Broke down in Charlotte

Welcome back, well another week down in the 2010 WoO season, since my last blog, I have driven quite a few miles and in the last two days it has gotten a lot more stressful. Right now I am writing this in the customer lounge at the Cummins Service Center in Charlotte, NC, not where I wanted to be on Wednesday May 26th, I should be parked out front at ButlerBuilt visiting with Jeannie & Brian and driving Robert crazy. Hopefully Cummins will be able to get me out of here before noon and I can get out to Concord. My last blog ended last Wednesday and I was in Akron, OH, since then I have driven over 1,000 miles and only worked 1 race, such is the life on the WoO Trail. Now, let’s catch you up on the exploits of last week.

Thursday I was up early (8am, that’s early for me) so I wouldn’t be late for my tour and static display at Goodyear. I arrived on time at the Goodyear Technology Center/Factory in Akron, OH were 90% of all their race tire are manufactured. I was invited by Justin Fantozzi the man in charge of the sprint car racing tire program to take a tour of the factory, see how the tires are made, lunch, and then display Woody for all their employee’s to see. Long time Goodyear supporter Sonny Kratzert and Kerry Madsen were also their for the tour, lunch and they had Kerry’s new sprint car on hand for the display. The tour was very enlightening, the factory was amazing, and the employee’s really enjoyed seeing Woody and Kerry’s car. First, the actual factory is a 103yr old 5 story building and each floor does a different part in making each tire. Second, I thought the whole process would be fully automated, man was I wrong, each racing tire be it a NASCAR, Drag Racing, Dirt Modified, most Sports Car Racing, and Sprint Car (dirt) tires are 75% constructed by hand. Each sprint car tire takes about 3-4 man-hours each and when the tire is completed, the worker’s name is placed on the tire (next time you see a brand new tire look for the little yellow tag and it will have a Built By name on it), these women & men take pride in their work. Also, for all you naysayers out there that think the tires are made outside of the USA, you are wrong they are all MADE in the USA. One other crazy stat for you is, at the beginning of November 2009 Goodyear had an inventory of ZERO (0) sprint car tires, talk about having to ramp up production, Justin told us that they worked 3 shifts around the clock, 7 days a week (ton’s of overtime) to be ready for racing in February. Now with racing in full swing in all forms and series’, they are still working around the clock keeping up with all the demands. Meeting the employee’s as they changed shifts as they stopped by to check Woody out was pretty cool, a lot of them wanted to know how long each tire lasted, when I told them 30 laps, they were amazed that all their hard work only lasted that long, but the sprint car tires are the softest tires they make. After lunch, Justin took us over to see the blimp hanger along with the old stadium the Rubber Bowl and the National Soapbox Derby track, he also bought us ice cream cones from one of Ohio’s oldest creameries. I had a great time at Goodyear and can’t thank Justin, Dan and all of the Goodyear staff and employee’s enough for the great hospitality and good time.
After I loaded Woody back on his trailer I headed for Attica, OH, I took Hwy 224 from Akron to Attica, I stopped in Willard, OH (8 miles east of Attica) to do laundry and eat dinner. I found a small clean laudramat and a new Mexican restaurant downtown so I parked the RV in the Bank’s parking lot cleaned my close and had a nice dinner. I arrived at the Attica Fairgrounds plugged into good electricity (thanks Rex) and prayed for good weather on Friday. After having a couple of beer’s with Gene & Jim, it was time to turn in and get some sleep.

Friday I woke up to the sound of some serious rain drops hitting the roof of the RV, it had been raining since around 7am and it stopped around 11am, it made a mess of the pit area and most of the grounds, with more weather expected later in the afternoon/evening, Attica’s promoter Rex and WoO Officials decided to pull the plug at noon so most of the fans & teams wouldn’t end up traveling that far and hopefully save a little cash. I hung around Attica until 1:30pm hoping the wet roads would be dry before I headed for Lake Odessa, MI to I-96 Speedway. I decided to take the back hwys to I-75, so I took Hwy 224 to Tiffin, OH where I saw diesel fuel was at $2.98, so I topped off and headed out on Hwy 18 to Hwy 299 then to Hwy 6 to I-75 just south of Bowling Green University. From there I took I-75 to US 23 to I-96, when I got to Howell, MI it started to rain and it quickly became a big thunderstorm and by the time I got to the Flying J north of Lansing, I was just glad I didn’t get struck by lightening, it was a monsoon out there. After eating dinner at the Flying J (don’t recommend it) I headed for the WalMart in Ionia, MI, I arrived there around 7pm and ran into Jim & Luci, I hung out with them until the rain stopped around 8:30pm.

