Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

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Though it may look like I’m holding on for dear life, I’m just loading trusses on the roof. I just KNEW someday I’d discover a REAL use for the forklift. After the garage is done I’m thinking of donating the old Clark to the NHRA Museum.

Now there’s a catchy title if ever I read one. And yes, it’s all true. Tune in this week (or “month,” with the frequency of my latest blogs) for all this and more. In fact, since I can’t think of anything else to procrastinate about, let’s just jump right in:

I’ve been juicing. No, that is not to say that I’ve been hitting the steroids or any other form of growth hormone (Mint and Chip ice cream notwithstanding), but rather that Jenna and I are making a better effort to get more fresh fruit and veggies in our diets. It tastes pretty good (even without the Jack Daniels), and I’m sure it’ll be beneficial in the long run. Not that I am equating the two, but our house got leveled with the flu a week ago. When Jason started feeling bad after school on Wednesday, I knew it wouldn’t be long until I caught whatever he had. Fortunately for our little man, his symptoms and pain were rather brief. Friday I didn’t move, and Jenna was only a notch above me. I don’t think I’ve hurt that bad in 10 years, and even by Sunday I could only spend about 2 hours working out back. Being sick sucks! I’m probably down 6-7 pounds right now, but with trying to stay gluten free I’m not so sure the “all-you-can-eat” pancakes at IHOP are such a good idea.

I got a good surf session in before the flu hit, and even fired up the GoPro camera and got a few decent pics. Unfortunately I won’t be heading out into the waves again for at least another week, as things are getting plenty hectic around here. I get on a plane Monday at 6am to head for St. Louis, where I’ll be making a late-night appearance for Valvoline. Tuesday bright and early I’ll be heading back home at 500mph. Wednesday I’ll be driving the Frank Hawley School 2-seat dragster for some promo stuff for the Winternationals with a local news station, and two days later we’ll officially kick off the season. Remember, this is the first time in as long as I can remember that we’re NOT running on Thursday…and I’m glad. One run per day is just too slow a pace, so getting two in on Friday (like every other national event…Indy is a different story) should be much nicer.

In between I’ll also have one inspection on my construction project, and I’ll have to figure out how to get the RV out to Pomona and parked.

Whilst on the subject of hammers and nails, I’m totally satisfied with the progress I’ve made on the backyard garage. As I look back over the 2 ½ years of this project (I believe you can verify that right here in the blog archives!), I wouldn’t even be near this far along if it weren’t for neighbor Curtis (who not only engineered the building, but has been my “phone a friend” for all questions related to his expertise), my buddy Sully (who jackhammered out tons of granite and moved 9 truckloads of dirt to make room for my playhouse), and naïve Jerry, who unassumingly promised to help me frame the building for free when the time came. And you know what…the time came! Poor Jerry sees me more than his wife and two boys, but without him I’d just have a pile of wood and nails…and tears. With his lead, I’ve been able to learn a few things about carpentry. For instance; it really hurts EVERY time I slam my forehead into a beam, truss, edge, sheathing, molding, and/or scaffold. I may be healed by Pomona, but it looks like I got my butt kicked a couple of times.

Between Jerry and I (and yes, there have been several others who have lent a hand) we’ve basically taken the dirt that Sully groomed for me, the plans that Curtis drafted, and are turning out a garage that is going to look beautiful in the not-too-distant future.

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At the Discovery Science Center, a likeness of Robert Wadlow, the World’s Tallest Man. Is it me, or does Jenna have her nose in his business?

Lest you think all Jack is good for is driving 16 penny nails into studs, let me reassure you: we’ve done plenty with the kids, and I’m throwing pictures in for proof this time. Jason just lost his first upper tooth, and I think he looks pretty cute with it missing. I’m afraid he’s going to get a big, ungainly adult tooth pretty soon, and lose his little boy charm. Though he really needs to work on focusing and listening better (it’s clearly hereditary!), he is just my pride and joy. He’s such a good, sensitive child with an inquisitive mind and sharp wit (not sure where he got any of that from?). Then there’s his sister. Layla is going to be very high maintenance. She has this defiant streak a mile wide (Jenna swears Jason was like that when he was younger, but I think our little Princess has taken it to a new level). She’s also showing some smarts in many areas, and has a very strong personality. No question who’s going to be running the roost pretty soon.

