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A mile high with some heroesThursday, July 24, 2014
Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

As clever as all of my readers are (both of you!), I’m sure you guys knew that I was referring to the altitude at our latest race, just outside of Denver. The hero part, however, was very much the best part of my weekend. Denver marked the third time this season that our Valvoline team changed colors to purple and black (tough combo to beat…same as my Super Comp car!), running the Infinite Hero flagship. This race was extra special, though, as we hosted a big push for additional fundraising to benefit those who earned it, and wholeheartedly deserve it.

So big was our desire to have the entire NHRA community embrace and support our efforts, that Oakley CEO Colin Baden lead off the presentation, communicating why Oakley started this effort, provided the initial funding, and doesn’t push the brand in a way to “benefit” from positive publicity surrounding the foundation. Cool stuff, and a great guy. Also present from Oakley were Sheldon O’Connell and Paul “Torch” LeSage (he was the track welder when I first met him back in ’88…hence the nickname), who may have been most responsible for bringing the program to DSR. Infinite Hero leader Laurie Baker also gave a wonderful speech to the other racers and team owners about why it’s so important to fund this program. She again stressed that NOT ONE PENNY of funding goes towards our race car, as Don Schumacher and Terry Chandler split the financial burden to help make this happen for the soldiers.

Speaking of soldiers, the absolute stars of the presentation (and the weekend, if you ask me) were two heroes who continue to behave with dignity and courage, and set the bar very high for the rest of us.

Gary Linfoot was part of the unveiling of the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger back in Charlotte, as was his wife, Mary. Paralyzed from the waist down after his helicopter went down, Gary actually finished his Army career as an instructor in their water training facility. He’s just a cool dude, and the Exoskeleton that Infinite Hero provided to him has enabled him to walk for the first time in years. We will raise additional funds for more of these units, but Gary is the only individual possessing one. The rest will be in rehab units at various hospitals as part of their therapy programs. Gary and Mary are actually providing valuable feedback to accelerate the development and refinement of these devices, with the hope that they soon will be lighter, less cumbersome and slow, more agile, and cheaper. Perhaps one day many paralyzed people will have access, thanks in small part to what we are doing.

Because of Terry Chandler, lots of kids from Make A Wish will fulfill a dream, plus we get to help injured soldiers like Neil Duncan. On one climbing expedition, Neil had to crawl three miles, in 80-mph wind, over snow and rocks, with two prosthetic legs! I’m telling you, this guy is special!

Paratrooper Neil Duncan lost both his legs in an IED explosion, one above and one below the knee. His other injuries were grave and numerous, but he pulled through. He went and got a degree in finance, serves on the grant board of the Infinite Hero Foundation, and may be the biggest overachiever I’ve ever met. Determined to not only regain as much of his freedom back after his tragedy, but also to serve as an inspiration to other amputees (I think he’s an inspiration to all!), Sgt. Duncan set out to climb the tallest peaks on all seven continents. He’s been to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and the tales of his other exploits are the stuff of legend. This guy is just plain bad-ass, and listening to the speeches that he and Officer Linfoot gave was reinforcement for all of us.

Keeping in mind that our cause isn’t just to help those wounded in action, we hosted two family members of servicemen killed in the line of duty. In addition to Gary and Mary Linfoot and their son Hayden, as well as Sgt. Duncan, we also presented shirts to and made honorary crewmembers of Tristen, who lost his father, and Mark, whose brother was killed in action. It was heart wrenching, heartwarming, and humbling to be a part of all this.

If you plan on attending a race this year, please keep in mind that, for a $100 donation to Infinite Hero, I will personally sign a commemorative military-style “challenge” coin that I guarantee has been down the race track in my car. Or, you can make the donation online and I’ll still sign one for you. So far I have sold more than $20,000 dollars’ worth! Great cause … climb on board!

My dad attended the race, and stayed with the Stutz family once again. Ray, Darlene, Nicole, Derek, and Cassie have all been great friends since we formally met while Ray and I were both licensing in Top Fuel. Technically Ray was re-licensing, as he has driven since the 70’s. A former SoCal firefighter, Ray and family moved to Denver 10 years ago to be close to his true love…the Broncos.

