Getting fixed in Des Moines, IA

Welcome back, I apologize for taking so long to update my blog, I don't have any great excuses but last week was kinda busy for me, so this blog might be a lengthly one to catch everybody up one what has been happening since my last blog was posted before the Charlotte race. Right now it is 8:30am on Monday June 7th and again I am at a Cummins service center in Des Moines hopefully getting my motorhome fixed from the poor maintenance that the Charlotte Cummins did. Charlotte fixed my blown exhaust mainifold gasket, but they screwed up my turbo somehow, because I was down on low end power and blowing a bunch of black smoke out the exhaust. And boy did I need all the low end power I could get driving through WV & PA to Tri City Raceway. Well, lets catch you up on what I've been up to.

Friday May 28th, I woke up to blue skies and took my daughter Alisha to breakfast (we walked from Butlerbuilt to the breakfast place). After a great breakfast, I went to start the motorhome to drive to the track and found I had dead batteries, I tried starting my generator and boosting the batteries, that didn't work, so i had to call Good Sam Emergency Roadside service to get a jump start, they arrived around 11:00am and were able to get me started. I missed helping get the drivers T-Shirt trailers situated (Sorry ladies), but they didn't need my help anyway this time. I had to let my motorhome idle for over an hour to let the batteries charge. I got to work on time at Noon and helped set up the inflatables in the infield with Justin, Steve, Jim, and Tony. After that is was time to hope that the rain would stay away, well around 6pm the rain started and it just stayed a steady light rain all night. If you tuned into SPEED at 8pm you saw the rain. We hung out until about 9pm before the plug was pulled for the night. The rain sucked, because a Live TV show on SPEED is a big deal and we missed out on it, thankfully if the weather cooperates on Saturday, they are going to broadcast the race on SPEED on a couple hours delay at 10pm. My friend Mike from Richmond, VA camped right infront of me and I got to meet his Dad and see his girlfriend Trena again, I'm sorry you guy's couldn't stay for Saturday (you missed a pretty good race).

Saturday May 29th, again I woke up to partly cloudy skies and good weather, hoping that the weather would hold out. Again my batteries were low, but I was able to get it started and let it run for awile and charge the batteries back up. The weather held off and we were able to get the program off, thankfully it was only us racing, the FASTRAX Late Models were cancelled so we were able to run our program in 2 1/2 hours. There wasn't much action on the track and with only 24 cars, no B-main was run. With all the rain the night before and threat of rain for the night, it was tough to prepare the track and unfortunately it became a one groove track in turns 3 & 4. But the fans got to see a good race for the feature. Donny Schatz won the race but it wasn't easy for him. I hope everyone who wasn't at the race got to see it on SPEED or DVR'd it and watched it later. I wasn't able to DVR it, because as soon as we got everything tore down and I loaded Woody on his trailer and took a shower, I had to be on the road headed north to PA. It is a 530 mile drive to Franklin, PA from Charlotte and I needed to be there by 3pm Sunday. I drove to exit 9 in WV on I-77 arriving at 3am. I noticed that my RV wasn't running like it should, but I will get into that later in this blog.

Sunday may 30th, I was up at 7:30am and on the road at 8:30am. Jim & Luci and Bill, Lynda & Eloy all stayed at the same WalMart at exit 9. Jim & Luci took off around 7am, 320 miles to go to Franklin, PA. If you have ever driven in WV or PA, there are no flat stretches of interstate to relax, you are either going straight up or down or in a curve, I couldn't use cruise control, so my right leg got a pretty good workout. Again I noticed that my RV wasn't running right, but it was getting up the hills (slowly) so I needed to keep going and get there. Coming into Morgantown on I-79 where I-68 merge, I came up on a car going 50mph in the second fast lane and I was going about 70mph so I jumped into the fast lane to pass and as I was passing the car I heard a loud screetch & squeal and a big bang as the car going slow was rearended by another car that must have been going over 80mph and was going to pass me and as he came around the trailer he ran right into the slower car. Luckily the car that got hit didn't turn left into me, because he would have hit me either in the right rear of the motorhome or the right front of the trailer, either way it would have made a huge mess and I probably wouldn't be writing this blog anymore. But, there wasn't any damage and no cops chased me down so I was still good to go to Franklin, PA. I only stopped twice on my way and i arrived at Tri-City Speedway around 3:30pm, the drive through Franklin was interesting, that is quite a steep hill coming into town. The track is about 7 miles out of town and when I left the town I had one truck behind me, when I got to the track I had about 30 vehicles behind me, most of them turned into the track with me. It was awesome driving into the parking lot, there was a ton of campers and excited fans to see the WoO. Man was it hot, I got there after everyone else and they had already set up the inflatables and the T-Shirt trailers were all in place, Gene great job in organizing all the trailers. The track is a 1/2 mile with not too much banking, but it was fast in hotlaps, then it got dry slick quickly. The main event was a great battle between Jason Sides & Steve Kinser, Jason did a great job holding off the King and he did it on 7 cylinders for the last half of the race. Thank god everything went smoothly during the night, because the Officials, Drivers, Crews, and one push truck driver was tired & cranky and it wouldn't have taken much to set any one of us off. There was a standing room only crowd and I'm pretty sure 95% of them came into the pits after the race to meet there favorite drivers and get ther autographs, that was great to see. Before the races started, I met a fan who reads this blog, I believe his name was Bob (if I got that wrong, I'm sorry and please send me an email using the contact button on the homepage and let me have it for not remembering your name), it is really nice to meet someone who reads my blogs and tells me they enjoy reading them, Bob, thanks for coming by and introducing yourself to me. After the races, it was nice to just relax let some of the stress leave my body (a few beers helped that happen, well maybe more than a few)

