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More Knoxville

September 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Yes, more Knoxville. Only two of the top ten WoO late model drivers were in Knoxville this weekend, Brandon Sheppard and Tyler Erb. Sheppard can race with anyone, anywhere, and Erb can wreck anytime, anywhere, but where were the rest of the WoO regulars. The series remains a national tour-it does travel across much of America-but a baseball comparison would be that the Lucas Oil series is Major League and the WoO is AAA.

As at Eldora for the World 100 and at FALS for the Prairie Dirt Classic, there was a large contingent of local drivers at Knoxville. I hate to admit it, being far less than a fan of the brothers, but Chad and Chris Simpson are really the only Iowa drivers that can seriously compete with national caliber drivers. Chad was 26th and Chris was 11th in Saturday’s feature.

Saturday’s rain made for a blazing fast track. It also made for lots of tire trouble. Rain or no rain, if the feature is to remain 100 laps, I think that in addition to a fuel stop on lap 51, that the stop can include changes that can be done in 10 minutes, such as tires. If this rule had been in effect, the outcome of the race would have been different. Yeah, I am saying this as a Jonathan Davenport fan, and the opposite argument is such a rule penalizes drivers who have not been as hard on their equipment.

Davenport has had a profitable three weeks, earning $25,000 at the Hillbilly 100, $50,000 at the World 100, and collecting 2nd place money of $20,000 at Knoxville. Of course with the nearly obscene cost of running nationally, weekends like those are needed. More on Davenport later.

In an interview last weekend, veteran Steve Francis hinted at retirement, suggesting that technology had taken the fun out of racing for him. Matt and I had talked about Francis on the drive over, not realizing he was considering retirement, and wondering just what he might do after his driving career was over. Francis just turned 50, and for those not in sports, that is a long way from retirement. With the cost of racing I wonder how much money the Hall of Famer has been able to save over the years.

Maybe it was because I was riding the elevator this weekend with lots of “old” people, but it seemed like the number of old people at the race far outnumbered the young people. Matt had an interesting idea about how to engage the very young. What driver might appeal to the very young like Mike Duvall did with his Flintstone Flyer? How about Superman, Jonathan Davenport? Matt bought Henry a Jonathan Davenport Superman t-shirt, his first dirt racing t-shirt, and Davenport has a way about him that I kids would love if they got close to him. Think of M & M’s sponsoring Davenport and kids visiting his trailer after a race getting a small bag of the candy treat.

If you want to involve teens more, Hudson O’Neal would be a perfect spokesman. His demeanor is that of a typical 17 year old, but he is an incredibly talented driver and for someone that young is quite polished when interviewed. He would be a great spokesperson for some company. What do teens love? Other than their phone? Or maybe he could have some smart phone for a sponsor.

At the NSCHoF program on Friday, the young O’Neal was asked about going NASCAR racing. Anymore talent is not enough. You have to show them the money, bringing big sponsorship dollars with you. That is a shame because there are plenty of young dirt car drivers with just as much-even more-talent than drivers on any of the top NASCAR circuits.

As far as young talent in dirt late model racing, I am less concerned about the future than I was several years ago. Brandon Sheppard in the Rocket house car has been amazing this year. Though I am not a big fan, Bobby Pierce has won a number of crown jewel events in little over a year. Devin Moran has won some races, and as I said, Hudson O’Neal is very talented. There are others too. Hopefully there will still be a sport for them to showcase their talents ten years from now.

I had not said much about Mike Marlar winning back to back Knoxville Nationals 100 lap races, but that really is a fete. Good equipment well prepared, talent, and luck is often not enough to accomplish what Marlar did, so two thumbs up to the driver from Tennessee.

Knoxville might be the last race I attend this season, though there are still plenty of races to watch on the computer. I guess Beatrice this weekend is a possibility, but I can watch it at home on Speed Shift TV. The Fall Brawl or Cornhusker Classic at I-80 are still to be run, but neither really grabs my attention. Matt has discussed going to Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City in October for World of Outlaw sprint cars. Ouch. Maybe. Or go to Kansas Speedway for NASCAR practice during the day and then to Lakeside. We’ll see.