Too bad Ray spent all his money on Bronco souvenirs, instead of a phone that took decent pictures! Here I’m chatting up our sport to some hardcore athletes!

Listen, I’ve seen some hardcore sports fans in my day, but Ray may take the cake. No, he does not have his butt cheeks colored blue and orange (come to think of it, I never did look. Tell me it ain’t so, Ray!), but he is as devoted as any fan I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Peyton Manning goes out to his front porch to get the mail, and there’s Ray camped out in a sleeping bag!

Ray let me trim his hair in the 2012 Denver winner’s circle, and lately he’s been growing it out again in anticipation of a reprisal of that event. We let him down in the second round against Tim Wilkerson, as our car basically had a clutch disc come apart; slowing us down dramatically from a run that I believe was going to be low ET of the round. Bummer. Maybe I can take a shot at Ray’s head in Indy!

Ray actually got a bunch of the Broncos to come out and hang in our pit for a while. Man, do those guys look like they’re built out of kryptonite! I think Ray promised to stop stalking them for a week if they’d come watch us race! 

Follow me on this one, as I encourage fans to do this each year that I see them at a race: This is a picture, of a picture, of a pic of a pic of a pic of a pic, OF A PICTURE! Yep, this dude and I have some serious history in front of the camera…and we both need another hobby! Maybe the FBI can enlarge this and count back to 2008 to authenticate our feat.
Before I go spending my hard earned cash on lowering springs, I just wanted to make sure I got it right. So, with a little help from family and friends, I closely approximated what a 2-inch drop should look like. Heck, maybe they just can stay in the bed when I drive around, though I think the mileage might suffer somewhat!

I also wanted to mention how totally cool the Thursday Mopar Block Party was in Golden, which is about 15 minutes from Bandimere. If you ever are thinking about experiencing a race outside your home area, I’d highly consider the Mile Highs. The block party is amazing, with a bitchin’ car show, and autograph session, and some great entertainment. The race is spectacular, and the facility is the most breathtaking (literally and figuratively with the thin air) on tour. I love it!

Once back home, I’ve had two days to get my workouts in, get the lawn mowed, catch up on lost time with Jason and Layla (and Jenna), wash and watch Jenna pack the RV (I wish I could watch HER wash it!), hook up the PT, and start heading up to Sonoma.

As it turned out, I had so much free time that I decided to add a couple of extra projects. First, I found a pinhole leak in the air mattress of the RV. So…I got to completely disassemble the bed, order a new mattress (thank God for lifetime warranties, but the labor part sucks!), then patch and reinstall the old one for this weekend. If it looks like I have a sore back in Sonoma, it means my patch didn’t hold.

Second, whilst I was “manhandling” the tow dolly around in the dirt and rock of the upper yard, sweating and huffing to drag it down the ramp and hook to the RV, I noticed an odd pattern in the tread. Seems the steel belts decided to separate, which would have provided some great roadside labor stories about 200 miles up the highway…and deep into the night. A call to good friend Paul Mitsos of Mountain View Tire, a trip to the local Norco location, and a mere $141 later, and I’m good to go! Ah, yes… the joy of RV’ing: the gift that keeps on giving!

I gotta wrap up for now. We’ll be on the road just as soon as our little Liberace gets done with his piano lesson tonight. In the meantime, someone needs to shave…and it ain’t Jenna! And that same someone needs to wash the RV, the PT, and little old me!

Hey, spoiler alert! This race at Sonoma will be the debut of our wicked-looking SynPower paint scheme…you’ll love it!

Stay tuned, keep your tires and your air mattress inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation, no stalking the Broncos, and support those that gave for us!

Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

Strike up the band, notify Satan that the cold weather is approaching, and somebody bake some cupcakes, for God’s sake! I, the king of the cheap, finally bit the bullet, threw caution to the wind, and watched the bank account take a pretty hefty hit…but it was all worth it!