Monday Happy Memorial Day (do you really say Happy Memorial Day, when the holiday is all about celebrating those who have lost their lives defending this great country), woke up to a nice sunny day, I washed Woody and loaded him up, I troubleshot my battery problem and found that I have a wire connected to the altenator that is hot all the time and it bleeds through to the ingnition wire causing the generator to stay energized, so now I disconnect the wire when I'm not driving. I was dreading the long steep climb out of Franklin, PA, and I was right, with the motorhome not running right, I almost didn't make it up the hill, I was down in 1st gear when I should have been able to climb it in 3rd, I barely made it to the top. My goal was to make it past Chicago Monday night, so I wouldn't have to deal with the traffic Tuesday morning, but since I left later than expected (I needed the sleep) my new goal became South Bend, IN. I know it was a little out of the way off of I-80, but my good friends Bill & Joannie Dawson live right near the WalMart so I was hoping I would be able to see them. I made it to South Bend around 8:30pm and Joan had already gone to bed (she teaches arobics at 4:30am) but Bill came over and took me out for a bite to eat and an adult beverage at Applebee's. It was good to see Bill, I missed them at Eldora, hopefully I will get to see Joannie at the Doty Classic & Kings Royal. I really didn't take any different route from Franklin, I stayed on I-80 to South Bend. If I didn't have to be in Des Moines on Wednesday morning, I would have taken a different route to avoid the turnpike.

Tuesday June 1st, I was up and on the road around 9am, hoping the traffic around Chicago/Gary, IN wouldn't be too bad, luckily it was pretty smooth sailing throught that area. The drive across Illinios & Iowa on I-80 really isn't all that exciting, but it is the quickest way, plus with the way my RV was running, I didn't want to drive off the beaten path just incase. I made it to Des Moines around 5pm, if you live in that area you might of seen me around the Flying J area or at the WalMart in West Des Moines off of I-235. I stayed the night there because I had to be at the Roto-Rooter Manufacturing Plant for a static display and tour of the plant Wednesday morning. Man did it rain and rain and rain Tuesday night, it finally stopped around 7am.

Wednesday, I made it to Roto-Rooter at 9:30am and parked, the reason for the display and tour goes back to when I watched the TV show "Undercover Boss" in April. I watched the episode that featured Roto-Rooter, well the COO worked at the manufacturing plant in des Moines with a welder (Dan Nicholson), well Dan was a cool guy on the show and he never complained about his job, his only concern's were that Roto-Rooter would eventually move its manufacturing overseas and he and his co-workers would be out of a job and his only other concern was that during the hot summer without air conditioning the working conditions are bad. So when the COO brought Dan to Cinncinatti he promised Dan that Roto-Rooter would never outsource their manufacturing and that air conditioning would be installed in the factory. When I watch the show, I liked that Dan didn't ask for personal stuff, he was concerned about himself and his co-workers, plus one of my biggest beefs about corporate America is they are outsourcing almost everything overseas to just improve the bottom line and increase the salaries and bonuses of the top 5% of upper management. So, after I watched the show I emailed Roto-Rooter and invited Dan & the COO (Rick) to the Friday night race in Knoxville. I received an email from Roto-Rooter in Des Moines and was told that Dan would like to come to the races and wanted to meet me. So, we set it up for me to bring Woody to the plant and I got meet Dan and get the nickle tour. I have to give a big thanks to Lori Troyer from Roto-Rooter for setting everything up and I had a great time seeing how they make all the equipment that removes all our crap from clogged pipes. After I left there, I arrived at Knoxville Raceway around 2pm Wednesday and got settled in at my usual camping site (the livestock wash rack), which is a nice place to park when it rains. I worked on Woody trying to fix a fuel system problem that causes Woody to cut out at high rpm under a load, I think I have narrowed it down to debries in the tank or a collapsing line somewhere. I still don't have it fixed but Woody does run good as long as I don't go full throttle. I'll get it fixed soon.

