Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

Enticing title…now you’ll have to read the whole blog and try to figure out what exactly I’m talking about. Of course, after most folks read my entries, they have NO idea what I’m talking about. Before I get completely off track, let’s dive right in…

At Denver, I caught up with Neil Cannon (brother of my close friend Brent, AND my first sponsor!), and Brad Soares (son of Brent’s former Top Fuel partner and driver, Phil, who passed away recently).

Last blog I didn’t have much time to go into any detail. I did, however, have a nice cold, which I took with me to Denver and enjoyed tremendously. Technically, I took it up to Oakland first, as I flew up there last Wednesday to do media in the San Francisco Bay area to promote the Sonoma race. Wednesday night I flew into Denver, did my usual Denny’s stop (typical,unless I can find a 24-hour IHOP), and got to my hotel around 1am. By then the head was plenty stuffed up, and I stared at the clock (okay, I did watch TV too) until 4am.

Waking up at 7:30 was lots of fun, but I had promised to do a radio show at 8am, and I needed plenty of time to get my voice before it started. The host, Peter Boyles, is quite a motorsports fan. I imagined it would be a typical, topical 8 minute standard deal, but Peter had me on well over 20 minutes to talk about the Bandimere race, nitro cars, and Einstein’s special theory of relativity. I got two out of three correct!

The rest of Denver went okay, except I didn’t have much voice Friday or Saturday, and we didn’t have enough race car on Sunday. My dad came out, and we hung out with the Stutz family (as in Ray, former Top Fuel driver whose hair I cut last year in the winner’s circle) after the race.

(Above) This is what I call “maximizing” my time with my babies. Jason liked the speed, and Layla seemed to enjoy herself, though she quickly discovered…
(Below left) Those Costco diapers can hold about 10 times their weight in water. Either that, or our little girl has a serious amount of Pilates in her future (not to be confused with those peg-legged sailors who wear eye patches and fly the Jolly Roger!). (Below right) Once out of her 5 pound diaper, Layla donned her summer dress (a gift from Grandpa and Teri) and took her favorite rat for a stroll.

I caught a Sunday night flight back home, landed here just before midnight, and got to sleep in my own bed…alone. (That’s what happens when you have a two year old!). Speaking of Layla, we did have a good time at her birthday party on the 14th. Originally we had no intentions of doing anything (maybe singing “Happy Birthday” to her, but then we remembered that that song is copyrighted, and we didn’t want to get in trouble), but Jenna’s dad Bill REALLY wanted to spend time with his granddaughter. So Jenna thought we’d have that side of the family over, plus Brent and Staci Cannon. Then Jason complained that he wouldn’t have anyone to play with, so we invited the Coombs family, with the triplets. So, this “four person party” morphed into renting an inflatable slide and me floating in the water with germs from multiple children (hence the aforementioned cold). I’m thinking maybe we’ll do “Chucky Cheese” next year!

I think last blog I briefly mentioned that I picked up the last load (or so I think) of blocks for the backyard wall project. It seemed so easy, and I know Juan at the block company clearly understood my intentions. I have a small, OLD forklift and a heckuva ramp going up to the backyard, so I did NOT want any overloaded pallets. Juan even confirmed with me on the morning I was leaving to meet my buddy Sully’s flatbead at the brick yard (not to be confused with the Indianapolis 500 racetrack). Yep, 4 pallets, each loaded with 42 bricks, weighing approximately 1250 pounds per pallet. This way I could be pretty confident that not only could my 1962 Clark unload the pallets from the trailer, but I had a better than average chance of making it up the hill.

In the brick yard (maybe I should call it the “block factory” to avoid confusion), I knew I was in trouble when the first pallet showed up…with SIX blocks on it! Long story short, truck driver Dave and I moved a lot of 30 pound blocks, trying to balance out THREE (as in, “NOT FOUR”) pallets. In case I haven’t been clear about this, further reading should clarify why I requested cuatro plataformas for my project.

