go to a race like this is fun because there are no points on the line. It was a kind of practice run for me, shaking more of the bugs out before we get down to regular season racing at Beatrice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Officer Survival; Factory stocks/Pro-ams at Beatrice Speedway; Drunk driver sentenced to 50 years for killing 4 motorcyclists

I recently attended a 2 day Street Survival Seminar sponsored by Caliber Press. The speaker was great and the fast moving program really made everybody think. Beside the great speaker and input from attendees, we spent a lot of time watching officers being killed. Video was taken from the in-car cameras of patrol cars with the permission of the departments and families of the officers involved. By seeing mistakes made by other officers, we hope everybody can learn and avoid these same mistakes. We always need to be thinking ahead and planning our moves, no matter what kind of call we are on.

As of this writing, the website says 51 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty in 2011. There is still a week left this month, making 2011 on track to be the most deadly year for officers in recent memory. PLEASE, plan ahead and be safe out there!

Our department plans to have in-service training with practical exercises on such things as traffic stops and domestic disturbances. Domestics can be one of the most deadly situations for an officer, but this year so far traffic stops and arrest warrant service are the situations in which the most officers have lost their lives. Many of the suspects were REPEAT OFFENDERS who should not have even been on the street!

Mother Nature is still very fickle. After having temperatures nearing 80 degrees last week, and 70 on Sunday, it SNOWED last night! I rode the Gold Wing to work Monday evening, and when I headed home in the morning, it was 59 degrees. However, the forecast for the next morning was rain and 40 degrees, so the Wing stayed in the garage. The forecast for the next week is for highs in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s and rain/snow. I-80 Speedway at Greenwood, Nebraska has their season opener scheduled for Friday and Saturday April 1st & 2nd. I’m not sure that will come off if the weather doesn’t change.

At the pit meeting for the Saturday portion of the Spring Nationals, it was announced that Beatrice Speedway has been in contact with other tracks to attempt to formulate rules for a factory stock/street stock/pro-am class. It sounds like in 2011 we will pretty much run the factory stock rules that have been in place the last 2 seasons. In 2012, we will be an IMCA sanctioned class, but will be “grandfathered” to run the 4412 Holley carburetor.

Details were sketchy, so I don’t understand if this will be a “new” class or will we be going back to having to buy an IMCA license and running in the IMCA stock car class. Beatrice Speedway still has not released rules to the Speedway webmaster, so there is nothing in print, just what we have by word of mouth.

The factory stock/Pro-am class had 21 cars last Saturday. Seven of those cars were Beatrice regulars. Two were regulars at Beatrice in 2009 and call Thunderhill Speedway at Mayetta, Kansas their home track. The 3rd & 5th place finishers are regulars at U.S. 30 in Columbus while the 4th place finisher doesn’t call any one track “home.” There were some cars from I-80 Speedway at Greenwood and I believe the winner came from Iowa, as I did not recognize the name. I hope our class has a good car count throughout the 2011 season. The only thing that may hurt us is the high cost of fuel to get to tracks that are very far away.

If the weather ever stabilizes to where we can ride our motorcycles for more than a day at a time, we all need to be careful as riders as well as drivers. Grand Island, Nebraska recorded a motorcycle fatality Tuesday from a crash that happened Monday afternoon. A car apparently pulled in front of the motorcycle after stopping for a stop sign. PLEASE, everybody, look both ways - twice!!

Also in the news this week was the story of a drunk driver who struck and killed 4 motorcyclists on I-29 in Iowa last August. His BAC was nearly FIVE TIMES the legal limit after the accident. He pled no contest and was sentenced in Logan County, Iowa to 50 years in prison. He was 21 years old at the time of the crash, and it was his 2nd offense. Of particular interest was the comment of his defense attorney, who said he felt he could have gotten the charges reduced or dismissed because of the crash happening in a construction zone!! If the case had gone to trail the defense was prepared to call an expert who would have laid the blame on highway construction at the crash site. Unbelievable!!!

As we venture out on two wheels this spring, please, slow down and keep aware of your surroundings. Most importantly of all, get to where you are going safely!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First race of 2011 - Beatrice Spring Nationals!

After some long, late hours in the shop (and burning almost ALL of my firewood) we finally got on the track on Thursday night. While many people were drinking green beer for St Patrick’s Day, the R & R Racing Monte Carlo was making some practice laps at Beatrice Speedway in preparation for the 2011 Spring Nationals. It’s always a good think to have some practice time before the car is on the track to do some racing because it’s sure that there will be some “bugs” to work out. Our night was no different.

