October 19, 2009
ROUGH WEEK IN THE MIDWEST
Zeus must have been pissed off. He was definitely tossing some
thunderbolts around the Midwest a couple of weeks ago, and there
were some direct hits. But it’s gonna take more than that to keep
two dirt slingers down.
They just don’t come any tougher than Collinsville, Illinois’ Rick
Standridge. The soft-spoken corporate jet fabricator has been racing
for 41 years – and racing a lot.
In the seventies, it was late models and sprinters. By the
mid-eighties it was late models only. That was because you could run
5 or 6 nights a week around St. Louis, and those innovative wedge
machines were the cat’s meow.
For the last decade or so, Rick has been wheeling his own late model
kit, pulling in on a prehistoric open- wheel trailer with fewer
spares than most peach-fuzz street stock guys. But he’s still
winning. (See the “Coastal Cars” section of this site). His wife
Joyce, acclaimed Coastal 181 author (WIN IT OR WEAR IT and the
biographies of Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace), says she stopped
counting trophies at 200.
Rick Standridge doing
everything with so little
– and doing it so very well
(Cary Stratton Photo)
Now 57, Rick is compact, muscular,
looking strong as a roll cage. That was put to the test on Sunday
night, October 4, at Shepp’s Speedway in Alexander, Illinois. Rick
caught the fence and launched into a spectacularly Olympian sky
ride. What was really frightening to veteran rail birds was how he
landed. Bam! Square on the roof.
It took a long time to extract Rick. There was torn sheet metal
everywhere, though the actual cage of the Shaw did its job
admirably. Rick was conscious. He told the safety crew his neck was
okay, but he knew his chest was hurtin’ for certain. The hospital
team would find broken and cracked ribs and torn cartilage in the
Two days later Rick was moving off the pain pills. Five days later
he was doing a post-mortem on the car. The following Monday he was
back to work, taking on lots of overtime.
Asked if Rick would be back again in the spring, Joyce just laughed.
kidding?!? That guy’s such an adrenaline junkie he’s got some kind
of plan worked out already. He just hasn’t dared tell me about it
Even more serious than Rick’s mishap was what would go down in
Bemidji, Minnesota, later in the week.
On March 18 this year, the TEAROFF on this site focused on that
colorful Mike Spaulding. You know, the guy who could be flattened by
a bull and win a modified feature on the way to the hospital.
Mike’s talents face in all directions. He’s been a six-figure
salesman, a karaoke singer, a racer extraordinaire. Seemingly
anything. By no means a big guy, he’s made more than a few bucks
arm-wrestling with bruisers in bar rooms. It’s not by muscle that he
wins, but rather with sheer psychic intensity.
Mike Spaulding with his
‘git ’er done’ look.
He’s won over 125 features with it.
(Barnyard Nation Photo)
All competence aside, Mike’s life
seems strangely star-crossed. He was hurt savagely in a pit accident
at the Fall Jamboree at Webster City, Iowa, in 2001. The
recuperation was long and wrought with complication. In 2005 he had
a serious house fire, losing much of his family’s possessions.
This year Mike actually raced little, choosing to concentrate on his
finances and on completing a TV reality pilot show about the drama
of USMTS racing and some of its characters.
Then on Thursday October 8, down came that thunderbolt. Something
sparked near the computer in his garage, and in no time it was
ablaze along with the adjoining house. Mike, Sue, the kids and the
pets were all okay, but not much else was salvageable. There will be
Very little was left.
The initial shock wave fading,
Mike is determined to pull through this devastating “new chapter”
with all his usual verve and enthusiasm.
The gods better rearm themselves if they think they’re going to mess
with Rick and Mike.
© 2009 Lew
Boyd, Coastal 181