As the late, great Vince Lombardi once said, "There is only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything." As the final two races of the Countdown approach this J&J Mopar racing team is trying to do just that. With an 82-point lead over Jason Line and 8 rounds of eliminations left we are striving to be the very best that we can be.
Tomorrow we leave for Vegas, and we will spend two days testing along with several of our other closest competitors. Mark, Roy, AJ and I have been discussing some new combinations to try on this Dodge Avenger and we can't wait to hit the track and start making some noise. The weather looks like it will be perfect and there isn't a prediction of rain – well at least not yet – so we are excited about that.
As Allen explained in his recent blog, Reading was just a little challenging for all of the Pro Stock teams and we were just thankful to come out of Reading still in the points lead. I do have to congratulate our Mopar teammate V. Gaines and his entire team for a fantastic weekend! While the rest of us were struggling with the racetrack V. was running career best e.t.s and laying the Tree over. Way to go V!!
After racing nonstop for the past two months I almost didn't know what to do with myself when I finally got home. Of course, you know me; I had my long list made up, so I spent much of the week and weekend trying to get some of those things checked off of my list. I have been working very hard on all of our real estate projects and I did get some things accomplished there, and I had maintenance to do on the yard, the house, and the boat. But, there was one really fun thing that I did get to do that wasn't on my list and that was take my two grandkids to the pumpkin patch.
When things seem to be overwhelming, just pack up the grandkids and spend a beautiful fall day enjoying the fresh air and fun things to do at the local pumpkin patch. When Toni first mentioned about going I thought that a nice stroll through a field of pumpkins and maybe a hayride would be a nice way to perhaps relax a bit. Ha! Slides of all sizes and shapes, pirate ships to climb, animals to pet, swings to swing on, hills to hike up, mazes to climb through and rides to ride on and a 1 ½ and 4 year old to lead the way. Get the picture??? LOL
Two hours later, I finally had to tell Ryan that Pop Pop was only going to go up and down the big Pirate slide two more times. Whew, I had to quit! Luckily for me, the pony rides were not available – I don't think I could have fit on those and face painting wasn't open. We did try to take a hayride but the groups of school children pretty much had the hayride full the entire time we were there. So, after a lunch of hot dogs and apple juice, and a search for the perfect little pumpkin we were on our way home. I mean, how much more fun could the day have been? I know one thing, I sure didn't stress over my long list of things to do!
As my list at home gets shorter, my list for the remainder of the year just seems to be getting longer and that is why I am so excited to go testing. We know that our competitors will be doing all that they can to make sure that we don't gain any ground at the last two races. But I also know that this team is working as hard as we can to be the best that we can be and that is all that we can do.
So, on the advice of Coach Lombardi we will go into the final two races, excited and very blessed to be given this amazing opportunity. We will give it our "everything" and hope that it will be enough to achieve our final goal for the year! Thanks for checking in and I will touch base after testing. Have a great week!
Our favorite Mopar fans
Happy birthday Melissa!
Me and Dean
Hey everyone! I’m sitting here in the lounge of the tractor-trailer anxiously awaiting the start of the race here in St. Louis. It is so exciting to be back here again racing – what an awesome facility this is and I have some great memories from my years of racing here at Gateway.
Right now NHRA is trying to dry up some liquid sunshine that fell during the early morning hours and after they get the track nice and dry it looks like we have cool temperatures and plenty of sunshine in store for us this weekend. Just the kind of weather that this Mopar Dodge Avenger loves to play in. LOL
As AJ said in his blog it has been a crazy and amazing few weeks for this Mopar team. With the Indy rain out we are now entering our 5th consecutive weekend of racing (kinda like the Western Swing on steroids) and I can honestly say that this team is having a blast. There is still lots of racing left in this Countdown and you never know what may lie ahead for us so we are all just enjoying every minute of this incredible ride!
