Saturday, January 29, 2011

And Then all was Once Again Right

Just hours after dropping Rosie off at the shop, I received a phone call from the mechanic. It seems during their initial inspection they had determined that the valve stems seals were leaking oil into the combustion chambers. I could hear in my mind the sound of the old manual cash register in the old hardware store I used to frequent in downtown Baconton many years ago - ching ching. But knowing that it would be pointless to attempt to tune the fuel injection system if oil was in the mix as well and knowing that the condition would quickly lead to fouled spark plugs, I gave the go ahead to make the repairs needed to correct that issue as well.

The remainder of the week, I would step into the garage every evening and glance at the empty spot where Rosie should be and think how odd it looked. I would then walk back into the house and think how much the bill would be when the mechanic finished. I remembered a phrase my Dad used to throw out in situations like this when I first started driving and would encounter expensive mechanical repairs with my six year old El Camino, "That's the joys of motoring!" No joy in this town, Pop.

As I was leaving work Thursday, I got the call, Rosie's repairs were complete, and I could pick her up whenever I was ready. I quickly called my wife to see if she was working late or if she could give me a ride out to the dealership. She lightly laughed and said, "You really want to pick it up tonight don't you?" Yeah, she knows me.

After we got to the dealership they hung me upside down by my ankles and a large man shook me relentlessly until every penny had fallen from my pockets. Convinced they had relieved me of everything that mildly resembled currency, they returned Rosie to me.

Before leaving, my wife spotted a new Harley Trike that caught her interest. She has avoided riding with me, because she gets squirrely every time I lean into a turn. Her comment on the Trike was simple, "I could ride on that, it doesn't lean." Nice, I thought, Only $31,000. I pulled out my empty pockets in a universal display of a cashless state of being.

By the time we hit the road home, it was dark and around 30F. I did not mind it in the least. I enjoyed the thirty minute ride on the winding road over the lake. The bike felt great and seemed to have more horsepower and torque than ever.

Friday morning was clear and around 40F, so I rode to work. The scenery was not much, but it was good just to be back on two wheels. And that in itself just made it seem like all was right, even for just a little while.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Escaping the Madness

We managed to get all of our errands completed and headed to Charlotte Sunday for the National Motorsports Press Association awards banquet. The NMPA had activities scheduled both Saturday and Sunday, but our schedule was just so full, we missed the Hall of Fame inductions on Saturday, but at least got to be apart of the media awards Saturday night.

We had not been checked in 30 minutes when we started running into some of the other sports writers that I have met over the years covering the sport of auto racing. Several of the other journalists have past experience racing stock cars or working on race teams. So, the stories that were shared were a mix of things that happened over the last season covering the sport and stories of racing events that we had participated ins and the antics involved.

I was pleased to see Brian Vickers seated a table over from us at the banquet. Brian had set out the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season due to blood clots and medical treatment. When I saw him at Bristol last year, he reported that the doctors were going to have him off of the blood thinners that were being used as a part of his treatment in time for him to obtain medical clearance for competition in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Last week, Brian was out on the track at Daytona performing testing for the Red Bull team. He had his medical clearance and his competitor's license for the 2011 season.

At the banquet, Brian received the third quarter NMPA Speedway Motorsports Spirit Award. And being the classy guy he is, he attended the banquet to receive the award in person. He looked trim and fit and ready to race.

Dinner was a wonderfully prepared steak, twice baked potato and fresh green beans and the portions were abundant.

We were pleased to see several journalist that we know receive awards in the various television, radio, and print media categories and enjoyed all of the stories we heard both from the stage and from the others at our table.

The NASCAR Annual Media Tour in Charlotte started this morning, so a large contingency of Sunday night's crowd was hanging around to take part in the Media Tour this week. We had to return home to work this week, but it was an enjoyable time away.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tire Stores and Mechanics

Saturday started much earlier than I would prefer, especially after several nights at work, but sometimes it has to be done. I was at the tire store promptly at 8am to have new tires installed on my pickup and to have the alignment checked. I got out of there two hours and several hundred dollars later.

Since installing the new true duals on Rosie, I had noticed it was trying to burn the chrome off the heat shield coming out of the back head. This indicated a lean condition to me and meant only one thing, ground the bike until I had a chance to take it to the mechanic to re-tune the EFI and a trip on the dyno.

