Knoxville Nationals Part 2 & North Dakota

Welcome back to my faithful and new followers. Right now it is Tuesday August 25th around 9:30pm. I'm camped at an RV park across the highway from Schatz's Crossroads Truck Stop in Minot, ND, I've been here since yesterday. I'm watching America's Got Talent, so far I haven't seen an act that I like. Earlier I watched Big Brother, my favorite on the show is Jeff, but he made a huge mistake tonight using his veto power and taking Kevin off the block. If Jordan doesn't win HOH on Thursday, Jeff is going to be on the chopping block. Well, lets catch you up on what I've been up to since I left off on my last bog putting my head on my pillow at 4:00am after Saturday night at the Nationals.

I woke up Sunday around 10:00am still in Knoxville and not picking up camp to drive to MN. My oldest daughter and her boyfriend Justin went to Pella to do our much needed laundry, plus I didn't want to send my girls home on Monday with a pile of dirty clothes. I spent the morning once again cleaning Woody, what a mess he was from Saturday night. Yes, it took me another 3 hours to get him looking good again. I would say that over 80% of the RV's that were at the fairgrounds left overnight or Sunday morning, everyone else that was sticking around was all up in arms because the forecast was for more rain in the evening, and everyone was pissed that cars weren't going to hit the track until 7:00pm. The pits opened up around 4:00pm, and as scheduled, hotlaps for the B-Main & A-Main cars started promptly at 7:00pm, with no threat of rain, Cappy and his team of professionals made the right decision to run the final main events at night and not during the day. I was afraid the track wouldn't widen out and make for boring fast racing, but Chris and his track crew did an awesome job and had the track in perfect condition after hotlaps and a 20 minute delay for the sun to go down. The track widened out about lap 5 of the B-Main and made for some good racing, watching Kemenah and Haud touch down the backstretch, what a great job Kemenah did to not crash and keep his position. Now it was time for the Main Event, 40 laps, I have to applaud Cappy and John McCoy for giving the fans who stayed a show, they stuck with the driver introductions and lining the cars up on the front stretch, the did the parade lap, 4 wide lap with fireworks, and then the green flag flew one lap later, way to go Knoxville. They could have gone staight into a parade lap and green flag to save fuel for the 40 laps, but instead they gave the fans a show also. The big pink elephant for the race was a semi scheduled fuel stop and when would it be called on. They announced it to the drivers on the raceceiver that it would be on lap 22 if their wasn't a red flag before that lap. That way teams couldn't short fuel their car at the start. On lap 22 the yellow came out then the red for a fuel stop, I walked around and asked around 5 crews from WoO teams to PA teams & Knoxville teams, everyone of them had used from 23 gallons to 25 gallons, so at that kinda fuel consumption, even a 33 gallon tank wouldn't be enough. I'm not sure if the fuel stop helped or hurt anyone, you could say it hurt Joey and helped Donny, but what hurt Joey was the fact that it was a 40 lap race not 30. When Joey's front wing side panel started to peel off, you could see he couldn't run the cushion without having to steer the car more and that was slowing him down and combine that with Donny being Donny and getting faster during the final 10 laps. When Joey's wing panel fell off, he lost the front end in the cushion and Donny got by him and went on to win his 4th consecutive Nationals win. Right now he is the best drive and he has the best team, that combo is hard to beat. CONGRATS DONNY and the TSR Team on a great win. The best part about the 49th Knoxville Nationals, on Sunday night they ended around 9:45pm and the fans that stayed, saw a great show and race.

Monday I had to get up early and be driving out of Knoxville by 10:00am, I had to be at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, MN by 3:00pm, because I had to get my daughters to Minneapolis Airport by 5:00pm to get them to their flight home to Florida on time. I arrived at the track around 3:00pm and got the RV settled in and transferred the girls luggage to Justin's truck and it was off to Minneapolis. Alisha wanted to eat at a place she saw on "Man vs Food", so as we were driving the 87 miles to the airport, we looked the place up online and found out it was 10 minutes from the airport, so we called in our orders and they were ready for us when we arrived. The burgers weren't bad, but now she can say she had a burger she saw on TV. I hated having to take the girls to the airport, I love having them travel on the road with me, I might give them a hard time when were traveling, because they don't know how to put anything away neatly or clean anything without being told, typical teenager & 10yr old. I love them very very much and it is really sad to see them leave. However, I'm extremely proud of Alisha for getting excepted to UWF and earning scholarships to pay for her tuition, so she needed to get home to move into her dorm and be ready for her first college class on Monday August 24th. As for Selena, the state of Florida says she has to be enrolled in school and theres no way I'm going to home school her, so she needed to be home to start the 5th grade on August 24th. It was also kinda sad to see Alisha have to leave Justin and to say goodbye to him, I think she really likes him, a lot. After getting back to the RV, it was kinda eery and lonely being by myself. I miss my girls.

