Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Little Recognition Can Be A Good Thing

I'm sorry I haven't been motivated lately to post anything here. I have older DCRR stuff I could post and haven't even done that. I've wanted to check in and say something, so now is a good time I guess.

I've spoken with Don O'Keefe Jr. recently about an article Norm Bogan has written for Flat Out Magazine. It details the beginnings of the Wingless Spec Sprint division here in California. I've seen the story, and I appreciate Norm's effort to report the truth. With Don in Indiana and me out of the sport for five years now, Norm could have just went to John Padjen or John Soares Jr. and gotten a different story.

I guess thank you's are in order to Don for being so thorough in details he gave to Norm, Keith & Debbie Shipherd for helping make sure the truth got out and Norm for an excellent job. I've NEVER considered this to be about me. That this division is alive ten years later at Antioch Speedway and so many other tracks is all the recognition I need. Every time a race is held in this class, a new memory for the racers and fans is made.

Still, it is nice to have something in a national publication that mentions that I played a part in all of this and I announced and did publicity at Antioch Speedway. People will come in and try to take it away from you, but the facts are the facts and I'm proud of what I did.

Truthfully, Don and I and John Soares Jr. were just taking the carbureted Sprint Car class in a new direction. Judging by the way things are, it was the right thing to do. For over a decade, this class lived in different forms as the California Dirt Cars of Santa Maria, Limited Sprints of Merced and NCMA Modifieds, so pat those guys on the back too. They played a part in it, and the NCMA lives today.

This may shock some people, but I am and will always be a fan of the NCMA. It's been a love-hate relationship at times, but it's a fact. From the moment Mike Johnson converted me from a Dirt Modified lover and NCMA hater (as a lot of people were at the time), I wanted to see this class reach the heights he always maintained it could. I believed whole heartedly in what he was saying. You could find me at times talking with Late Model drivers about the NCMA and why it was a good group (as if they wanted to hear that).

Fact is, I spent six seasons as NCMA Publicity Director and five as NCMA Secretary. I devoted many columns in Wheels, Veach Racing News, DCRR and other publications making sure people knew they were out there. When car counts were low at the start, those columns would also include paragraphs about drivers who would be joining the club in the future. I wanted people to know more cars were coming. I also played a part in helping them get race dates.

I have been honored twice by the NCMA under presidents Paul Nelson and Jim Booth with awards for my contributions to the cause, and I still have those awards on my wall. I doubt I'll ever receive an invite to the NCMA Hall Of Fame, and I'm okay with that. To any who remember me there, I'm the jerk who "ruined" it for them. Believe it if it makes you feel better. But the fact is, the NCMA still lives. I credit Ed Amador's leadership as well as the late Del Quinn for that.

Ed made a comment to me once that I thought was pretty cool. He said,"The NCMA will live even when it's just a bunch of old men sitting around the table talking about the old days."

That's really what it's all about. It ain't who wins or loses. I know it's nice to win and all, but it's the memories and the friendships that matter.

I wanted to comment on the NCMA Hall Of Fame for a moment, and names that should be on that list. When I see Linda Bosenecker and Bill Ivins are in, I agree with that. Those two never raced (Linda may have once or twice), but they fought so hard for the cause. If there can only be one NCMA PR person inducted, I'm glad it's Bill.

Roland Lokmor, Darryl Shirk and Del Quinn were all inducted after they passed away, and deserved to be in. Shirk is without a doubt the greatest driver to ever race with the NCMA. Quinn is a legend in his own right. Lokmor did so much behind the scenes to make sure cars were running on the track.

Mike Johnson got in last year and that surprised me. Not because he didn't deserve it, because he did. I'm just surprised they inducted him. I'm doing this from memory, but Burt Siverling, Amador, Don Hicks and Scott Holloway are in as well. For about a five or six year stretch, Siverling had a better attendance record than anybody. I believe Holloway has more feature wins and championships in the NCMA than anybody. I don't question that these guys belong, although Hicks is debatable to me. I just wonder why certain others weren't inducted first.

The NCMA would not exist without Johnson and his crazy ideas. That is a fact. However, it may not have made it through the 90's without Jim Booth. Jim took over as president at a time when leadership was sorely needed. He calmed down the infighting, stabilized the club and saw it reach it's fist car count of over 20 cars. Not to mention his status as a top five driver in points. Jim should be in.

Mike Lokmor should not be ignored either. His efforts behind the scenes helped keep it alive, and he was all about helping that club survive. The man owned two cars, and he and his father also helped get a third car to the track when it was sorely needed. Also, he's a point runner up. Mike deserves to be in.

Duane Watson should be in. DW is a former champion who opened doors to other tracks the NCMA had never raced at. Car count was at it's highest when he was Business Manager of the NCMA and Gordon Chappa was president. Duane belongs in. I could make the argument for Gordon as well.

Well, that's the way it seems to me anyway. You may disagree. At any rate. Long Live Wingless Spec Sprints, and long live the NCMA.