So, when I returned home with breakfast after the tire store, I told my wife that I thought today was a good opportunity to drop Rosie off for the re-tune work. So, after eating our biscuits and drinking coffee, I backed the truck to the driveway and set up the ramps. But when I flipped the ignition on Rosie and pressed the starter button, it was suddenly apparent that the freezing temperatures of winter had finally zapped the six year old battery. The starter spun over slowly and then the selonoid made the "death click" sound. As I put the sidestand back down, I recalled the battery episode with the UPS system at work.

On the bright side, it gave up its last breath at the house when I was already headed to the bike shop as opposed to 42 miles away from home after work someday.

My wife and a neighbor offered to help load the bike on the pickup. I dug a come-a-long out of the garage and a chain. I used the chain to make an anchor point in the bed of the pickup and then hooked the come-a-long to it. I then used a web strap around the engine guard on Rosie and began to manually winch her up the ramp. All was going well until Rosie's front tire broke over the top of the ramp onto the tailgate and everything stopped. The web strap on the engine guard was to high a point and as we were winching, it was pulling slightly down and forward. Once the front tire reached the tailgate, the frame wedged on the ramp. Trying to winch further wedged it down more.

Unfortunately, I could not let go of the bike in this position as it would simply topple over. So while I kept Rosie sitting upright, my wife set off to the neighbor's house who has a Harley who I have helped a few times, but alas he was not home. But on her way back she talked with a couple and their teenage daughter who were about to crawl in the minivan and convinced them to lend a hand.

I pointed out another come-a-long in the garage to the neighbor, and we got it hooked on the other side of Rosie on a mount under the footboard. Winching this one took pressure off the first come-a-long which we then unhooked and cast aside. With four women pushing up and forward and the new anchor point for the come-a-long, Rosie rose up off the edge of the ramp where she had been wedged and walked into the pickup bet perfectly.

I heaped praise and gratitude on all the neighbors for their help, and they headed off to soccer practice. I put up all the chains and come-a-longs and retrieved the web straps and secured Rosie in the bed of the pickup. I looped to ratcheting straps on the neck of the frame and anchored them in the front corner bed loops in the pickup. I then snugged up two adjustable web straps at the back anchored off rear frame and the rear pickup bed loops and then tightened down the front straps.

After a 45 minute ride to the service shop, I met with a service writer to discuss what I needed. I was surprised when there was some reservation at whether or not they could tune with the Screaming Eagle system on the bike as it was sold to me with it already installed and was an authentic HD piece. They explained that HD had since replaced that unit with a newer one and the new computer that they had only worked with the new system. I quickly explained I was not interested in spending $489 for a new tuning system, just an adjustment to the one already on the bike. Some discussion was done in the back shop for several minutes. When the service writer returned, he had better news. One of the mechanics has the old system installed on a laptop and could tune my 6 year old tuning system. So we were back to having the EFI tuned for the new headers and the previous slip-on Screaming Eagle mufflers and installing a new battery.

While we were at it, I asked them to install the Clutch Assist upgrade kit offered two years after my bike was manufactured. If you get a chance, squeeze the clutch on a 2005 FLH and then squeeze one on a 2007 or newer. The difference is huge. And, if you commute in insane traffic where there is stop and go and lots of clutch squeezing, you will appreciate this upgrade. I had said back when I bought Rosie that I was going to have this installed one day and since they did not try to make me buy the new tuner pack, today seemed like a good day.

To reward my wife for her laborous efforts getting the bike loaded with a dead battery, I took her to the dealerships soft goods and bought her a warm shirt of her chosing. Now I just need to get a small gift for the neighbors.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Farewell Electra Glide in Blue

For those who have not heard, I am sad to report that Jeff Mashino, author of the blog "Electra Glide in Blue", lost his struggle to overcome cancer. I had followed his blog post for quite sometime and was fascinated by his mechanical know how and appreciation for old Harleys, especially one particular 1968 FLH.

I never had the opportunity to meet, Jeff, and I feel that it is my loss. He was the kind of guy I would have liked to have had for a neighbor. Someone I could have learned a great deal from in a short time.

Rest in Peace, Jeff. You will be missed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Could Five Inches of Snow Shut a City Down?

For those of you wondering why five inches of snow followed by a day of sleet and a week of freezing temperatures brought Atlanta traffic to a halt. This video clip of Peachtree ST. tells a pieced of the tale:

The weather guessers predicted that we would get a heavy snow on Sunday night/Monday Morning, and then we would be battered with freezing rain/sleet and temps in the 20s and teens.

Well, they were spot on with their prediction. It began snowing before midnight and by Monday morning we had five inches of snow. By sunrise, the sleet was coming down so hard it sounded like some one was throwing gravel at the windows of the house.