Yep, Captain Saves-a- Lot bought a new vehicle! Now, if you’re poo-pooing that, thinking that I’ve done this already, three years ago (with the Flex), allow me to clarify: THAT’S JENNA’S CAR…NOT MINE! Gee, I hope you caught that subtle message I sent your way. Yes, while my wife has been cruising in style, and leather (seats that is, not apparel), I likened myself more to poor Lamont Sanford (you’d probably have to at least be in your 40’s to get that reference), tooling around in either the beat-up old Nissan mini-truck or the slightly-less-beat-up PT Cruiser, with a combined total of 411,000 miles on them! You see, I’m a low-maintenance kind of guy…until now! In the interest of full disclosure, I did purchase my Yamaha brand new in 1985, for $2800, and I also bought a 23-foot motorhome to tow my Super Comp car, brand new in 2000, and its purchase price was almost exactly the same as the MSRP on my new Ram, though I took out a second on my house to pay for it!

I know I have mentioned much of this in a recent blog, but since I’m the one typing, I suppose I’m allowed to ramble somewhat:

In the market to “upgrade” (a lobotomy would have been an upgrade over the old truck), I’d casually looked at used trucks for the past year or so, figuring to budget about 25K. Once I started getting more serious, it became obvious that the quad cab units just didn’t have enough room for the kid seats in the back…not unless I wanted to have the steering wheel in my navel! So, I would have to go the crew cab route, and that really limited the choices. I was raised a Chevy guy, Jenna really liked the Fords, but Mopar is where my heart is, due to the racing. I always felt that the Dodge pickups historically were…err…um…can I just say, “ugly” and get past it? That being said, I think they hit a home run with the latest iteration, and I don’t think the other brands even come close in exterior appearance.

Having nailed down my manufacturer, the next step was figuring out where to find a nice, used unit. Mopar track representative Dale Aldo, who’s been encouraging me each step of the way, informed me of current rebates, plus my “employee discount” qualification, and that opened up quite a few doors, pardon the pun! Turns out that a brand new unit basically would be about 5-6 grand more than a used one (there were hardly any crew cabs available, and nothing around 25 grand unless it had very few options, OR 65,000 miles). So…I headed over to the Dodge dealer and sat in a truck…and nearly cried. With my short legs and long torso the bench seat just wasn’t comfortable, and I didn’t have the budget to upgrade to the leather buckets…big roadblock (another cool pun!).

Fortunately, with the help of the local (Browning) Dodge dealer, it turns out that I could get everything I wanted (okay, I didn’t upgrade the stereo or get the nav system, but I did get what I think is the perfect truck for me) in the Big Horn model, including bucket seats. I took delivery last week, and I really dig this thing. It’s SO much bigger than the PT that it barely, and I mean barely, fits in the garage, but I made it work. I’m going to hold on to the PT to tow behind the RV, take surfing (my board fits nice with the seats folded down), and generally abuse to keep excess miles off my truck. I already have my K&N air filter kit ready to install, and I’m looking for a quality lowering kit to drop it 2” in front and 4 in the back. Also, I may add some tasteful side “nerf” bars/rocker steps so everyone else can get in without a small step stool.


While Marla, Nate, Sterling and Chris look on, Jacob is all business in his cockpit. This guy loves to get dirty, loves to feel every inch of the mechanical stuff we have around the pits, and loves to chow down in DSR hospitality! My kinda man.

While his friend Derek attempts a headlock on our young soccer protégé, Jason uses his hand to acknowledge how many sizes too big his shirt is!

These fans obviously watched the ESPN special on my garage project (cleverly disguised as the “Houston race coverage”), and brought me the perfect finishing touch!

Norwalk was a decent weekend for us. We went three rounds, pulled back into the top 10, and spent time with a wonderful young man. Many of you will remember Jacob Delling, who twice has hung out with my team at the races, the last time being when we won the Traxxas Shootout last year in Indy. Jacob also has been interviewed on the ESPN2 show, and he’s a die-hard Mopar dude. In fact, Jacob is so “normal” in every sense that I tend to forget that he can’t see…at least not with his eyes. Blind since he was four due to retinal cancer, Jacob doesn’t bitch or complain (except when he’s hungry); he just hangs out and keeps us all on our toes.

