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We got to be friends with a great country singer, Joshua Ward, who on top of being a great performer, turned out to be an excellent mechanic. If it weren’t for him and his help, we would still be stuck with our old worn out driveshaft. During that weekend that we swapped out the driveshaft, while on a parts run to a 24-hour auto parts store with Joshua driving his highly modified diesel pickup, we thought we ran over a dog. It was lying in the middle of the road looking mangled when we first examined it. But after bringing it to the local vet, it turned out that it was just shocked and ended up making a great pet. I had no idea a dog could go into hysterical paralysis, did you?
Once, Richard and I went to use the Jacuzzi at a Holiday Inn Express. The Jacuzzi was adjacent to the lobby and was a very large indoor one. Shortly after we settled into the hot waters about 20 high school kids came in and joined us. We asked them where they were from and what they were doing in Las Vegas. Turns out, they were a high school choir from Utah and had won their state championship. They were en route to Los Angeles for the national competition. Sing something for us, we asked, expecting them to say no. But they did, happily and with joy and energy. We could see that these kids loved singing, they loved being in the choir. The joy of sharing their gift and passion with others was overwhelming. They sang song after song for us, men in the bass and tenor ranges, women in the soprano and mezzo-soprano range, all in the amazing acoustics of an oversized indoor Jacuzzi room. Their combined voices lifted our spirits and left us in a great mood that lasted all weekend. You have to respect talent and joy of that magnitude.
The first time I ever raced in Las Vegas was weeks after my 21st birthday. Needless to say, we didn’t just go to Vegas for the racing. We stayed on Fremont street downtown, and made sure we had an extra day at the end to really experience it. Wandering the streets of the Fremont Street Experience with that huge light show overhead, street performers, bands set up on corners, people on zip lines zooming past overhead, it’s definitely not suburban Santa Clarita!
What was weird though, was the fact that even though Vegas is in the same time zone as California, it felt like we were on a different planet. Racing in Las Vegas in the summer occurs at night, and we would get to the hotel at 3:00 am and have dinner. Breakfast was at lunch. Everything about time was skewed. What day is it? What time is it? How long have we been here? Things move at a different speed when you’re there, especially during night racing. And since we work during the week and then race on weekends in different towns, you can kind of lose that rhythm of life you get into with a Monday to Friday job and weekends off.
Richard was on the road a lot in an earlier career many years ago. He told me if you’re going to be on the road, open yourself up to the experiences that are out there waiting for you. Don’t stay in the hotel room, get out, go places, talk to people, amazing things can happen. If you’re on the road you might as well dive head first into the deep end and see what happens. Sure enough, our hotel room is usually just a place to shower and hit the hay, almost always later then we’d like.
Our most recent experience in Las Vegas all started because of a previous column I had written in MoparMax magazine. After reading my column on the joy of summer time and drag racing, a man named Tony Rowe became interested in the fact that I was racing in his bracket series in Las Vegas (Tony Rowe Enterprises Bracket Races). Because of him, Richard and I got to stay in an excellent resort hotel and had a wonderful weekend. Further, this connection has led us to be in contact with a speed shop in Vegas, not to mention that Mr. Rowe’s business partners, Cecil and Theresa, have turned out to be great friends.
Now that fall is approaching, it means that racing is coming to an end for the year. And that means that for a few months, I won’t have an excuse to travel and meet some of these wild and crazy people. For instance the lady who tried to tell me that her knowledge of military weapons meant I didn’t know anything about drag racing. Or a woman giving me two energy drinks with profane brand names and talking about sponsoring my car—sorry I’m not putting THAT word on the side of my car! Or DJ Amnesia (Hi Eric!) and DJ Neal, or when I met Harry, a great singer and one of the premier Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas and heard his funny story about Justin Timberlake and the time that Harry was a found item in an ‘N Sync treasure hunt.