The roads and highways ended up with a solid sheet of ice about 3/4 of an inch to an inch thick. So all the schools cancelled school on Monday and all of the businesses told their employees to stay home. The Georgia DOT requested everyone stay off the roads and tried to ask truckers to avoid Atlanta. That went over like a rotund gentleman trying to pole vault. Within 24 hours there were sections of I-75, I-85, I-285, I-20 and GA 400 littered with wrecked cars and jack-knifed semis.

Tuesday came and again schools and businesses cried "Uncle" and everyone waited for the DOT to get the roads cleared. I-285 was closed below I-20 due to the amount of ice and the amount of jack-knifed semis making it impassable. DOT could not try to remove the ice until the semis were removed. Estimates of hundreds of semis stranded on the ice were reported on the news.

Wednesday came with the schools once again taking a pass, but many business elected to open with delayed hours calling their employees in around noon. For many, this would be their first venture out on the roadways around the city since Sunday evening.

My commute typically takes one hour, so I set out two hours early to provide plenty of time. Before setting off, I made certain I had a full tank of fuel, a pair of hiking boots, and some extra clothing along for the trip in case of trouble.

The first 15 miles looked promising as both of the south bound lanes of the highway were clear and traffic was moderate pacing a good 20 mph slower than the posted speed limit. But then at the county line, the condition of the highway quickly changed. Suddenly one lane was basically clear and the other lane 3/4 plowed. Then it would go to just tire tracks instead of a plowed lane.

When we arrived at the section of the highway where it widens to four lanes going south, one lane on the far right and one lane on the far left were plowed while the two center lanes were still five inches thick covered in a hard ice shell. The far left lane routinely would go from being plowed wide enough to drive with left and right wheels on hard asphalt to rigtt wheels on asphalt, left wheels bouncing over varying heights of the snow/ice mixture.

All along the route were abandoned vehicles on the shoulder of the road. Some were damaged, some were not. There were pieces of bumper covers sitting just off the edge of the path of traffic to break up the color scheme of the snow.

My typical one hour commute took all two hours I had allotted. Many of my co-workers depend on public transportation to get to work. They quickly discovered that the MARTA train system was running but the buses were not. That prevented many from answering the return to work call on Wednesday. Those that did make it in reported similar road conditions on I-75 and I-85 to my highway experiences.

Today, the schools once again took the pass option and announced, they would just wait and resume school Tues after MLK Day. Many businesses returned to regular scheduled hours. Meantime the Georgia DOT is still saying, "If you do not have to be on the roadways, please stay home."

Surprising to some, absolutely nothing had been done to the highway this morning compared to Wednesday morning. Many thought the plows would have been out Wed night/Thurs morning to improve the roads for the exponential growth of commuters being called back to work. But apparently, Georgia DOT had other ideas. My co-workers reported that the interstates had not had any additional plowing or additional lanes re-opened compared to Wednesday as well.

The weather guessers are calling for temps above freezing on Friday (in the 40s for the high), so maybe DOT is just waiting for mother nature to fix the problem.

Having worked projects in Michigan in the dead of winter and having visited Kansas in the dead of winter, I happen to know that proactive treatment of roadways, plowing the snow off and spreading sand/salt mixture prior to the sleet/Freezing rain typically prevents the mess we have seen this week. But, the head of Georgia DOT has stated on the news that it was a huge storm and no one could predict it, except every weather forecaster on every news channel did predict it. And, he says that his department has done an exemplary job of keeping the roadways clear. I wonder what roadways he has in mind.

I suggest to anyone who currently works for a state DOT that maintains winter roads in a section of the U.S. that regularly receives snow and ice conditions during winter to contact the Georgia DOT and offer your consulting services. I would think you could make good money.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ever Evolving Budweiser Shootout

In 1979, Anheuser-Busch launched the Busch Clash as a non-points race of all of the previous season’s Busch Pole winners in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The format of the race changed several times over the years. Originally it was a 20-lap “winner take all” prelude to Speedweeks at Daytona. In 1991, it was changed to two 10-lap segments. In 1998, they changed it to a single segment 25-lap event. After all, it had worked just fine for 11 years as a single segment event.