I must give high praise to Phil Shuler, Khalid al Balooshi, and the entire Al-Anabi group for taking care of all Jacob’s travel and accommodations…they just love my buddy! Jacob rode with me to the track Sunday morning, and we just chatted about whatever we felt like. Like Phil says, it’s impossible to have a bad day when Jacob is around!

Unfortunately, no one told Rahn and Ron, and the NAPA group ended our day in the semis. Talk about a group of “buzz-kills”!

Jason really has wanted to try soccer this year, so Jenna signed him up. Being as that he’s not necessarily the most athletic kid around (I don’t think being good at Minecraft qualifies), and he’s also a bit on the lazy side (hmm…wonder where that came from?), we thought soccer might be too much for him. But, we want to throw every experience we can his way to help him find his passions, so we also took him to a week-long, 3-hour-a-day soccer “camp”, hosted by chaps from the UK (yet another clever pun!). I must say (that sounded very British, didn’t it?), I was completely impressed by every aspect of this kid’s program, from the coaches to the curriculum. I thought it was so beneficial that we’ll sign him up for yet another at the end of this month. Money well spent, great training and exercise, and Jason loved it.

As far as my garage project, really the only things left are paint and concrete for the driveway. I was going to hold off on painting until after we made a mess with the concrete, but getting Sully’s tractor over here (he’s so busy right now, with operators and heavy equipment in high demand on projects all around) has been more difficult than either one of us thought. We were planning to have the grading done in May, but it now realistically (considering how many weeks I’ve been on the road and will continue to be) looks like September. With that in mind, I didn’t want to leave the eave wood unpainted throughout the summer, fearing it could split and cause me much mental anguish and suffering. So…we had our trusty painters come out and spray it on…and I now have a garage that truly matches the house. When time permits I can now hang the shutters, and it’ll just look that much cooler.

I suppose I should mention that we just got back from three days in San Diego, which I believe is Spanish for, “a Whale’s something” (if you never saw Anchorman, this would make no sense to you). Layla turned three on Saturday, and Jenna wanted to book us two days in the Disneyland hotel, complete with two days at Disneyland. I politely said, “Hell, no”, so I had no choice when she came up with plan B: Three days in a campground, plus trips to Sea World AND the Wild Animal Safari Park. I really was hoping for another option, maybe one that included parking overnight at Newport Beach and having the family watch me surf for two days, but I dared not make a sound after crushing the Disneyland fantasy for everyone!

So, the four of us and Cindy packed up and headed south…


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My little guy and I…these moments are the greatest. The other great thing is, with this lighting, no one can tell how pale I really am!
 
Turns out we DID get to spend some time in the Pacific, as Saturday we packed everyone to the local beach, got wet (and sandy), and even borrowed a kid’s boogie board so I could tow Jason around and push him into some waves (not in an abusive way!). For a kid that swims like an injured dog when we’re at Grandma’s pool, Jason wasn’t too bad in the ocean. The waves were very small, I never let him more than 10 feet from me, and I held him nearly all the time…but he did well!

Layla, who wouldn’t even walk in the sand for the first few minutes, and was having NOTHING to do with that cold water, eventually got wet up to her waist and had a grand old time; splashing, running, kicking and laughing until it was time to go.

Saturday night we opened presents in the RV, and then opened each individual little pony, outfit, toy, etc. so our little princess could experience them all before bedtime.

Sunday it was off to see the Wild Animal Park, and we must’ve walked 3-4 miles up and down hills, pushing the stroller, carrying kids on the shoulders, and generally getting worn out. Still, a nice experience, and some good memories with the family. That night we made some S’mores on the fire, drank wine, and sung show tunes until three in the morning. Okay, we did one and a half of those!

Monday it was time for Sea World. Jenna scheduled this on a Monday so we could, A: save some admission money off the weekend price….check! , and B: avoid a hefty Sunday crowd…not so much!

