Camped in Minot (cont'd)
I'm back as promised, I'm still here camped at the fairgrounds in Minot, ND. Today I had a few things to do, I rotated the tires on the trailer, went to the laundramat and did my laundry (ran into Jason Sides and his crew guys Doug & Finch) and then I caught up on a bunch of paperwork I had been neglecting. I called Gene & Starla to see if they were going anywhere for dinner, but when I called them they were on their way back from having dinner with Paul (he drove Schatz souvenir trailer for the past 3 months and he lives here in Minot). So, I asked Paul if he wouldn't mind running me over to the Schatz's truckstop so I could pick up the circuit board I ordered for my refrigerator and get something to eat. Paul was up for it and ran me around and took me to Ruby Tuesday's and watched me eat a nice dinner, don't feel too bad for him, he did get a couple free beers for his trouble. My plan tonight is to finish this blog and catch everyone up. Tomorrow, after I fill the motorhome up with fresh water, fill up with diesel and dump my tanks at Schatz's truckstop, I will be on my way to the border crossing in Portal, ND. Hopefully I won't have any issues and get across quickly and be on my way to Edmonton, my plan is to make it to Castrol Raceway Wednesday afternoon and check out the World's Largest Mall in Edmonton on Thursday. Now, back to last weeks events.
Saturday, the final night of the 50th Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, did you get to see any pictures of the special 50th Knoxville Nationals logo on all of the RR Goodyear tires, it was pretty cool, I saw a bunch of the teams cutting off the sidewall with the logo after they used up the tire, I wish I could of picked one up (maybe Sammy will give me one since he doesn't seem to like the Goodyears very much). The night started off with the "E Feature", the track was fast and narrow, Greg Nikitenko took off from the front row and was never challenged, the battle for 2nd and the last transfer spot was between father and son, Phillip & Kim Mock, Kim held the spot until the last lap when his son passed him for the transfer spot. A little note about Kim Mock, Thursday night in the C-Main he pulled into the pits off of turn 2 (where I always sit on Woody ready to respond) and came to an immediate stop and jumped out of his car, I noticed flames coming out of the right side of his engine area, I ran over and used 2 of my small Cold Fire extinguishers to contain the fire, but I couldn't get the fire to stop, but I slowed it down so when one of Knoxville's safety crew ran over from the middle of the backstretch with a larger extinguisher and proper gloves and finished putting out the fire, between the two of us, we saved Kim's car from blazing up and destroying his car, allowing him to race with his son in the E-Main. The "D Feature" was up next, Trevor Green driving Danny Smith's #4 started on the front row and led for a few laps before Johnathan Cornell got by him and held on for the win. The track was still a little narrow (but starting to widen out) and Trevor was able to hold off Fred Rahmer for the final transfer spot. Poor Fred, his isn't having a very good year (ar atleast compared to a normal year for him). The track was still fast, but if your car is right, you can pass and move your way up. The "C Feature" is up next, Lasoski is on the front row and hoping to make the alphabet soup run tonight, he takes off and is never challenged for the win, now the battle for the 2nd and the last transfer spot is a good one, Tyler Walker ran second until lap 12 when Scott Winters caught him in traffic, then finally on the last lap Tyler used a nice slide job in 1 & 2 to slow Scotts momentum and used the high side in 3 & 4 to get by and claim 2nd and the final spot in the B-Main. The best show in the C-Main before the last lap was watching TK work his way to the front, I don't remember where he started, but it was deep, the 15 lap race went non-stop and TK got up to 4th, he needed a yellow, I think as fast as he was, he easily would have got by Scott & Tyler, but no yellow and he had to settle for 4th.
