It's funny, and disheartening, how this strange sport of drag racing can provide such highs and lows, all in just split seconds, and leave you forgetting how you felt about everything just a minute before. Case in point: Norwalk for Team Wilk.
Two days of qualifying, defying all odds predicted by the weathermen, and Wilk took the LRS Ford right down the track ("right on down through there" in drag racer lingo, although some would say "right down Broadway") on all four runs. We didn't have the quickest or fastest car on the property, but we had the most consistently quick and fast car, and you could hardly script it any better. Plus, on Saturday it warmed up a little and Wilk didn't just get it to the other end cleanly, he was second-best in each session, picking up two bonus points each time. And then Jack Beckman made a great run. Way to go, Jack!
Why does Fast Jack's run have any connection to this? Because he actually improved enough to knock Courtney Force back a spot, into 10th, and that set up a Wilk vs. Courtney match-up in round one. We had the same situation in Joliet, just a week before, and Wilk finally got around Courtney to beat her for the first time ever. In Norwalk, not so much.
If you were watching you could see that Wilk was out front and seemed to be pulling away, but then the car put a hole out on the left side, followed almost instantly by a second dropped cylinder over there, and frankly only some expert driving by an experienced guy kept the LRS Ford off the wall. Day over. Thanks for playing. It was as if the brilliant qualifying runs had never happened.
Not too much after that, I was on the phone with the owner, the driver, and the crew chief (since I did not travel to Norwalk) and by then they'd taken the clutch apart and found one disc pretty much destroyed. Things break. On 10,000 hp Funny Cars, a lot of things break. A broken clutch disc was the culprit, and that's how the cookie crumbles, the ball bounces, and we experience yet another way to lose a drag race. It seems as if there's only a couple of difficult ways to win, but there's a million ways to lose.
So, I wasn't in Norwalk but with all the social media and ESPN3.com it almost felt as if I was there. It's such a unique track, full of such energetic and wonderful people, all you have to do is see it and it's almost like being there. But I wasn't. Now, everyone gets a weekend off before the Western Swing (I always capitalize that, because it seems right to me) and then I'm off to Denver on July 18. I'm looking forward to that with my "anticipation gauge" pegged on the red line. Can't wait to get to Bandimere!
And, while everyone else is getting next weekend off, after I've had three of the last four at home, I feel it's my obligation to keep the universe balanced by getting on a plane. Barbara has to be out in Spokane this week, so I'm going to jump on Delta 1488 on Friday and head out there. Our friend, and expert cat sitter, Dawn will be coming over to be with the boyz all weekend, and that means Barbara and I will be in our Liberty Lake house together but without Boofus and Buster, and that's a proposition I find a little unsettling. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and enjoying some spectacular Washington weather as well as a few fine meals, but it will be weird (and too quiet) not having the boyz there. I'm heading back here on Monday, and then on to Denver later that week, but at the same time Barb is in the middle of one of those calendar challenges that has her going nonstop, to various cities and continents, and she has so much work and so much travel ahead of her that right now it looks like we're not going to see each other for about a month! We've handled it before, but it's no fun...
Anyway, here are some key odds and ends to consider...
The voting for our new Team Wilk website design wrapped up on Friday (I actually red lit and made the announcement about an hour or so earlier than we had planned) and I'm happy to report that "Flames Up" was the winner. I liked them all, but first impressions are always important and my first gut reaction to the four designs was that "Flames Up" was the best one, so therefore (ergo) I'm happy about that and apparently a lot of people agreed with my feelings (despite the fact I never made them public). With four options to choose from, "Flames Up" earned 61 percent of the vote! That's a landslide...
In other happy Team Wilk news, I now have in my possession (also "in my hot little hands") the production sample of our new die-cast car! It looks incredible, and we're trying to have them here (from China) by Indy. That might be a stretch, but we're trying. Either way, once we have them we'll put them on Bob Tasca's souvenir trailer, so you can get one at the track, and we'll have them on TimWilkerson.com as well. Yes, you can be the first person on your block to have one! Don't delay, call right away. Operators standing by! And if you call within the next five minutes, we'll throw in a 24th scale "Shamwow" towel totally free! I made all that up. You can delay (you'll actually have to since we don't have them yet), there's no operators standing by, and you won't get a miniature Shamwow towel. But, hopefully by Indy, you'll be able to buy one if you want to.