Layla got to feed the sea lions, Jason and Jenna got to touch a dolphin, Cindy made the mistake of promising the kids souvenirs, and I got to pay $46 for lunch (I won’t even go into the 40 gallons of diesel fuel at 4-plus bucks a gallon. Oops, I guess I just did!). But, hey, I just chalk this up as “priceless” on the family-fun meter!

Once we got home, it was time to UNLOAD…EVERYTHING! Next week Jenna gets to repack for our Sonoma trip…and that ain’t easy. If I’m allowed to make a birthday suggestion next year, I may throw in, “a day at the local park” or, “a local matinee on dollar day”…you get the idea!

Anyway, it’s nearing midnight. I guess I didn’t mention that by the time we got finished, got in a work-out, got the lawn mowed, got Jason cleaned up and to bed, and ate dinner…it just kind of made the time fly.

I have to fly into Denver early to do media work for NHRA, so I’ll be heading out at 4:15am tomorrow to my most frequent destination: Ontario Airport! And, no, I won’t be taking the new Ram pickup…the PT can sit and get dirty in the parking lot…the truck stays in the garage!

Stay tuned…yes, it’s a HEMI!...yes, “them’s twenties”…and no, you can’t drive it!

Someone stole my birthday presentThursday, July 03, 2014
Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

I’ll make this short and sweet. All I wanted for this birthday was a Wally. That’s it. Nothing more. Sure, world peace would be nice, and of course health and prosperity for all, and for my family to always be happy and secure. I just don’t want to seem greedy, so the trophy would have sufficed this year, thank you very much!

Seems that memo didn’t get over to Matt Hagan and the Mopar team, who cleaned our clocks first round (at least they went on to win the race… congrats, guys!)

Chicago marked the first race out for us after some changes in personnel. Chris Cunningham, formerly of Bob Tasca’s car, is now sitting in the second chair up in the front of the trailer. Terry Snyder is now over at Tasca’s (though still a member of DSR) as another set of eyes and ears to help straighten out that car.

Chicago also marked the third straight event where we didn’t get past first round, so I think we’re overdue for some racing fortune. We’ll see how the changes all shake out, and I shall endeavor to remain focused, optimistic, and motivated to give my best effort.


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How come I look old enough to be Richard’s dad? God, I remember when we were 9 years old and wondering where life was going to take us!
 
Though Epping was a frustrating race, I did get to spend some time with my dad, who came out with his lady, Teri, and her daughter, Carol. Also, my buddy Richard Schwartz, who was a classmate from fourth grade through high school, came to witness his first drag race ever. Richard and I did all the crazy teenage stuff, including running around town in my El Camino back in the early ’80s… man has time flown!

Richard has a PhD in mathematics and is a tenured professor at Brown University in Rhode Island. I must have taken a wrong turn in 10th grade, as all I got was a GED, but I wouldn’t trade my vocation in chemistry (as in, “CH3NO2”) for anything!

The Blackbird trailer sold to the second person who came to see it, so now we’ve freed up more space in the yard, and I’ll be thinning my material possessions even further in the coming weeks. There’s a whole lot of nice racing inventory of new and used parts that I emptied from the trailer, I just have to get a list and start selling it.

I also bid a tearful farewell to the old, trusty Nissan. Yes, thirteen years and one hundred and fifty thousand miles (it had over 100K on it when I purchased it), and it was time to cut the purse strings and let it go free… literally. My buddy Jerry Sanchez (the one who basically built my garage while I handed him tools and complained about the heat) really wanted it, and boy did he get it! I told him not to call me next week when he’s broken down on the side of the road… not my fault.

Sorry for the quick entry, but I’m off to Norwalk to pick up my belated birthday present!

Stay tuned, happy birthday to me, PhDs are impressive, and so is my team!

PS: Happy Birthday to a country that, although its government could stand a long look in the mirror at times, really is the greatest country in the history of this planet. Though I’m tired of the political rhetoric and pandering, consider me a proud American!

Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge
Though sometimes they’ve got Jenna and I feeling “upside-down”, we are so fortunate to have two healthy and beautiful children. Here Butch Cassidy and the Sunflower-dress kid exercise the bounce house…and Jenna’s patience!

