Sweating in Eldora

Hey look, I'm finally updating my blog within a week, not 10-15 days later, now it won't take me as long to write it either. Right now it is Thursday Sept. 23rd and it is 7:51pm, I am camped here out in the camping area out front of the Pit Area entrance at Eldora Speedway, I can't believe it is still in the high 80's, when I arrived here around 3pm, it was in the mid 90's, for christ sakes, it is Late Sept and we are now officially in the Fall season, it sure doesn't feel like it today. I'm sweat'n my (you know whats) off. Tonight should be a good night on the boob tube, the season premiers of the CBS & NBC show's, this week has been season premier week and I haven't been getting too much sleep because of it, because I have been watching all my favorite shows and since I get the East & West Coast feeds on Direct TV, I have been staying up till 3am watching my shows, thank god I haven't had to drive very far each day. Its time to get you up to speed on what I was up to last week.

Friday, Sept 17th I was in Spencer, IA and I was up around 8:30am, hoping not to see a parking ticket on my window, since I parked overnight by the A&W where there were signs posted that said, "No Overnight Parking". Thankfully the Spencer Cops either didn't notice me there, or let me slide, but no ticket on the window, thank god. I headed over to the fairgrounds and the track and got parked for the night. During the day I helped place the T-Shirt trailers, set up the advertising inflatables, and finally when our command center arrived around 3pm I helped put up the hospitality tent that attaches to the WoO command center. After getting it set up, I relaxed in my RV for a little bit and got ready for racing. This year Chris Dinkin's (hopefully I spelled his name right) from Knoxville wasn't able to help with the track prep because of the AMA motorcycle race at Knoxville the same weekend, so I wasn't sure how the track would be this year. Watching them work the track, it sure didn't look like we would have a good track, I thought it would slick off early and take rubber. Well, thats why I drive a push truck and I don't prepare dirt tracks, we had a good race track all night long without having to re-work the track all night. I have to give good props to the Clay County Speedway track prep crew, nice job. With the points race as close as it is between the top 3, that seems to be what everyone is focused on, Kinser started up front with Meyers & Saldana starting near the mid-pack, and the race up front between Kinser, Swindell, Haud, & Schatz was a good one. The old farts were putting on a great show, Steve started pulling away and looked like he would win running the low groove, with about 8 laps to go, Hauds car just hooked up and started flying on the high groove. He passed Schatz & Swindell down the backstretch to go from 4th to 2nd and two laps later flew by Steve going into turn 3, I swear I saw Steve take a double take when Jac flew by, I think Steve was wondering if he had lapped Jac, but the next time by Steve jumped to the high groove and chased Jac. The last two laps, Jac almost got caught trying to lap cars running the middle and Steve gained bunches, but Jac was able to hold on for a very popular win. The big crowd was standing on their feet when the checkers flew. It was a big win for the R19 team, their car owner Lon Carnahan lives nearby Spencer and he and his whole extended family was in attendance, needless to say, when you can win in your owners region of the country, it can only help during negotiations for next year. The Dollansky's did another great job as the promotor's of this event, moving it to Friday from Wednesday was another good move, the crowd was definitely bigger than it has been the last two years.