Next up is the "B Feature", man there are some heavy hitters in this one, like every other Nationals, the B-Main here always rivals a normal A-Main at any WoO event. There was a mixture of veterans and young guns in this one, Paul McMahon & Stevie Smith on the front row with Dollansky & Haud right behind them. At the start Smith is off and flying, Paulie sits back in second and cruises not punishing his car, but not letting anyone by him, those two would hold their positions to the checkers. However, on the start, Dollansky's car didn't take off very well and he looked really sluggish for the first couple laps and fell back to 7th early. Haud ran in third with Josh Schniederman trying everything he could to get by in 4th. After a few laps Dollansky's car started rolling on the top and you could physically see him gaining speed and then he started flying by the cars infront of him, he finally caught Haud with a few laps to go and was safely in the final transfer position. Josh hounded Haud for about 8-10 laps in the middle of the race before Haud tried the low line and Josh blew on by him off of turn 2, ending Haud's Nationals with a 5th place finish. So, we finally had our 24 car field for the 50th Goodyear Knoxville Nationals, it was a great mixture of talent from all over the USA and Austrailia. The way I see the breakdown of starters is this way WoO-7 (Kinser, Schatz, Saldana, Sides, Kemenah, Dollansky, & McMahon), Locals-6 (Brown, Jackson, Schniederman, Heskin, Jeffery, & Zomer), All Stars-3 (Shaffer, Blaney, & Wimmer), PA Posse-2 (Hodnett & Smith), Free Agents-6 (Madsen, Stewart, Johnson, Pittman, Crocker, & Swindell) that is a very stout "A Feature" Line-up. The track was in great shape, I thought maybe even in too good of shape, because it was still a fast track but it had a top & bottom, so you can't ask for anything else, Chris Dinkins and his crew did another great job all week, I can't wait to work with him in Spencer, IA in about a month. With Sammy & Brown on the front row, the talk in the pits was, if they make it past turn 2, it will be a great race. Knoxville's push trucks did an excellent job all week, and they had a truck for every car for the intial push start and the field was lined up in one lap, the 4 abreast was an awesome sight, especially with Donny's gold car on the front row. The push trucks did a great job lining up and following the field, they all deserve to be recognized for their dedicated work all week and year long. Well, at the green flag I focused on turn 2 and Slammin Sammy was out front with Brown in tow, the first 9 laps went by very quickly, Schatz worked his way to second but Sammy definitly was the fastest car on the track. Lap 9 Saldana blows up and a yellow was called, (another disappointing Nationals for Joey, maybe next year), Dollansky was already up to about 15th and was flying on the top. The next 16 laps go by at record pace, Sammy built a big lead, but Donny started realing him in when they hit traffic, Brown also was catching both of them. Lap 25 the compition red was thrown, a 5 minute pit stop would ensue and the crews could do anything they wanted in that 5 minutes, first they had to get Sammy to pull into the work area, for some reason he kept rolling around the track when everyone else pulled in, I guess he didn't have his raceceiver on. Dollansky had worked his way to 9th at the break, man he was flying. During the pit stop, everyone changed both rear tires and made a few changes to the chassis. I heard over the radio that Sammy's tires really looked bad, but everyone elses didn't look too bad. So now, a 25 lap shootout for all the marbles, and what a shootout it was, Sammy shot out to the lead but Donny didn't let him get away, when they got to lapped traffic again Donny started making his move on Sammy and they traded slide job after slide job, Donny kept trying to slide Sammy, but Sammy was always able to cut under him and keep the lead, with 6 laps to go, Brown blew a RR (the lap earlier he hit the backstretch gate) and stopped in turn 4, I saw the tire flat and started rolling slowly knowing a yellow would be thrown soon, I was right and I was able to get to Brown pretty quickly and push him to the work area (as seen on the Speed Report Sunday night on SPEED Channel), I knew they weren't going to give him any courtesy time to change his tire, so I didn't take the time to use my front winch, I just pushed him in as fast as I could. Brown was able to get his tire changed and re join the race (if he would have waited for a tow truck, he never would have got his tire changed in time). Those last 6 laps were going to be crazy, Dollansky had worked his way to 5th and Stewart was 4th, with Shaffer cruising in 3rd. When the green flag flew, Schatz was doing everything he could to pass Sammy (staying away from Sammy's RR) but Sammy was able to stay in front until with 3 laps to go, his LR blew in turn 4 and he flipped over backwards, he climbed from the car and stood on top and put his hands up in the air and then pointed at the LR tire (what was left), remember his tires were the worst at the break, so maybe his set-up and the fact that Donny forced him to run harder than he wanted was the reason for the tire failure and not the construction of the tire (Just food for thought). On the lap 44 restart, Dollansky's engine started to smoke but it held together and he maintained his 5th running spot, now he was 4th on the last restart. With 3 laps to go and Schatz in front, it looked like a WoO driver would keep the streak alive, but when Donny went by with two laps to go, I seen smoke coming from his engine and could see he changed his line to block Shaffer instead of trying to run away from him. Shaffer was able to get by Donny in turn 3 to take the white flag and ran away to his 1st Nationals and very surprisingly biggest win of his life. Way to go Tim Shaffer, Brian Kemenah, Janet Holbrook (hopefully I got her last name correct, I'm sorry if I got it wrong), and Paul Kistler. Schatz held on for 2nd barely over a fast closing Stewart, Dollansky's engine held on for 4th and Madsen finished 5th. The way I was watching the race, if Dollansky's engine wouldn't of laid down, he might of been able to pull off the miracle because nobody could run the high groove as fast as he could and he might of been able to pass everybody up high without them even knowing he was coming until he passed them, but we will never know because we don't live in a world of if's and his engine did lay down and he finished 4th, not bad for starting dead last. Brown made it back to 14th and finished on the lead lap, I'm happy I was able to help him out. After the races, a ton of fans came down to the pits and everyone who stopped by Woody to say hi or purchase a t-shirt, decal or diecast, all of them had huge smiles on their faces and couldn't stop talking about how great a race that was, the only fans that were disappointed were the diehard Sammy fans. What an awesome 50th Knoxville Nationals, I was glad I was there and I have to thank Cappy for inviting me and Woody to be apart of it all, that makes 23 consecutive Nationals for Woody, hopefully Cappy will invite us back for number 24 next year.
Sunday morning, I did sleep in a little bit until my phone rang at 11am and it was Selena wanting me to come pick her up at Dollansky's motorhome where she spent the night with Payton Dollansky. I got up and drove over to the track, Craig was there hooking up his souvenir trailer and said he was going to take Selena with them to Minnesota and I could come up there to get her (Selena's flight home to Florida is on Wednesday morning out of Minneapolis, so i let her go with them). I had appointments in Indianola and Des Moines on Monday for my Refrigerator and Transmission, so I cleaned up my camp sight & Woody over at Jody's and moved over to the fairgrounds Sunday Afternoon. After watching the NASCAR race from Michigan and the PGA Championship, I rode Selena's bike downtown and ate a nice Mexican dinner and mailed off birthday cards to my Dad & Sister. After that it was a quiet night watching my Sunday shows (Big Brother, Ice Road Truckers, & Top Shot).
Monday morning I was up at 7am so I would make my appointment in Indianola at 8:30am, I packed up my electrical cords and moved over to the dump station, after I dumped my tanks, I always poor a 4oz bottle of chemical into my black water tank, this time I bumped the bottle on the sink knocking it out of my hand and straight into the toilet down into the tank, not good, and I wasn't sure how to get it out. Oh well, off to Indianola, I arrived at Vaughn's RV on-time thinking great hopefully I will be able to make my afternoon appointment in Des Moines. When I stepped out of the RV, I look at the trailer and it is completely black along with the back of my RV and Woody is spotted with oil also. After cussing alot, I finally investigated the problem and I had a oil line come loose and it sprayed down everything with good ol Red Line Synthetic Oil, and I do mean covered. I had to disconnect the trailer so I could back the motorhome up so they could troubleshoot the frig and I could start cleaning the oil off the trailer. I had to wait for a part to be delivered from Napa, so I did my best to clean up all the oil, first I washed Woody, before the sponge and brush I had got destroyed, I used a whole bottle of Super Clean mixed with 2 gallons of water, it did OK, but it didn't clean all the residue oil off. After spending about 2 hours cleaning, my part finally arrived and I fixed the leak, they did look at my frig and they thought it was the circuit board, but before he ordered a $200 board, he disconnected the thermister and told me to drive it to Minneapolis and if it warmed up then, order a new board. I asked him how much I owed him, and he said nothing, especially after the morning I was having. I couldn't believe he didn't charge me anything, because I left his driveway a total mess with all the oil, I tried to insist on paying him something, but he wouldn't take it and sent me on my way. I can't thank him enough. I made it to my appointment in Altoona at the International Service Center to get an Allison Transmission Tech to look at my tranny, I got there at 12:45pm and waited for the tech to get back from lunch. When he came out, I explained what the Allison Tech did in Albany, NY and he said he would have done the same, so now he was just going to hook up his computer and reset all the shifting points to factory specs and then reset the fast adapt program. He said, "that after 300,000 miles that maybe the transmission had kinda adapted itself out of wack, and that might be why it wasn't working right". He then spent about an hour with me explaining how the tranny works and what to look out for if it does start to fail. We then went inside to the service manager Jody, and he asked her not to charge me anything for his time, so agreed, then asked her if they had a steam cleaner to get my engine compartment cleaned, she said back it into the stall and she would have someone come out to help me. Well, Kevin came out and before he started cleaning, he asked me how Art & Carol were doing, I was surprised he knew my parents, but then he told me he used to manage the Red Carpet Hotel in Knoxville for a longtime and that he knew my parents for a while. Kevin got me all cleaned up and on my way. I stopped in to thank Jody and see how much I owed for the cleaning, she said nothing and just to recommend them to other people who might need service. So, i knew there was a reason I like Iowan's, they are all really nice people. So, I was on my way to Princeton, MN to Dollansky's shop to pick up my daughter and hangout a couple days. I arrived around 9pm parked out front to sleep for the night.
Tuesday, I had to clean all the oil residue off of the trailer and motorhome, the only way to do that was to do it by hand using almost straight Super Clean and a rag, then immediately rinsing it with fresh water. That took me about 3 hours to get it all off, but they were finally clean and white again. My next chore was to get that bottle out of the black water tank, I made sure I didn't use my toilet knowing I was going to have to fill the tank with fresh water and then open the dump valve and hope the bottle would come out. Well, after taking a break after cleaning, I came back to see water running out of my compartments, I thought great, another water line burst, just what needed. Well, thats not what happened, Selena & Payton went in the motorhome to change their clothes and one of them used the toilet and didn't make sure all the toilet paper went down and it stuck open the valve, keeping the water pump running filling up the tank, well it filled the tank up and more, flooding out my bathroom and running out the compartments. I shut off the water pump and then had to move the motorhome over to the grass area so i could empty the tank not on Craig's nice clean cement driveway. Well, the good news is, the bottle came out when I drained the tank, the bad news, the carpet in the bathroom was completely soaked. Oh well, shit happens. Craig moved his motorhome so I could plug in and stay until Wednesday afternoon. That night, Paul Johnson (Aggresive Hydraulics) and his family came over and we had a few adult beverages and pizza while our daughters played on the four wheeler.
Wednesday I was up early, because i needed to get Selena to the airport by 10am to get her checked in and all the paperwork done for an unaccompanied minor. Craig & Julie let me borrow their car to get her there, Princeton is about 60 miles from the airport, we arrived around 10am and i got her all checked in, Air Tran made me stay at the gate until the plane took off, so i was back on the road around Noon after I watched her plane take off. I made it back to Princeton with no dents or scratches on their car and I filled the tank up. As it started raining, i was on my way to Fargo, ND, that was my plan to spend the night in Fargo and then head to Minot on Thursday to make it to the Meet & Greet SLS had planned for Thursday afternoon at the Sleep INN in Minot. My drive to Fargo wasn't that bad, the rain stopped by the time I got to St Cloud, I took HWY 95 to St Cloud and then I-94 to Fargo. I arrived at the WalMart in Fargo around 7pm and settled in for the night.
Thursday, I slept in longer than I wanted, but I guess my body needed the rest. I was on the road around 11am, my GPS wanted me to take I-29 to Grand Forks and then take HWY 2 to Minot, I didn't want to go that way, too much construction on I-29, so I took I-94 to Jamestown and then HWY 52 to Minot. I arrived at the Sleep INN around 4:30pm, i was a little late, it started at 2pm, but atleast I made it. After driving through 6 swarms of honey bees, I immediately cleaned the front of my RV, because if you get them while their fresh, they come off easier, if you wait, then they are like trying to scrape off glue. SLS had a nice banquet room set up with a buffet type dinner, as they welcomed the WoO to Minot while thanking all their local sponsors for the two day event. I had a nice dinner with Bill & Lynda, Jim & Luci, Frank & Cathy, Tony, and Steve. I finally got settled in at the track here on the fairgrounds around 9pm and hit the rack around 1am.
Friday, I woke up to beautiful blue skies, but man did it warm up quickly. After getting Woody ready for the nights racing, I relaxed in my RV until everyone showed up, they had a parade of haulers through town, and they all arrived around 1pm. After helping get everything set up, it was time to get to racing. The new grandstand here is awesome, but the front straight fence is a little short for my liking, I would like to see a 12ft fence, not a 6ft fence, but thankfully we didn't have anything crash near the fence so nothing happened, hopefully next year the fence will be taller. Tonights race was a good one, every year we have raced here, the track has taken rubber early and it has been kinda boring races, well tonight, the track didn't take rubber until about 4 laps to go, Joey got to the lead pretty quickly starting on the front row, but Steve (starting 11th) was quickly coming to the front. Steve found the rubber in turns 3 & 4 before Joey did and caught Joey with two to go, on the last lap Joey had to try to get by a slower car and went below the rubber, Steve stayed in the rubber and they came off turn 4 side by side, it was a drag race to the checkers, from where I was parked, I couldn't tell who won, I asked Bill who won and he said Joey by .018 sec. what a race, the best one ever here at Nodak Speedway.
Saturday, another beautiful day, but hot (92 degrees), SLS held one of their pit parties from 2-5pm, anybody could come in the pits and meet the drivers & crews and watch them prepare their cars, get a free hot dog and soda, a free poster of all the drivers and Woody, and they even had free Armour All giveaways samples. SLS does this on their two day shows, so if you ever can make it to one of their pit parties, you need to come, it is really cool for you the fans. The nights racing was going to be kinda unknown, we have never ran a two day show here in Minot, so nobody was sure what the track would do. After the heats, they weren't going to work the track, but there was a freak accident in the pits with a grinder at Lutar's pit, and the ambulance needed to transport his crewmember to the hospital, that created a 30 minute delay for another ambulance to make it to the track, so they took the time to rework the track prior to the B-Main & Dash. Well, during the dash, Dollansky drove under Brad Sweet pretty aggresively causing Brad to get up into the cushin and flip, it was a pretty easy flip, but it ended up killing his frame breaking one of his downtubes. They fixed the car (kinda) but told the officials they were going to start last and pull off after taking the green, well, when we were pushing the cars off to start the A-Main, the real reason for Brad to come out was to get even with Craig, Brad drove intentionally into Craig's front end causing Craig to stop on the track. According to WoO rules, a red flag will be dropped allowing the damaged car time to fix it without losing his starting position, during the red, all the other cars are allowed to refuel and make changes also. At the start, Kraig Kinser jumped out to the lead, and turns 3 & 4 took rubber by lap 4, Sides ran second to Kraig for most of the race before Steve drove by in lapped traffic, Steve and Kraig waged a torrid battle for 1st, causing both of them to use their RR harder than they should of. Turns 3 & 4 actually took rubber from the middle to the top, making two grooves of rubber. With a late race restart, Dollansky got one hell of a start and went from 6th to 3rd, got by Steve the next lap and then Kraig the next lap, the next lap with 3 to go, Kraig & Steve both blew RR's at the same time in turn 4 (caused by racing eachother hard earlier in the race), both were able to get their tires changed before a good lineup was ready, but when the lights went out, Dollansky's LR tire went flat (on the rim), but he didn't pull in, he restarted and amazingly the tire stayed on the rim and never blew off and he was able to stay infront of Sides for 3 laps and take the win. Man was it a crazy night of racing, Dollansky seemed to be involved in all the controversy, but came out on top anyway, it looks like hiring Kirk Dewease might turn out to be a smart move. Even with the rubber down track, it was a very competive race with lots of passing and bonsi moves, the fans seemed to enjoy the race and where very happy as they walked through the pits after the race.
Well, now I've finally got all of you caught up with my travels. Now I'm off up to Edmonton, Alberta Canada, hopefully for more great racing. By the way, so far, my transmission in the motorhome worked great from Des Moines to here, so hopefully it keeps running good throughout the west coast trip, there are some pretty big mountains to cross. Also, after I filled up my propane tank in the RV, my refrigerator started working right and not warming up when I drove, so who knows, maybe my luck is turning around. I won't be posting my next blog until I'm back in the USA and not driving like a mad man trying to get to the next race.
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"