My life certainly seems to have followed a 4-cycle route, as the automotive internal combustion V-8 engine has truly shaped so much of my existence. Before you go thinking that Jack is getting all existential on you (or perhaps I had one too many explosions), I’m just trying to cleverly frame the opening to this blog.

For more than a decade, long before my pro career began, a fuel-burning Chrysler Hemi has been my main “motivation”, and lately that powerplant has been more than just my vocation. Back in December I had participated in the filming of a pretty cool show at Irwindale Raceway.  Heck, now that the producers have the product finished, why don’t I just post the link and you can check it out for yourself here. My clever reference to the Hemi powerplant will make a bit more sense after viewing the show:

Pretty cool piece, huh? Another fun day at the racetrack, surrounded by V-8 Hemi’s…and that’s NEVER a bad thing! Now, the REAL news around this household has to do with the fact that I just ordered my very own, honest-to-goodness, genuine Hemi-powered (not the 426 version…c’mon guys!) vehicle. Though I am certainly partial to the Chargers (I make my living in one), and I think I like the new Challengers even more (both a bit pricey for me though), my new baby will feature a bed on the back. Yes, El Cheapo del Norco (that’s me) bit the bullet and ordered a new Ram 1500. For over two years I’ve really wanted a newer truck, and finally I set a budget to pick up something nicer, newer, and obviously a marked upgrade over the old Nissan. Well, thanks in large part to my buddy Dale Aldo, who works for Chrysler and attends most races, I found out that, with my “team member” discount, plus the current rebates, I can get into something brand new for about five grand more than I was going to spend for used. Ad in the fact that I couldn’t find any crew cabs (the quad cab just doesn’t have enough back seat room for the huge kid seats. {I meant that the seats were huge…not the kids!}) with the options I wanted (sorry, but the Laramie version is a bunch more than I can spend on a pickup truck), and you can see how I arrived at this decision.

Though I had taken a couple of months to educate myself as to what suited my needs, my pal Matt Deane at Glendora Dodge (as well as fleet manager Tony Miller) guided me through my first “hands-on” day of looking hard at specific options. A visit to my local Dealer, Browning Dodge in Norco, sealed the deal. Manager Chris Muller not only hosted Jack Beckman Day there back in August of last year, but really went out of his way to help me get the perfect truck. It should arrive sometime in the next 2-3 weeks, and I must say that I’m really excited. Jenna got herself a new Flex 3 years ago, but I’ve only purchased two new vehicles for myself. The first was my 1985 Yamaha FJ600 (those initials spawned the “Fast Jack” moniker), and the second was my 23-foot RV back in 2000, specifically to tow my racecar and save on hotel expenses. As you can see, I’m not prone to “splurge” on myself with impulse buys, but this truck has me pretty jazzed!

If things go according to plan, I may have some other interesting stuff to share with you regarding my new pickup…fingers crossed!

On the racing front, I haven’t updated you guys since last I blew up in Atlanta. Well, I’m proud to report that Topeka was relatively uneventful, but regret to inform you that I broke your throttle cable bracket in the first round…sorry about that! That was a definite case of the proverbial $5 part potentially costing us the round win, as opponent Jeff Arend was only able to muster a 4.50, which really added some sting to a freak event.

Did you think I was kidding when I said there was a funny car in front of the castle?

Englishtown went much better, and we’re doing a solid job of carrying the Infinite Hero colors deep into Sunday. With E-town being the second race in that livery, we ran our round record up to 5-2 for our injured heroes. I truly thought we had the car to beat, but less than one foot into our semifinal round run against Cruz, we just blew the tires off. Again, the frustration was amplified by the fact that he only ran a 4.59, and that should have been a relatively easy victory for us. Breaking our two- race first-round losing streak was nice, but we really need to close the deal on one of these upcoming races and make a move up in the points standings.