At the NAPA grand opening I did about a week ago, they did raffle prizes for those in attendance. This gentleman won a coffee maker, three NAPA hats, and a date with me. Lucky guy.
This was taken off the ESPN broadcast. Force approached me in the lanes with the TV cameras following closely, and told me to “ham it up” for the show. I doubt he’ll make that mistake again. I must say, he is a great kisser.

The old Clark performed like a champ getting everything on the ground, and Dave took off back to work. I then got as long a runoff as I could, made it to the top of the ramp (where the concrete ends and the dirt begins), and promptly spun the tires. I’d tackled this hurdle once before, and drug my three former weight room rubber mats (at about 50 pounds each) up the hill to use as traction pads. That, plus another lengthy acceleration distance got the job done, and I lowered pallet number one to the ground right next to my concrete footing. That’s when Newton’s principle came into effect, and the forklift bottomed out on the newly graded yard (notice I didn’t say, “Graded and COMPACTED”!).

After plenty of digging, chaining the forklift to the Nissan, placing boards under the wheels of both to minimize spinning in the dirt, and having to put the Clark in reverse, jump into the Nissan to pull slowly until out of the ruts, and then let the forklift stop by “gently nudging” (okay…”slamming into”) the back of the truck, I was unstuck. Then I tried to pull forward, which led to….oh, just go back to the beginning of this paragraph and repeat. For the next two pallets, I was liberal with plywood to prevent more dents in the truck bumper.

Pallet three (this would be the heaviest of the three and the reason that I had requested four from the beginning) simply would not make it up the hill. I’m considering some kind of nitrous system for the Clark, as this ramp is pretty stout, and the flathead forklift engine clearly isn’t. I tried it twice, but I was clearly at least 10 horsepower shy. My only solution was to unload about 500 pounds of block by hand, back the remaining ones up to get a long runoff, and slam the throttle down. Attempt #3 rewarded me with just enough speed to creep over the crest and up into the yard. I just love when a 2 ½-hour project takes more than half the day!

Anyway, I doubt those blocks will be touched again for a few months, as that and my garage project will just have to wait until I have some time.

Once returning from Denver, and, though still coughing and producing plenty of mucus (like you wanted to know that), the countdown was on. The family is all heading up to Sonoma in the RV, and we had plenty of work to do. Monday I got in an upper-body workout (This one was about an hour using free weights and I did chest and triceps), followed by my leg routine. For that, I use a Craftsman 21-inch lawnmower, set on “3” or “4”, and I do the advanced routine, which means I don’t employ the “self-propelled” feature. This workout takes about 40 minutes. It also makes the lawn pretty.

The next day it was time to wash the motorhome. Last trip I took it to a $55 truck wash. Though they tried, it just didn’t look that good, and had streaks all over. So I went back to the “Jack wash” again, and this time I used the Eagle-One Wax-as-You-Dry spray. That basically means that I washed 1452 square feet (I always start with the roof), followed by hand-wiping 1070 square feet. Throw in setting air pressure in 10 tires, loading supplies, and cleaning a filthy driver’s seat (did I mention the unit sat at a trans shop for six weeks?), and that took up lots of my day.

We realize that our efforts are trivial relative to the grief that the families are suffering, but we (Valvoline approached us with the idea) wanted to do our part to show respect to those affected.
If he wasn’t holding that cane, you’d have no idea how remarkable this young boy truly is. The Al-Anabi group, and Phil Shuler of DSR gave him an unforgettable day, and those folks deserve a huge pat on the back. I just want to hug Jacob!
As we are leaving tomorrow, I really need to get this blog done tonight and cross it off the list. Tomorrow we’ll do the final packing, get one more workout (that would be shoulders and biceps…the lawn is good for another week!), hook up the PT Cruiser, and hit the road.

Before I officially sign off, I want to talk about the first part of my title (you’ll see part two in the photos!). For the Norwalk race we did two really special things. First, we carried a tribute sticker on our car for the 19 Arizona firefighters who had recently lost their lives. More specifically, we dedicated the race to Kevin Woyjeck. Kevin was a 21-year-old from Seal Beach, and he and his father were photographed with our car at the Finals last year. The level of tragedy is just unfathomable, and my heart goes out to the friends and families of those 19 young men.

