I sure hope that wherever you are right now that you have had a chance to check out how great of job that Star Racing did a few weeks ago at the Gators. If you haven't please go check out starracing.com and read our post race report. Once you read that, then come back and read this because I'm going to get you up to speed real quick on the real inside skinny….
Not to beat a dead horse but last year when we showed up at the Gator Nationals I had a huge hole in my foot after some pre-season wall riding, brand new leathers, brand new bike, and the same "I'm here to kick everyone's a$$" attitude that I carry with me every weekend. Well this year not much changed; the attitude was the no different, the bike was the same just painted different, and I didn't have a hole in my foot. But the leathers were new and the team was a group that I hadn't raced within two years. So when we got to the track my focus was really on just run well this weekend and we will worry about counting points later. I know that we all want to run fast and win races, but after how the points all start over for the countdown I knew that I needed to focus on driving good every pass so that the team could get valuable data as well making me a better rider and if we were in a position to win a championship then that's great. Those are the the tools that will help us when the countdown starts in September; because as we all know and LE Tonglet showed us a few years ago, just win rounds in the Countdown and you will win the championship. Back to the race; when we were all wrapped up with qualifying Saturday night I was really excited about how consistent we had run down the track and how good the team was gelling together until I looked at the ladder for Sunday that had Scotty and I going out first round against each other. I can't think of any team that wants to see their drivers competing against each other unless it is the final round because then it's been an awesome day either win light that comes on. So when I went and turned not the red light I knew that instant that it wasn't in the big guys plans for me to win that day and it was my turn to go cheer on Scotty for the rest of the day. Scotty did such an awesome job on Sunday going all the way to the his first semifinal of his career and it was kind of fitting for him after an interesting weekend of qualifying. After we got all loaded up Sunday it was time to say good bye for a few weeks then it was off to the hotel for an early flight home.
After a great weekend of racing I was really looking forward to coming back home and playing with Jennifer in our new house. I really didn't have time to get settled in to the new house with us testing before Gainesville and the shop being so busy, so it's still so new to me and so much fun. The other day Jennifer was out doing something so I had the surround sound system turned WIDE OPEN enjoying myself with a big smile on my face. Some of the most fun times are watching our dogs go flying in and out of their doggie door at a hundred miles per hour, they go wide open until about 10 o'clock then they crash out like two little kids. Jennifer and I almost have to make them get up in the morning like little kids to so that we can leave to go to work. With us not having any kids of our own these guys sure do keep us laughing around here whenever we get bored. It's been as hard for the dogs to get adjusted to the new house as Jennifer and I. The youngest puppy we have, Ava has had to kick it old school and go back to her puppy pads for her late night trips, then for me I have had a hard time figuring out what light witch does what, it took me about five minutes the other night to figure out how to turn off the living room light but I'm figuring it out. I still have a couple of outdoor things to do to get setup for some summertime parties and the upcoming football season, but all in all we're are getting settled in. On top of figuring out our new house I got a new Volkswagen Jetta to cruise around in that I am really enjoying. I have needed to get a new reasonable means of transportation but I couldn't bring myself to getting a car that came with a PAYMENT… Well after a lot of hunting, riding the Ruckus against Jennifer's will everywhere, and wearing out all my free rides I had broke down and picked up the Jetta. It's a cool car with a small payment so I'm happy and all my golfing buddies are happy because now I can drive everywhere. You never know it may make an appearance at an NHRA race real soon.
I don't want to kiss anybody’s a$$ or step on anybody’ toes with these statements to follow, but I think that the Gatornationals really lived up to the hype that the fans have always come to expect. Looking at the qualifying sheets that had (check my stats Lewis) by my math four multi-bike teams (10 bikes total) battling for 16 open spots, so we knew that the odds of a muti-bike team showing up for battle on Sunday minus a warrior was a reality that someone was going to deal with. For the first time in as long as I can remember going into Q4 Eddie was on the outside of the top 16 looking to bump himself in. After all the dust settled there were quite a few competitive bikes that didn't make the show. Then first round was full of craziness with some upsets and "what the…." coming from everyone that had their eyes turned on to the track. It was really good to see for the second time on too many races to count a non-Harley final. It was a really big testament to how hard not only NHRA is working to make our class more competitive but to all the teams or not giving up and working hard no matter the odds set in front of them. I believe that this year is going to be the most competitive, exciting, and firework filled season ever for our class. I'm not disrespecting any of the alumni of the class, but there are several good teams with historic rivalries competing for the first Mello Yellow Championship and I'm not letting ANYONE get in my way of getting it. So watch out because it's going to get good. Remember to follow me on Twitter @michaelstingray and come by and see us the track.