Tuesday I spent the day at the track washing everything, the RV and trailer were filthy, I washed the RV from head to toe, and it needed it badly. The trailer was a mess and so was Woody, it took me about 6 hours to get everything clean and polished up. By the time I was done, everyone else showed up at the track, Bill & Linda (After getting a jack & air bag on their RV replaced in Des Moines), Jim & Lucy (After getting their steps and A/C unit fixed on their RV in Des Moines), Eloy (After blowing a wheel bearing on his scoreboard trailer in Waterloo and getting a new hub replaced), and then Tom. All of us except for Tom went up the road to eat at a local bar & grill, where we met Carlton & Justin (yes Alisha's boyfriend). After a nice dinner it was back to the track and an early night.

Wednesday I woke up around 9:00am to very gray skies and strong winds, after looking at the radar, it didn't look good, and it wasn't, when it rains in MN, it rains buckets. The race was postponed to Sept. 19th and everyone left to get an early start to Grand Forks, ND, except for me & Tom, we waited until it stopped raining to hopefully not get to dirty when driving. I kinda knew it would rain, everytime I wash everything head to toe, it rains when I have to drive, so of course right after Tom & I got on the road, we ran right into more rain and wet roads. Tom & I drove up to Rogers, MN and we spent the night at the Lowe's. During the drive, I kept hearing more noises coming from my engine area, so I looked up Cummins places in St Cloud, MN, so I could stop in their and have them look at it.

Thursday morning, I got up around 8:00am and took off for St Cloud after making an appointment at the Cummin place. Well, not good news for me, my exhaust mainifold had a couple loose bolts and burnt gaskets and my turbo was leaking exhaust through the hot gasket, which meant I needed to get the manifold gaskets and the turbo replaced. I called around and the Cummins service center in Grand Forks was able to find a turbo and have it on hand on Friday, so I made the appointment for 8:00am Friday. The rest of the day was driving to Grand Forks, I took HWY 10 from St Cloud over to HWY 59 and then to HWY 2 to Grand Forks. It was on & off rain all day, when I got to Grand Forks I stopped at the track to let everyone know I made it safely and it looked like the track grounds were under water it rained so much. I took off to the WalMart to do some food shopping and to stay the night. At around 11:00pm, it started raining and it probably didn't stop until 2:00am, just what the track needed more rain.

Friday I was up by 7:00am to make my appointment by 8:00am. I unloaded Woody from his trailer and dropped my house off and parked the trailer at the Cummins place to get all the needed work done. I was nervous that something would go wrong and I wouldn't be able to use my RV to get to Mandan, ND for Saturday nights race. I drove Woody to River Cities Raceway (about 3 miles from the Cummins place) and found the racetrack pit area a complete swamp (i knew this wouldn't be good, especially with it coudy & overcast all day long). I talked Walt & Gaye Carmichael into going to breakfast with me at the Family Diner up the road. We had a good breakfast and back to the track, well I mean swamp. As I was nervous all day, I couldn't relax, so I just kept myself occupied by staging the T-Shirt trailers and trying to not be a pest to Don Mack and Larry Hilerude. Around 4:30pm, I finally got the call I was waiting for, my house was fixed and I could come pick it up. I got Walt to take me to Cummins, and after looking at the work done and hooking up my trailer, it was time to go in and pay the piper. $2,050.00 later, I was driving my RV back to the track, thank god they got it done in one day. I have to thank NPower Cummins in Grand Forks, ND, they did a great job finding me a turbo and replacing it on such short notice, plus they pretty much only charged me parts a just over 2 1/2 hours labor. As for the race, what a mess, after watching the track crew try to get the pit area usable for over 3 hours, the decision was finally made around 6:30pm to pit outside in the grass as they barely made a push lane in the pit area and I mean just barely. We finally started qualifying around 10:00pm, I couldn't believe the crowd stayed around, the stands were still packed. Finally thanks to mother nature, the fans finally got to see the WoO cars qualify on a fast tacky track, and we didn't dissapoint, I think fast time was around 9.100, I hope we set a new track record. As for the racing, a rough 1/4 mile that never dried out, made for some interesting driving and some spectacular saves and some pretty exciting flips, no one got hurt and the fans had a good time. I have never seen a track where we were battling moister coming up from under the track and the dew point causing the track surface to get slimey, but it didn't seem to bother Craig Dollansky, he dominated the entire race and won for the third time this year. Just like in Knoxville, Woody was a complete mess after I got done making sure everyone got out of the pits, I did have to try and pull out Walt's 5th wheel, but with miscommunication between Walt & I, we didn't make it out of the mud and Walt had to pulled out by a tractor. Needless to say, I was a little bit embarrased I didn't get him out, I'm pretty sure it was a lack of driving skill on my part, my Dad would have gotten Walt out. I finally put my head on the pillow around 3:00am.