Saturday I waited until 11:00am to head out to I-96 Speedway, hoping that it wouldn’t be to muddy to find a parking place. The access roads at the track were horribly muddy but surprisingly the grass parking area was still hard enough to drive on and I found me a spot to camp. Man was the pit area a muddy mess, at first glance, I didn’t think they would ever get the pit area ready to park our huge rigs the teams have, but between SLS’s Larry Hilerude & Scott Boyd and the track staff’s hard work they got the pit area usable as the teams started to arrive. The next thing we had to do was get the T-Shirt trailers in place, it wasn’t really too bad, except for Dollansky got their new 5th wheel rig stuck and I had to use Woody to pull him out and into place. The last thing to get ready was the track, with the sun out the track finally started to dry out to where you could get heavy equipment on it and they had the track ready for hot laps on time. The infield was soft, but it was no match for Woody and I was able to get Eloy’s scoreboard in the infield for the fan’s enjoyment. I was surprised that we had 34 sprint cars sign in, not bad for that area, it was good to see Dean & Lee Jacob’s tow up there. The racing was typical for the heat races on a big half mile, all the action is on the start and in turns 1 & 2, if they didn’t get it done by turn 2, that’s where you finished. The B-main was kinda exciting, especially for the last transfer spot between Toni Lutar, Ben Gregg, & Bill Rose, Bill ended up the odd man out. By this time it was around 9pm and we were looking at getting done by 10pm, SLS decided to work the track a little bit to get rid of the shelf in hopes that the cars would be able to get a little higher in the corners, then the unexpected happened, right about when they were done, a bat or bird flew into a transformer (thought I was back in Guam, that happened all the time there) and blew out the main light pole for the entrance to turn 1, so about 45 min later they brought in three portable light carts and we were able to finish the racing program. The race was a pretty good one, Lasoski tried his best to stink it up by running away with it, Danny ran away from Schatz & Meyers as Dean Jacobs held in there in 4th. After a yellow, Lasoski again ran away to a big lead until Schatz blew a left rear, during that yellow it turned into a fuel stop and Steve Kinser pulled into the work area with a flat left rear. On the next restart Danny again jumped to a huge lead and looked poised to win his 1st race of 2010, until on lap 25 he blew up his rear end and came to a stop on the backstraight. After that Meyers inherited the lead and never gave it up, Joey tried on the last restart and actually jumped the start but slowed down to let Jason by before the flag stand and that is all Jason needed to win his 6th race and close the point gap by few more points on Joey. It was a great night of racing with a sellout crowd and fun had by all (except for maybe Danny & Barry and their crew). Woody has some great fans that come to that race and they all came by after the race to say hi and asked how my parents are doing. Well, they are doing great traveling in New York on there way to Nova Scotia.

Sunday I woke up around 10am and rolled out of bed by 11am, I loaded up Woody and took off for my first stopping point on my long trip to Charlotte, NC. My plan was to get to Lima, OH Fairgrounds and spend the night, I arrived there around 4pm, diesel fuel was only $2.93 at the WalMart next to the fairgrounds, so I filled up and then parked in the RV area in the front of the fairgrounds and plugged in. It is a really nice spot to clean everything, so I broke out the hoses and soap and washed everything, the RV, Woody and his trailer, I also needed to stop some leaks on the trailer, hopefully I did that by siliconing where I think the water is getting in. It takes about 4 hours to clean everything, but man did they all need it, now I don’t look like the Clampet’s driving down the road. Man did I sleep good Sunday night.