Something else remarkable happened with our team Sunday at Norwalk. I first want to say that all this was made possible by Phil Shuler (crew chief on Spencer Massey’s car) and many of the folks associated with the Al Anabi Pro Mod group. I was able to spend a good part of the day with 10 year old Jacob Delling. Jacob lost his mother recently and lives with his aunt and uncle. He’s a remarkable boy with a great sense of humor and a fantastic outlook. He also happens to be blind. If you didn’t see the ESPN race day coverage, Jacob lost his vision due to Retinoblastoma when he was only 4. We were so honored that he wanted to ride in our tow vehicle, and we wanted to help him (he’s a total Mopar gearhead) have a memorable time. I lead him throughout our trailers, pits, and crew chief lounge and helped him feel everything (except the crew chiefs!). While suiting up for the first round, Jacob touched every piece of equipment I was about to put on. We had him hold my boots while I slid my feet into them, and let him participate in the only way that would make sense to him. It was just so warming, emotional, and perspective-setting to have him ride with us for three runs. I think he loved getting interviewed by Gary Gerould after we won the first round. Phil is trying to set up a fund so the family can bring Jacob to Indy, and that’s just plain cool.

After the last two paragraphs, I think I’ve said enough.

Stay tuned, keep wood under your forklift, wax on your motorhome, diapers on your babies, and keep those special folks in your heart!

I’m taking the easy way out!Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

Isn’t gonna happen! Nope, no way I could possibly squeeze what I’ve done in the past two weeks into this blog. Sorry, but I’ve got a sore throat (that would be from playing all day in a rental water slide last Sunday with a bunch of kids…and even that would take too long to explain), it’s past midnight, and I’m on a plane Wednesday morning for Oakland.

Perhaps you think I’ve been out in the heat too long, as the Sonoma race isn’t until AFTER the Denver event, which takes place THIS weekend. I’m going to do advance/pre-event media for the Sonoma race, and it’s always better to try and do that at least a week prior. I hope that explanation satisfies…it’s all you’re getting for now. However, if you’d like the hyphenated version of my activities since last blog, I can give you some (photos to follow in my next entry):

I went to Epping, and it was cool.

I went to Norwalk, and it wasn’t unbearably hot. Though we didn’t win, we did some great stuff there (you may have seen the ESPN coverage, and I’m not referring to me trying to kiss John Force in the staging lanes).

I bought a bunch of masonry blocks (yes…I do intend to finish the backyard wall extravaganza sometime in 2013!), I discovered my forklift still runs…I just wish it was four-wheel drive!

We celebrated our daughter’s 2nd birthday, and my back and shoulders (and butt and neck and arms and…you get the picture) are still sore from all the trips up and down the slide.

Jenna and I ordered a beautiful boy and girl, and look what got shipped to our house today! Obviously this was “pants optional” day at the Beckman’s, but isn’t it cool how kids really don’t care about what came INSIDE the box…they just want to play WITH the box!

I did a NAPA appearance for a grand opening of a huge store/distribution center in Ontario (Ron was on vacation, and it was my turn to take his shift…pardon the pun).

I picked up the RV after it spent 6 weeks (NEVER tell a repair shop you’re not in a hurry!) getting a leak fixed.

Throw in all the regular chores that need to be done, lots of sweat out in the backyard, and several thousand more frequent flyer miles racked up, and that’s been about it for me lately.

I will endeavor to write longer, be more interesting, post more pics, and offer more insight in the next entry, which hopefully will be in the not too distant future. With three races in a row coming up, there should be plenty to report. Obviously Mopar is doing plenty with their drivers for the Denver race, and I again will work with Frank Hawley pre-Seattle for another media day/dragster ride-along program. Throw in the Eric Medlen dinner in Sonoma, and there will be lots to talk about.

Stay tuned, be brief (this is a first for me!), wear clean briefs, and I prefer boxer-briefs (definitely too much information for one blog!).