Anyway if Knoxville was my last race of the season, it was very enjoyable. And next year maybe I will try one of the $10 ribeye steak sandwiches one of the midway vendors has for sale.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Silver Dollar Nationals vs. Prairie Dirt Classic-And The Winner Is: Race Fans

August 6, 2017 Leave a comment

I watched some of both nights of the Belleville Nationals. I was disappointed that a legendary event had only 24 cars in the pits. I am not into open wheel racing enough to comment on the obvious difference of opinion between USAC and POWRi, but there were 35 cars at the POWRi show in Peveley, Missouri.

One of last night’s heat races was supposed to start eight cars, started only six, and one car was black flagged for not maintaining a competitive speed. Five cars on the track at Belleville is simply ridiculous.

The grandstands at Belleville seemed full, but the pits certainly weren’t. For shame.

Earlier this week I mentioned I would do a blog on comparing fields at Late Model crown jewel events. I would rank the events as follows:

#1-The World 100 at Eldora.

#2-The Dream at Eldora

#3-The Knoxville Nationals

#4-Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway

#5-Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway

#6-USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway

#7-Show Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway

#8-North/South 100 at Florence Speedway

Some might argue about #4-#8, and I admit there is room for argument. I am just going to compare the PDC and the SDN though.

Josh Richards was at the SDN, but not at the PDC. Bobby Pierce was at the PDC but not the SDN. Both have won major events. Richards is a multiple time WoO champion, while Pierce is a multiple time Hell Tour champion. Both are capable of winning any event they enter. I would give a slight nod to Richards and the SDN though as Richards does not make the too aggressive mistakes Pierce does.

Steve Francis was at the SDN, but not at the PDC. Rick Eckert was at the PDC, but not at the SDN. Francis is on the Lucas Oil tour, Eckert races with the World of Outlaws. Eckert has several wins this season, so a slight edge to the Eckert and the PDC.

Hudson O’Neal was at the SDN, Devin Moran was not. Moran was at the PDC, young O’Neal was at home. Both have plenty of potential. Moran does have a national tour win on his resume, so slight edge to Moran and the PDC.

Jimmy Mars was at the SDN, Shane Clanton was not. Shane Clanton was at the PDC, Mars stayed closer to home to race with WISSOTA. Both have big wins and Clanton is a former WoO champion. Mars is on the downhill slope of his career, Clanton is in his prime. Big edge to Clanton and the PDC.

Nebraska locals were at the SDN, Illinois locals were at the PDC. If 12 local Nebraska Late Model drivers were in a feature race with 12 local Illinois Late Model drivers, I believe the top half of the finishers would show far more Illinois drivers than those from the Cornhusker state. So talent wise the PDC comes out ahead of the SDN on local drivers involved, but also on numbers. There were 65 Late Models entered in the PDC, just over 50 in the SDN. To me, the big difference is the number of local drivers entered in each event.

That is just about the quality of the Late Model field. The USMTS Modifieds at the SDN are more talented as a group than the UMP Modifieds at the PDC. The USMTS does not time trial at the SDN and for some unknown to God or man reason, the UMP Modifieds do time trial at the PDC-a big waste of time in which a lot of the grandstands at FALS empty out.

There are multiple racing grooves during the feature races at both the SDN and PDC. Three wide racing is common. Both features are always exciting, and the reason I would give the nod to the PDC is that it is a smaller track and there is absolutely no let up to the action. It is simply insane for 100 laps. Perhaps some of that comes from being so close to the action-at the PDC we are close enough to be pelted with mud flying off cars entering turn three. At the SDN my left knees complains about the 47 steps I climb to my seat.

Anyway, while the PDC gets the nod over the SDN-just my opinion-BOTH are great races and the best back to back racing Late Model Specials period. Now if I could figure out how to post photos on Word Press I would show you a few Matt great overhead photos Matt sent me.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Prairie Dirt Classic-Nothing Like It

July 31, 2017 1 comment

After riding in the Illinois 491 yesterday-the distance between our hotel in Bloomington and home, my mind rebelled at the thought of posting a blog. Instead I took a well-deserved nap.

I am not one who would tell someone he isn’t a race fan because he has never been to Daytona or Charlotte, Knoxville or Eldora. If you are reading this blog you are a race fan no matter where you have or have not been. BUT, since you are a race fan you do yourself an injustice if you never make a pilgrimage to the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois.

