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Racing Commentary

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com

Kenny Schrader says “I found out that, if you put on a barrel and a hard hat and go into a bar near Slinger Speedway, everyone else will get stupid, too. God, I love the people in Wisconsin!” (Photo and caption from GOTTA RACE!, by Ken Schrader
 and Joyce Standridge. Dave Drew Photo)



Between raindrops this spring, a paved track here in the Northeast got in a 50-lapper for late models. It went non-stop, no passes for the lead, and the pole sitter with the peach fuzz face won it. Frankly, the whole thing was a snore. As he took a victory lap, dutifully spinning his tires in front of the pits and the stands, you wondered what the kid would say in Victory Lane.

The podium can be such a moment. Such an opportunity to deliver some of the deliciousness deep inside our sport. Such a chance to reassure the crowd that racers really are ordinary people who do things that aren’t ordinary.

Case in point was the modified event accompanying the Hoosier Hundred this year. Ken Schrader was there and was predictably the winner, though he seemed to try to make it look like a race. In the victory interview, the announcer reflected that Schrader had won an ARCA show a couple of weeks earlier, making him the oldest ARCA winner ever, and what did Mr. Schrader think about that? The irrepressible Kenny’s answer was quick and crisp. He pointed out that there would be another ARCA race in two weeks and he planned to be two weeks older then.

Moving right along, the announcer then asked whether in a modified, like a Silver Crown car, the driver can hear where the cars are behind him. Kenny was right on top of that one, too, pronouncing that in any kind of race car or any kind of race, “I really don’t give a sh*t where they are as long as they’re behind me.” The crowd roared with approval. At this point the interviewer wisely concluded that it was time for Mr. Schrader to go have a cold one. The promoter should have kissed him.

There’s been that same appealing thread of outrageousness weaving through American racing since day one. Fifty years ago, Bentley Warren, then just an open-wheel neophyte, had a two-fer one day driving Ed Perkins’ # Crown 7 roadster. On the agenda was an afternoon supermodified show at Bryar Motorsports Park in New Hampshire and a USAC event at Stafford, Connecticut, that same night.

Bentley ran well in New Hampshire, dicing with main man Ollie Silva, but he had to drop out in order to make it to Stafford on time. They loaded up onto helper Albert Stevens’ pickup and homemade trailer in a rush, and Albert climbed in to take off. Bentley shoved him aside. “Albert, you’re too slow.”

By the time they got to the Mass Pike, the speedometer pegged well north of 100 mph and Albert was pretty much freaked. “Dammit, Bentley, how fast are we going?!?” Bentley took his hands off the wheel, formed them in the shape of a cup, looked over at Albert, trailer swaying wildly, and suggested, “Albert, don’t you know you’re always in good hands with Bentley Warren?”

That was it. Albert asked to be discharged immediately, and Bentley complied. Albert was still there, standing lonely on the side of the Turnpike when Ed Perkins and the rest of the team came motoring along a half hour later.

That’s Bentley inside the Crown 7, Eddie Perkins up front with those white socks, and poor Albert Stevens in the middle. (Ed Perkins Collection)

And do you recall the racing community’s enormous, national response to Dick Trickle’s death in May. No question much of it was to honor the Olympian successes of one of the greatest short track wheelmen ever. But no question so, too, was that outpouring in celebration of Dick Trickle’s zany joyfulness. He’s the guy who so famously suggested that breakfast is the intermission between partying and racing. Trickle made any situation special. Hang on whenever he was with his friend Father Grubba, Wisconsin’s Roman Catholic Priest and racing writer. Here’s what columnist
Benny Phillips wrote a couple of decades back in Stock Car Racing magazine: “Dick Trickle, always asking Father Grubba to bless the water in his radiator and the beer in his cooler…delights in leading Father Grubba into conversations with crew chiefs or mechanics who are already heated up over an issue at the track.

Trickle: The track is picking on you. That new rule will slow you down.
Mechanic: I know. Those $&**@# have been after me all @##$$% year. I think I’ll just *&^%$ quit the #$%^@ sport.
Trickle: Oh, by the way, this is Father Grubba.
Mechanic: Who?!?
Trickle: Father Grubba. Maybe you should talk with him about confession.
Mechanic: Trickle, maybe I should kill you first.”

Dick Trickle: Hands on, keg on, hang on. (Coastal 181 Collection)

Quite probably all that passion gets stirred up around the race track because racers so love what they do. Illinois’ Rick Standridge, husband of Coastal 181 author Joyce Standridge, has been going round and round for 45 years, to the winner’s circle on over 200 occasions. He’s just as cool as they come, but he’s been one long-distance challenge for Joyce.

She says, “This year they’ve got a car like Sibyl, sometimes very fast, sometimes very bad, but no one knows just why. A few weeks back she was bad, and Rick was struggling in the B main and got spun and drilled hard. Really banged up his rib cage. The same weekend his buddy and crew chief for 35 years, Buddy Gathard, got pinned to a grandstand, of all things, by a two-year-old on an out-of-control golf cart.
The next week they looked like Civil War vets. Buddy had a stool with him so Rick could access the cockpit. Neither one of them could twist or cough, but Rick ran third.

“Then a couple weeks after that, Rick blasted those ribs over at Lincoln. Again. I don’t know what to do to stop this guy. We just let him go and make sure someone goes with him so he can have a ride home from the hospital.”

Some things just never change. That’s Rick Standridge in 1994 racing just after a wreck when he had to have his wrist clipped. (Standridge Family Collection)

By now the kid in the late model was in victory lane. He ascended the roof of his car, and flung his arms mightily in the air, victorious towards the heavens for the assembled multitude. It was about 400 bored people. Descending, he commented that it had been one tough race and he appreciated everyone running him clean. He thanked his sponsors, particularly his dad for all the equipment and the chassis company for preparing the car so well. All he had to do was drive it, so it suited his busy schedule. And he was oh-so-careful to thank his girlfriend’s parents for allowing her to join him at the races. It was all so very awesome.

Maybe the problem nowadays isn’t just cookie cutter cars. How about cookie cutter drivers?

© 2013 Lew Boyd - Coastal 181

If you were interested in this Tearoff, you might enjoy the books below:

By Ken Schrader
with Joyce Standridge
Win It or Wear It

by Joyce Standridge
Let 'Em All Go!

by Chris Economaki
with Dave Argabright

Stop by our Book Store Directory for a look at our book and DVD selections:

Book Store

.: Previous Tearoffs :.

6/5/13 - Corky Cookman

5/8/13 - Ray and the Record Book

4/23/13 - RACING NORTH OF THE BRIDGE – Bob Bushley and The P-38s

4/8/13 - SUPERS OVER TIME – The Team from Tewsbury

3/24/13 - ON O’NEILL AVENUE: Visiting the Marty Himes Museum

3/8/13 - David's Destiny

2/20/13 - Racin' Wrecked

1/29/13 - The Call of the Wall


© 2007-13 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

























































































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