Here in Woodbury, we celebrated July 4th twice. First, we went to the Twins game on July 3, and they had fireworks after the game, so that was fun. Then, on the actual 4th of July, we continued our longstanding tradition of watching the Ojibway Park - Woodbury fireworks show from the driveway with the Jacobsens, although we now have to do it from their driveway instead of ours, because our driveway is no longer our driveway as it now belongs to someone else... A bunch of our great neighbors came over, so it was a spectacular evening with a great fireworks show off in the distance. Best. Friends. Ever.
On Saturday, we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner when my lovely bride came up with the idea of heading over to Stillwater. Here in Woodbury, we only live a few minutes west of the St. Croix River, on the other side of which is Wisconsin, and Stillwater sits right on the river, just north of I-94. It's historic, it's quaint, it's full of shops and restaurants, and basically it's just a REALLY cool place, with many culinary options. It's kind of odd that we don't go there as much as we should, possibly because there's a real gravitational pull that emanates from St. Paul and Minneapolis and tugs us in that direction, where the possibilities for food and entertainment are basically endless, but every time we drive the 20 minutes over to Stillwater I think "This place is so cool. We should come over here more often..."
Right in downtown Stillwater is the historic lift-bridge that connects over to the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix. It's old, it's being replaced, and it's prone to breaking down, but it's kind of a landmark. We walked a block from the great restaurant we chose and saw that the river was really high, up over the sidewalk that normally runs alongside the shore and just inches under the roadway on the lift-bridge. It's been a wet year so far!
And finally, a few words about this blog. Not this particular installment, but the blog in general. Coming up, in about a month, I'll complete my eighth year of writing this. That, in itself, is just stunning. Eight years? Wow... And to think the original challenge back in 2005 was to see if we could write these newfangled "blog" things for a whole month. I wasn't sure I could come up with enough material for a month. I guess I could.
As times have changed, the ability to connect at so many different levels has been remarkable, and now I think it's really cool that this blog has its own place (it's own niche, so to speak) in that wide world of social media. I'm obviously longwinded (can't help it!) and as you all know the blog is mostly about life, and what happens in that life if you happen to be me, doing what I do for a living and going the places I go. It's just a long story, and I add to it every time I write one of these.
And the winner is... Flames Up! Can't wait to get it up and running...
When we started, this was one of the few ways we could reach great masses of people. Now, with Facebook, Twitter, and other applications along with good old email, we have a variety of ways to do that, and each is slightly different, but all are so valuable.
I bring this up because, for only the 11th or 12th time in the entire almost-eight year history of this endeavor, I got a somewhat negative email the other day, and the chief complaints (if you could call them that) were that these things are too long (like I said, I can't help that, it's just how I write) and that the blog was about a bunch of nonsense and it should really be just about the race car. Okay, the nonsense part has always been true, I'll agree with that.
I saved the email, because I always respond and I wanted to explain it all to the writer, but mysteriously the email was gone from my in-box the next morning, so (if you're out there sir) please do understand that I meant to reply. I have no idea where the email went, but now I can't respond directly and that REALLY bugs me. What I was going to say, had I been able to reply, is that the blog kind of is what it is, and it's been pretty much exactly this way for about eight years now, so I'm not messing with the incredible (enormous and unanticipated) success we've had with it, but the options to get other information are right at anyone's fingertips. Do you like things short and sweet? Twitter is for you. Nothing but bite-sized morsels of information, where a long-winded guy like me has to struggle to fit thoughts into 140 characters. Like hanging out with a bunch of fine folks who are all Wilk fans, sharing stories and photos? Our Team Wilkerson Fan Group on Facebook is just the ticket. Want to only hear about the race car, prior to, during, and after each race? Well, like many of you reading this now, all you have to do is ask to be on our PR mailing list and you'll get every update, every comment, and every quote right in your in-box, promptly, on every day Team Wilk is racing as well as before every race.
It's just crazy how all this social media has changed the world (especially the PR world) but it's also remarkable how it all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. There's truly something for everyone, and I know a lot of you partake in all aspects of it, and for that I'm incredibly thankful. This sure has been a fun ride, and I don't see it ending anytime soon, so I guess we'll just keep on blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, and writing, until someone tells us all to stop... It's also nothing short of amazing to me just how loyal and kind all of you have been, for so long. There are still a ton of readers who stay in contact, who have been with this blog from Day 1, and you all deserve some sort of award for that! Thanks, many millions of times over.
And now... I guess I'll fire this off, finish up some presentations I'm working on, and plot out the rest of my week. Then, on Friday, back on good old flight 1488 heading westward to Spokane (Liberty Lake) for a few days. Go west, young man!