Thursday, man was it hot and sunny all day, I got up early around 8am to work on my motorhome before it got too hot, I changed my oil filter and greased the driveshaft & U-joints. I needed to be at work around Noon to help setup the inflatables which we did around 2:30pm. I went back and ate dinner, changed into my uniform, and soaked up some air conditioning before going back to work with Woody around 4:30pm. 46 410's signed in and 27 305's signed in, for the nights racing. It became apparent during hotlaps that having an early pill draw was going to be a must for a good weekend (since Friday nights race was going to be lined up by how you finished Thursday's race, they are going to inverted the top 20 from tonights A-Main). The heat racing was some of the best of the year, with a lot of fast guys starting near the back of heats made for interesting racing. Lucas Wolfe came from deep to finish 4th in his heat, Schatz came from deep and finished in the top 4 and there were a couple others. It was good to see a few PA cars show up for the weekend (Lance Dewease, Adam Wilt, Tyler Walker, & Ed Lynch Jr), all 4 made the A-Main. Brooke Tatnell gave his fans a lot to cheer about, he led all 25 laps but never by that much, he had to fend off Saldana, Meyers, Schatz and Sides and two double file restarts. Way to go Brooke, I know Amy & Emma had to be excited for you and a big congrats to Eric your longtime crew member, you all put a whoop'n to us Outlaws.

Friday I woke up early again to work on my RV, this time I had to pull out all 6 of my coach batteries to check the water levels in them, that takes about 1 1/2 hours and it really sucks becuase the compartment is really small and the batteries are really heavy, but they all were good and didn't need any water added to them. Again I worked on Woody's fuel problem, changed the fuel pump and filters and it fixed the problem for about half the night Thursday, so this time I drained about 3 gal out of the tank and blew out the valve and line from the tank, it fixed the problem again for about half the night, so its back to the drawing board. The weather forecast wasn't helpful for ticket sales, but the actual weather was warm but beautiful for racing. Tonight the old guys were the showcase, the Masters Classic 360 race. It was kinda disappointing that only 15 Masters signed in, it might have something to do with Sammy and Danny competing, when the original concept for the race was for old racers who don't still compete competively. With the WoO cars not qualifying, they inverted the top 20 from Thursday nights race and ran 2 12 lap B-mains transferring 2 from each (they were lined up by the 21st-27th finishers from Thursday's main and then by Thursday's qualifying times). The Masters Classic wasn't so classic, Sammy dominated with Danny a straightaway behind, Sammy lapped up to 3rd place. I still think the old guy's had a good time, Danny Jennings' Grandpa raced, he is 78yrs young, incredible. The WoO main event was pretty good, Haud started on the pole and led every lap, but just like Thursday's race, he never had a big lead and Brian Brown & Dobmeier waged a great battle for 2nd until lap 23 when Schatz blew a RR tire in turn 2, I went and picked him up with my front winch and took him to the pits where I thought he would pull into his trailer (since we weren't racing for points, just money), but he steered it to the work area. If I had known thats were he wanted to go, I probably could have gotten him there quicker by just pushing him and not using the winch (I'll remember that next time, never assume, because assume only stands for "make an ass out of you and me"). Jac held off the pack on the double file restart for the win, but what a mess behind them, Lucas Wolfe went from 8th to 4th, Tyler Walker went from 5th to 3rd, Sides went from 13th to 7th, crazy shit. If I had any influence on this format I would of made the B-mains 20 laps and the WoO Main 40 laps, it would have given the fans more action for there ticket price, it would have been a good test for the Goodyear tires for the 50 lap Nationals coming up in August, and it would have given the guys starting in the back a chance of getting to the front. Oh well, I thought overall it was a good night of racing. After the races and a shower, I headed over to Dingus to congratulate Haud, Leonard, Marie and Kyle (I figured they would be there celebrating) and to have a few adult beverages. I climbed into bed around 1am.