Even though we are racing every week, I have had a few days at home to work on my real estate projects and enjoy my grandkids. I really enjoyed having Jamie, Cynthy and the kids at the Charlotte race where we all stayed with Melissa and Joey and had some great fun. We even got to have a small belated birthday party for Melissa after Saturday’s qualifying sessions. Of course Ryan and Maia love anything that includes cake and ice cream!
Being home even a few days a week still affords me the time to see my grandkids. Toni and I get to babysit them every Wednesday so even if I have to go to work I still have a great excuse to stay home and go to work in the afternoon. With the nice weather we spend a lot of time playing baseball, taking walks, working in the yard and playing at the playground. Now doesn’t that sound like a great way to spend a day at home? I know all of you grandparents out there agree with me 100 percent!
I finally hear cars running down the track which means that we are officially underway here in St. Louis. We will have two qualifying runs today and if the weather stays cool and the track stays as good as it usually is here, there should be some pretty fast e.t.s. Make sure that you keep track of us as we go through the weekend!
Well, I better wrap up this blog and get back to work. Mark and I have lots information to sort through before coming up with a combination for this afternoon’s run. We haven’t had weather and track conditions like this since the race in Sonoma so we have a lot of things to change on our Dodge Avenger. I will try to check in again soon and let you know how things are going.
After this race we head to Reading which happens to be another one of my favorite races. Not only is it a fast racetrack but also it is only a couple of hours from home. That makes it even better!
Enjoy your weekend and I will touch base soon!
Greetings everyone! I made a Yates family decision to go ahead and write a blog instead of waiting for Jim to get home and write one. It could be a while. LOL I guess I should have done that a week or so ago – right? Unfortunately, since arriving home from Seattle Jim has only been in town about 14 days and with lots of racing and testing in the schedule it doesn't look like he is going to get home any time soon.
We had an awesome weekend in Brainerd where we had a runner-up finish to Erica, the team then tested in Martin, Mich., in preparation for Indy and of course most of you can imagine what a trying several days it was for everyone this past weekend in Indy. Can you say rain, rain go away? Though NHRA did everything they could do to complete the event, Mother Nature had some very different ideas and ultimately the Indy race was reschedule for this upcoming weekend.
As soon as NHRA called the race, AJ, Jim, Mark and the team decided to pack up and head to Charlotte to do some more testing. They left Indy on Monday afternoon, drove to Charlotte and have been testing at zMax Raceway all week. When they finish up their test session today they will drive back to Indy to get things ready for the Saturday, Sunday rescheduled race. This is one week that I am glad that I came home. Of course Jim loves testing in Charlotte because he gets to stay and visit with Melissa and Joey while he is in town – now I'm jealous!
Speaking of Melissa and Joey, they have some very exciting news to share with everyone – they will be welcoming "Baby Girl Civali" into the world at the end of January next year! Yeah!!! How awesome is that? We are all so very excited for them and we can not wait for the big day to arrive. I will be sure to keep everyone posted as the big day gets closer!
Though Jim has been traveling a lot we have been able to fit in some quality time with Ryan and Maia. Sleepovers, cookouts, and a weekly babysitting day keep us very busy with two very active grandkids and we love every minute. We are definitely blessed to have them living close by so that we can see them every week. It will be a little different when Baby Civali arrives as they live about 6 hours away; however, I am really close to three airports and have lots of frequent flier miles. I am definitely up for the challenge of being a very busy Granma!
The Charlotte national event is only a week away and this year Jamie, Cynthy and the kids are going to make the trip. We will all stay with Melissa and Joey and everyone will get to come to the track on Saturday to cheer on AJ and the Mopar Team in the first race of the Countdown. Ryan remembers his trip to Reading last year and is very excited to be going back to the race track where Poppop and Daddy raced. (Aren't kids great?!) This will be Maia's first NHRA event and I have no doubt that she will love every minute of it. I mean how can you not love NHRA drag racing – right?