Anheuser-Busch re-evaluated their involvement in NASCAR for the 2001 season. In the face of rising sponsorship costs and economic pressures, the company elected to not renew as the title sponsor of the Busch Series leaving NASCAR scrambling to secure a new title sponsor for its minor league division. At the same time, Anheuser-Busch made the decision to market its most prominent product line, Budweiser, in NASCAR replacing Busch Pole awards with Bud Pole awards and renaming the Busch Clash the Budweiser Shoot Out. The Shoot Out format was again changed this time to a 70-lap event. In 2003, it was changed again to two segments: 20 laps and then 50 laps. Why? No one really seems to know.

Somewhere along the way, the drivers eligible for the Shoot Out started changing as well. In 2002 the Shoot Out field was up to 22 drivers, the largest in its history. In 2009, Anheuser-Busch did not choose to continue sponsoring the weekly pole awards and Coors picked up that spot. So Anheuser-Busch decided to change up the roster for the Bud Shootout even more. The mix continues to change from rosters of drivers from all manufacturers to whatever the good folks at Anheuser-Busch dreams up next.

This year the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona field will consist of:
1. The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
2. Past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions
3. Past Budweiser Shootout champions
4. Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola champions
5. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year drivers from 2001-2010

With those criteria in mind, here are the drivers eligible to compete in the 2011 Bud Shootout at Daytona:

Jimmie Johnson (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Denny Hamlin (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Kevin Harvick (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Carl Edwards (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Matt Kenseth (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Greg Biffle (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Tony Stewart (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Kyle Busch (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Jeff Gordon (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Clint Bowyer (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Kurt Busch (qualified for the 2010 chase)
Jeff Burton (qualified for the 2010 chase)
John Andretti (Coke Zero 400)
Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
Kevin Conway (Series rookie of the year)
Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
Bill Elliott (Series champion, Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
Kasey Kahne (Series rookie of the year)
Bobby Labonte (Series champion)
Terry Labonte (Series champion, Budweiser Shootout)
Joey Logano (Series rookie of the year)
Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Mark Martin (Budweiser Shootout)
Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Series rookie of the year)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Series rookie of the year)
Ryan Newman (Daytona 500, Series rookie of the year)
Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)
Regan Smith (Series rookie of the year)
Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)

Now who is missing? The drivers that qualified on the pole for Sprint Cup races last year that did not meet any of this new criteria:
A.J. Allmendinger
Martin Truex, Jr.
Brad Keselowski
Elliott Sadler

It seems that Anheuser-Busch had a good thing going with the Busch Clash or Bud Shootout. It was something that gave the pole winners of the previous year to look forward, a little something more than the cash bonus for winning a pole, and it gave something for the fans to enjoy after a cold raceless winter. Once they dropped the weekly pole awards, the Bud Shootout was an orphaned race with no real identity. None of the driver eligibility changes in the last seven years have made it a better race. They have only made it more confusing for drivers and fans trying to keep up with it over the course of a season to know who is eligible for the next season’s Shootout. It seems that it is change for the sake of change. Why not announce the criteria for the 2012 Shootout and announce it before the green flag drops for the Daytona 500 and then leave it alone.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Making a Mustang II Fly

In 1997, I had been out of racing for a while as I had ventured out on my own to start a computer networking consulting service which turned into a full blown computer store. But once you have spent a couple seasons behind the wheel of a stock car on a short track, the urge to get back in one is pretty heavy. One of my racing buddies called and had a proposal. He and his father both raced ministock 4 cylinders and they somehow ended up with a third car, a Mustang II with a 2000cc four cylinder. They were wanting to sell the car and knew a race car does not sell sitting on jackstands in someones yard. It needs to be seen making laps at the race track. So, they asked me to race it until it was sold. It sounded like a good idea as I only had to pay for fuel and occasional tires. At the time, the rulebook called for street radial tires which I could pick up used at a reasonable price.

The first night at the track, I looked the car over. It looked like the roll cage was of safe construction, but was just a basic cage. I would prefer it to have legs running into the trunk area and under the hood, but it was just a basic cage in the driver compartment. The seat looked to be safely mounted and the safety belts were attached to the roll cage correctly. The car had seen plenty of action. It was blue from the firewall back. The front fenders and hood were white which told me the front end had been replaced after some serious action in the past. most of the sheetmetal showed signs of being "re-formed" with a couple of ballpean hammers. Further inspection of the interior revealed that who ever "hulled the car before installing the roll cage did not know how to put a car on a diet. In racing, you want to remove as much secondary sheetmetal from the stock body to get it as light as possible. You then build a strong substantial roll cage which gives the car its weight and strength. Someone had simply pulled out the interior but did not cut out the secondary metal. This car was going to be slow because it was overweight.

