Bobby G. On the Soapbox

On the Soapbox: Looking Back to What’s Important


In light of September 11 just passing this week, and because I finally got one of the 10 old computers up and going and found some old files, I wanted to share this Wing Side Up Column from September 24, 2001.

I hope you will take a moment to stop and consider what’s really important in life as you read it. Some of the names mentioned are gone, some of the relationships are no longer, well, relationships, but after I read it, I can say that my feelings haven’t changed a lot.

Wing Side Up

by Bob Gangwer

originally printed in MARC Times Racing News

Wing Side Up

By Bob Gangwer

Goshen, IN 9/24/01—Who knows why one, writes? Some would say it’s a way to extend the love of the division. Some would say its ego. Some would say it’s a way to be involved.

Maybe it’s a way to let it out. Maybe it’s a way to tell the people you value as your friends that you are thinking about them.

Who really knows what drives one to try to make deadlines? Who can say what drives and auto racing journalist to put their beliefs, desires and soul down on paper anymore than someone can tell you why race car drivers risk life and limb every time they strap into a race car?

Do we have the answer? No. If we did it would help us know why some days or weeks we don’t feel like writing. We don’t feel like sharing our love of the division and the sport. We want to keep it inside and cherish the memories of the last race.

All that we do know is that when it hits us, it hits us. We need to write to let it out. We need to write to let go.

Maybe not all of us who pen a column or edit or publish a column, article or newspaper feel this way. Maybe it’s a job to some. Maybe it’s just fun for others.

For us however, writing does not just encompass the relaying of the results. It does not just include the story of the pits. No, writing to us is an extension of one’s dreams. Of one’s desires. Of one’s wishes and ultimately a baring of one’s soul.

Where is all o f this going; or rather where is this entire coming from? We can’t even be sure at this point. Let’s just say this. Since Classic this year, we have done a lot searching for where it is that we really want to take this whole writing, photography, website deal. We aren’t making any money at it. We never really expected too. It doesn’t seem to be helping the supers prosper any more than they would without our two cents worth. What or why is it we continue to do this? We searched and we think that we found some semblance of an answer, or at least a bit of an understanding.

Every year at Classic when it’s time for the start of the race we cry. There’s no shame in admitting this to any of you who read this column. The emotions that overwhelm us when the supers come down for the green flag are some of the deepest, sincere feelings we ever feel. Not only is it scary; not only is it excitement. It’s love. It’s love of the supermodifieds but more precisely a love for all the supers stand for and all the people that we have met through being a fan of this rare division. The tears come with the mind knowing that the green flag flying is the end of another great Classic Weekend.

Classic Weekend is a chance to get together with all of your friends one more time before the super season is done. Most everyone is there and the one’s that aren’t there in spirit. It’s a great party, but it’s more than that. It’s a chance to say you love someone and value his or her friendship in person one last time before winter sets in and keeps you 600 miles away. It’s a chance to spend time with the friends you really value. The friends you really care about. The best friends you could ever hope to find. The friends that don’t care how you live your life and don’t judge you for your inequities. The friends that you could ask a million-dollar favor of, but would never do so because you don’t want to trouble them. Yet you wouldn’t hesitate a moment to do the same for them if they asked. These friends see you at your worst as well as your best and love you just the same. These friends are the ones that don’t care if your worst is as good as you get for 362 other days of the year.

We miss all of them. It’s what drives us to road trip. It’s what keeps us coming back. You can be a sprint car fan or a fan of any other form of auto racing and it’s great. We’re not knocking anyone who love’s racing. But you will never convince this camp that as tight as the racing fraternity is, the supermodified community is that much closer. Unless you are a super fan you will never know what it’s like to be a follower of a very rare breed. You won’t understand what it’s like to love a division that runs only 18-25 weekends a year and has only one track that runs them . If you don’t follow the supers, it’s hard to fathom that at any given time the division has total, only 125 cars that are race ready. It’s a select few that can claim membership to this club. Maybe that is their undoing, or for want of a better word, shortcoming.

Regardless, this is what makes it so hard for us to leave Oswego, NY to travel back to Goshen, IN every Labor Day. No amount of writing can even come close to bringing a non-participating fan to any level of enlightenment. It’s one of those deals where you have to be there to believe it. We could talk all day about Pinner’s Wave or Luther’s Bus Rides. We could try to explain the joy of hearing Norm Mackereth, Jim Gray, Jimmy Shirey, and Gene Lee Gibson talk about their racing exploits across the country while sipping a cold brew and relaxing at our best friends house otherwise known as Ferlito’s Love Shack. Try as we might, we could never fully detail the fun of hangin’ out with our bud Mark Seiler, his lovely Trish and all the crazy Canadians while watching the haulers and fans tow toward Shampine drive.

We could never really understand why we had such a let down after Classic. We have never seen a boring Classic and since Davey Hamilton won it in 1997 the finishes have been the most unpredictable, spectacular, and joyous of any racing event in the country. This year’s win by nice guy Timmy Snyder over 2-time defending Classic and Track Champ Greg Furlong on the last lap was no less stellar. We couldn’t figure out why we had a hard time passing this excitement along to the readers.

It’s the power of emotion that keeps us from being able to write. We know that there is absolutely no way we could ever get a new reader to understand these feelings of friendship and love that we feel at a supermodified race. Yet, it’s also the exact thing that propels us to keep this up. We want more people to feel this sense of community and bonding. So we do our best to keep people informed and bring new fans into the fold, but sometimes we just can’t push ourselves to do sit down and to try to find the words to do just that. So we don’t. For us it’s not just a simple matter of reading the notes and typing it up. That’s what track pr people are for. If we don’t have the energy to spend 2-3 or sometimes more hours at the keyboard, we don’t even try to relay what’s going on, because in our minds it wouldn’t do the division justice.