Perhaps the Meyer family endorsement means little to you, but we made the trek last year, returned this year, and on the way home yesterday Matt and I started planning our trip for 2018. AND, I believe for the first time-I can’t remember for sure if I bought a Final Sunset t-shirt, I bought a race event t-shirt. Yes, I did. And I’ll be wearing it in the future. The 28th Annual Prairie Dirt Classic. That is a very big statement from me.

In the best possible context, the PDC at FALS is insane, utter chaos, extreme motorsports, total excitement, and there is nothing else like it in dirt track racing. Heck, make it all of racing.

Start with a staff-mostly volunteers-that want to make fans happy. Add concessions that are reasonably priced. And a midway selling more souvenirs than anyone could possibly want. Throw in a well-prepared track and some great racing and you will see a sight rarely seen at any race track these days-signs reading “SOLD OUT.” I almost forgot-“Welcome Race Fans” signs on nearly every business in town.

Year after year people make the trip to central Illinois from all over the U.S. For three blocks-on both sides of the street, and outside of turns 1 and 2 and the back stretch are hundreds of campers and RV’s. There is a line waiting when campgrounds open, and the 300 available spots are gone long before any racer fires an engine. And golf carts-there are more golf carts driving around the track AND on city streets than you will find at any golf course in the country.

I need to add something to my endorsement. Our seats are 7 rows up on the backstretch grandstands where cars enter turn three. I was hit by mud clods during hot laps on both Saturday and Sunday. That is not a complaint-the last time I remember getting hit with mud at a race track was at Sunset Speedway and you know how I feel about that place.

Our seats not only give us a perfect view of turns 3 and 4, but also a great view of the entire backstretch. I have always defined good racing as side by side racing, but when 29 cars are racing around a 1/4th mile oval that is automatic. How about three wide for second place? Even better, how about three wide for first place? Or the first six cars in a pack so tight that barely a tick of your watch passes as the cars do? That is the PDC at FALS. A fan has to really concentrate to figure out just who is leading the race with cars all over the place.

OK, before I continue on with this love song, I did have one problem this weekend. No, thank you Lord, there were no B-mods on hand. But there were 72 UMP Modifieds signed in. And, my friend Big Show would be thrilled by this-71 of the Modifieds time trialed. That was 40 minutes of my life wasted. I am of the belief that NO support class should ever time trial. Actually I am not a big fan of the feature class time trialing, but that is an argument for another time.

Since UMP does not race in Nebraska I have no clue if time trials for Modifieds running the Summer Nationals is standard procedure. To me, it doesn’t matter if it is. If I-80 Speedway can get the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series to change its format for the Silver Dollar Nationals, FALS can get UMP to agree to no time trials. If they won’t agree, well, “hasta la vista baby.” Don’t let the pit gate hit you on the butt on the way out. The track could do unsanctioned Modifieds as a support class. Make the race open to drivers that have ran a weekly show at FALS at least twice in the season. Pay $3,000 to win and there would easily be 50 Modifieds in the pits.

Yes I do know that UMP and the WoO are owned by the same people. The WoO is NOT going to pull out of the PDC if the track says n Modified time trials. The WoO needs the PDC more than the PDC needs the WoO. The WoO has few crown jewel events, and if they pulled out, the Lucas Oil series would be there in the blink of an eye.

And, change the race order both nights. On Friday, run two of the Modified qualifiers first, then run all the Late Model qualifiers, and end the night with the final two Modified qualifiers. On Saturday, run the 40 lap Modified feature after the 100 laps Late Model feature. People are not coming to Fairbury from all over the country to watch Modifieds race. They want to see the Late Models. I am guessing no more than 10% of the crowd is there because of Modifieds-hey, they do have family and friends so 10% sounds about right. After the final Last Chance Race for Late Models ended, the backstretch grandstands almost emptied before the start of the Modified feature and stayed that way until the Late Models returned.

Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist, and Shannon Babb finished 3rd-4th-5th in the Silver Dollar Nationals feature. Not one of them made the PDC feature in Friday night qualifiers. Neither did Billy Moyer, Don O’Neal, or Earl Pearson. Bronson, Bloomquist, Babb, and Moyer did not qualify in the Last Chance Races either. Amazing.

