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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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