America Attacked

At least we felt that way until September 11th. Now none of that is nearly important as trying to help this country heal. Yet, in some ways it should help us see that it’s that much more important to say “I love you” to your friends and loved ones. It’s all the more urgent that we mend our fences and forgive each other. These attacks on our freedom and sanctity of life should be a wake up call to each and every one of us that claims to love this country, to find their patriotism, to believe in our Constitution, to become more responsible with our rights and freedoms.

Vengeance is not nearly as important as Justice is and while we must never let the memory of this horror fade, we must also not rush to judgment and condemnation before following the guidelines for liberty and justice as set down by our Constitution. Hatred does not allow a mind to think clearly, nor does it allow us to honor those lost properly.

Even two weeks later writing about racing doesn’t seem that important in the big scheme of things, but maybe it’s just one more way of trying to bring us together.

With that in mind, we’re going to go attempt to bring you up to speed somewhat. While we won’t rehash all the results from the last month, here’s what happened this weekend.

MSA Cavalcade

The MSA held sanctioned the supermodified part of Sandusky’s 30th annual Cavalcade and Pat Shullick took his second MSA victory of the year and kept his title hopes alive as point man Jack Smith blew his engine and finished poorly.

By most accounts the super show was a less than stellar feature with nearly twice as many yellow flag laps as green in the 40 lap affair. The checkers actually flew on lap 38 as several cars were running out of fuel, so rather than throwing a red for refueling, the MSA officials deemed it prudent just to end the race on a lap 38 caution.

The field was reverted back one lap and Gene Lee Gibson found himself in second place with Dave Shullick, Sr. in third. Denny Fisher and Charlie Schultz rounded out the top five. Baldy Baker, Jr and Jimmy Shirey tied for sixth, while pole sitter Rich Reid and ISMA regular Mark Sammut ran seventh and eighth with Chuck Jackson and Jeff Capretto rounding out the top ten in the 21 car field.

Heat wins went to Charlie Schultz, Dave Shullick, Jr., and Jon Henes. Gene Lee Gibson won the ARCA/NAMARS midget feature and put himself within striking distance of point leader AJ Davis with one show left at Shady Bowl for his fifth ARCA Midget title. Gene’s brother won the 305-sprint car show.

USA and NORA

History was made in upstate New York as the stars and cars of Oswego took on the new Adirondack International Speedway for the first ever Governor’s Autumn Invitational race. For 50 laps the racing was intense and fast on the new ½ mile track with only one yellow on lap 27. Jerry Curran took the checkers first for a popular and crowd approved first ever supermodified feature. He did so by narrowly beating out 2001 Oswego Track Champion Greg Furlong. Dave Trytek finished third with Howie Page, Bob Goutermout, Tim Gareau, Todd Stowell, Shawn Muldoon, Jamie Moore, and Pat Lavery all in the top ten. Heat wins went to Ray Graham, Curran and Furlong. Twenty-four cars made the inaugural trip to this multi-purpose racing facility and laps in the 15.7-15.8 second range were the norm. Randy Ritskes hopped into the Joe Miller #9 street stock and won that feature while Jay Andrews was victorious in the NORA limited supermod feature.

SRL

The SRL participated in the always-popular 30th Annual Harvest Classic at Madera and Troy Regier came out on top in usual fashion. Eric Silsby, Jim Birges, Rebel Jackson, Jim Tartaglia, and get this, the “Jersey Jerk” Johnny Payne filled out the top six. Not sure whose car Jerky was in, but he sure made an impression on those left coasters!

CAM360

Twenty-four supers filled the pits with presumably some SRL Lites and CAM360 cars bolstering the field. The SRL runs at Altamont this weekend.

SuperShorts

SuperShorts: We had a chance to talk to Davey Hamilton down at IRP recently. It sure was good to see him and he looks good. He told us that he is doing good and was hoping to get out to Madera if he could fly that far with his feet down. We asked him if he was getting tired of being in Indiana and he replied, “Not really tired of being in Indiana, just tired of why I have to be here. ” He went on to say, “In fact, depending on what happens with racing, I plan to just stay here after this is all done.” Davey commented that was really hoping to get to Classic and said that he really missed not being there. We told him it was almost like he was with as much as Roy Sova talked about him and he said he had heard that same thing. In fact, “I got a call from a couple of gals from Canada that said they didn’t know me but felt like they did after hearing Roy talk so much about me,” Davey said. Again, this proves our theory on the bond the supermod fans have with one another and their drivers.

Get Well Soon

Ohio supermod owner Bill Kovacs is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack. Not much more word than that other than there is some serious blockage between his heart and brain and nothing can be done until his heart is stable. Keep him in your thoughts.

Also PA supermod driver Tom Gonczi had to rush home from Sandusky after receiving a that his wife had been rushed to the hospital with an apparent heart attack. No other words on that either. Let’s hope everything works out ok for the Gonczi family, as they are truly one of the nice folks in our sport.

Well, we came out swingin, but now it’s time to hang the gloves up for another week at 2 Winchester Trails, Goshen, IN 46526. If you need a fix during the week and are web accessible check out wing side up on the web by typing http://wingsideup.com into your browser window. You can also email us at bobby_g@wingsideup.com or call (424) 262.2945.

Happy Birthday to daddyo and happy anniversary to ma and pa as they celebrate this week. How you both put up with one another after all these years is amazing considering you had to raise a nutcase and a klutz. Guess you figured out how to “Keep It Wing Side Up and Wheels to the Ground!” Love you both.

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