237, 71 and 47Thursday, July 04, 2013
Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

I’m “penning” this entry on the 3rd and it should be posted on the Fourth., the Fourth being the most important day in American history. In fact, my title is a reminder of several birthdays.

The biggest number belongs to our country, which was just a collection of British citizens occupying 13 separate colonies back when 56 brave men did (and signed) the unthinkable. I can’t imagine what chutzpah it took to risk everything they had -and to commit to an idea that had never been tried- and know that they could be killed for treason.

Courage today seems to be defined as not accepting food stamps (oops, I mean “EBT cards” for the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”). You’ll never convince me that 47.7 million Americans NEED to be on this program, and I think we as a nation owe those 56 men way more than what we’re currently delivering!

Sorry about the soliloquy on the Founding Fathers, and I do believe that we have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in times of need, but too many have abused a system that’s encouraged fraud and laziness. Okay, I’m off my soapbox.

The second most important birthday in the nation would obviously be the “71” in my title, and that belongs to Mr. Rodger Comstock, who also was born on the Fourth of July (not to be confused with the Tom Cruise movie). Ironically, “71” is also my Top Fuel permanent number, and I believe it’s pretty close to my IQ as well.

The 47 was what happened to me on June 28th, and I just flat have no idea what happened to the last 21 years! Some great fans at Chicago wished me a great Friday, and I very much appreciate those that sent e-mails, texts, and messages. I’m not sure why none of you realized that I was “registered” at Home Depot, and gift cards are always welcome!

I will be spending my Fourth of July mainly in airports, airplanes, shuttle buses, and a rental car, so I was really looking forward to some relaxation during the three days I was home between the Chicago and Norwalk events. I knew the lawn needed to be mowed, the kids needed to head over to Grandma’s for some pool time, and a few chores were waiting.

I didn’t know the fridge was going to “lock up” (we think a damper just stuck in the wrong position), making the freezer a Super Freezer and the fridge a lukewarm food- spoiler. When we bought this house it was five years old, and already we’ve stuck a computer board, two water reservoirs, a drip tray assembly (that was $400), and disassembled the ‘cold drawer’ damper unit and the ice maker solenoid to repair them. Other than that, everything’s been perfect with our GE Monogram…what a turd!

Normally it wouldn’t be too much of a hardship to empty the entire unit into three coolers, plus take all the freezer food over to Cindy’s house, in order to shut the P.O.S. down long enough to thaw the damper, but doing it with two small kids in the house sucks.

Oh, did I mention that today the tile cleaners were at the house ALL DAY LONG?! Yep, after stuffing all our edibles into ice boxes (like camping without having to go outside!), it was time to empty three rooms of furniture into other areas of the house. Fun! Then we had to vacate for most of the day whilst the cleaners did their job.

Tonight, after restarting the fridge, it was time to hit the supermarket to restock on the stuff that spoiled, hit the El Pollo Loco drive-thru for dinner, then eat standing up while digging through the coolers for drinks and salad dressing. Ah…the life of a Funny Car champ is pure pleasure!

Barry makes the coolest T-Shirts. Ironically, last year we took a photo for the blog of another shirt, and I was talking on the phone at the time. Either Barry was getting some “pay-back”, or John Force won’t stop calling him, either!

Brian totally surprised me with this bitchin’ trophy he made for us winning the championship. I just love our sport. Not only do the fans get up close, but they get personal! What a cool memento (don’t tell Jenna I’m bringing more stuff home!)
Ross and his father, Eric. Though we smoked the tires on the qualifying run on which they were with us, how could one not learn a lesson on perspective and humility with this young man and his brave father “along for the ride?"
After dinner, it was time to put all the furniture back, get packed for tomorrow’s flight, and then get cracking on the keyboard to get this blog out.

As if it wasn’t expensive enough getting the travertine cleaned, Jenna decided to hire a professional exterminator (for ants, not for me!). Clearly our ideas of “infestation” are significantly different. I’m thinking that as long as the ants can’t carry away my championship trophy, there’s not a problem. Jenna thinks if she sees more than 2 ants within a calendar year inside the house, it’s “game on”. I wasn’t going to win that battle, and now clearly the ants aren’t either.

