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 DirtDrivers.com 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: