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Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge
Did someone order a bright paint job? Several times we had to go looking for the car, as it blends into the background so well with that “urban camouflage”!

After leaving Topeka with the Wally, it’s hard to not feel a letdown after getting beat second round in Englishtown. However, I do feel like our team achieved a big victory with what we accomplished in Jersey.

Sandvik Coromant, the company that supplies all of our cutting tools used in the  machines that DSR uses to make connecting rods, cylinder heads, and a plethora of (Latin for, “I don’t know how many”) other parts, came onboard for a one-race deal. We displayed the car at their offices in Fair Lawn, about 90 minutes (French for, “an hour-and-a-half) from the racetrack, and the employee interest was simply fantastic. Sandvik also did an in-house fundraiser and allowed me to pick the charity of my choice to donate to. This time I went with the Wounded Warrior Project, as I felt the timing (Memorial Day was just two days before) was ripe for helping the veterans who sacrificed above and beyond.

Sunday morning of the race, during the pre-race driver’s intros, Bob Frey (synonymous with, “he does it all”) emceed the check presentation on the starting line. I’m proud of what we did, and I’m grateful to the folks at Sandvik for their generosity and for their faith in me.

Our first round matchup Sunday with Jeff Arend (in the DHL car) certainly was a photo opportunity, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen two more “loud” (pardon the pun) funny cars staged together. We got the better of a good side-by-side run, but came up short in a similar race to Capps in the next round.

Here’s “Handsome Bob” with issue numero uno of National DRAGSTER. What makes his copy even more special is that it still has the original address label on it, and it was shipped to the late, great Bob Daniels, who was one of the original division directors back in 1959. His wife Eileen, also instrumental in so many racing activities, still can be seen at many NHRA events.

One of my highlights of the weekend was getting to finally see Bob Frey’s house. No, it’s not that I had a yearning to check out the architecture of his dwelling, it’s that he is the consummate (I think that means he’s an addict) drag race historian, and he and I often talk about his collection of memorabilia (that means, “old, overpriced stuff that someone was going to donate to Goodwill”). Well, it was totally worth the hour drive each way to see all the phenomenal things he has accumulated.

Though I grew up in the Dave McClelland/Steve Evans era of race announcers, I firmly believe that Bob, along with Alan Reinhart, are hall-of-fame quality representatives of our sport. Though their styles are completely different from one another, they both are very unique, never boring, and perform at a level that is far more difficult than you could ever imagine.

If you listen to Bob for any length of time, he will eventually mention his wife, whom he nearly always refers to as, “the beautiful and talented Diane” (usually followed by a quip about her tuning him up for his behavior. Well, I was starting to wonder if Bob really had a wife, much less the three daughters that he sometimes mentions during his soliloquies (I have no idea what that word means, I just wanted to sound intelligent). Turns out he really was telling the truth, as I was introduced to his wife, one daughter, and even a grandson during the weekend. Go figure!

By all accounts, “’Goose” was quite the lady’s-man in the day, and it looks like he’s teaching Jason a thing or two about the gals.
Behind Leong and us is buddy Trevor Larkin’s car, which they had the bottom tin out of and elevated on Prudhomme’s old Hot Wheels carrier. They had a huge camera shooting up into the driver’s area as Trevor (dressed as “Snake”) climbed in and got “ready to run.” Trevor’s dad was a great man, a friend who will be missed, and on my T-shirt! Jason must be pissed he wasn’t asked to star in the movie...what a grouch

If Bob ever got really drunk (or hit his head hard enough to cause loss of reason) and offered me a choice of anything in his “museum” (that a euphemism for “lots of stuff packed into a small area”), I have it narrowed down to two items: The first would be his collection of EVERY National DRAGSTER ever printed (but especially the first ten years -1960-1969- that he has in hard-bound binders), and the second would be a Jack Chrisman jacket that was worn when he won the 1961 Winternationals. Oh, there’s tons of other bitchin’ stuff in there, but those two really struck me as impressive.

I’ve done some rather cool things since returning from E-town, including spending a couple of hours watching the last day of filming for the Snake and Mongoose movie. I took Jason to the location, a large parking lot behind a Best Buy store near downtown LA, as I thought this would be a cool thing for him to be able to talk about years from now.

Not only were Prudhomme and McEwen on set, so was NHRA President Tom Compton, and one of my all-time favorites: Roland Leong. Roland said that his grandkids got to be extras during the shooting, which would have been way cool to do with Jason if my schedule would have allowed.

Our Flex was due for an oil change, and from here on out it’s my pocketbook (the first one was on-the-house at the dealers). I did it while Jason was in school, but he told me he really wanted to help, and I don’t ever want him to think his daddy is too busy for him. I left it about ¼ quart low, and let him add the last amount. I was kind of afraid he might spill (he didn’t, but I did...a little), but I always want to include him in these projects.

The backyard project continues, and I spent a considerable amount of shovel time in the trenches (literally in “the trenches”!). Due to the staggering amount of granite in this area, I also had to judiciously (I think that refers to our court system...you’ll have to look it up) apply the pick and the sledgehammer (There’s an oxymoron: judicious use of a sledgehammer!). I’m starting to have major second thoughts about attempting the concrete pour on my own, so I’m trying to get a couple of quotes to have a professional come and screw it up for me. I may take a crack (bad pun) at doing some of the form boards...we’ll see.


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How’s this for a Valvoline NextGen ad? When other kids start bragging in High School about how long they’ve been working on cars, I’m sending this photo in with Jason and winning all bets!
 
This past Sunday we took a trip out to Burbank for the Road Kings car show. If you’ve followed the blog, these guys made me an honorary member, and it’s tough to convey what an honor that is for me. Our neighbors, the Coombs’ family (Curtis, Shelly, Grant, Nolan and Jack) followed us over there to check out the hotrods. Not only was the place packed with all types of classic cars, antiques, street rods and such, but they had about 6-8 front-engine fuelers there that they cackled. It was an impressive event, and the guys always donate the money to charity. Great group!

From Burbank, we headed over to Pasadena to check out the open house at JPL: the Jet Propulsion Lab. This is the place where NASA controls their satellite launches, and they also design and assemble some pretty special stuff, such as the Mars Rover. The complex is an entire enclave (I’m really on a roll with big words today!) located down in a valley-like area, and it’s stunning how much of our space technology came from here. It’s was also stunning how many people showed up for tours, and how long the lines were for each display.

I’m gonna sign off for now. I wish all of you dads a wonderful Father’s Day, and mine will be spent behind the wheel of our Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T in Bristol, hopefully collecting another trophy. It sure beats changing diapers, digging trenches, and doing yard maintenance!

Stay tuned, keep your oil fresh, tip your server, and thank the announcers, movie stars, and rocket scientists...but especially your dad!

 

 
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