The heart of it all

XJ

(Photo Credit:  Will Oliver at Rocky Mountain Photography)

So many great stories happen on a daily basis in my world, if only we take the time to listen. Yesterday was one of those, I’d like to share them with you. All of the details may not be accurate, but this is what I saw and heard.

Paul and Christie made the trip to Colorado from Tucson, they race in the SuperMod trail class – it was the two of them and their two dogs in a cab-over camper pulling the trailer with the race car on it. During pre-run, something unloaded and pushed the radiator in to the frame causing a leak and consequently, overheating. A rescue mission was mounted and they returned to the pits. Looking at the car, they started taking it apart, a little internet research and Christie went looking for a bicycle tube to check the radiator for leaks. Josh had one that was bad on his mountain bike, so he loaned it out for them to use. A little soapy water and the leaks were identified on the first few fins. This being a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, a plan was mounted. Again, with the help of the internet, they located a welding shop in Denver that opened at 7 on Saturday morning. The race day schedule was a little unusual this time, so it appeared they might have time to get there, get repaired and get back in time for the race. Paul set his alarm for 6 a.m. to make the 50 mile drive. In the morning, as he was jacking the camper off the truck to leave for Christie and the dogs, the driver pitted next to him asked what he was up to. Explaining, Kyle offered his truck to Paul to go to town. Mind you, these two families hadn’t even been introduced yet. Paul hopped in Kyle’s truck and headed out. Meanwhile, Christie stayed to attend the driver’s meeting and keep us posted. A long day later, Paul was back with the radiator repaired, the car put back together and ready to take the start at 5:00. Not halfway in to the first lap, their overheating problems continued. Turns out the thermostat also needed a repair. Bummer for them, but they finished their lap and placed in the race. Christie told me after that they’re adding the thermostat to the list of spare parts they carry with them. Congrats on your never give up attitude, it is inspiring.

Let’s talk about Steve. Steve has been struggling getting his race car together for months. His motor has been at the builder for awhile now, with promises for it to be done, but no delivery date. On Monday, Steve posted about still waiting, a couple of guys offered some assistance, but most of it was out of his budget. Enter his co-driver, Tom, and his blessed wife. Seriously, this girl stepped up and saved the day. Here’s what she did: she approved the purchase of a new motor for her own car and loaned it out for race day! Who does that? Except a saint, knowing what can happen when you least expect it, there was a significant risk involved. The motor arrived at 6:00 on Thursday night. Around the clock effort for two days had pre-running missed, and most of the team on site on Saturday morning. The only thing missing were the driver/co-driver and car – no biggie. Steve’s wife paid his entry fee, expecting him anytime. I was told they should arrive around 2:00, no problem, plenty of time to make the race at 5:00. A little after two, the truck was finally loaded and they were on the road. They arrived in time for the race, signed their waivers, and took a rear start. Both driver and co-driver were a little frazzled so we suggested they take the course slow on the first lap and just learn it, there would be plenty of time to make up ground. They had a good first lap, on the second lap, about 3 miles from the start/finish line, we noticed the hood was up and they were driving fast – both looking around it as it was blocking their view. Pulled in to the pits and the hood was removed. They continued on, another good four laps in as they continued to make their way to the front of the pack. Started tenth, they were in fifth and then the axle broke, took out the transmission, the motor and started a fire. Fire is a great motivator, both bailed from the car, grabbed fire extinguishers and put the fire out. But after two solid days and nights of building a race car, their race was over. It was hard to see the disappointment on their faces knowing that the motor was a loaner as it was, I wished they had filmed the previous two days so we could show everyone the heart of a sportsman. Congrats to Steve and Tom, men in it for the love of the sport. You’ll get ‘em next time!

Paul and Kim are competitors from California. This is their third race of the season, the last two ended in rollovers. One of them a hard roll. So the goal this weekend was to keep it on four wheels. They drove the I-70 over the mountains to get here, some killer passes that slow everyone down, I know, I drove the XJ. They kept having overheating issues on the passes, so the last 200 miles took hours to complete. Since they’d had such a trial getting here, Paul decided that he would enter two classes and get the most of his race time. The first was the Mod Trail, of which his car qualifies. He raced an hour and a half and came out on top. His first, first-place finish. Immediately following was the SuperMod race, another hour and a half. With some struggles and perseverance, they finished on the podium in third. The awards ceremony wasn’t until 9:30, after the final race of the day. After three hours in the car racing, more than anyone else for the day, Paul made the ceremony, sadly, Kim did not. He said he tried to wake her, but she just wasn’t having it. When I was paying Paul for his win, I didn’t realize that this was the first time in a few years he had been on the podium and the first time ever he had won some money! Another testament to never give up!

The last story I want to share is my friend Dustin. Dustin has had quite a bit of success with his racing, but he also works a full time job. He is racing the east Ultra4 series, so made the trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas a few weeks ago and busted up his rig pretty bad, overall, not a great experience. Next week is the Attica, Indiana race, so he leaves on Wednesday. That meant he needed to get the rig back together, needed to pre-race it for next week, and try to get it all done without taking too much time off from work. His brother is his biggest supporter, he said so from the podium. Kendall works hard to get the car prepped. This week, Kendall showed up with the car about 9 in the morning, Dustin had to work. Qualifying was at 11, first to qualify are the ProUTV’s, then the 4400’s. Kendall was all signed in, and prepared to qualify the car, but he was waiting for Dustin. Dustin calls to find out where we are in qualifying, it is after 11. He is flying down the freeway to get here on time. As his car rolls up to the start line, I’m not sure who is in it. I peek in, Dustin is in the driver’s seat, one of the other co-drivers is in the passenger seat. I slide the clipboard through the window net for Dustin to sign his waiver, and he’s off. The qualifying run is good for a fourth place start, which in turn becomes a second place finish. The dedication of these guys to their sport is good for the soul.

I’m always so proud of the men and women that we work with, thanks for showing your friends and families that something worth having is worth working for. Yes, there is hardwork, yes, there is heartache, but in the end, there is a story to tell and a lesson learned. No doubt there were more stories, these are the ones I heard.  I appreciate all of you, every day.

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