Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Going South....

Friday we were going to Fredericksburg, VA and the weekly cruise at VA BBQ but we took an extra day to come back from our Fla. visit with friends and were really tired.  And we hadn’t cleaned the truck up from our cruise the Sunday before….in the rain.  So we stayed home to recuperate.  But Saturday after we cleaned up the truck we were ready to do some cruisin.

The Princess & I drove 58 miles from Stafford to Orange to visit the monthly cruise-in at the BK on Rt. 15.  This cruise-in is declining a little but still attracts over 80 cars every month.  This was a 200+ deal at one time.  Since we were a little early we chose a new place to park….away from the cigar smoking we had to endure the last time we attended.  As soon as we were parked David rolled in with his ’92 Fox Mustang and we had a “group”!  Later Andrew would join our little gathering.  A lot of very nice rides attended but I liked the blue ‘48 much modified Buick….did I just say I liked a Buick, must be the cold weather approaching….grin  The car was lowered and smoothed with many body mods….it just looked right.  I also liked the silvery blue ’48 Chevy PU….it was also a nice build.  I took a picture of a Peterbilt tractor that had a custom paint job that was a little different.  As I was strolling through the cars taking pictures the truck started to leave.  I stepped back and was watching him when I heard the unmistakable scrubbing sounds that tires make when they are rolling on a road surface!  I looked to my left where the sound was coming from and saw the truck’s oversized trailer heading for me as he negotiated his turn!  I jumped back (don’t know how I did that?) and narrowly missed being smushed into the asphalt.  I am ready to go but really don’t want to meet such a ignominious end as being run over by a semi trailer in a parking lot!  I really need to keep my situational awareness peaked better when I’m walking around.

While the Princess was sitting and talking with the spectators around our truck a small group walked near the truck.  It was a middle aged couple assisting a very elderly white haired lady as they walked among the cars.  The lady was 101 years old!  As they approached the truck the older lady reached out to touch the truck, the young lady said “Don’t touch it”.  The Princess saw/heard the exchange and exclaimed “It’s OK….she is welcome to touch our truck”!  Then the little lady extended her hand and ran her weathered fingers over the pinstriping on the front fender and smiled.  You could tell she was also watching some old memories playing out in her head….just too cool.  That’s the part we like best about sharing our hot rods with people….it almost always stimulates some kind of positive memory for them.

The shadows were becoming longer by the minute signaling that it was time we began making our way home.  We said our goodbyes and cruised home….making more memories along the way.

A few weeks ago Fred had suggested we attend an event that was 109 miles away in Dinwiddie, VA on Sunday.  It was the Mega Mopar Action Series event at Virginia Motorsports Park.  It was a Mopar event, I drive a Chevy!  Fred assured me that since Sunday was “Mopar against the world”????....I would be OK.  Since a lot of my misspent youth was done at one of the drag strips in SoCal I thought it would be fun to watch the racing but enter a Chevy in a ‘car show’ at a Mopar event sounded like a non starter to me. 

The Princess didn’t want to be the only girl in our group so she called Debie and convinced her to come along with Fred?  Remember these women people are the same ones that have to visit the restroom in groups too….so I guess it’s a herding thing?  We were to meet Bill, another cruiser and Mopar guy at the onramp of Rt. 17….but a VA Trooper had other ideas and made Bill “move along”.  So we joined up with Bill at the Rest Stop on I-95.  Soon after that we met Fred & Debie at the Thornburg Dairy Queen interchange where Fred took over leading our group and continued our cruise to Dinwiddie.  I-95 is an interesting road most if it is well maintained and a pleasure to travel on, but some of it is horrible.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.  It’s a long way to Dinwiddie….trust me. 

When we turned into the Motorsports Park I was greeted with a large, “No Weapons” sign.  So….using the TSA guidelines I would have to leave behind my pocket knife, fingernail clippers, bottled water and any other item of self defense I might have brought with me or go home.   Fred negotiated with the money taker at the gate then told me it would be OK as long as I left anything in the truck!  OK….  That sucks but I didn’t want to lose the day or disappoint our friends that have made the trek with us just because of a wrongheaded rule.  Being a ‘rule follower’ is difficult sometimes. 

I didn’t really want to compete in the show with Mopars….it was ‘their’ deal after all.  But when we had parked in the spectator lot the show announcer guy came bounding over to us and said we were welcome to be in the show!  We moseyed over to the show grid and took up temporary residence….I had a Mopar on both sides and in back of me!  Hmmmmmm   After a short while we decided to go watch some racing in the grandstands. 

This facility is very nice with permanent restrooms and snack bar.  I have not visited many drag strips since moving to the right coast in ’73 so my recollection of drag racing is from Lions, Irwindale, Fontana and O.C.I.R., with O.C.I.R. (The County) being the most modern of the lot.  I remember the first time I visited The County and being very impressed with the concrete bleachers with the permanent restrooms, snack bar and tower that was state of the art.  The Motorsports Park is every bit as accommodating as The County was.  I’m not a real fan of handicapped racing….I think that’s one thing that killed ‘class’ racing.  Like the Gas and Altered classes that fell victim of ‘bracket’ racing.  Oh well….it is what it is.   The racing was fun but not too many ‘hot’ cars....just one BB/FC and one Weezer.   The Princess & Debie were choosing cars they liked sometimes by the color of the car then cheering them on!  It’s what drag racing is supposed to be for the spectators.  Us guys were always mumbling things like; reaction time, too much bite, lifting, valve float….I think the girls have more fun!

After a while we heard the announcer call for all the ‘show’ cars owners to begin congregating at the announcer canopy.  The show car field consisted of 19 cars, so when the ‘top 20’ awards were given out no one went home empty handed.  They divided the show field into ‘Old School’ and ‘New School’ vehicles for the ‘specialty awards’.  I think that was a good way to try to level the age disparity of the cars.  The Princess won the ‘Best Interior’, old school, award but as she was leaving the award table with it, she was called back.  The announcer guy had made a mistake?  The Princess reluctantly gave the award back….very reluctantly.  I could see the wood peeling off the plaque from her fingernail scratches as he removed it from her clutches.  Then the announcer said that she had won the ‘Best Paint’, old school, award instead.  Whew, there will be peace and happiness in the Shotwell hovel next week!  Bill won ‘Best Interior’, old school, with his Valiant.  Bill muttered something to the Princess about her trying to steal ‘his’ best interior award as he walked by her, it was just too funny!

After the award ceremony we went back to the grandstands to watch the racing.  This time we took umbrellas to protect us from the relentless thermonuclear rays the sun was sending out.  After an hour or so we noticed Debie was getting a little red around the gills.  I asked if she was OK….she responded “yes”.  But her demeanor and appearance told me otherwise.  She was still drinking water and sweating but she needed to get in a different environment, soon.  We all retreated to our rides and began our ride north and home.  It was a fun day and the facility was top notch….just too many Mopars…..grin


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