Even though the car hadn’t been scaled (getting the proper percentages for the rear, left side and cross weight) it handled fairly well. Toward the end of my first set of laps, I noticed some smoke coming out from under the hood. Once in the pits, I found that the valve cover gasket on the passenger side of the engine was leaking badly. We cleaned the oil off the firewall and put a new valve cover gasket on, and Jeremy was ready to take some laps. When he finally got out, he had a problem with the shifter not wanting to work correctly. He finally got into high gear and had some pretty decent laps, but he commented that he thought the new engine was down on power.

On my second set of laps, the track had dried out and the car seemed to want to “push” in the corners if I didn’t drive it in a certain way. By the term “push” I mean the front tires are turning left but the car still wants to go straight. I could correct the condition by working the brake and throttle together, and I wasn’t real concerned because of the fact that the car hadn’t been scaled yet.

After the practice session, I still had to work that night. I was up before noon on Friday and worked on getting the shifter and linkage right. Once that was done, I was off to borrow the scales from a racer friend. I spent the rest of Friday until it was too cold to work in the shop without having to start a fire. At that point, it was time to come inside and get some sleep.

Saturday morning started off with a breakfast at the Gage County Fairgrounds put on by the Women for Racing organization. This is one of the fundraisers these ladies put on for the racers. The profits go into the year end points fund. Good breakfast - thank you, ladies!

Back in the shop, I’d started a fire in the stove before I left, so it was warm enough to work. I got the final weight and percentages about where the set-up sheets said they should be. The work on relocating the upper control arm mounts seems to have paid off too, as I was able to set my front end alignment where I wanted it. I’ve never had that happen on a car until now. I changed the driver’s side valve cover because it looked like it was leaking, too, judging by the drops of oil on the garage floor. Aired up all the tires and both air bubbles, loaded up tools that were still in the shop, and finally got the car on the trailer shortly after 4 PM.

I pulled into the pits and started to get the car ready to unload when the announcement came over the loudspeaker - driver’s meeting at 5:00. I looked at my watch and it was 4:53. Still had to get into my fire suit, put my contact lenses in, let the air in the tires on the car down to where they needed to be, and get the RaceCeiver plugged in and the ear buds taped into my ears so they didn’t keep falling out. We were scheduled to hot lap 3rd, after the sport mods and hobby stocks.

The weather wasn’t exactly cooperating with the racing program. After fairly decent weather on Friday, the temperature stayed around 50. The wind made it feel really cold, and the crowd in the grandstand was bundled up.

The track was still a bit greasy during hot laps, making it hard to tell exactly how it would be in the heat race. It felt pretty good, but when the track changes, the handle on the car will change, too.

Our class ended up with 21 cars for this weekend. That didn’t include many of the regular factory stock racers from Beatrice Speedway. I ended up in the 2nd heat race, starting on the inside of the 3rd row. The track was in good shape and the car handled well. I didn’t make the invert, finishing in 8th, which ended up putting me on the outside of the 8th row in the A Feature.

The track held up great the entire night. All the races had 3 and 4 wide racing over the entire track and it stayed dust free, despite the cold south wind. Our A Feature started 21 cars. I was just hoping to get through the first few laps without being involved in anything. After a couple of pace laps, and the parade lap, the lights going into turn 3 flashed, signaling us that we would be going green. In the middle of turn 3 things began to get crazy with everybody on the gas. We’re down the front chute and into turn 1, then out of 2 with no problems. Out of 4 and back down the front chute to complete the 1st lap. Then, just like that, some cars up front got tangled up and there’s a red flag as there are 2 cars upside down at the bottom of the track between turn 1 and 2. Fortunately, the only injuries suffered were to the race cars and the red flag was short-lived.

We’re lined up on the front chute and the yellow is out, signaling us to start moving around the track. There’s a bit of speedy-dri on the bottom of the track where the cars had crashed, but after a couple of slow laps over that, it was blown off the track. We’re lined back up and once again we’re under green

I was happy with the way the car handled pretty much any place on the track. The track was still a bit tacky and I could drive on the bottom, in the middle or higher up on the track and seemed to have no issue with the way it handled. However, I was disappointed with the way the engine ran out. I felt there was a definite lack of power, and when the engine warmed up, I felt the oil pressure wasn’t where it should be when it idled. When the A Feature was said and done with, we ended up with a 13th place finish. Most importantly, there was no damage to the car to be fixed.

There is some tinkering to do, and until we get the low oil pressure figured out, this engine is coming back out. I can’t afford to damage it. I believe that with a better set of heads, the power will be more acceptable. In the meantime, the engine we finished the season with will go back under the hood.