The race at Chicago was a mixed bag. With only one run on Friday, we looked very stout with a 4.04 off the trailer. Saturday’s first run we smoked the tires, but the conditions Saturday night were simply too good to not be aggressive…and we were. Our 3.993 was the third quickest of four 3-second runs in that single session. It was a great time to be a fan, and to be strapped into the Valvoline Max Life Funny Car. Chicago was the debut of our new red paint scheme, which we will sport for the remainder of the races this year when Valvoline is the primary sponsor

Losing on a holeshot by .007 in the second round really stung. Matt Hagan was quicker than me by .012 in reaction time, and our car outran theirs by .005, which means the math really made me look bad. Though frustrated by that loss, I’m totally encouraged with the way we are running, and I’m just going to have to step it up to get us back in the winner’s circle…soon.

A couple of months ago I received an e-mail from Eric G., telling me about his son, Ross. Ross is 13 and had bone cancer, and a very tough (though not difficult if you consider the alternative) decision had to be made. Basically the doctors removed a section of his leg, above and below the knee. They kept all the nerves and blood vessels connected, reattached his leg, and rotated the bottom portion 180 degrees. Ross now has a very short left leg with a foot that points the wrong way. However, this will enable him to perform much better (versus a straight amputation) once he is fitted with his prosthetic device. The foot still works just fine, will bear weight, and will give him better mobility. It just looks odd.

Anyway, Eric and Ross were planning on making the race if all went well with the surgery (one month before the event!), and they did. Talking to Ross was extra special, and his dad Eric is clearly an amazing father and man. They rode with us in the tow vehicle during a qualifying run, and John Force spent several minutes in the staging lanes giving Ross some great advice on recuperation. John signed the hat off his head and gave it to Ross, and I know that made that young man feel important. I can’t tell you how many times Force does things like that for people in tough times. John never pats his back or talks about it, but he’s such a compassionate guy. I was thinking about asking Ross for the hat, putting it on E-bay, and using the proceeds to pay for our exterminator.

It’s past midnight, I fly out in the am, and I’m out of energy. Until next time…

Stay tuned, be a productive citizen, keep your refrigerator closed, your tile clean, and your bugs outside. 

Posted by: Jack Beckman, Valvoline MaxLife Dodge

It’s hard to believe that, after more than six years of doing this blog, I still am clever enough to think up titles like this one. Yes, in just 46 years, I’ve cultivated my talents and humor to the point of…well…maybe I just should stick to the writing part…

After great outings in Topeka and Englishtown, we really had high expectations entering Bristol. When qualifying ended, I’d say we were more confident than ever that Sunday was going to be “our” day. Our four complete (under power to the finish line) runs in qualifying, combined with making it down the track all four runs Sunday in E-town, meant (for the first time this year) eight straight for team Green. That, plus the fact that we had blistered the clocks Friday night with the second quickest run of the year at 4.012 and 317.05 mph (a new track speed record), made us all feel our first trophy of the year was closer than ever.

And then we hit the iceberg. In round one we dropped a cylinder before the car even got to the Christmas Tree. As a result of that, we smoked the tires further down track. Sometimes dropping a cylinder can actually HELP a car make it to the finish line, as losing that much power can minimize the chances of overpowering the track. Other times (like in this instance), losing that much “motor” means that the clutch can now “win the battle”, and lock up earlier in the run (as opposed to continuing to slip until further down track). So much for optimism!

The guys stayed and serviced Monday, and we believe we found the culprit for the lost horsepower. I really want that inaugural New England Nationals trophy from Epping this weekend, so I suppose we’ll just start our winning ways there!

Bristol was the first of four weekends in a row, and seven out of eight once we complete the Western Swing. This definitely is NOT the time to struggle, as there will only be two more races left until the Countdown begins, once this two month marathon is complete.