The blue and white colors and the No. 2 on the car loosely resembled the blue deuce that Rusty Wallace raced for Penske Racing. And about 20 feet away, it did not look too terribly bad. And the folks in the grandstands could not get closer than about 20 feet so, it worked out ok.

When the track steward called for the ministocks to take to the track for practice laps, I elected to not run the first few laps at full speed. Instead I elected to make a few laps at partial throttle to feel the car out. The first time through the turns the car demonstrated a significant amount of "push" or understeer, which means, you let of the accelerator, turn the steering wheel left, and the car continues going straight. Pump the brakes lightly, tug on the steering wheel a bit more, and it would eventually make it through the turns without flying off the top of the track. I made a mental note that the car was probably front heavy and needed more rear percentage. We would need to put it on the wheel scales next week and see how we could move some weight.

Once I knew how the car acted in the turns, I put the power down coming out of the turns and made a few laps with the accelerator firmly on the floor. I started setting a decent pace and continued to figure the best corner entry to deal with the car's push tendency.

Coming out of Turn 2, I noticed one corner of the hood was beginning to flap. Odd, maybe one of the hood pins was not clipped in good. The next lap, I heard a noise, and suddenly the hood flew back over the windshield completely obstructing view. I moved my head a bit to the center of the car and down a little, just enough to see through the cowl of the hood. I was able to slow the car and limp it to pit road for some assistance. A buddy of mine from my local volunteer fire dept, snatched the hood off, and I returned to the track for a few more laps.

When practice was over, we went to work on resolving the hood problems. I discovered that the hood pin clips had not come lose. In fact they were still clipped to the hood pins which were still in the hood. Unfortunately, the hood pins were no longer welded to the car. The welds had broken loose because who ever had welded them had not gotten a good penetration where they had welded to the body work. We did not have a welder at the track, so I pulled out a dozen bungee cords from the trailer and two rolls of duct tape. We taped the hood to the fenders then ran bungee cords from fender well across the hood and to the other fender well in two different locations. We then duct taped the bungee cords to the hood and fenders.

When I went back out on the track for the heat race, the car had the appearance of a giant seagull. the hood and fenders would swell with speed and airflow under the hood. When I let off the accelerator to enter the turns, the bungee cords would draw the hood back down and the fenders back into the car. After a while, it was comical to watch.

Due to the car's poor handling and low budget motor, we lost sight of the leaders in a few laps, but it beat sitting at home watching television.

Over the next few weeks, I put the car on a significant weight loss program with a Milwaukee sawzall and a air operated cutoff wheel. After properly removing the secondary metal out of the roof, doors, quarter panels, hood, fenders, firewall, and trunk, I then starting bending additional roll cage tubing to make the roll cage more of a chassis component with two legs running off the back of the main hoop and into the trunk area to plating welded above the rear subframe construction. Two legs were added under the hood running parallel to the front subframe construction and turning down to plating welded just behind the radiator. Additional door bars were added for safety and a "Petty bar" was added from the center of the horizontal bar behind the driver's shoulder to the bottom of the A=Pillar bar on the passenger side to overcome the stock unibody construction's flexing when cornering at high speed on a left hand circle track.

We then put the car on the wheel scales and began to get it back to minimum weight requirements by adding bolt on ballast while at the same time carefully locating the ballast to achieve the proper rear percentage to correct the push tendency. The battery was relocated from its stock location under the hood to the trunk area to help increase rear percentage as well.

As we were required to compete on radial passenger tires, we did some experimenting with air pressures with the car sitting on the scales. We made notes on how much the weight at each corner of the car changed when adding or subtracting one pound of air pressure. This proved to be a very effective means of adjusting the car at the race track.

During all of this work, one night I made the comment to my friend that I was going to make this old Mustang fly.

As the season went on and as we continued to rework the car, it began to handle better and better and became pretty competitive. Without any work to the engine, I started coming home with top ten finishes. Late in the season, I got a deal on a virtually new stock 2300 Ford Ranger engine. I had some work done to the head and ordered a racing camshaft for it. My brother put it back together with a completely stock bottom end. When we took it out with the new motor configuration, the car started finishing in the top five.

At the end of the season, East Alabama Motor Speedway always holds the "East Alabama State Championships" which pays considerably well and draws hundreds of race cars. We elected to take our chances and take the blue deuce to Alabama for the event and see how it worked out.