Saturday, I slept at the track and was up around 8:00am and on the road to Mandan, ND around 9:00am. I didn't want to drive through Fargo, so I took a couple back roads to get to I-94. I took I-29 south from Grand Forks to exit 100 HWY 200A west, about 20 miles I came to a stop sign and turned south on HWY 18 and after about 30 miles, I came to I-94. Then it was a long boring drive on I-94 to Mandan, ND (Bismark). I arrived in Mandan around 2:00pm and unloaded Woody and started looking for a water spicket. I found one in the infield of the track and spent about an hour washing Woody, he wasn't perfect, but he was still looking good. After getting all the T-shirt trailers in place it was time for a quick nap and then off to work. Last year this track took rubber in the first heat, this year Joe with SLS had the track prepared a lot better. The track took rubber around lap 30 of the 35 lap feature, before the rubber, Donny Schatz got by Lasoski with about 7 to go and won his 100th WoO feature. I was nice that this race went smoothly and the checkered flag flew around 10:30pm. I thought I was gonna get a somewhat early night, but know, Craig Dollansky was having trouble getting his slideouts in on his RV, Craig and I tried to troubleshoot the problem and bypass the bad motor, but after about 2 1/2 hours, we finally gave up and I went over to see if everyone had gone to bed, nope Walt was still up and he fixed me a good stiff margarita and we BS'd for about 45 minutes and then we went to bed. Thank god I didn't have to do a damn thing Sunday, so I tried to sleep in as long as I could. Well, Craig calls me around 11:00am to ask me to use Woody to push his Living room slide in. So, I get up and go over to help, he has his friends with Aggressive Hydraulics (Paul & Dave) helping him get the slides in, they got the bedroom slide in, but not the living room. After trying to push it in with Woody with no luck, they finally figured out that the lock pins were still engaged. So, after about 2 more hours of trying to get the lock pins to disengage, with no luck, Craig and Julie were stuck in Mandan until Monday when a Newall service mechanic could come out to help get them back on the road. So, I loaded up Woody and headed for Minot, ND where I planned on spending a couple days cleaning everything (again) and doing some much needed maintenance on the trailer. I arrived in Minot, ND at the WalMart around 5:00pm and spent the night.

Monday, the plan was to go to the fairgrounds to wash everything and hook up to electricity and spend two days there, well that plan was shot to hell when I found out all the water at the fairgrounds has been cut off due to building a new grandstand for the track. Well, it was time for a new plan, I decided to go due my laundry (now I really miss my daughters, since they did my laundry for past 3 months) and make a new plan. Bill & Linda found an RV park across from the Schatz Crossroads Truck Stop and for $26.50 a night and they allowed us to wash our RV's, so I decided to stay there until Wednesday morning. After I was done with laundry, I filled up with diesel at Schatz's truck stop, just what Donny needed, $171.63 from me, and parked at the RV park and washed my RV, trailer, and Woody. After finishing up, Bill, Linda, Eloy & myself went out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday's, we had a really nice dinner and conversations, they are all really great people and good friends.

Finally, today it was time for the dreaded maintenance on the trailer, I had to clean & inspect all the wheel bearings on the trailer. I absolutely hate doing this job, not only is it back breaking (being bent over for 2 hours sucks) it is just a plain ol' nasty dirty job. Unlike last year, all the bearings were in great shape and just needed to be re-greased and reinstalled. It still took me about 2 hours, do due the job right. Moving the fenders forward and adjusting the preload on the front torque axel during the winter has made a huge difference on how the trailer rides down the road. These are the same bearings I started the season with, last year we had to replace the bearings and races atleast 3 times, thanks Dad, you hit the nail on the head and fixed the trailers problems from last year. After loading up Woody and getting ready to take off tomorrow morning for Edmonton, Canada, I was invited for dinner over at Bill & Linda's, Eloy joined us also, what a great dinner (Bill missed his calling as a chef), and then Eloy made desert (yummy Kaloa & ice cream floats). Now I'm ready to head into Canada, nothing but a 800 mile drive to Edmonton. My plan is to make it to Saskatoon, spend the night and then make it to the track around 4:00pm on Thursday. Going to Canada is fun, but it does have it drawbacks, first getting across the boarder, it is a crapshoot of which boarder agent you get when entering Canada, hopefully I won't have a problem. Second, not being able to use my cell phone or Verizon wireless card in my laptop, unless I want to break the bank paying my phone bill, at $1.39/min, $.50/text sent, and $.10/kb, no way jose, I will just not use them, except for emergencies.

So, my next blog entry won't be until I get to Skagit Speedway in around 9-10 days, I hope you enjoyed reading these past two long winded blogs, but now you are caught up with me before I head into the great north.

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"