If things work out and I am able to borrow a gear, I may go to I-80 Speedway at Greenwood, Nebraska on April 1st. I’ll just have to see how things go between now and then.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Daytona 500 coming up; "Diesel-mania" at Canyon Speedway; WalMart employees fired for apprehending armed shoplifter; Arizona cop killer sues for negligence in his arrest

I got my weekly racing fix over the weekend by listening to the races from Canyon Speedway near Phoenix, Arizona Sunday afternoon, then following that up by watching Dirt Knights on Versus. I also caught some of the ARCA race from Daytona as well as some of the NASCAR practices and pole qualifying from Daytona. I was also able to listen to parts of the Budweiser Clash on Saturday evening. This week the NASCAR season will start its points race with the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Earlier practice speeds climbed to the 203 MPH mark and there was excellent racing in the Budweiser clash. Hendrick teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Jeff Gordon will start on the pole and outside pole respectively, with the rest of the field being determined by the twin qualifying races on Thursday.  Unfortunately, Earnhardt was involved in an incident on Wednesday and will be in a back-up car, which means he will have to go to the back of the field when they take the green flag.

The most famous mascot in racing - at least in Arizona - is currently from Nebraska. While Dylan Smith is in 2nd place in points in the winter series at Canyon Speedway- he trails by 4 points going into the last weekend - the team mascot, “Diesel” is getting all of the attention. Diesel is a Great Dane and he has his own “Hero” cards. For those of you not familiar with racing, Hero cards are the racers’ version of the baseball cards we had growing up. As I listened to the races from Phoenix on Sunday, I learned that during intermission Diesel was going to be in front of the grandstands, “signing” and giving away Hero cards. Diesel is a dog of few words, so I didn’t hear anything of the interview, but I heard a lot of shouting as his Hero cards were given away.

After the interview and give-aways were done, the IMCA modified A Feature took to the track. Dylan Smith of Osceola, Nebraska, who won last Sunday’s A Feature from the outside pole, started on the inside of the 3rd row. He did not have as easy of a time of it as last week, as he took the lead a few laps into the race, but lost it later as several drivers battled for the lead. In the end, Dylan scored his 2nd A Feature win of the young season.

I did a search on You Tube and found a video of the complete A Feature from February 6th. Hopefully there will be one from February 13th posted soon.

Back in Nebraska, work on my own race car seems to be going at a snail’s pace. With in-service training, then Valentines’ Day on Monday, and both Jan & I having the day off, nothing got done that day. I worked on making brackets for the drivers’ door and getting them welded on today. I hope to be able to put in a few hours on Friday, but it looks like the rest of the weekend will be taken up. The possibility of racing at McCool Junction on March 4th & 5th is looking pretty dim. I’m still trying to hang the doors and fenders. Once everything is in place, I plan to pull it back off and paint everything individually, then put it back together.

In hindsight, if I were to put up a garage again, it would be a conventional wood frame or pole barn type that could be relatively inexpensively insulated. That way, once I had the stove going, it would warm up faster and stay warm longer.

The ice is finally almost all melted out of our driveway and I was able to get the Gold Wing out yesterday. I decided to take it instead of the pickup when I had to get a blade for the band saw, which inconveniently broke in the middle of cutting my body brackets. It was a pleasant ride and I just can’t wait for the weather to warm up enough so it does not freeze overnight. When that happens, I’ll be riding to work every night again. With the price of gas 50 cents higher than it was in August, I really hate driving any more than I absolutely have to. If I am able to ride instead of drive, at least it doesn’t cost as much to do so.

I keep looking ahead to the time when I can retire. The bottom fell out of our retirement funds 2 ½ years ago, but it is slowly coming back up. I fear it may not ever be back to where it was before I finally retire. Social Security recipients have not had an increase for the last 2 years, and military retirement and disability payments have not increased due to the government claiming that the cost of living has not gone up. I think we can all dispute that.

Having defense attorneys personally attack arresting officers has become the norm. In the 27 years I’ve been a police officer, I’d never had my integrity challenged. If I do something wrong procedurally, that’s one thing and I can understand that. However, one particular defense attorney attacks the department, saying that the entire department is crooked. I have been questioned about my age and if I can see well enough to know that a car crossed the lane dividing lines. This is stress that I can do without and I will not miss when the time comes to walk away.

That’s not to say that I’ll retire and just do nothing. I’m sure I will be able to find another full time job that I will enjoy. I’ve even thought about selling and installing video surveillance systems for businesses. With today’s tough economic times, more and more businesses as well as homeowners are having surveillance installed, and setting up a great system is something that interests me. Of course, whatever I do, I will be sure to leave enough time for racing and riding.  That is still a few years down the road, though.

I received an article from a friend about a WalMart in Utah firing four employees that detained a shoplifter. After taking the shoplifter into the loss prevention office, the suspect pulled out a gun and held it on the employees. The employees jumped the suspect, took the gun away and held him until the police arrived. I would call them heroes when you consider what might have happened if the suspect had gotten back in the store with a gun. Howevewr, WalMart fired the employees, saying they violated company policy by apprehending an armed violator!! An officer on our department told me he worked for WalMart a few years ago and he was fired under similar circumstances, so this is not made up! Chalk up another one for the bad guys; the people who are trying to do the right thing are now the “bad guys.”