If you subscribe to www.DirtonDirt.com, you can go to the website and watch a 20 minute video of the 100 lap feature. It will be 20 minutes well spent if you do. So, I’ll skip a race recap and go right to my Random Thoughts:  

-I thought my friend Big Show was a PDC no show, but the track announcer kept on talking about “fat heads” in the backstretch grandstands. Made me wonder if he made it after all.

-Matt keeps telling me that Chris Simpson is the good brother and that Chad is bad. Well, the good brother put on a great show. Late in the race he was second and trying to pass Brandon Sheppard for the lead. He faded some at the end, but still ended up with a 7th place finish.

-I was the first person to write about Devin Moran, in an article for Dirt Late Model magazine some years ago. I think many more people will be writing about the son of Million Dollar Man Donnie Moran. The young Moran set fast time and won his qualifier on Friday, and ended up 3rd in the 100 lapper. Two thumbs up for the WoO Rookie of the Year contender.

-Ryan Unzicker is a solid Late Model driver from El Paso-the El Paso down the road from Fairbury, not the one in Texas. Unzicker vied for the lead early, faded, and then came back strong to finish second in the feature.

-Brandon Sheppard has my vote for driver of the year. Well, he would if I had a vote. Winning the PDC isn’t easy, though the Rocket house car pilot made it look that way. What a week B-Shepp had. From 32nd to 2nd at the Silver Dollar Nationals (that is what garnered my DOY vote), a WoO win at Fayette County Speedway in Illinois on Wednesday, a PDC qualifier win on Friday, and the big win on Saturday. Rocket Shepp has seven WoO feature wins, earlier this summer won five straight UMP Summernationals features, and his earning in the eight days through Saturday amounted to nearly $65,000. His season earning on the WoO circuit are $159,950. Not quite the year Jonathan Davenport had a few years ago, but still a super one.

-I like the farming done by the track prep crew at various times during both Friday and Saturday. Yes, it does at to the length of the show, but it also leads to incredibly competitive racing as well.

-I would like to thank a number of people for a very enjoyable weekend. First and foremost, my son Matt. All I had to do was show up, get in the car to ride, and he did all the rest. I appreciate all he did and his patience with me too. My g.d. left knee is going to be replaced sometime in the next six months, but right now I am terribly afraid it is going to lead me to a fall and far more damage than I need. He really did do so much for me this weekend and I can’t tell him enough how much I appreciate him and all he did.

-I would also like to thank Michael Rigsby for his hospitality. Michael is a class act and yes, he does a fantastic job with www.DirtonDirt.com. Matt counts Michael as a good racing friend, and loves to talk racing with Michael and the rest of the Rigsby Mafia at events like this.

-I would also like to thank Barry Rigsby for two outstanding pork chop sandwiches. Last time I had pork chops sandwiches at a race track was year’s ago at Fairmont Speedway in Minnesota. Those were good, Barry’s were great.

-I would also like to thank Matt Curl, FALS race director and promoter. First for the amazing job he does with this event, but also for the media pit pass. I don’t avail myself of this type of pass often, but then again I don’t do 1700 word blogs very often either. So thank you Matt. I know my Sprint Car fans will disagree and say the best two straight weeks of dirt track racing are the Knoxville 360 and 410 Nationals. Sorry, I think the best two straight weeks of dirt track racing are the Silver Dollar Nationals and the Prairie Dirt Classic.

Tomorrow I am going to post comments from a few people who wrote me about the Silver Dollar Nationals. I am also going to talk about the quality of fields in what I consider to be the top five Late Model events of the year.

For now, once again, if you are a Late Model fan you owe it to yourself to make at least one pilgrimage to FALS for the Prairie Dirt Classic. And yes, it is almost a religious experience. And yes tickets are incredibly difficult to come by, so plan early and watch for when they go on sale. There is nothing like the PDC.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals-Or Why I Haven’t Posted Since December 17th

December 31, 2016 Leave a comment

No, I didn’t forget how to write. No, I don’t have writer’s block. I actually started a post after Christmas, but didn’t finish it. Yes, I do feel guilty, but obviously not enough to sit down at the keyboard before now. I’ll use the excuse of “the holidays,” plus working 98 hours this pay period. A little lame, but that’s all I have.