The one on the left is handsome, well-educated, and acts professional at all times. Oops…I meant the one on MY left! Dr. Cobb was lots of fun to be around, and a heck of a guy. He’s a former Major in the Army, and my new bestest buddy.

My schedule actually began the Tuesday prior to Bristol, when I flew into New York City for media events surrounding the “Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts” campaign. Many of you know that I became involved in this last year, and I felt like we did some great things and accomplished so much to benefit folks facing some tough times. Last year my part of the campaign featured a video booth that travelled to several of the NHRA races to get personal testimonials from people affected by chemotherapy.

This year the thrust will include many media interviews (TV, print, and radio) in an effort to increase awareness of the website (chemomythsorfacts.com) so people faced with this diagnosis can educate themselves with current, relevant information. It’s quite an honor to be part of this, and on this trip I had the privilege of meeting Patrick Cobb, an oncologist who also is involved with the campaign.

Dr. Cobb and I did quite a few interviews during our Satellite Media Tour (we gave all our interviews from the same studio, while television and radio shows patched in to ask their questions). It’s the first time I had done this, as typically I travel from location to location to do media appearances in support of the NHRA. What typically would have taken 14-plus hours to do was accomplished by 1pm!

 1 of 7 
My unofficial, self-guided tour of NYC began at Grand Central Station. Iconic, 100 years old, and always full of energy (3 things I am not!)
That’s when the fun started: Here I was, all alone in NYC with half a day to kill. The previous times I had been here I was driving (or at least I was sitting behind a steering wheel), I was stuck in traffic, and I was pissed. It was impossible to see or do anything, and I intended to rectify that on this trip.

I walked the five blocks back to the hotel, dropped off my extra stuff, and let my Oakley’s carry me the rest of the trip. Now is a good time to mention that perhaps I made a mistake by unpacking my brand new high-tops for this excursion. I strongly recommend AGAINST new shoes if you do the kind of walking I did!

Since my hotel was located adjacent to Grand Central Station, that seemed like the perfect place to begin my self-guided tour. From there, I hoofed it down to 34th street for a look inside the Empire State Building. I really thought it would be bitchin’ if I could hook up with the elevator maintenance staff there and see some behind-the-scenes stuff (I was a repairman for nearly 11 years before going to teach at the Hawley Drag Racing School). The guy at the concierge desk didn’t seem to agree…or care. Going to “plan B”, I paid the $25 to go up to the 86th floor observation deck, plus the ten bucks for the audio tour headset to augment and improve my experience. Once I completed that, it was a mere formality to fork over an additional $17 and head up to the 102nd floor observation room. If you’re asking my opinion, I’d say, “yes, yes, and no”, in that order, to the cost versus value of each.

Once down on sidewalk level, I pointed my 10 ½’s towards Broadway and started walking. Passing a kosher pizza shop, I figured it would be a sin (and THAT ain’t kosher!) to be this close and not enjoy a slice of NY pizza. Well worth it, but I passed on paying extra to see their observation deck!

Next stop was Times Square. Actually, I never technically did stop. I did shoot some pics on my phone, continually check my back pocket to make sure my wallet was still there, and marvel at all the sights. This place just went on forever, and I must admit that I was more than impressed and am looking forward to spending more time there, hopefully with Jenna one day.

After a right on 51st, followed by a left on 5th and a few more blocks of hiking, I finally came to Central Park. Wow, was it far more than I expected! I probably saw less than 10% of what it had to offer, and it was beautiful. I really wanted to walk around some more, but my feet were definitely feeling the effects of breaking in new shoes, and I was still more than a mile away from my hotel.

I’m glad I had the chance to see the city from a view other than a car seat, and now I’m starting to understand why so many people brag about that place. It’s pretty cool…even without surf!

I also was fortunate to benefit from nearly perfect weather on that Wednesday, which didn’t carry over to Thursday…

Once I arrived at LaGuardia and went to the kiosk to print my boarding pass, I began to realize there could be some issues. When, instead of printing my two passes, the kiosk display read, “Please see a ticketing agent”, I knew that translated into, “let’s see how flexible you really are”!