A final note on how crazy things are in today’s world, a suspect in the murder of a Phoenix Police Lieutenant in January 2010 has filed a lawsuit against the Mesa Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department alleging negligence on the part of the officers who arrested him.

Lt. Eric Shuhandler made a traffic stop on a vehicle occupied by two males. During the contact, Lt Shuhandler was shot one time and later died. Responding officers engaged in a 50 mile pursuit with the suspects before their vehicle was stopped. Both suspects got out of their vehicle and engaged officers in a gun battle. The report of the incident said the suspects were shot in their legs and feet. The lawsuit alleges that the arresting officers were negligent when they shot the suspects multiple times in their legs and feet. The suspects had taken cover behind their vehicle and officers shot under their vehicle, striking the suspects in their legs and ending the gun battle. The suspect has been found guilty of eight felony counts, but is now looking for a big pay day! I can think of only one kind of pay day for him, and it does NOT include any money!!!

R.I.P. Lt. Shuhandler, you will not be forgotten……

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Somewhere in the pits, a Great Dane is going wild!"; "You have an understanding wife, no kids at home, and two dogs that don't care"

With the cold weather over the weekend, I still did not get out to the shop to work on the race car. Due to training, I have not been home all week, but even if I had been, it would have been too cold to try to heat the garage. The weather in the next few days is starting to look a bit more promising.

Even though we’ve been in the deep freeze, I was able to get a racing fix over the weekend. The 2009 IMCA modified National Champion, Dylan Smith of Osceola, Nebraska, has been racing in the Winter Series at Canyon Speedway near Phoenix, Arizona. With today’s technology, I have been able to follow his progress and actually have listened to a couple of A Feature races. He won his first A Feature of the year on Sunday February 6th, leading the entire 25 lap race. For those who don’t know Dylan or his car owners, Mike & Lisa Gocke, their traveling companion and mascot is a Great Dane named Diesel. As the race was winding down Sunday afternoon, Dylan was in lap traffic and the 2nd place car was closing the gap. One of the announcers excitedly proclaimed “Somewhere in the pits a Great Dane is going wild!” I don’t think I’ve heard that sort of proclamation before.

Not long after the Arizona races were over, Dirt Knights came on Versus channel. This reality series chronicles the travels of several USMTS drivers at the end of the 2010 season and comes on at 5 PM Central time on Sundays. The episodes can also be viewed over the internet later in the week by going to dirt There is some great race footage from in car cameras, as well as pit action. If you watch it over the internet, there are no commercials, either. I really enjoy watching the show, and have watched it a second time over the internet. I hope it continues to be aired.

There is now a new and, from the looks of it, greatly improved Beatrice Speedway website. It has been a long time in development and I’ve been told there will be a lot of information added to it. I’ve heard here may be some things on it later on that haven’t been tried before.

Just by the very nature of our chosen profession, law enforcement officers don’t always have the best hours, meet the nicest people, or have a stress free life. Some departments ask that their officers put in their vacation requests almost a year in advance. For many years, I have spent some of my vacation riding the Gold Wing to a Blue Knights function and this summer will be no different. My two main “stress relievers” are riding and racing. If I could somehow incorporate them, I would have the best of both worlds. Last summer I raced at Columbus, Nebraska a few times. However, with gas for the hauler currently 50 cents a gallon higher than it was last summer, I doubt that I will be making many of those 230 mile round trips at 8 miles to the gallon. Maybe I’ll be riding there to watch instead.

That’s not all bad. When I’m going to watch, our car isn’t on the track and we aren’t burning fuel to get to the track and we’re not burning fuel in the race car. When Jeremy was in High school, we rode to Eagle on Saturday night to watch the races, then rode to Columbus the next night. He thoroughly enjoyed doing that and at 30 years old, still talks about it. I hope that in a few years down the road there will still be races that he can take his son to. Maybe I’ll even be lucky enough to still be alive so I can go too.

It’s really a family effort to race in our case. One time in the pits after the races, somebody asked me how Jan puts up with my racing. I pointed out another place in the pits and told him, “That’s where we met.” That’s not to say she was a racer herself, but she was at least interested in racing. Our first date was going to watch the late models at Sunset Speedway. We would have ridden the motorcycle that night, but it was pretty windy and I didn’t want to scare her off on the first date. Now, she tells me that I do the things I do because “You have an understanding wife, no kids at home and two dogs that don’t care!” You can just bet that when we’re on a long trip on the Gold Wing, I’m looking for race tracks along the way that we may get to stop at and watch a race!

Last summer, we stopped in Rawlins, Wyoming on the way back from Blue Knights International in Billings, Montana. My then 13-yr old granddaughter was on her first motorcycle trip. We were at a downtown ice cream shop with some other Blue Knights when a couple of race cars went by on trailers. I told Kayla to hurry up and finish her ice cream because we were going to the races. She’s not as understanding as her grandmother……. That was a race we did not go to.