I flew into Jersey early so that all the DSR drivers and crewchiefs could attend a function at the NJ Make-A-Wish headquarters. They had TJ’s car on display outside the “Castle” (not only is it shaped like one, but they do plenty of magical things for the kids there), and many of the staff came out to the track to see “what all the noise was about” (that was a clever reference to the decibels emitted from our fuel-burning hemi's…and THAT was another brilliant iteration of my engine- themed blog…damn I’m good!)

The next day I spoke at Sandvik headquarters in Fair Lawn, NJ. They tore down the old building and just completed a new one since my last visit. I was a bit disappointed when I found out it wasn’t constructed just for my edification, but it was still impressive. If you’re not “up to speed” (another good racecar allusion…you gotta keep up with me!) on the company, Sandvik is the world’s largest manufacturer of cutting, grinding, and machining tools. Twice they have been the primary sponsor on my car, and they will adorn Antron’s ride in Seattle. Great company, great people, and great new building…even if it wasn’t for me!

I landed back home at Ontario airport at 3 pm on Monday, headed over to the Dodge dealer to place my truck order while the rebate was still current, then we sprinted over to Jason’s baseball game. It was one of the longer days I’ve had lately, and I hit the pillow at 11:15 that night.

Jason and his bestest school buddy Derek may be short on teeth, but they sure had a wonderful teacher in Mrs. Whitlow. I wish she could stay his teacher, but I take solace in the fact that Layla will be able to disrupt her class in four years!
I missed Jason’s piano concerto while I was on the road, but Jenna said he did an amazing job on “Chopsticks” (the song…not the eating utensil), and even got to take a bow.
There’s nothing like tying up a section of parking lot before a baseball game…hoping your kids don’t run out in front of a drunk and spill his/her beer.
Me, Kohl, Truman, Matthew, Jason, Jenna and Jeff enjoying ourselves at a memorable baseball game. Them Angels are exciting!

When the alarm clock went off at 4:15 the next morning, I really thought it was a cruel joke someone was playing on me. That wasn’t the case. After a shower, shave, making some coffee and oatmeal to go, I was in the PT (which is definitely NOT a hemi!) for the four hour drive to Las Vegas.

Before you go thinking, “man, Jack must REALLY have a gambling addiction”, I assure you that’s not the case. Frank Hawley was having a program that day, and I drove the two-seat dragster for the ride-alongs. Tom Bayer did likewise in the Firebird and, though I probably shouldn’t tell you what the event was, I will say that there were five nitro funny car drivers, plus one top fuel pilot, ALL from Southern California, present that day. That’s all you get….

It’s not like the pace let up once I got back home. Jason finished first grade, and our little man keeps yanking teeth out like he’s allergic to them. Number six fell two nights ago, and I’m going to leave a sponsorship proposal for the Tooth Fairy next time.

 His team lasted three games into the double-elimination playoff format, meaning they finished with something like 4 wins, 18 losses, and two ties (and I thought that I was having a tough year!). I do appreciate the experience he’s got from playing on a team, and our coaches were great with the kids this year…though I do believe all our blood pressures permanently increased from yelling at ‘deaf’ ears for months!

Several of his team went to see the Anaheim Angels last Saturday, and the game certainly did not disappoint. The last time I went to a major league game was to see the Angels back in 2002. I attended many a Dodger game in my youth, but I think it’s been 30 years since my last trip to see the Boys in Blue.

Anyway, the Angels were getting trounced, having only two hits by the seventh inning, and trailing 5-0. I was thinking perhaps it was time to head home, but fortunately we decided to stick around. After a 6-run bottom of the 8th, which included a grand-slam (a four-run homer, not the Denny’s breakfast), I think Jason experienced something rare and magical for his first major-league outing. Mike Trout is fast becoming one of the most popular players in the league, and he sure gained a lot of fans with that fantastic full-count blast. I can imagine how “bad-ass” that feels to accomplish something so cool.

Layla is talking more clearly every day, and I suspect that sometime in the next two months she will be easier to understand than her mother. You know I’m totally kidding on that one…it’ll take at least four months! Our little princess (and she just loves to wear her pretty Disney dresses) is one month away from “the big 3”. I suppose that also means she’ll be able to drive during daylight hours and vote in the primaries…how fast the time goes!

