Today, October 11, 2018, my daddy has been in heaven 14 years. Fourteen years without his love and support when I needed it most. Fourteen years without hearing, “Who loves ya baby cakes?” when he would see me. Fourteen years without my daddy. I was flipping through old posts trying to find a favorite about my dad. I stumbled across this one and it is one of my favorite memories of my dad. My dad loved and supported me through every decision I ever made. I know he would be proud of what I have done and what I have become. Right before I went to the starting line at bracket finals, he leaned into the car and yelled, “Kick some ass!” Ever since then, I have tried to live my life that same way. I try to kick ass every day. I miss you more than anything, daddy!
In 1996, I qualified for Division 3 Bracket Finals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The night before we left, my dad, brother and I were doing some last minute repairs to the Malibu to make sure it would pass the tech inspection. This included replacing the windshield and replacing the floor boards that were rusted out. Everyone else – Charlie, John, Angie – were already over at Indy, having gone over on Thursday. However, my parents didn’t have the money for us to really go at all, let alone for an extra night.
Instead, we were working by the light of a drop light in the freezing cold to get ready for the haul to Indy in the morning. We ended up finishing in the wee hours of the morning and rushed inside for a few hours of sleep, before hitting the road in time for time trials that afternoon.
As I mentioned, my parents were short on money this particular week (typical in a mechanic’s family.) We had to pack our sandwich fixings and were planning on eating on the way. We didn’t even have money for dinner that night– and were planning on eating lunch meat sandwiches again. Nana was coming over Saturday morning with my brother so she could pick her paycheck up (this was before direct deposits were the norm.) Then, we’d have money for food and our room.
Dad and I got up early, and with my brother Jeff’s help, we loaded the race car on our borrowed truck and trailer and headed west. Indy or bust, baby.
About half way to the track, we decided to go ahead and have lunch. I undid my seat belt and leaned over the back seat to reach the cooler.
I grabbed the bread and mustard and was struggling to open the cooler when I happened to glance up.
There was a car right on our tail. (Okay, you know where this is going, right? Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait.)
“There is a car chasing us!”
“That’s the car on the trailer.”
Okay, so I felt like an idiot… and never lived it down. It would be brought up at the strangest times. Usually when there was a ton of people around. How was I supposed to know? I’d never been in a truck with a car trailer. I guess I didn’t realize the car was RIGHT THERE.
So, I reached down into the cooler again to grab the lunch meat.
I swished my arm around in the cooler.
“Did you pack the lunch meat?”
“You were supposed to.”
“No I wasn’t. You were.”
“Crap.” (Okay, actually he cussed, but this is a family-friendly blog.)
Now, I am sure you are thinking– they had to eat bread sandwiches with just mustard. But, we didn’t. We got off at the next exit and literally sat in the truck and counted out $5 in change between us so we could go into Arby’s to get the 5 for $5 special. We each ate 1 and a half and saved the other two for dinner that night. Thank goodness we remembered the pretzels!
Nana and Jeff showed up the next morning with breakfast (Thank God!) and money for food. I think dad and I were in a dead heat to get to the concession stand first. That had to be the best track dog ever.
I always laugh about this story, and I promise I don’t tell it to make you feel sorry for me. The time I spent with my daddy working on cars and going to races were some of the best times in my life. I miss him.
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. That was just the facts. There were times that my parents wouldn’t pay bills so I could go drag racing or buy car parts. My dad was the king of bartering to get race car parts that we needed for that weekend. We did what we had to do. Be it looking on the floor boards in a borrowed truck for change or surviving on pretzels and water. It was just part of racing.
And, we would have ate those bread and mustard sandwiches… and laughed about it too.