Well hello, everybody. I hope we all enjoyed playing in the snow. I know when I talked to John Hall after that big snowstorm he told me that he was overwhelmed for the first time ever with snow; I was like “Dang, John Hall being overwhelmed?” It has been a really roller coaster past weeks for Jennifer and I, from her expanding her fight company for 2013, to our new home that we move into this week and going testing for a few days you can swallow up six weeks really quick. So like any elephant you eat, you better do it one bite at a time.
At the beginning of the year Jennifer and I set out some goals for ourselves this year with one of those goals to purchase our first home. We have been doing the standard operating procedure for newlyweds; we started out in the one bedroom old apartment then moved into a little duplex so now we feel with the all the Lord’s blessings that we are ready to buy. Well with Jennifer's schedule crazier than mine this year we agreed to start now so that we are not rushing through this later in the year or looking at a calendar in late November asking ourselves how are we already through another year. So we buckled down to find the perfect house for us and we did in no time. The house in perfect for us being a three bedroom with a nice office which Jennifer enjoys and most of all a HUGE back yard for our pups to play in so it will be really nice this summer coming home not listening to rowdy duplex neighbors and barbecuing on our patio. Since I’ve been in Gainesville testing for the past few days Jennifer has been at home packing our entire house up getting ready for the big move and we've already spoke with our landlord so we're ready. Jennifer was really funny telling me about packing, she got everything packed except for Mr. Wally; she told me that he was going to ride in the front seat of the car and buckled up for safety because he doesn't go in a box… I already got a awesome spot for him at the new house, it's pretty big mantle because I got plans of adding to my collection this year.
A few weeks ago you may have heard or read a tweet about me teaming up with Sovereign/Star Racing, if you didn't hear about I just told ya. I really had to try and throw a little sarcasm in that if you missed it…. I personally had a lot of emotions running through my head over the past few weeks not because I felt I may be second guessing myself or anything like that but I was going to a completely new environment for me. I mean, yeah we raced three races together in 2011 but it takes real time to create that fffffllllloooooooowwwwwww that these guys already have together. So when Rugger and I got the track the other day I said my plan is to shut my mouth and open my ears, just so I can help when it's needed. Then after about two and a half seconds into the day Ken Johnson had me feeling right at home; for you that may not know Ken he does that by yelling at you and calling you a slacker, after that I fit in like a round peg. I think total for the day Scotty and I made four or five passes all good clean straight runs so that made George, Jeno, and the rest of the team really happy so we called it a day and went to the Ale House for a beverage. Something that really helped me make a great transition over was the fact I brought my bike to Star for me to ride, I mean come on it's brand new and we know it's a winner right? But it's all about being comfortable on the bike and I was immediately. Another awesome experience from the past few days of testing was sitting in George's Pro Stock school that him and Mr. Frank Hawley put on. I didn't actually do any riding with the class, but to be able to sit down and listen to Frank Hawley speak is the best part in my eyes, sorry George… But for real, Frank Hawley's classroom instruction is so instructive and beneficial that I know Scotty and I are looking forward to applying what we re-learned out on the track again. I remember when I went in 2006 I learned how to race; people look at me funny when I say that, but it's the truth. You can be the world’s greatest driver at making the scoreboards show awesome numbers, but I don't care about numbers I want win lights and Frank does an awesome job helping with that.
That being said the next time we will put all of the great things we learned to work again will be in a few weeks. I know that George said after our successful test session this week he just wants to show up all clean and shining for first round of qualifying and see where we stack up against the field. After all the years combined this crew has been racing together we have learned that we don't race dynoes, flow benches, and testing is just that TESTING. It is great to shake the rust off and see how all your hard work come to point, but they don't give out Wally's for the fastest in testing. With our season about to get fired up there should be a lot interesting news and testing numbers flying around and they always make for good stories so I'm looking forward to the next four weeks getting ready for the Gators. It should be really interesting with the new rules and the addition of some new teams will make for an exciting weekend. I know I can't wait to show off my new leathers that Matt and the team at Vanson leathers are working really hard to make me look good and be safe as well as my new paint job on my helmet, I can't wait to see how it turns out.
