Camped in Minot
Welcome back, it is Sunday Aug. 22nd at 10:30pm and I'm camped here at the Minot Fairgrounds, just kinda waiting to head back into Canada for next weekends races in Edmonton. Today I got motivated to clean everything, Woody, the Motorhome, and Woody's trailer. It took me about 4 hours out in the hot sun, it was around 95 degrees with no clouds, but I got it done and everything looks good. That means it is going to rain soon, probably when I'm driving up to Edmonton, that is the Malies' Luck. Well, it is time to get back to catching everybody up on what happened during the Knoxville Nationals. My last blog entry ended on Tuesday night after the Ultimate Challenge in Oskaloosa after getting Woody loaded up on his trailer just as the rain started to unload once again for a third straight night.
Wednesday morning I woke up around 7am knowing that I had been parked in a 3inch deep lake for three days, I was hoping that since the ground was hard when I parked on Sunday night that hopefully I would be able to gas it up in reverse and make it out. Well, I finished strapping Woody down on the trailer and got ready to back the motorhome up. Well, I gassed it up and made it back about 2 ft before my tires started spinning, I tried going fwd then back again, but no go, so I stopped so I didn't bury it too deep. It was just me and Selena, so I couldn't trust my 11yr old to drive the motorhome backwards while I pulled it with Woody, so I tried to pull it out just with Woody, well Woody is pretty tough, but he couldn't pull 35,000 lbs of dead weight out of the mud. Kent with DAK's Simulators tried to pull me out with his dually, but he was down 3 injectors so he couldn't do it. At this point I was getting a little pissed that the fairboard didn't have someone on the grounds to operate a tractor like they did last year. A couple of fans brought their trucks over and hooked together and tried to pull me out, that's when my tow strap broke, so it was looking pretty bleek at this time. One of the guys took off but the one fan with a F250 stuck around and he said with me driving the motorhome and him pulling he thought we could get it out. I didn't think we'd get it out, but to my surprise and embarassment, his F250 pulled me out with ease, damn Ford pulled me out, but I was happy to be out and on my way to Knoxville. On Tuesday HWY 92 was closed due to flooding, so I figured that after another 5in of rain Tuesday night/Wed morning, that it would be closed again, so I took HWY 163 to Monroe and then HWY 14 to Knoxville. I arrived in Knoxville around 9:30am. On Monday Jim called me to let me know that I had lost my normal campsight on the fairgrounds to a 30ft dumster for the Budweiser Clydesdale's horse shit and I had called Jody Hegwood and Larry Ball to see if I could camp at their shop, luckily they still had a sight w/50amp still available, so when I arrived in town, I didn't have any problem getting settled in and set up for the rest of the week. It was a way better campsight than where I have camped on the fairgrounds, I had 50amp elec and I was parked on cement, so if it rains, I'm good with no mud. I can't thank Jody, Larry & Jaime enough for hooking me up. After getting settled in, Selena & I went and checked in and got our 4 day credentials and where ready for the first night qualifier. Man was it going to be a hot/humid week in Knoxville, the heat index was around 110 degrees at 5pm when it was time to go to work, man was it miserable, but hey no rain, I'll take hot, miserable and dry over rain. It was good to see everybody at our once a year celebration of sprint car racing, I got my Nationals hug from Jeannie Butler from Butlerbuilt Seats which means it was time to go racing. Qualifying started off and their was some heavy hitters who drew late pills, but the track stayed kinda consistant througout qualifying. After Shane Stewart qualified (3rd car out) his crew came and got me to use Woody to help change their engine. I had forgot my extra entension to get the engine higher to clear the front wing, so I told them to take the wing off, they didn't believe me and we ended up banging up his wing a little bit, but not too bad and we got the new engine in in about 8 minutes. After I finished Shane's engine, Rahmer's crew came and got me and we changed his motor before his heat race. After the 2nd heat race, Craig Dollansky's son Luke came and got me and we changed their engine, not bad, 3 engines in the first 2 hours. As for the racing, the track was a little narrow and it was tough for the all the fast qualifiers to transfer through the heats. So the B-main was stacked with the 9 fastest qualifiers from qualifying. Tim Shaffer won the B-Main (I think), but the brain fart move of the 50th Knoxville Nationals was made by Jason Meyers, he finished 4th after a spirited battle with Kerry Madsen, after the checkered, Madsen drove up to Meyers and bumped wheels causing the crowd to go nuts cheering for Kerry, I don't know if Jason got distracted by Kerry or it was the fact that with the WoO we never weigh the B-Main transfers and that Jason hasn't ran but maybe 1 B-Main all year, but he brain farted and drove straight to his pit and climbed out of his car and his crew started to check air pressures, I quickly drove over there and Jason was climbing back into his car and his crew pushed him back and I pushed him to the scales. After he scaled, the officials decided that since he nosed into his pit stall and his crew touched the car and he climed out, they disqualified him from finishing 4th and scored him as the last car on the lead lap 20th. Ruining his Knoxville Nationals, sending him from an probable A-Main start to having to run the Non-Qualifiers races on Friday night. I felt bad for Jason and his team, but they did cover in the drivers meeting that all transfer cars from all events would have to scale before the finish was official. Bad for Jason, but good for Madsen, who started 24th in the A-Main and drove up to 4th, giving him enough points to earn a A-Main start on Saturday, finally Madsen's luck at the Nationals went the right direction for once. Shane Stewart won the A-Main (I helped them change their engine), but as for points, it was kinda a low point night for the top ten, but there were a lot of surprises for the night. It was a good first night to kick off the 50th Goodyear Knoxville Nationals. I made it back to my RV around 1am.