Here is my unfinished Christmas blog:

It has been decades since I last dreamed of a white Christmas. To me, perfect December holiday weather is sunny, with temperatures in the 50’s. I can’t say that I have ever dreamed of a thunderstorm Christmas like we had on Sunday, but every drop of rain meant fewer snowflakes and less shoveling, so if it can’t be 55 and sunny on Christmas day, I am OK with 55 and rainy.

 

The Meyer family had a nice Christmas. Matt, Steph, and Mr. Henry Ross Meyer spent part of the day with Jane, Amanda, and me, as did my Mom. The excitement of five year old Henry opening presents would have made the day, but a nice meal (Amanda’s fantastic homemade vegetable beef soup, with sandwiches, relish tray, chips, and too many Christmas goodies) and good conversation made for an even better day.

 

I don’t want to admit that my family knows me too well, but among my gifts were five books and an Amazon gift certificate. I hadn’t finished the seven books my writer friends sent me as I was recovering from my surgery, so I have plenty of reading material stacked beside my bedside table, enough that I shouldn’t need more for a few months.

 

Anyway, I hope all of you had as nice of a Christmas as I did.

 

I don’t know how the chemicals in my brain work much of the time, why I think of things I haven’t thought about in years, but here is one I bet only a few of you remember-the McDonald’s All-American Meal. What was it? A hamburger, fries, a chocolate shake and change back from a buck. This was back when you walked up to a window to order, the sign out front said “Millions Sold,” and it was years before cities the size of Fremont saw the Golden Arches. I thought it was a big treat when we stopped at the 84th and Dodge location-no longer there. Even with changes I think their fries are still the best. The hamburgers? Tolerable. The chocolate shake? I don’t know what they have done with it, I hate it, and haven’t ordered it since I discovered they changed it.

 

Of course thinking of no McDonald’s in Fremont had me thinking of the Gold Key Drive-In (a bank is now there), and A & W Drive-In (now a parking lot for Mac’s Restaurant). Which led to missing my all-time favorite sandwich, A & W’s Mexiburger-a kind of sloppy joe. They had just the right amount of grease-i.e. the hamburger bun was soaked, and a Mexiburger with a frosty mug of A & W root beer definitely hit the spot. At least my spot.

 

And this let to thinking of what was really a cheap date-Putt Putt golf, which is now a Scooter’s Coffee shop across from the Fremont Medical Center, then known as the Dodge County Memorial Hospital. I read in the Fremont Tribune-no longer deserving of the title “newspaper” that when the new $15,000,000 aquatic center-next to the ice rink-is completed, the Fremont Y will be the largest in the United States. Wow. I can remember when old YMCA at 5th & Park, with a basketball court straight out of the movie “Hoosiers,” and a swimming pool a little bit bigger than a rich person’s hot tub.

 

Good memories. Too many bad ones from 2016. Jane nearly dying from being over-medicated after knee replacement surgery in October. My prostate cancer-I am now cancer free, but still not fully recovered from the cryoplasty procedure. And losing our beloved silky terrier Sophie in January.

 

I am counting on 2017 being a much better year. Unlike the 29 years previous, I love going to work in the morning, and don’t even mind the commute to Omaha. This will be the year I get 1, maybe 2 new knees-and hallelujah to that. Before and after the knee surgery I am going to have to lose weight. Hopefully I will be as successful at Jane in doing so.

 

Matt and I have talked-and talked, about racing plans for 2017. On our way to Fairbury, Illinois last year we detoured to visit Iowa Speedway. Just looking impressed us enough to want to return for a race-probably the NASCAR XFINITY Series event in June. Obviously we will not miss the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway, and cross your fingers the other Lucas Oil show there won’t be rained out.

 

Fairbury and the Prairie Dirt Classic is on our list too. If you have never been to Fairbury American Legion Speedway go. And try to get seats on the back stretch. Matt and I sat close to turn 3 and it was so good it was almost overwhelming.

 

The Knoxville Nationals-late model version-is a mainstay on our list, and this year there is no work conflict for me. The SLMR at US 30 Speedway makes our list, though I am hoping for a racier track there. Matt wants to go to Corning for a USMTS and SLMR show. I don’t much, but I am sure I will go.