When we went out for practice laps, I made a few laps as hard as possible to find my rhythm. The track was fast and I could almost run the car flat footed (almost make an entire lap without lifting off the accelerator). I then began to coast and let another car pass me, and then fall in behind them to see how we compared. After a few minutes, I figured we were in the 20 fastest cars of the 50 or so that were there for the ministock division.

During our qualifier event, I was closing in on the car riding in the last qualifier position. He suddenly bounced off the wall, crossed the track and hit the blue deuce in the right front corner. After the contact, the car started to push in the turns which indicated to me that he had bent a tie-rod end on our car ruining out toe-out setting. Our laps times suffered due to the push, and another car overtook us in the closing laps. I would have to qualify in the consolation race or the "consi" on Sunday to make it in the show. If I did not make it in the show, we would not collect any purse money. No Show, No Dough.

The next morning, we disassembled the right front suspension and found the bent rod end. We located a local auto parts store and purchased a replacement. We repaired the car, reset the front suspension settings and were ready to go.

When the Consi started, I had a singular focus. Pass as many cars as possible and get a transfer position for the show. At some point in the race, I was passing a car going into turn three. At East Alabama, you do most of the passing on the top side of the turns. I had my left front tire at the center of the other car's passenger door when another car attempted to pass me on my right side going into the turn. Unfortunately for all three of us, there was not that much room. The outside car hit our car in the area between the rear quarter panel and the rear edge of the passenger door. The contact forced me into the side of the car I had been passing which glanced our car off to the right flipping the car off the top of the race track.

At East Alabama, the top of Turns three and four are about 30 feet above the ground behind the track. So, when the car went off the top of the track, all I could see was blue sky and the tops of pinetrees in the distance. Things seemed to go into slow motion for a bit. I decided that if I had my feet on the brake and clutch, I could get my legs broke when it hit the ground. So, I moved my feet as far back under the front edge of the seat as I could. I pulled my elbows in tight to the edge of the seat as I could and braced my chin against my sternum and held on tight.

The car hit the ground with the passenger side tires and bounced back into the air showering clods of red clay as it hit. The car then hit on the passenger side tires again. I thought it was going to roll over on the roof, but it bounced in the air again and again slammed down on the right side tires. This time the car stopped and it was raining red clay clods. I loosened my grip on the wheel and began to slowly catch my breath when another car slammed into the driver's door. My vision narrowed and I felt light headed for a few minutes. Finally everything stopped and I began to take inventory of myself. I still had narrowed vision and my thighs were hurting pretty good.

A firefighter approached the car and started talking to me. He looked me over, took a pulse and asked me to sit still for a few minutes. After my pulse rate simmered and I convinced him I was not going to pass out, he let me crawl out. I heard a hissing sound climbing out the window and noticed the valve stem had been knocked out of the left rear tire. I reached in and kicked the car out of gear and pushed the starter button, but the engine would not turn over. It acted like the motor was locked up. They called for a tow truck and I walked around the car to survey the damage. The driver's door had to large gashes cut in it and the right front corner looked to be sitting too low.

I hobbled to the fire truck to hitch a ride back to the pits and our trailer. My elbows were hurting pretty good where they had been beating on the fiberglass racing seat during the crash. My thighs were hurting pretty good from beating against the drive shaft tunnel on one side and against the roll cage door bars on the other side. I took a goody powder, rubbed some icy hot on my aching shoulders, and set down in some shade with a Gatorade.

I was pretty dejected because I thought we had a good chance at making it into the show with the blue deuce, but it just was not meant to be. My buddy came over and said, "Well, you lived up to what you said you were gonna do."

"How's that", I asked?

"You said you were gonna make this old Mustang fly", he replied.

I guess I had.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Book Review: Start Something That Matters

Start Something That Matters
by Blake Mycoskie

After starting his fourth start-up, twenty-nine year old Blake took some time off to travel Argentina. It changed his world view. Two things resulted from his trip. One, he was taken with the national shoe - the apargata and two, he was impacted with the amount of children who were shoeless.

He launched the for-profit company, TOMS ("Tomorrow's Shoes"). The company operates on the principal that for every pair of shoes it sells, it donates a brand new pair to a child in need. He launched the company out of his apartment and worked with shoemakers in Argentina to produce the shoes he found in Argentina with improved soles and inner soles.

The company took off and has made a major impact on the world staying true to its original mission. He encourages the rest of us to find what we are passionate about and change the world around us for the better.

The book opens with a couple chapters telling the TOMS story. The remainder of the book tells how to find your passion and how to begin impacting the world from a very simple start to a major impact.

I found this book very encouraging, and I recommend it to everyone.