Once the weather warms up and we are able to take to the road on two wheels, I hope to be riding a bit more this summer. Unless you’ve taken a trip on a touring motorcycle, you don’t know what you’re missing. Late May and early June is great- the smell of spring is all around. Flowers, clover, feedlots….. well, there aren’t that many feedlots. We try to stop about every 100 miles to stretch, top off the fuel tank and grab a snack, then it’s back on the road. If we see something we want to stop and look at, we’ll stop.

We’ve never been to Nashville or Memphis. We want to spend a couple of nights in Nashville and hopefully take in the Grand Ole Opry. Another night in Memphis, then 2 days to get back home from there. Probably go across Arkansas and into Oklahoma to get back home. If there any Blue Knights from around Nashville or Memphis reading this, I would sure appreciate any information about the area I can get.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Line of Duty Deaths in 2010 - 2011 is off to a bad start; more cold weather kills work on the race car

The Officer Down Memorial Page tells us that in 2010, 162 Law Enforcement Officers lost their lives in the line of duty. Of those, 59 were killed by gunfire. Ironically, 2009 had the fewest officers killed since 2001.

Unfortunately, 2011 has started off on an unhappy note. I had a message the other day that in a 24-hour period, 11 officers had been shot. As of February 3, 2011, sixteen officers have been killed in the line of duty. Ten of them were killed by gunfire.

Fox News had a special report on the other night about this. In the online publication,, an article says the Feds will be looking into the issue by appointing a commission to study why these officers have lost their lives. There is a comments section after the news articles and it looks like the people who commented are much smarter than the Feds.

When I saw the headline, my first thought was “How many of the suspects were out on bond or had recently been released from jail? What kind of criminal histories did each of these suspects have?” The same question was posed by many of the people in the comments section.

Officers constantly train in officer safety. We need to be constantly on alert in all situations. Last weekend, a man walked into a police department and immediately opened fire, wounding 4 officers before being killed. This goes to show that officers are not even safe where they should be safest at.

I wonder what the Feds will suggest? New laws? Better officer training? One comment in the article even suggested the killings were the fault of the officers involved. Four of the officers killed were in two separate incidents in which a wanted criminal was being sought. Maybe their deaths WERE their fault - they could have been avoided if the officers had not tried to arrest these dangerous felons!

How many of the suspects were out on bond or recently released from prison? Had they been previously charged with killing somebody? Why are these people out running around? The parole boards that parole these people or the judges who release them on bond should have them as their neighbors.

Once again, the weather became a deep freeze and I was not able to even think about starting a fire in the garage so I could work on the race car. Maybe this weekend - the forecast is looking a little better. I was able to get the right side door and fender hung before having to stop. I’m still pointing toward having the car on the track at McCool Junction on March 5th, but that seems to be a pretty lofty goal at this point. March 19th at Beatrice will be a bit more realistic, IF the weather starts to cooperate a bit more.

With snow covering the U.S. from Texas to New York and beyond, we haven’t heard much from the global warming people lately. I saw some video from Chicago that at first glance I thought was a large car dealership. I then heard the commentator say that it was Lakeshore Drive with abandoned cars sitting bumper to bumper!

The cold days that keep me out of the garage even make it hard to think about planning motorcycle trips. We’ll be pulling our trailer behind the Gold Wing on our trip to the Blue Knights convention, and will need to pack the wheel bearings on the trailer before we go. Another rider in our chapter said he wants to pack wheel bearings, so we will probably do both trailers at the same time. I just dread the thought of the price of gas this summer - I noticed today it went up another nickel since 3 AM today. With the price of fuel going up, more people seem to “forget” to pay after filling up. The simplest solution to this problem would be to make the customer pre-pay. However, many of the businesses in our area won’t do this because they don’t want to “inconvenience” the customer.

I found out a few years ago that in Nevada it is the state law that you must pre-pay for your fuel. I think that would be a good law for Nebraska to have; then the businesses could blame the inconvenience on the state law. On the other hand, law enforcement would not be taking reports on gas drive-offs that the clerks have no license plate number or even a description of the vehicle to give to the officer. It’s a winning situation for all of us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Race car progress; swap meet; IMCA modifieds at Canyon Raceway in Arizona; Schlitz, Hamms, Storz, Colt 45, Falstaff, Carling Black Label beer

I was able to get a few hours worth of work on the race car Friday afternoon. The brakes are all done except for bleeding. I still have few small clamps to put on the front brake lines where they run across the firewall.