Rich, my friend that I surf with, went and got married. Though I tried and tried to talk him out of it (Just kidding, Nicci!), they tied the knot right on the beach in Redondo last weekend. Though Jenna and I were still feeling ill (I didn’t even want to chance driving, so Jenna took over. We also skipped the reception so we didn’t spread germs), we didn’t want to miss what should be rarer than Haley’s comet. Yep, Rich Camou is married. (You folks down in hell, that cold stuff you’re feeling is called, “snow”!).

Another cool thing I did was go to lunch in Orange County with Brent Cannon, and a few dozen legends. Apparently the group tries to get together several times a year, and I couldn’t believe the firepower in that room. I’m actually going to attach a list at the bottom of this blog of who was there, but it was just an All-Star gathering. As if that wasn’t enough, “Spider” Razon presented me with a jacket that his company made. He knows what a fan of the sport I am, and I was really moved by his gift. Never mind that it was 80 degrees outside that day…I had to wear it home!

Curtis and I took the boys to a local track to use their Traxxas trucks. We’ve had ours for probably two years, and we did more damage to it in two laps on that track! Those things take an unbelievable amount of abuse, and the triplets have even managed to break several parts on theirs. No worries: Curtis sets up his pit spot, changes out a couple of components, and they’re back on their way. Fun stuff!

We did our yearly Anaheim Monster Jam trip, and my friend Brandon (who seems like he knows everybody everywhere) introduced us to Tom Meents (owner/driver of the Maximum Destruction line of trucks). Turns out that Tom is a hardcore drag race fan, and I’m going to try and get him to come watch us race Sunday in Pomona. He’ll already be in town, as Saturday he’s doing another Anaheim show. How cool would it be to use his truck as our tow vehicle? Hey, we could “accidently” run over our competition in the staging lanes…each round!

And then there was testing! Yes, we ran for five days in south Florida, and we tested…our patience! That’s not to say that the Valvoline team didn’t run okay. In fact, we probably made as many “good” runs as any funny car team. It just was one of the most difficult, frustrating test sessions I can ever recall. The staff at Palm Beach Raceway bent over backwards (figuratively…of course) to try and give us a great racetrack. I think the biggest issue was that there had been so much rain in the past month that the rubber bonded to the track really suffered. I’ve never heard so many cars smoke the tires before they even got to the Christmas Tree, but that is what we all were dealing with. Still, I’m glad we went. In fact, it was essential for us, as a team that has never worked together before, to have a chance to simulate national event work conditions and get comfortable around each other. I’d say we gelled, coagulated, melted, bonded, and overall adhered well with the new group. Terry Snyder and I are the only familiar faces from last year (and I’m not even sure I’d recognize either of us in a dark alley!). Rob Flynn is at the helm, and Chris, Bill, Chase, Marla, Nate, Ryan, and Sterling will be spinning the wrenches to get us into the winner’s circle. The cool thing is that four of our folks have never won a race, so hopefully we can get them conditioned early…and often! When we do win, you’d better bring a camera to the winner’s circle…it’s going to be special (I’d also bring mouthwash, some gum, and maybe a taser).

Man do I hope next blog has got some great (and long awaited) news!

Stay tuned, keep your teeth, pass your inspections, drink your juice, and (ladies) take Rich’s number out of your phone!

Luncheon with Legends list: "Watchdog" Tommy Allen and son Randy; Gary Beck; "Fast" Jack Beckman; Larry Bowers; Jim Brissette; Danny "Buzz" Broussard; Brent Cannon; Jay Carpenter; Pam Conrad; Sam Davis; Joel Embick; John Ewald; Leon Fitzgerald; Roger Garten; Bill Genco; Frank Genco; Steve Gibbs; Gerry "The Hunter" Glenn; Marvin "Who" Graham; Noel Grise; Joel Gruzen; Bob Higginson; Donnie Irvin; Tom Jobe; Roland Kleinsorge; Roland Leong; Rod McCarrell; Manny Maldanado; Jerry Mallicoat; Terry Maestrejuan; Drew Mraz; Carl Olson; John Phillips; Bill Pitts; Dennis Prater; Don Prieto; Bud Rasner; Spider Razon; Gary Read; Lee Schelin; Bill Schultz; Jimmy Scott; Jess "The Flea" Sturgeon; Frank Vanderbruck; Henry Walther; Tom West.