Well other than a really busy Harley shop that had another record year that's all that I got for crazy fun updates on my world. I know I can't say thank you enough to the entire Sovereign/Star Racing team as well as the Gotssacker family for giving me another opportunity to continue to live my dream. I really feel that this year could be exciting for all of us. Please make sure to keep up with all of us Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute updates from any of us and you better come by and get new hero cards to add to your collection at home, Scotty and I are gonna look pretty fly this year so you’re going to want to have us on your fridge.
Merry New Year and happy Christmas to everyone! I hope that everyone got to spend a ton of time with their family over the holiday season. I know that Jennifer and I really enjoyed our time with each other and our families over the past few weeks. The shop was closed for a few days and I took all my vacation time at once so I was off work for a total of 15 days out of the month of December; man was that nice!!! I mainly sat at home and tried relaxed but with all that has been going on the past few weeks concerning my future in NHRA I didn’t relax at all. So when it was time to leave and head out for our Christmas trip with Jennifer’s family I had to leave everything at home which I didn’t mind at all.
This year we all decided to go to Red River New Mexico and go skiing for a few days and spend Christmas up there. I was all in 100 percent because I had never really seen snow like that only the annual blizzard conditions of south Texas which can be about an inch annually…. So when we got up in the mountains I loved it. I am a huge outdoors fan and I absolutely love cold weather so you can see why I wanted to go on this trip. Jennifer on the other hand had other plans of playing xBox and lying by the fire for four days, which was ok with me because I was playing in the snow all day. There were a few days that her and I would get out to go shopping together then grab lunch or something. We make it a tradition to spend time with her family during Christmas because her family lives a few hours away so she doesn’t see them as much. Jennifer’s family is really a lot of fun so I really enjoy myself and they have always accepted me being weird so I have to love them for that. I’m really trying to get her family out to a race next year so that thy can experience the sounds and smells of what we all love.
With the holiday season wrapped up I really have been focused on getting 2013 planned out. After the amazing year that our team had last year we really knew that a lot of doors would open up for us to race next year. So when I had to make my decision on where I wanted to race next year I ran through the Sovereign-Star Racing door. I know that these guys are 100% focused on making a championship run this year and I look forward to working towards that goal. Just look at the resume’ of the members of this team and tell me how anyone could say no… I knew that it was not going to be the easiest thing in the world to leave MSR but at the end of the day its business and Matt understood. I will be forever grateful and thankful for my time with MSR, we were an awesome team that made a lot of great memories. That being said I’m really looking forward to hanging out with my new family and make some new memories; although I’ve been here before I’m the FNG now not Andrew Schultz.
These guys at Sovereign-Star Racing are so awesome and have really been coming on strong as of late last season and I know are actively working as I type to come up with some more power so watch out next year… I know that we are going to be starting up and going testing here really soon so it’s hammer down until then. I’m actually going to be going back to attend Frank Hawley’s school in February which I am really looking forward to. That is the most informative and useful training seminar in the world, from George’s on-track training to Frank’s in-class motivational speeches as I call them, these two legends will have you ready to win a championship. I remember the first school that I went to was back in 2006, I was very fortunate because Angelle and Antron were there so I got lessons from four legends of the sport that week. That school shaped me into the RACER I am today.
It’s bowl time and playoff time so please everyone please eat all the junk food you can, because the real diet programs can’t make it through the best Super bowl parties anyway so don’t try. Now that Ray Lewis is retiring this season I guess I have to keep the dances going, I’m a huge fan of Ray Lewis and the Ravens so him retiring is huge and what a legend of the sport. Now that they have won their first playoff game I have to keep burning the bbq pit down because during race season it doesn’t get a lot of love. I know that I always wait until after Super Bowl before I start watching what I eat to get ready for the gators, that’s just how I roll. So please have fun and go crazy doing it. Also remember hug your family and tell them you love them every time the leave. You only have one family….