And depending on knee surgeries, there might be a trip to Kansas City for one of the qualifying days for the NASCAR Sprint Cup oops, Monster Energy Cup races.

 

If I didn’t already know it was New Year’s Eve, my email inbox would tell me. So far I have had 17 different emails telling me that today is the last day to get a tax break by donating to their cause. Sorry, gave at the office. Well, actually I did give at the office, and many other places too.

 

Have a safe night and a good and Happy New Year too. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

Back Home Again In-

October 27, 2016 2 comments

No, not in Indiana, Jim Nabors. Back home in my house. My own bed. I’m glad. 30 odd hours in a hospital were more than enough.

How do I feel? I would say like I have been run through a wringer, but unless you are my age you probably don’t know what a wringer is. Let’s just say that while yesterday in the hospital bed I was thinking I could go back to work today, today I am thinking that was a very dumb thought.

Fortunately I am not in a lot of pain, more discomfort than pain, but I am very, very tired. It seems like if I am up and around for an hour today I need to rest for two hours. Which I plan to do when I am done with this very brief post.

I can tell you nothing about the procedure. I was wheeled into a very cold operating room. I said hello to the people on the surgical team and don’t remember anything else until I was in the recovery room. However, the doctor thinks the procedure was successful, and that is all that matters.

When I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I did think about a number of things, including racing. I pictured myself next season at Kansas Speedway in the spring. At Fairbury American Legion Speedway in late July, and at Knoxville in mid-September. Nice thoughts, just not sleep inducing thoughts.

Back in July, a routine physical with lab work discovered I had a very high PSA, one sign of prostate cancer. Another test showed an even higher PSA. Some doctors swear at the PSA test, rather than by it. I only know that I am very glad it was done. That we caught the cancer early. That while what was done was major to me, it was not radical to surgeons. What I am saying to my male readers is to get this test done at least every year. Yes, it is important.

And now, I am going to try to read a little and take a nap. I have a feeling I will read very little, and my nap will last until supper time. I am glad to be writing this, and as always, I am thankful you care to read it.

 

How I Have Been Spending My Summer

August 21, 2016 4 comments

Below is a link to this year’s Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois. If you can watch this video and not want to go to FALS for the 2017 Prairie Dirt Classic, you are either an auditor or not much of a Late Model fan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3McMF2E1ag

During last night’s lengthy rain delay at Bristol I turned to my trusty remote to find me something entertaining. I stopped pushing buttons in HBO land where the movie “Mad Max, Fury Road” was showing. It took me 10 minutes watching before I realized this wasn’t filmed on the streets of Knoxville during the Sprint Car Nationals. Hey, look at the “warriors” in the movie and look at the average Sprint Car fan. The resemblance is uncanny.

When the last rain delay at Bristol came, I got online to watch the Topless 100 from Batesville Speedway in Arkansas. The rain played havoc there too.  With 6” already fallen and more to come the event was cancelled.

I suppose next weekend will be totally dry in the Midwest, when I wouldn’t mind seeing rain at all on Saturday. USMTS Modifieds, OK. 360 Sprints-a reluctant I suppose so. Sport Mods and Sport Compacts-can any track in the area run a special without at least of these divisions? Apparently not. Yeah, I am talking about Park Jefferson on Saturday. For some reason my son continues to want to visit PJ, ACS, and JMS while I wouldn’t mind simply saying “adios amigo” to all of them. But I like my son and will tag along anyway.

On Sunday the SLMR Late Models will visit US 30 Speedway for the second time this season. I do like that the races will start at 5:00 p.m. that night. I also like that Hobby Stocks will be part of the program. I don’t think that adding IMCA Northern Sport Mods makes the program better, but they will be there anyway. I still like the track though and think the Melcher’s are doing a great job promoting.

What did you do on your summer vacation? The proverbial question asked of returning students everywhere. Me? I didn’t really have much of a vacation. I had about three days in between when my temp job ended and my new permanent full-time position started. Later I did have two days off to go to Fairbury, Illinois for the Prairie Dirt Classic, and that was the simply outstanding. But, I have experienced a rather eventful summer.