Monday I filled the RV up with water, dumped the tanks, went and paid the fairgrounds their $20 for camping & using the hook-ups and took off for my next stopping spot in Ripley, WV. As I was driving on Hwy 33 to Columbus, OH I noticed that my volt meter was only showing 11 volts (normally it is 13.7) so I pulled over and checked the altenator with my volt meter, confirming I had lost the altenator. I carry a spare one with me so I figured no big deal, I found a nice shop in Columbus to have them swap them out, well everything was going good until we figured out the my spare had the wrong pulley on it and the old pulley was frozen on the old altenator. After they tried for about 1 ½ hours to get the old pulley off, with no avail, I then had to buy a new pulley (F’ing $110, that hurts getting raped like that), it took about an hour to get the part and put it on, I thought great I’m on my way, nope after I started the motor and confirmed the new altenator was working, then I couldn’t turn the motor off. The new altenator didn’t have a built in diode, so they had to install a diode, now I was on my way after paying my $465 bill, again I hate getting raped in the wallet. However, if I would have tried to do it by myself in a parking lot, I would still be there cussing my ass off. The wrong pulley was my fault to begin with, I told Billy Roy the size of the pulley when he built it. So, after a 3hr delay, I was back on the road and I still made it to Ripley, WV before 8pm.

Tuesday, yesterday my plan was to make it to Jeannie & Brian Butler’s shop (ButlerBuilt Seats) around 4pm, so I was on my way around 11am. The drive through WV is a constant up & down process going through the mountains, however you really don’t care because it is really beautiful scenery to drive through. I made it through WV with no problems and as I started down the big mountain on I-77 into NC, my alarm starts to scream, I look at the warning lights and it is my air system, I found a safe spot to pull off (thank god for the runaway truck ramps) and I kinda knew where the problem would be, and I was right, the air line on the exhaust brake burned a hole in it, I carry extra air line hose and was able to replace the line in about 30 minutes. But, I also noticed that I developed an exhaust leak in the manifold, not a good thing. It is drivable with the leak so I continued on to Charlotte, but instead of going to ButlerBuilt, I drove to the Cummins Service Center in Charlotte. I spent the night at Cummins so I would be there when the service dept opened. The good thing is they have RV parking with free electricity, so I plugged in and got my satellite up. It is Tuesday night, my two favorite reality shows are on, American Idol & Biggest Loser, I watched American Idol and Crystal kick some serious ass last night, I thought she sang & performed better and smoked Lee for the night, I just hope all the American girly teenie boppers don’t blow up there cell phones by texting for Lee and the American public gets it right and Crystal wins tonight. On the Biggest Loser, my favorite won, Michael weighed 526 pounds when he started the show and last night he weighed in at 253, he lost over 50% of his body weight in a 6 month period, that is some crazy shit. I think the producers of the Biggest Loser could do a show and pick some of the largest sprint car fans from Knoxville, Eldora, Williams Grove & Chico and see which race fan can lose the most and hopefully save their lives and inspire other large race fans to do the same on their own. I wouldn’t mind not having to carry and sell 5X t-shirts. Sprint car fans, I challenge everyone to get healthier.

Wednesday, today as I stated earlier, I’m here at Cummins getting my RV fixed, if I didn’t need to get this fixed right away, I would probably try to do it myself, but I have a tendicy to make repairs more lengthly than they should be, so I will have the professionals repair it and hopefully it won’t cost me more that a small body part instead of either an arm or a leg.

On the good news side of today, right after I got the cost extimate from Cummins, I received a call from Tim Engler who owns Engler Machine & Tool in Princeton, IN confirming he wants to advertise of Woody’s wing for all the TV shows for the 2010 season, so look for Engler Machine & Tool on Woody’s wing panel for Friday nights Live TV broadcast on SPEED at 8pm est from the Dirt Track at Charlotte Speedway and again during the Kings Royal weekend, the Knoxville Nationals week, the Williams Grove National Open weekend and finally at the World Finals weekend in Charlotte. Thank you Tim & Tammy for your support and I will do my best to get you on TV. Please take the time to visit and check out what they have to offer. I know he makes the best fuel injection systems for sprint cars 360 & 410 and he is now getting into the Mini Sprint business making fuel injection systems for them. They have a lot more to offer other than injection systems, just contact Tim and talk with him, I know you will be impressed with him and his work.
I just watched the weather forecast for Charlotte and it looks like possible rain on Friday and heavy rains on Saturday, everyone lets pray for mother nature to shine down on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Speedway Friday night, we all can’t keep driving over 1,000 miles a week and only race once, that makes for really depressing drives. Sunday the weather does look good for Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, PA, if your in that area, come check out the inaugural visit for the WoO Sprint Cars, it should be a great night.

Again, I want to thank all the fans for supporting me and Work 'N Woody and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. So, until my next blog, stay safe and keep all four wheels on the ground.

Work 'N Woody,
"Just Push'n Off"