Well it’s over for a few weeks at least. This ENTIRE year has completely flown right by; it literally feels like it was just a few weeks ago that we were in Denver doing the western swing. But now all the leathers are hung up and we get the tacky Christmas sweaters out. I was really excited about the opportunity that the Gottsacker family gave me when they gave me a brand new bike and the best tuner, equipment, and all the little thing s you need to be successful on the NHRA tour. It’s crazy to think that out of the entire season our team was the only team to take home a prestigious Wally.
I still remember all the days I walked the halls of Star Racing with a all the Wallys I never once touched one, nor did I when I went to Matt’s house and saw his arsenal of Wallys going up his stairs. I mean they would let me, but it wasn’t mine. Call me weird but I remember Doc Rivers when Boston one a few years ago said the same thing. He did not touch the championship trophy during the media events because it wasn’t his yet; that stuck with me until that Sunday afternoon in Ennis Texas. Now Jennifer just makes fun of me because I just sit and hold it on the couch all the time.
The banquet is always fun and NHRA does a great job with ceremony. I was very honored when the Harley Davidson team stood up and recognized our team when they announced my eighth place finish. Also Eddie made a point to recognize us during his speech which was very special considering we raced together for a very long time in AMA/Prostar, thank you Eddie you are a great champion. Also the banquet is a reason to clean up and not be greasers for one night.
My night started off crazy when Jennifer was running late getting her hair done, I got back to the room late so we were both I trouble… I remember sitting there dressed on the bed and the most beautiful woman came through the door with her usual “Hi honey.” Jennifer looked so amazing and I remember sitting there thinking “I’m not late, I’m making an entrance with Jennifer.” So we enjoyed the ceremony and partied with everyone, said our goodbyes, and off to the room we went. The entire crew was all on the same Southwest flight the next morning so we new it would be an adventure getting all of us on the plane and back home. But after a long walk to Pizza Hut in the Phoenix airport and a few iTunes rented movies we made it San Antonio about 6:30 p.m. Now we are so weird, we all spend days on the road with each other but when we land in San Antonio the baggage claim is like a group of strangers. No one says anything to each other, once our bags come out it’s a quick hug and off we go to our separate lives again.
The switch from race team to Harley Davison business team happens. We really don’t talk personally to ach other for several days after each event. If I need Rugger or Hal for anything it better be because the shop is on fire and there is no water. Call us weird but that’s how we roll and that’s how we all can stand to get along with each other. That being said we are all speaking now since we have been home now for about a week now.
With the season being over and now Thanksgiving week is here and now passed by the time this goes up… It is always nice to see everyone out in the shop. Rugger’s kids have been blasting through here, along with his sister Maggie and her husband Brandon. There are a lot of customers that I haven’t seen in a long time that I have ben getting caught up with and it is really nice to see so many of my extended family. For Thanksgiving we are going to go out to Javelina Harley and participate in their annual “Feed the Troops” event. They host over 150 new Air Force recruits to a really nice Thanksgiving dinner. The event is catered by Luby’s with tons of everything you could think food and dessert wise. Then AT&T and Cricket always step up and give us phones for everyone to call and use all day. There is a huge projector that we set up to show football and huge gaming trailer with every new xBox,PS3, or Wii game out. Those are always fun but the coolest part of the entire event is seeing their faces light up when they find out the phones are there and they are free all day. I could just imagine the emotions that they must feel being away from home haven’t spoken to my family in a few weeks than to completely surprise them on Thanksgiving… Man that just gives me chicken skin thinking about it. Then we went and had dinner then finished off the evening with some Black Ops 2 with Matt and his brother in law Scott. Then it was back to work Friday morning.
Well I will once again thank each and every person that has helped me through out this roller coaster season that was NHRA Full Throttle 2012. I get very emotional thinking about how this year was more than I ever thought it would be. The mental and physical toll that this season has taken on me and team was unbelievable. I never would have imagined sitting in Valdosta Georgia with a hole in my foot after hitting the wall on the first full pass out on the new bike before Gainesville that we would end up the only team that would enjoy the winners circle this year other than the Harley team and finish in the top ten. I will keep you posted on what’s happening throughout the offseason. I mean the annual Gottsacker Christmas party is in 2 weeks so anyone that truly knows Team Toxic knows there is no true offseason here with Uncle Hal. Have an awesome holiday season and stay in touch with me via Twitter and Facebook.
Stay gold, Ponyboy…..