Thursday I woke up around 9am and it was already 90 degrees, I was invited for breakfast at the North Campground at Jim & Sharon's RV and enjoyed a great breakfast with good people, my Mom & Dad have been going to breakfast there for a longtime and I hope to continue the tradition for many years to come. Sharon makes a mean omlett and her waffles are awesome too. I had a great time before I headed back to clean Woody up for Thursday nights races. Jody hooked me up with a buddy of his who is a welder, and I was able to get Woody's water resevoir sealed up (he had a pin hole leak) and I was ready for the night. Man, it was crazy hot again, I was off to work at 5pm and the heat index was over 110 again. I got to see the two gold TSR cars for the first time up close, man they were beautiful and very detailed. I found out that they were actually painted not decals and the paint added around 35 pounds to the cars (I know from my Navy days when I was in charge of maintaining the weight & balance logbook of the aircraft, that paint was one of the heaviest components of the aircraft). Tonights track was a little dryer and wider during qualifying and you definitely didn't want a late pill draw. The heat races were a lot more racey tonight, it seemed all the fastest qualifiers were able to make it through their heat race. During Lasoski's heat race, he was flying on the first start and looked fast enough to easily transfer, but on a restart, he blew up his motor and ruined his 50th Nationals. I went over and helped them change their engine (my 4th so far), at the same time TK's crew wanted to change their engine, I was busy with Danny's, so they had to use one of the wreckers to help change their engine. The B-Main was an exciting race again, with Danny and TK coming out of the C-Main, it was cool watching them pick off cars lap by lap, TK made it up to 5th but needed one more lap to get to 4th and Danny made it up to 7th, both just coming up short. The A-Main was kinda boring, Sammy was the class of the field and dominated the A-Main. Brian Brown was fast all night and earned the most points for the night, actually the top 6 point earners on Thursday night all earned more points than Tim Shaffer (Wed night top point earner) did. After the races I didn't hangout too much and I was back at the RV around midnight.
Friday I decided to catch up on some needed sleep, so I was up around 10am, Selena and I went over to Mr C's for breakfast and then over to the Hall of Fame to pick up my mail and my spare altenator for the motorhome (thanks Billy Roy and Bill), my altenator was there, but my mail didn't make it, oh well, it will show up sometime. I needed to get one of my trailer tires looked at, so I removed it and took it down to Raceway Tire, they found that the valve stem was leaking air, so they replaced the valve stem and I was on my way. I got back and got the tire back on the trailer just as it started to rain. They had been predicting rain on Friday all week and they weren't wrong, it rained for about an hour or two till about 3pm. As soon as it stopped raining, the humidity was almost unbearable, I mean you could cut the air with a knife. The track crew did an excellent job getting the track and pit area ready, at 4pm they started letting all the rigs in and they made the decision that they were going to allow the rigs to stay in the infield tonight only. They got the drivers meeting done and engine warm-ups were just starting when the next rain shower came in. The push trucks almost had the track ready for hot laps when the rain came, it didn't rain very long and the push trucks started packing in the push lane and had it pretty much ran in when they all went out on the track to get it ran in. After about 2 1/2 hours of trucks running around, it rained again for about 30 minutes, again after the rain the trucks were back at it running in the pit area. I figured it was pretty much a lost cause and around 10pm one more quick rain shower came in and the decision to call it a night finally came, and it never rained again, but it was definitly the right call. They made all the big rigs stay in the pits overnight and me with about 4 other push trucks helped get all the teams out of the pit area that wanted. Woody was a mess, but it is kinda fun when the conditions are that bad, Woody shines in those conditions. The decision was made to run Friday nights program at Noon on Saturday, cancelling all the scrambles (all the scrambles monies was added up and everyone in each scramble was paid an equal amount per scramble). I made it back to the motorhome around midnight and i had a couple beers with the Shantytown group that camps at Jody & Larry's also. I was in bed around 2am.
Saturday I woke up around 9am, the skies were overcast and the temps were down to the mid 80's. It took me about 2 hours to get Woody clean and ready to go. I got over to the track around 11:30am just as the drivers meeting was getting started. The track was in great shape and the first Non-Qualifiers semi got the day show off and running. The track quickly dried out and by the end of the Non-Qualifiers A-Main (won by Kraig Kinser) turns 1 & 2 started to take rubber. The World Challenge race was the last race for the Friday program, Craig Dollansky was easily the fastest car and dominated the World Challenge race. As a side note, Schatz started 25th in his own car with a experimental engine in it, it is an LS Chevy engine 430 c.i. and modified by Ron Shaver, Donny ran up to 16th pretty quickly and then just maintained his position. It was a good test for that engine, Donny claims that one of these engine will cost around $20,000 and shouldn't need to be refreshened until 40-100 races. I kinda hope Ron can get that engine reliable, maybe we will be able to kill the 360 divisions across the nation and create a better cheaper alternative local or regional racing series'. The day's racing program was over by 2:30pm and everyone was kicked out of the pit area so they could work the track and get all the teams pitted in their correct pit stall for the Big Show Saturday night. 100 sprint cars in the pits, all ready to go.
Saturday night, the pit gate opens up around 4:30pm and the drivers meeting goes off as scheduled at 5:30pm. You could feel the tension in the pit area, 50 laps, $150,000 to win, numbers never heard of at the Nationals before.
You are going to have to wait until tomorrow night when I continue this blog entry, it is 2am right now and I'm starting to nod off while I'm typing (I just had to delete about 100 J's). I promise tomorrow I will finish up my Nationals experience and all the way up to last nights race here in Minot, and then you will be caught up with where I'm at now.
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"