Van and Brian Greer presented me with a cool trophy and an even cooler recognition in honor of their late father, Shirl. Driver of the Tension and Chained Lightning Funny Cars, he also was the first points Champion in Funny Car, bagging the #1 in 1974.
Tell me our fans aren’t the best, Volume I: I took this from my pit in Englishtown, and I had to share it. These guys have creativity and great senses of humor. They also must have a big trunk in their car, too much free time on their hands, and sore arms!
Tell me our fans aren’t the best, Volume II: How awesome is getting a T-Shirt like this? And, they didn’t charge me! Damn, I look good in airbrush!
Tell me our fans aren’t the best, Volume III: My original “Big Fan”, Jeff (featured last year in one of my blogs), brought along his son Jimmy. Apparently Jimmy ate all his veggies growing up, and listened in school. Now a Combat Medic with the 1st Special Forces Airborne Group, I wouldn’t mess with him…or his dad!
Seems the weather had significantly delayed many flights, not just in New York, but also in Charlotte, which was my connection point to head to Bristol. Long story short, I finally wound up renting a car in Charlotte and driving the 3 ½ hours to Bristol. That little segue cost me an additional $350…plus fuel!

Though we lost early in Bristol, there were some positives at the race. My dad was able to come out, so even though I was not with my children on Father’s Day, I did get to spend it with my pops. My cousin Mike (who also is my Godfather) came down, as did Debbie, Jim, Kenny and Kevin from the Cumberland, Maryland area (my dad’s hometown). My dad rode up with Bo, who he met in an airport several years ago and we have become good friends with. Bo lives near Birmingham, AL., so apparently I’ve got a place to stay if I ever am passing through. I just wonder if I’ll need a banjo on my knee?

Maybe the coolest thing that happened to me on Father’s Day was during pre-race driver announcements up on stage near the starting line. Van and Brian Greer, sons of the late, great Shirl, NHRA’s first modern-era Funny Car Champion, bestowed upon yours truly the annual Shirl Greer award, which was very unexpected, and pretty damn awesome. Back in 2009, when the track honored Shirl by placing his name on the grandstands, I just had to introduce myself to the man. I had never had an opportunity to meet him, and I didn’t want to pass it up. Now I realize how important that handshake was, as it was the last time I ever saw one of the toughest hombres to ever don a firesuit. Great dude, great sons, and great honor!

I really was looking forward to some rest and relaxation when I got home, but that never happens. Seems that while I was gone, Jenna and Cindy must have gotten ahold of a 12-pack of Full Throttle and decided to redo a couple of our planters. Not wanting to leave me out of the fun, they saved eight plants and a shovel for me. Yep, I got to dig up and throw away all those plants that I bought and planted a couple of years ago. Seems that the research that went into picking them has now yielded some potentially (and I emphasis the ‘potential’ part) improved organic, chlorophyll-containing, and carbon-dioxide (and cash) absorbing specimens. I can’t tell you how fun it was pushing that wheelbarrow full of dirt up the ramp to dump in the backyard…twice. Moving dirt just seems to be a way of life for me lately!

Today I practiced racing, or at least that’s what I tell myself to make mowing the yard more palatable. I threw the towel in on trying to repair whatever is going on with our grass, so Jenna brought in an expert. Mike truly seems to be the Lord of the Grass, and he thinks I’ve got a fungus problem…at least on the lawn. So…we’ll see what the treatments yield for what once was a beautiful, lush green yard. I’m tired of the raking, seeding, top-soiling, fertilizing, and cussing over the grass. Wizard Mike can have a crack at it now…but I still get to do the mowing. After all, it’s the only cardio workout I seem to get any more!

We're off to Boston, and THIS would be the perfect time to bring home our first trophy of the year. I have the 2008 Charlotte Wally sitting about two feet from my right shoulder as I type this, and I certainly can make room for another inaugural memento if we are that fortunate!

Stay tuned, keep off the grass, Shirl Greer was the man, losing first round sucks, and NY City definitely doesn’t!


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