Apparently that was the extent of my fun, as the lack of waves has precluded any surfing so far in June. Instead, Jack got to do the maintenance on the RV generator. Funny how that thing holds more oil than any vehicle I have around here, except the Blackbird dragster.

Speaking of that, now that the ‘bird is safely nested (see how I used more ‘rhetorical figure of speech’ so wisely?) in the new garage, it’s time to put the trailer up for sale. Emptying everything out of it was much more labor intensive than I originally thought. Wow, was it ever packed with tools, gadgets, spare parts, and “stuff” that I forgot I had! Short of finding Jimmy Hoffa, or clay jars with ancient scrolls, pretty much everything else was in there. Once I got it emptied (thankfully I have a garage to stack all that extra equipment into!), it was cleaning time. I dusted, removed, soaked, sprayed, wiped, scoured, waxed, painted, and detailed until my heart’s content. Why is it that we take the best care of something once we decide to let someone else take possession of it? Point being, someone is going to get a pretty nice trailer out of this deal. It’s got tons of memories, and has carried my stuff to dozens of victories, a divisional and national championship, and two iterations of my dragster (it wasn’t always called the Blackbird). However, with two small kids and no spare time, it makes no sense to let it sit for three more years. Plus, we could use the cash and the backyard space. If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail.
Here are the details on it:

 
Let the bidding wars start on the trailer that won it all…plus my own personal scooter…battery not included.
 
  • 26-foot Pace Shadow (white) enclosed trailer. 10,400-pound capacity. Twin 5200# torsion axles with EZ-lube and 4- wheel electric brakes. 8 foot inside width. 8’ beavertail. 8 foot ramp door with 12-inch flap. Aluminum wheels and fenders.  Extra wide 36-inch side door.  2 5/16” hitch.  One piece aluminum roof. Built in 1995. Many upgrades, including:
  • 54-inch tongue for RV towing, equipped with Tuff-Tow wheels at front to reduce hitch load             
  • Extra interior height (6’9”), walls and ceiling are white aluminum; floor is polished aluminum diamond plate                               
  • Set up for dragster up to 245-inch wb with <42 ½-inch front width; includes tool box, cabinets, wardrobe closet and work surfaces. Can haul auto up to 17’10” as-is, or 19’10” without wardrobe cabinet.
  • Generac  5200-watt generator w/remote start. Custom aluminum large-capacity fuel tank
  • Craftsman 1 ½ hp, 4 gallon compressor, plumbed with inside and outside fittings
  • 110v lights inside and out. 12v lights inside plus ramp loading light. Two 500 watt outside lights
  • 3 inside and two outside 110v outlets
  • 5 D-rings for vehicle tie-down
  • Air conditioner plus one roof vent
  • Two in-floor storage compartments for spare tires and equipment
  • Electric heavy-duty tongue jack
  • Pit Pal products: aluminum storage rack for oils, etc., rack for 15 gallons of fuel, rack for floorjack. Includes aluminum jack.
  • 12v battery with charger/maintainer
  • Front stone guard (aluminum diamond plate)
  • AM/FM cassette player with amplifier
  • 225 /75R15 trailer tires. Tires are 4 ½ years old but have less than 1,000 miles on them.
  • 5 spare wheels and tires. 2 spare Tuff-Tow tires and wheels
  • Comes with 50cc scooter. Very clean, less than 500 miles.
  • Priced to sell at $9,250; contact me at jack@gofastjack.com

Okay, now that I’ve turned Phil Burgess’ website into a classified ad consortium, I shall wrap up the blog. By the time this gets posted, I should be well on my way to Bristol. I actually fly into Knoxville, which is a solid two hour drive to Bristol, but knocks nearly $400 off of the airfare. I try to treat Don’s money the same as I treat my own, but I’m not looking forward to that drive, especially late into the night on Thursday. Actually, I’m hoping that I miss my return flight Sunday, as I plan on spending some quality time with my crew in our first winner’s circle of the year!

Stay tuned, buy a trailer, buy a truck…get a hemi, and go fast!
 

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