This time of the season is probably the most demanding and most exciting and I hope that everyone will keep track of our progress along the way. Jim and the team will be testing quite a bit in between NHRA events so I may be filling in for him with the blog again in the future. Hopefully next week I will have some great pictures of an Indy win to share with you. Be sure to follow us this weekend – the weather is looking like it will be sunny and cooler so with two qualifying sessions left there should be some shuffling in the qualifying order! Oh boy! Have a great weekend everyone!
The Western Swing is officially behind us, and the Countdown to the Championship is looming on the horizon. To say the least, things around Johnson & Johnson Racing have been non-stop since I arrived in Denver. It started with the Mopar Block Party and it ended…well I can’t say that it has ended – but I mean that in a great kind of way!
Me and Mark
For those of you that have been following us over the last three races you already know that we had an awesome Western Swing coming within two rounds of "sweeping the swing." Mark and I have been trying to improve the consistency and performance of this Mopar Dodge Avenger each and every run, Roy and the engine shop have been giving us some amazing horsepower, and AJ has been nothing short of a driving machine. Put it all together and we netted back-to-back wins and a semifinal finish. I sure can’t complain about that!
This year, Toni and I had decided to stay on the road for the Swing and what better place to enjoy the road than driving/riding with Jason in the rig? Hey, I kind of miss driving the rig sometimes. Jason drives the rig by himself all year, and I was looking forward to helping him out with the driving duties and giving him a much-deserved break. Besides, if we got to Sonoma a little early we were planning on taking in a little sightseeing if we had the time.
After the Denver race we crated up engines, loaded up the final things in the rig, and headed west. We stopped the first evening in Wendover, UT, where we had to take the time to arrange for permits and "pilot cars" to escort us through the state of CA. Don’t even ask me to explain that whole story, but I will give you the short version of it… any rig with a trailer longer than 53’ had to have a special permit and a "Pilot Escort" through the state of CA.
The next morning Jason had the permit in hand, and I had made arrangements with Marlo from "That Girl Pilot Car Service" (very catchy name for those that remember that series on TV), she met us at the CA border, we pulled off on the side of the road to exchange paperwork and away we went. A tank of fuel, a truck wash, and 200 miles later, Marlo followed us into the Sonoma raceway. I just love it when a plan comes together.
Because we arrived at the track on Tuesday afternoon Toni, Jason, and I did get a chance to visit San Francisco and wander around Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. It was fun, but the next day it was back to the track to get everything ready for the race.
On Thursday, Toni and I, along with Roy and Revonda attended the Grumpy Jenkins Wine Train Tour, and we had a blast! There were 14 of us in attendance, and Bob Frey was there to document everyone’s stories and memories of the Grump. We were treated to a wonderful 4 course lunch and enjoyed the sights of the beautiful Napa Valley. What a great tribute to our dear friend "Grumpy."
After enjoying our win at Sonoma, it was time for Jason, Toni, and me to load up again and head to Seattle. Once again we had to arrange for our Pilot Car to escort us to the Oregon state line, and from there it was a very scenic but uneventful trip to Seattle. Toni took so many pictures throughout the trip that it would probably take me 10 blogs to show them all to you, so I picked out some of my favorites to share. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country.
Seattle proved to be another great race. The weather, though a little warm, was beautiful, and the stands were packed. Our team worked so hard all weekend, AJ did another fantastic job driving his Dodge Avenger, but unfortunately we came up just a couple of rounds short of our goal losing to the eventual race winner Erica Enders. I have to say congratulations to Erica and her entire team for a great job all weekend!
I could probably go on and on sharing stories of the Swing with you, but I don’t think that you would really want to read all about that, so I will close this blog and try to do a little better job in the future with my blogging. I am looking forward to a weekend home, where I am planning on having a sleepover with Ryan and Maia on Saturday night and maybe even find the time to throw some burgers on the grill. It will be a nice treat to spend a day at home relaxing with the family especially my grandkids. Have a great weekend everyone!