Back in mid-July I had what I thought was a routine doctor’s appointment, one I have to schedule occasionally to have my prescriptions refilled. I try to put these off as long as possible, because I do not like getting on the scales, and I hate having blood drawn for a test. Rarely does the first stick work on me, and three times before getting blood isn’t uncommon. But, I was out of refills, so in I went.

Four days later I got a call from the doctor. My PSA level was high and I needed to see an urologist ASAP. Thus began my summer of high anxiety and hurry up and wait. Even with my doctor’s help it took me several days to get an appointment with the urologist. There I had blood taken-great fun, not-and an ultrasound. Yeah, even less fun than the blood draw. A week later the results came back from the lab and showed that I had a better than 50-50 chance of having prostate cancer.

This was on a Wednesday, and the next day Matt and I were leaving for Illinois. Not a good start, but fortunately the trip turned out wonderful. The doctor wanted to do a biopsy on Friday, which was out as far as I was concerned, so I did not have a biopsy until 10 days later.

As Lynyrd Skynyrd sings “let me tell you son, it ain’t no fun.” That was the biopsy. Deep breathing technique was the order of the day. Then came another week long wait. Logically I knew the results were going to be positive, emotionally I was hoping one more time to dodge a bullet. I would say that “the waiting is the hardest part.” Yeah, thanks Tom Petty for that line.

But it is true. It was not a good week for me or my family. And the results came back that four of the samples taken were positive for cancer. After the long waiting, the next two days were hurry up. I had a CT scan on Thursday and a bone scan on Friday. Nothing like a barium cocktail to start the morning on Thursday and an injection of radioactive material to begin Friday. However, both tests were clear, which should mean that the cancer has not spread from the prostrate.

I am very pleased with Dr. Khan, my urologist. He requested the bone scan be read immediately at the conclusion of the test and that the results be emailed to him so he could give them to me Friday afternoon. Yeah, Friday afternoon, a time most doctors spend out of the office.

There was some disturbing news from these tests, but I really don’t want to go into that right now. I have to deal with one problem at a time, and cancer is the problem I am dealing with right now. Again, Dr. Khan felt the cancer has not spread outside my prostate and we discussed treatment options.

I can tell you for a fact that I feared surgery because of risk factors. Age, weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure are not a welcome combination for a surgeon or anesthesiologist. I can’t do anything about age, but the doctor (and Jane) were quite forceful in stating I must do something about the others. Anyway, my treatment started on Friday. First up was hormonal treatment to reduce the size of my prostate gland. Two shots in the stomach made my day. Well, it was a start and I want to get better and will deal with any discomfort.

I go back to see the doctor again in a month. If the size of the prostate has been reduced enough, the plan is for a cryotherapy procedure. For those of you who can remember the Cornhusker Classic at Sunset Speedway and freezing your ass off, this procedure is a little bit like that. A solution of some kind at -100 C will be injected into my prostate, freezing and destroying the cancer cells-and the prostate with it. It is an outpatient procedure, which surprised me, and I will only be off work a few days.

I have spent a lot of time online this past five weeks learning about prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer among males-over 200,000 men are diagnosed with this cancer each year, and there are over 2,000,000 survivors of this malaise living in the U.S. If caught soon enough, it is very survivable. And for me, it does appear it was caught soon enough.

So, I will do what it takes to get rid of the cancer and go on with my life. A life that has to be changed in many ways. Red meat is going to appear less and less on my daily menu. Same with white bread. McDonald’s is going to be a rare treat, not a regular stop. Pork and chicken will replace red meat. I need to start exercising again. I need to get my weight down, way down, and honestly the choices I have to make aren’t terrible ones, I just haven’t made them. Now I will.

I have no desire to leave my family. Any of them. And most especially there is a soon to be 5 year old living in northwest Fremont that I want to watch grow up to become what I know will be a fine young man. So, I am making the decision to live and stop killing myself.

I suppose from time to time I will write about this again. Most likely when the cryotherapy is done. The past five weeks have been tough ones, an emotional rollercoaster-and I hate and am afraid of rollercoasters. So, I got this off my chest. Now I can go watch the postponed Bristol night race being run on a Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Prairie Dirt Classic Wrap Up-I Think

August 2, 2016 Leave a comment

More tidbits and random thoughts from the Prairie Dirt Classic:

-Steve Casebolt led the early portion of the race, and honestly was destroying the reputation of the PDC. To say he was dominant would be an understatement. Before a caution came out he was ahead of the second place car by over a straightaway. On lap 40 though his race car expired in a puff of steam. That was bad for Casebolt, but good for everyone who wanted to see a close race.