Saturday, I was up around 8am and on the road to Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, MN, about a 175 mile drive. I took HWY 71 from Spencer to I-90, which takes you through Jackson, MN. I ran into big rain as I left Jackson on I-90 and just kept heading east to the blue skies and Deer Creek. About Albert Lea, I finally was out of the rain and back into the sunshine. I arrived at the track around noon and parked next to Jim & Luci, I unloaded Woody and filled him up with gas and then waited for everyone else to arrive. Hoping the rain wouldn't follow with them. Most of the teams and officials arrived before 2pm and after we got all the inflatables up, I headed for my Rv to relax and watch some collage football. The rains came about 4pm, but it didn't rain very hard or for very long, so everything looked good for the rest of the night, however, it was gonna be a cold one. After it rained, the temps dropped about 15 degrees to the low 50's. After the drivers meeting, I went to start Woody to checkout the push off area, and when I started Woody, after he cranked a couple times he made a horrible noise (like when you hit the starter when it is already running), but he started, so not knowing what caused the noise, I wasn't sure if he would start again, so my plan was to let him run all night long (hopefully he would run out of gas during the A-Main). Deer Creek is a great race facility, the pit area is huge mostly grass with dirt/rock roads (great for driving on, terrible for push starting sprint cars. My plan was to use the grass, but it was a little slick and the two wheel drive push trucks wouldn't be able to get the wheels to turn over, so we made a push lane that started on the gravel road and went into the grass, it worked out most of the time. Man did the tempature drop quickly all night, it was in the low 40's before the heats and it stayed there the rest of the night. The track is a fast 3/8, high banked with tight wide turns, man does it make for some wicked slide jobs, the type of slide jobs that when the guy doing the slide job drives it in so deep & fast that all he can do is slide up to the wall and pretty much wait for his car to stop before he can get back on the gas. As for the race, Joey started on the front row with Jason in the 3rd row and Steve back in 18th. Joey grabbed the lead early and led all 35 laps, but the race between Meyers & Schatz was classic, neither giving an inch. The action in the back was great to watch, Lucas Wolfe started last and was up to 6th by lap 5, Steve was in the top 10 by lap 8, then the reds & yellows started coming out, (not what Woody needed, I wasn't sure how much gas he had and on the high banks, I had to make sure I always parked him down hill, so all the gas in the tank would feed to the pickup). Joey survived all the restarts and Steve made good use of them and at the end of 35 exciting laps, Joey crossed under the checkers 1st, Meyers 2nd, Steve 3rd, and Schatz 4th, and thats the way they are in the points too. After the race, I parked Woody and shut him off to greet the fans and sell my merchandise, hoping he would start again so i could get him on his trailer. At the moment of truth, I cranked him up, he made some terrible metallic grinding noises, but he fired up, thank god. I moved Eloy's scoreboard from the infield and drove him up on his trailer.

Sunday, I decided to stay at the track and relax for the day, I figured that Woody chewed up the teeth on his flywheel, so I got with one of the tracks owners today and asked if he knew of a transmission shop in the area that might help me Monday morning, he recommended M&L Transmission in Grand Meadow, MN. So I spent the whole day & night at the track just chill'n out. It was disappointment Sunday for me, Tony ran out of gas on the last lap and my Vikings played like shit and got beat by the Fish at home. It stayed cold and at night I think it got close to freezing, I watched Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People on the History Channel and then hit the rack for much needed sleep.

Monday I was up early around 7:30am because I needed to fill the motorhome up with water before I headed over to the transmission shop. I got to M&L around 9am and went inside to talk with them to see if they could help me. This guy was by himself doing nothing, and he didn't have any other cars in his 3 bays, so I thought cool, he will be able to help me. When I talked with him and asked if he could help me, he had to hold the hole in his throat so he could talk and he asked what type of vehicle I had, I show him Woody through the window and he immediately told me he wasn't interested. I told him Woody had a Chevy 350 with a 350 Turbo tranny, he still told me he wasn't interested and asked me to leave. I couldn't believe he wouldn't help me, I thought to myself, have another cigarette dude, as i left his shop. So, I drove to Waterloo, IA and parked in a vacant parking lot by two auto shops figuring if I needed help, I hopefully would get it. I pulled the inspection cover and found that the flywheel didn't have any missing teeth and didn't look bad, so my next thought was a bad starter. When I loosened the bolts on the starter, I saw my problem, one of the mounting bolts had broke off in the block. I asked one of the shops if they could help me get the broken piece out of the block, they were going to help, but when their boss came out, he said no if I couldn't get Woody off the trailer, so I tried the other shop, they were going to help me, but i had to wait for a couple of hours. So, after a few calls to my Dad, my plan was to try and cut a groove on the piece with my dremmel tool and try to get it out with a screw driver. Well, when I put the dremmel tool on the piece, the vibration caused it to back out easily and I got the piece out. so, I walked across the street to the Advance Auto (didn't want to (since they dropped their sponsorship of the WoO), but they were the only auto parts store in the area) and bought a new bolt. After installing the starter, when I tried it, it still made that horrible metallic noise, I thought crap, now i had another problem. I've always had a spare starter in the trailer, so i installed it, oh but it didn't work either, it just spun without engaging the flywheel, thanks Dad, that spare starter was a dud. So, after more calls to my Dad and Billy Roy in New Mexico, they told me to install shims to get it to align better. I went back to the shop (Boubin's Muffler & Brake) and asked if they had any shims, they gave me a set. I tried all the shims even with different stackups and then I cut them and tried just shimming one bolt, still everytime I tried the starter, it would make that noise. So, I still couldn't see anything wrong with the starter, and after pulling the starter atleast 10 times, I was so frustrated I wanted to scream. I went back to the shop and asked Rocky (one of the mechanics) if he could help me when he got off work, he said he could. So, I waited until 6:30pm when he finally got off work, he helped me by watching what the starter was doing when I cranked it, after doing it a couple of times, he noticed that after the starter engaged, it would wobble off the flywheel and make that noise. So, back to Advance Auto for a new starter, Rocky and I installed the new starter and wah la, it fixed Woody's problem (if I would of had Selena with me, it wouldn't have taken me so long to figure out the problem, she could have turned the key for me, oh well, thats one of the downfalls of traveling by yourself). So, after 5.5 hours of crawling under Woody's trailer & Woody, I was ready to get a good dinner and relax and watch some TV. I ate dinner at the Olive Garden and then parked at the WalMart in Waterloo, IA and watched the Monday night comedies on CBS.