I made it to the Columbus swap meet on Saturday. With the weatherman threatening more winter weather, I get a fairly early start and was home by 4 PM. The drive there wasn’t bad; the roads were clear and the frost-covered trees were actually kind of pretty. Of course, they would have been a lot prettier if it had been about 70 degrees warmer. The trip ended up being worth the drive as I was able to buy a fire suit that was only worn one season for about 25% of what I would have had to pay for it new. I have been guilty of scrimping on fire resistant clothing since we’ve started racing. So far we’ve been lucky and I decided I do not want to push our luck any farther.

Both U.S. 30 Speedway and Junction Motor Speedway had schedules and rules available. Junction Motor Speedway was also accepting NASCAR license applications. On a related note, Beatrice Speedway still has not sent out information about car and driver registrations for 2011. There is a banner on the website for the Beatrice Spring Nationals, but when you click on it for detailes, you get the Beatrice Speedway website that gasn’t been updated since August 24, 2010. Come on, Beatrice Speedway, GET WITH IT!

With the temperature on Sunday only being 8 degrees at noon, I decided to not even try to start a fire in the wood burner. I’m sure I could not have gotten the garage warm enough to work comfortably in. The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday looks better, so I should be able to get some serious work in on those days.

I checked on the races at Canyon Raceway in Peoria, Arizona this weekend. The track is hosting a winter series that covers 5 weekends - 10 races, the end of January and first part of February. IMCA modified driver Dylan Smith of Osceola, Nebraska, had moved into the top 5 during Saturday’s A Feature before getting caught up in a crash that happened ahead of him. He made a pit stop and got back o the track, hoping for a top 10 finish. However, he was involved in a 2nd crash and was done for the night.

Sunday’s races went better as he won his heat race and took home a 6th place A Feature finish. I plan to keep track of how he does during the rest of the series. Their latest post on Twitter says they are trying out a new car this week.

Monday warmed up enough that I was able to build a nice fire and heat the garage enough to work for about 3 hours before I had to stop and get ready for work. I think I have everything done on the brakes that needs to be done. Still have a little to do on the rear deck, then it’s on to straightening the doors so they can be mounted. I have Wednesday-Thursday off this week and the forecast looks like it will be nice enough to be able to keep the place heated so I can keep on working out there.

During a gathering the other evening, one of the guests walked in with a 12-pack of Schlitz beer! It was actually an inside joke, but it brought back memories. I hadn’t seen Schlitz around for quite a few years and only recently learned that it is still being made. I actually drank one for old times’ sake! I joked that the “born on” date was 1970.… The discussion turned to some of the “old” beers. Only three of us remembered the Hamm’s commercials with the Hamm’s bear. “From the land of sky blue waters.” It’s my understanding that Hamm’s is still sold in some parts of the country. Another beer that I remember was Storz. I almost forgot about that, but a few years ago, I saw a Storz sign hanging in a window in a bar in Falls City, Nebraska. We stopped for a burger there and when the waitress asked what we wanted to drink, I asked for a Storz. She had no idea what I was talking about, even though they had a sign in the window.

Around 1971 or 1972, Nebraska bars and liquor outlets started selling Olympia beer. It seemed popular at first, but died out quickly and I haven’t seen “Oly” for quite a few years. I also remember Colt 45 Malt Liquor and Falstaff, which was brewed in Omaha. For old time stock car racing fans in Nebraska, who remembers Bob Kosiski’s blue stock car sponsored by Falstaff? There was also a “plain label” Beer made by Falstaff. Yes, that’s what is was called, and it was in a white can with black letters that simply said “Beer.” Another one I remember is Carling Black Label, which I believe was also a malt liquor. There was a commercial that went like this “Mabel, Black Label, Carling Black Label Beer!” In the Saline County area of Nebraska, all of these beers, as well as Budweiser, were the popular ones. Of course, back then, there was no such thing as “Light” beer. We’ve sure come a long way in our “beer technology” since then. The most popular beer in the southeast Nebraska area now seems to be Bud Light and Busch Light.

While I’m mentioning Busch Light, I just have to tell about past experiences in Las Vegas. We went to Las Vegas several years in a row to go to the NASCAR weekend. When we started going, Busch was a huge NASCAR sponsor and the now Nationwide series was called the Busch series. We got into Vegas, checked into our hotel,, and the guys hit the 7-11 next door to get some beer. They had NO BUSCH BEER!! I don’t know if it’s still like that in Vegas, but at the time, we couldn’t believe that there was no Busch beer in a city that devoted an entire week to NASCAR.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Racing in other parts of the U.S; 2009 IMCA Modified Champion in a Late Model; more progress on my car; having "fun" with alcohol; more trip planning

Even though we the Nebraska winter isn’t conducive to much more than hibernating, there is dirt track racing going on in other parts of the country. The annual “Ice Bowl” races were held in Alabama the 1st week in January. Street Stock racer Jeff Joldersma of McClelland, Iowa, won the A Feature both nights the street stocks raced there. Last week, USA Raceway at Tuscon, Arizona had 6 nights of racing, with the finale being on Sunday evening, January 16th.

