Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What's In A Name? DCRR

When I first started creating anything for racing, it was my own version of a program for Antioch Speedway back in 1982 or 1983. It's been a while, so I'm not exactly sure. The reason I did it was the official programs sucked, and they sucked badly. I've always been very proud of the two years Jackie and I did the programs at Antioch, because I got to do it the way I thought it needed to be done. They were updated every week, including new pictures, new covers and a four page story in the middle. Track history was covered. If I were a new fan at the track or somebody who wanted to know the scoop, I'd buy it. They sold extremely well, even though magazine sales took a hit.

But back in 82 or 83, the track needed something. Charlie Zeno, God rest his soul, was getting up in years and the publicity was lagging at the track. Lots of misspelled names too. I'll say this about Charlie so people don't think I'm bashing him. I liked the guy, and we always got along well. I would give him any information I could to help improve a story. He helped me get the word out about the NCMA in its early years, him and Jerry Gandy. I did a lot to get the word out for that club, but I'm drifting from the subject. Fact is, Charlie's Antioch Speedway stories in the late 70's were an inspiration to me. Lots of info back then, and coupled with Harry Osboune's announcing, those stories got me excited about the Sportsman division.

So, in the early 80's, I was making up my own programs (not for sale) and I began score keeping to keep track of it all. About 1984, I wrote a story about Antioch Speedway officiating for my English class at school and got a B. I had to retype it, but the teacher was impressed. It had an effect on me as I had never really been complimented on anything like that. I started to think I could write. In those days, I had been introduced to Al Nordstrom by his daughter Mary. Actually, I was invited to go to Baylands with Al. This is another subject in itself, but it's worth mentioning as I got a chance to see the behind the scenes part of racing.

There were two racers before Al that I got to hang out in their garages. Street Stock racer Dennis Brown and Sportsman racer Marion Heaton. At Marion's house, I got to meet guys like Dan Hatfield, Rick "Doc" Brophy and Dave "Ozzie" Oswald. Oswald had a beautiful #03a car that he bought from Rich Oagle. Just the prettiest paint job until a night in 1980 when he crashed with Nordstrom, ending a top ten season for Dave. I still remember Dave flipping off Al after he got out of his car.

I have to admit to not being a fan of Al in those days, but I didn't know the man. He seemed like one of those guys getting in the way all the time. As fan you can think things like that without really knowing everything, but if you get lucky enough to get to meet these people, you learn more about them. I'm proud to call Al a friend. The man opened up doors for me to get into the inside of the sport. Just some kid from the grandstands.

I got to go places with Al, and I got to be in the pits at Baylands. I wasn't 16 yet, and Al sneaked me into the pits with him in that van of his. When I think back to what a risk he was taking doing that.... The man helped a lot of people in his days, and two or three went on to get cars of their own. I went on to announce and do a magazine, among other things. I was very fortunate.

Back in 84, I had a knack for getting drivers finishes changed based on my scoring. Al benefited, the late Rich Richards and others as well. It got to the point where racers would ask me where they finished, and if the officials didn't match, there would be an argument. Amazingly enough, I helped get several drivers better finishes that way.

It served to build a reputation I desired as a person who was for the racers. The late Sharon Smith, God rest her soul, and I butted heads on more than one occasion over this. I recall our first meeting in 1983 when John "Boom Boom" Bellando came up to the booth after a race to get his finish. He was leading, if I recall correctly, drove up onto the Turn 4 wall on the last lap, rolled over and still finished sixth. I told him I thought that was where he finished, and Sharon told me I should never do that as it could create problems. I told her that I said I wasn't official. Maybe I should have listen to that advice, but I didn't. Had I listened, perhaps I might have began a path to a better position in NASCAR, or perhaps I wouldn't have experienced what I have been lucky enough to have experienced. I don't regret my decision.

So, in 1985, I began hand writing an actual magazine called Antioch 85. Real clever name there. Anna Temple, God rest her soul, was the main buyer. She encouraged me to sell them and have a little confidence in what I was doing. For the next couple of years, I did Antioch 86 and Antioch Speedway Magazine. It was in 1987 when I had a run in with the late Bert Moreland, God rest his soul. Why Watsonville doesn't honor him with a race is beyond me. He deserves one. Bert had given me my first shot at being in the pits at Antioch in 1985.

Back then, my job was to bang the dry dirt off the front fence and put up and take down the American Flag. He gave me an opportunity in 1986 to write a story on Jerry Garner for the newspaper, but he didn't use it. Garner had a great start and led the points early, but I believe the team ended the season with Jimmy Ford as driver when Nick Burcher decided to switch drivers.

In 1987, I had a magazine I was particularly proud of with a cover story about Jim Pettit II. I had recently upped my printing to 20 issues as I was selling them out at ten. Still hand written and copied on a cheap copier. Bert seized all of my copies and told me I couldn't sell them. This had nothing to do with anything I had written, but the fact that there could be something controversial in them. I was just a little bit pissed off at this decision as it cost me money. The next magazine's existance depended on the sales of the previous one back then.

At that time, I wasn't even that controversial that I recall, but don't worry. I would soon get very controversial. A few years later, when Bert got the shaft from NASCAR as seemed to happen to the old timers around here, he remarked to me at Petaluma that he shouldn't have done that to me and that I was good for racing. That meant a lot to me and still does. Guys like Bert Moreland and John Soares Sr. paved the way for this sport here in California as far as I'm concerned. I always thought it was pretty darn cool that Soares Sr. made sure his old friend Moreland had a job at his track for as long as he wanted.

In 1988, I decided to take on a new name, but what? I wanted to expand the magazine's range beyond Antioch. I had gotten a new type writer from Gary Jacob, God rest his soul, and I was up to 30 printings per week that year on some weeks. My humble town decided to have a vote to change the name to Bay Point which passed, and there was talk about changing this side of the hill from Contra Costa County to Delta County. I thought it was gonna happen, and I liked the name. And so, Delta County Race Report was born.

Over the years, it changed a few times, and there are some stories behind why it happened. The last name was Don's California Racing Review. The DCRR went through a few twists and turns from 1988 until the creation of this blog. It was sold and repurchased. There was the web site that helped lead to an really awesome web site, there was a simulated racing league, a state point race, articles that got me kicked out of the pits and so much more. I just realized how much I have written here, so I'm going to end it here. If you want, I can continue in another post.