Tuesday, I slept in as late as I could, before I got on the road headed east. My goal for the day was to make it to Joliet, IL before 7pm. I left Waterloo around 11:30am and just cruised no faster than 63mph to Joliet. I took I-380 out of Waterloo to I-80 and then I-80 to Joliet. After making a few stops along the way, I made it safely to Joliet around 6pm and set up camp at the old WalMart next to the Sam's Club. It was kinda nice to have a relaxing day without any drama.

Wednesday, I drove to the WalMart in South Bend, IN where I planned on spending the night. I called Bill & Joan on Tuesday and asked them if they would like some company for dinner and if I could use their laundry room. Bill picked me up when he got off work and brought me over to their house. As we waited for Joan to get home from teaching an arobics class, I did my laundry and just hung out with Bill. Bill & Joan are great people, I love hanging out with them. After Joan got home, we had a great sgetti dinner (beef meat sauce with spicey sausage balls, a different but good combo), we all relaxed in their living room and chatted as we watched TV. Bill brought me back to my motorhome around 10pm and I finished watching my Wednesday night shows that I DVR'd. This season's Survivor so far has been pretty good, not sure I like the idea of splitting up the tribes by age (40 & up vs under 40), but so far they are 1-1 in the challenges, Jimmy Johnson (NFL coach) is on the old tribe, not sure why, but I don't think he will make it to the end. If I would have known that my SF Giants were going to be in Chicago to play the Cubs, I would have gotten tickets and gone to a game at Wrigley Field, oh well, after following the game on the internet, I'm glad I didn't go, the Cubs won 1-0, knocking the Giants out of 1st place. Hopefully the Giants pitching staff will keep up the dominating performances and the Giants make the playoffs.

Today, I left South Bend around 11am and decided to follow my GPS blindly to the Eldora. Well, what an interesting drive, the GPS took me a way i would have never gone by myself. First when I got to Ft Wayne, IN, the GPS took me right through downtown Ft Wayne, not the optimal way when your driving 60ft of motorhome & trailer. After getting through Ft Wayne, then the GPS decided to take me through downtown Decator, IN, thanks GPS. Then the GPS took me on HWY 33 into Ohio, then about 15 miles into Ohio, it had me turn onto a small two lane farm road called Old Township Lane, well at least it was paved, so i followed it to see where it was going to take me. Well, I finally ended up in St Henry, OH, after driving about 23 miles through some serious farm land. Once I got to St Henry, I finally knew where I was and then headed to the track. I got here around 3pm and set up camp. Well, lets hope for good weather tomorrow, no rain and that we get the race in tomorrow night. If any of you are going to be at Eldora or Lernerville this weekend, please come by and say "hi".

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"