Dylan Smith of Osceola, Nebraska, who won the 2009 IMCA Modified National Championship, raced a Late Model owned by Al Humphrey of Giltner. It was around Al Humphrey’s late models that I really fell in love with dirt track racing in 1974.

Dylan actually started driving Al’s late model in 2010 on a limited schedule with some success. He won an A Feature at I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Nebraska, only to lose it in the tech area when the engine was found to be over the compression limit.

I had a chance to talk to Dylan a little at Columbus one race night last year and asked him about his late model deal. I told him I’d known Al for a long time and wondered out loud if Al was giving up driving. I learned that long time engine builder Larry Danhauer of Lincoln had actually gotten the together. Dylan was enjoying his time in the late model and was on the phone to Al several times during the week.

I was mildly surprised when I read in another blog, The Rest of the Dirt, that Al & Dylan had ventured to Arizona for the Wild West Shootout at Tuscon. Al has a new Victory Circle Chassis, which is manufactured in Batesville, Arkansas by Billy Moyer. Originally from the Des Moines area, Moyer has been a threat to win at any track he shows up at since the late 1970’s. Billy Moyer’s name is included in the list of winners of the Late Model Nationals at Mid Nebraska Raceway.

Dylan struggled early in the 6 race series. On Saturday he won his B Feature, started 13th and finished 13th in the A Feature. On Sunday he won his heat race and started on the outside of the 5th row in the A Feature. On the 15th lap, he got together with another car and clipped the wall, rolling his #6 machine a couple of times. The message posted on Twitter was that the car was totaled but that Dylan was sore but OK. That is a testament to how well built the race cars of today are.

This weekend, Dylan will be back behind the wheel of his modified at Canyon Raceway, where he won that series in 2010. Here’s hoping he has better luck this weekend!

With some warmer weather last week, I got a few hours work done on the car Thursday & Friday. I got the wood burner fired up and warmer the shop enough that I was able to get the rear brake lines put on and the bottom of the rear shocks re-mounted. It got cold over the weekend and it was my weekend to work anyway, so I didn’t get a chance to do anything for those 3 days. I did get about 8 hours in on Monday, and almost completed the rear deck. When that’s done, I can start to straighten the doors to get them ready to put back on.

 The rear deck is almost complete

 Getting closer all the time!
The annual Columbus swap meet is this Saturday and if the weather holds out, I hope to take a look around. I want to be able to work on the car on Friday and Sunday if I don‘t have to burn the place down to keep it warm!
Our weekend at work was fairly quiet. What little activity we had could be attributed to alcohol use. While some people might think that over-indulging is funny, there comes a point when it’s revolting. It’s one thing to relax and have a drink with friends, but when it gets to the point where a person drinks so much that they pass out and wets their pants, there is a problem that they need to seriously seek help for. I doubt that having to walk home 5 blocks in 13 degree weather with wet pants cured the problem, either! That HAD to be a COLD walk!!

In another incident, we had a call from McDonald’s about some possibly intoxicated people walking in to get food. One of them carried a BEER inside with him!! We were able to locate the people involved. The only one who was drinking was the one who took the beer in with him. When asked why he thought he could do that, he said he “forgot” he had it with him! How do you “forget” that you have a beer in your hand?? Was he just going to wash his Happy Meal down with a Bud Light??

I continue to work on plans for our trip to the Blue Knights International Conference at Chesapeake, Virginia in July. I hope that we can spend a day in Washington, D.C. I know this really makes me sound old, but the top two things I want to see are the Law Enforcement Memorial and the Viet Nam wall. Neither of those had been built when I was at Ft Lee in 1971. I would actually like to attend Law Enforcement Memorial Week in D.C. before I get too old to go, but it’s not in my plans for at least two more years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three nights of New Years Eve; cold weather putting the brakes on working on the race car; still working on plans for Blue Knights International

Here we are 13 days into the new year and this is my first entry. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I just have to be careful of how I say it so I don’t get myself in trouble.

In some of the on-line Police publications, I see articles on law enforcement officers being reprimanded, suspended or even fired for making questionable posts on social sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Some of those postings are plain stupid and if the person stopped to think about what he/she was posting, maybe they would think better of it and not make the posting. A law enforcement officer could post a questionable picture or statement, and a defense attorney might find it and use it against the officer in court. If the item puts the officer or his/her department in a bad light, disciplinary action is very possible. For that reason, I try to shy away from making work related comments in my blog or on my Facebook page.

I must really be grabbing at straws if I’m reduced to talking about this stuff in my blog!! Enough said on that subject….