-Richards took over first place after Casebolt broke, but never built a comfortable lead. The battle for second was a good one between Tim McCreadie, Don O’Neal, Shane Clanton, and Dennis Erb Jr. At one time or another each of those drivers managed to move into the runner-up spot, and the battle for position produced many laps of three wide racing. Good stuff for someone like me who defines racing as a side by side battle.

-Josh Richards is a heady driver. Midway through the 100 lap feature he moved into the line of Bobby Pierce, frustrating the young driver from Illinois, which in turn caused Pierce to try something different and hit the 3rd turn wall. Later when Dennis Erb Jr. was catching Richards, the 1 car moved into Erb’s line as well.

-Two tow trucks were needed to remove Pierce’s damaged machine.

-Matt said someone should produce a t-shirt showing a photo of Scott Bloomquist on a milk carton. The missing from World Group sanctioned events while suspended Bloomquist won $10,000 at a Southern Nationals race at Tazewell Speedway in Tennessee.

-If not for the suspension, Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, and Brandon Sheppard would have been in Fairbury for the PDC. That would have put 20 of the top 25 DOD drivers in Central Illinois. Would the race have been better if the trio was present? It was plenty competitive anyway, so I can’t say it would have been. The locals might not have fared so well if these 3 drivers of the Eldora 5 had raced.

-Yes, I was cheering for Erb. I am not anti-Richards, but I always want drivers who I wrote about in Dirt Late Model magazine to do well. Erb started 16th and ended 2nd, a testament to how racy this place is. I might have cheered a little more for Richards if he had come to the Silver Dollar Nationals as invited.

-I told Matt I would love to charter a bus to take about 40 Nebraska fans to this race. Years ago-when they were really bad-I did something similar as a project for the North Bend Jaycees, chartering a bus to a Kansas Chiefs football game against the San Diego Chargers. Trouble is, I don’t think I could come up with 40 tickets to the race, even if I could sell that many packages. Some of my friends are as crazy as the Illinoisans (Ill-annoys, or Illi-noise) and the rest would love these raucous fans.

-In his first race since a concussion injury several weeks ago, Steve Francis finished a solid 13th. Hopefully the remainder of the 2016 season will be much better for the Kentucky driver. Yes, I do like Francis.

-Despite damage from the Pierce wreck, Shane Clanton finished 3rd.

-In addition to Erb, movers in the race included Eric Wells (24th to 9th), Rick Eckert (17th to 6th), and Pierce (22nd to 2nd before his wreck).

-Matt heard it first. On the way to the track on Saturday, I predicted Richards would win the race. Matt thought Shannon Babb would win. Babb finished 5th.

-Late models click off laps in the upper 12 second to 13 second range at FALS. My eyes don’t move that fast, so obviously my mind doesn’t either.

-As a card carrying member of the Sunset mafia, the legendary Sunset Speedway will always be my favorite track, but FALS has moved into 2nd spot. Yes, I do think the racing at FALS is better than at Knoxville. The last 20-30 laps at Knoxville are wasted. They darn sure are not wasted at FALS.

A wrap up. Maybe. 3,000 words describing this place should be about enough. FALS was everything I love about auto racing, still love after decades. Yes, there were a few things I wasn’t overwhelmed with, but most tracks I want to spend thousands of words complaining about and just a few praising-the total opposite of FALS. My intent is to visit FALS every Prairie Dirt Classic I am able to. I gotta get a t-shirt yet anyway.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Thanks to TMC for the following link about Ray Guss Jr.

http://www.qconline.com/sports/guss-calling-it-a-career-after/article_16a3cdc2-16de-5de9-aad7-1e3653538d79.html

I will always remember Guss from the days of the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour. Guss, Gary Webb, Denny and Dave Eckrich, and Joe and Steve Kosiski made the tour a top notch regional series. Eastern Iowa has changed from being a NASCAR hotbed to an IMCA stronghold Guss has done well in the Deery Brothers Summer Series as well.