Saturday I woke up around 10am to cooler weather with a strong breeze, but I was optimistic that the rain would hold off, then around 4pm the weather warmed up and the humidity got worse and then you could see the black clouds coming. We all started just hoping it would miss the track, not to be, it started raining just as we started to warm the motors and the push trucks were running in the track. Just as the push tracks had got the track run in except for the bottom 10ft the rain started coming down steadily. Even with the rain, everything was going to be good because it hadn't rained all that hard, but then the last 15 minutes of the storm it just flat ass poured about 1 inch of rain and flooded the track and pits. The track tried to get the track and pits ran back in and they came close but it was around 9:30pm when they called it. It was going to take about another 2 hours before cars would have been on the track and starting racing at 11pm anywhere is crazy especially when your track is located in the middle of town (except during the Nationals, the good Knoxville residents are more forgiving during the Nationals) plus there couldn't have been more than 1,000 people in the stands, cancelling was the best call. After helping get everything put away and moving Meyers' T-Shirt trailer I had to move my motorhome from the livestock wash rack because a cattle show was going to begin early Sunday morning and they needed the wash rack available. So I moved to where Meyers' was camped since he borrowed my electrical cord for the weekend. After I got my RV & trailer parked, I noticed a big crowd around Steve Kinsers coach, so I went to see what was going on. Steve's coach wouldn't start, his batteries were dead, even when a big tow truck showed up, they couldn't jump start it either, his batteries were toast. After that it was time to hit the rack.

Sunday morning I rolled out of bed around 9am to hear Darrin Pittman's dad trying to get his RV unstuck, he was making slow progress so I just brought over a couple of my wood blocks to put under the rear tires for traction, it helped and after about 10 more attempts, he was able to drive it out of the goo. After Mr. Pittman got unstuck, I noticed a couple guys standing by Steve's coach with it running. They had replaced Steve's batteries and got the coach to start, but now it wouldn't shift into gear. After trying to figure it out, I remembered my RV has a fuse that protects the transmission electronic shifter from hurting the tranny. So, after finding the right fuse panel (man his Prevost has a bunch of fuses & circuit breakers) we found a little 10amp blade type fuse was blown, after replacing the fuse his coach started back up and shifted into gear, all was good so I walked back to my RV to get my wallet to wlak to breakfast at Mr. C's. As I started walking, I heard Steve reving up his engine and I scene him spinning his wheels in the mud, i watch for a minute to see if he could rock it out. Nope he was stuck, so I fired Woody up and put him in 4 wheel low and hooked my tow strap to his hitch and pulled him out onto the hard road. Now it was time to go eat at Mr. C's, I ran into Mr. Robuck and then later John & Connie McCoy came in to eat, I had a nice conversation with John & Connie and then walked back to my RV to relax and watch sports on the boob tube. Around 4:30pm I ventured out over to Eloy's to see what everyone was doing for dinner and they said they were going to eat in Pella around 5:30pm. So, I still needed to wash Woody (so he was clean when Bruce at Advance Transmission services Woody's tranny Monday), after washing Woody we all went out to dinner in Pella, we ended up eating at a sports bar just as you drive into Pella. Not the best food, maybe there burgers and sandwhiches are good, but I would pass on there steaks and pasta dishes.

Monday, now you are caught up with what I've been up too, I'm still here at Cummins, they figured out that my turbo was starting to seperate (the clamp that holds it together came loose) and had started to chew up the internal blades, it was a good thing I got it looked at now rather than later. The bad part is they can't get a turbo until tomorrow, so now I'm stuck in Des Moines and need a place to stay for the night, Woody is in the shop in Knoxville and my trailer is all alone at the race track. I called Terry McCarl and he is going to put me up at his place for the night, so I do have a place to stay the night, but I have to wait for him to get back from Sioux Falls before he can pick me up. I have to thank Terry & Lori for helping me out when I need it, Thanks.

Well, lets hope my luck with my RV goes a lot better for the rest of the season, because it is getting rather expensive. I hope Cummins gets me out of here tomorrow afternoon, I have to be in Wichita, KS by 5pm Wednesday to pick up my youngest daughter Selena at the airport, I really don't want her hanging out at the airlines ticket office too long. I'll keep you posted on my next blog entry.

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"