Our Christmas and New Years weekends were pretty uneventful. I was on days off the entire Christmas weekend, and Jan was off Christmas and the day after. We were fortunate that we were able to spend those two days with our families. We were even more blessed with decent weather. We had to work the three days of New Years’ Eve, and even though it was pretty cold, there was no white stuff and all in all it was a fairly quiet weekend. Our Police Department had a DWI arrest about 3:30 AM on New Years Day, and the Sheriff’s Department had two more right after that.

This last weekend brought a change in the weather and now we’re going into a “deep freeze” for a few days. I hope everybody uses good sense when they have to go outdoors or travel. We don’t see as many problems in the city, but the deputies and troopers seem to have to deal a lot with stranded motorists in cold, miserable weather. According to our local newspaper, city road crews will be out through Thursday trying to get the streets cleaned. At least we aren’t having weather patterns here like we did a year ago with a new snowstorm coming in every few days.

I had to get the snow blower out to clean the driveway yesterday. I found there was a bit of a gas leak from around the carburetor, but was able to get the snow moved. In looking for a gasket for the float bowl, the parts houses I went did not have anything. I found out that one of the local lumber yards carries parts for small engines, and as luck would have it, they had the right gasket. I should be set for the rest of the winter now.

I planned to work on the race car on my Friday-Saturday-Sunday off this last weekend. I got all my parts together so I can finish my brake lines to the rear brakes. When that’s done, I can start on making the rear deck. However, the weather started to turn a lot colder and I didn’t even attempt to start the wood burner as it looked like a fire would be futile. I’m on days off Wednesday and Thursday this week, and the last time I looked, Thursday may warm up close to 30. If there’s no wind, I should be able to heat the garage to a point where I can work out there.

I am pointing toward having the car on the track at McCool Junction on March 4th & 5th. There is a USMTS modified show that weekend and in the past the open stock cars have been the support class. It hasn’t been announced yet if that will be the case, but if it is, I hope to be able to race then. When I stand back and look at the car, it looks like there is a ton of stuff to do on it, but if I can keep the garage warm enough to work out there, there really isn’t that much to do. I plan to straighten and use the old doors. I need to straighten the left rear quarter panel. I’m afraid the front fenders can’t be re-used, so I will either have to use the new after market ones I have or find some used stock ones. I’m hoping to find some used fenders for a very reasonable price. The aftermarket ones look nice, but they are so thin they crinkle if you look hard at them.

I was able to pretty much finish my expense sheet for the racing operation for 2010 over the weekend. I have to have a copy of the bill on the engine that is at Hastings so I can itemize it on the expense sheet, and 1099 forms from Beatrice and Columbus and that task will be all done. I need to remember to keep myself caught up on this stuff so I don’t have to re-construct the entire year at the end of the year.

I’ve also spent a little more time planning our ride to Chesapeake, Virginia this summer. The Blue Knights International Convention is there the 3rd week of July. One way or another, we want to spend a couple of days in Nashville as Jan really wants to go to the Grand Ole Opry. I think a day or two in Memphis should also be in order. Right now, I kind of have a 3 day ride from here to Chesapeake planned. The return trip will be a bit more leisurely and routed through Nashville and Memphis. We’re just hoping the price of gas doesn’t go up too drastically that we can’t enjoy our time.

While we’re in the Chesapeake area there are a lot of things I want to see. I was stationed at Ft Lee for AIT in 1971 and made trips to Washington, D.C. and Williamsburg, Virginia. I hope to be able to go to both places while we are there. I also went to the Petersburg Battlefield just outside of Ft Lee and would like to go back there. There’s so much history in that area that it is impossible to see it all in an entire summer, let alone the few days we will be there.

We kind of kicked around the idea of maybe camping along the way to make the trip less expensive. However, I think I’d rather have a hot shower and a real bed after riding 450 miles each day. Irregardless of what our plans are, we will have to pack carefully and wisely in order to have everything we need for the entire trip,

I’ll have to have the Gold Wing checked over closely. We now have about 32,000 miles on it, and it should go to the dealer for a complete check-up according to the owners’ manual. The front tire has almost 20,000 miles on it, but still looks pretty good. The back tire has about 10,000 miles and still looks good. The original rear tire went about 22,000 miles and I expect this one to go that far, too. I will have to pack the wheel bearings on the trailer, but other than that, it should be ready to go.

Blue Knights just had their election for International President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. I want to pass on my congratulations to all of the new officers. I know you will do the job to the best of your abilities.

I subscribe to “Google Alerts.” This gives me an alert to other blogs about specific subjects. I came across one today by a crime analyst in Texas. He writes about a guy who, when stopped by law enforcement, gave them his cousin’s name. Turns out the cousin had a warrant for his arrest, so the guy went to jail. Now he’s suing the Sheriff’s Department for false arrest. In Nebraska, a guy like this is “Job Security.” Here’s the link to the newspaper story, in case anybody wants to read about it: