What were you doing about 9 a.m. Saturday?
Maybe you were inside, out of that cold, biting north wind that raked across Killeen, enjoying family, a hot breakfast and the unending whirrr of a central heating unit.
Or maybe you were one of us ... one of a fraternity that answers the call when vehicles gather to conduct contests of speed, barreling around the quarter-mile dirt track at Texas Thunder Speedway.
That’s where a bunch of us showed up to watch the Vintage Dirt Track Racing Association climb aboard motorcycles and brave the 30-degree windchill. Over 30 VDTRA racers made the trip to Killeen from as far north as Oklahoma City and as far south as Laredo to spend the day going round and round while turning laps on a 16- to 18-second pace. By the time their doubleheader race day was done at 6 p.m., and after at least three nasty-looking spills, I had a new respect for these racers, who tear around the track, with nothing between them and the ground but air.
Saturday’s show was the latest brainchild of TTS promoter David “The Mad Scientist” Goode, who’s always good for a unique twist on giving race fans something to get excited about. None of the VDTRA racers came from the local area, but they put on a show for us. I was amazed at how they control their machines, especially since the last time I tried to ride one in 1976, when it and I wound up across the street under a neighbor’s mobile home covered with skirting and the engine still screaming. All of us — bike, house and rider — escaped serious injury, even though it took a while to get that skirting paid off.
Memories like that have made me quite satisfied with announcing races and not competing and we’ll get back to the stock car version Saturday night when Texas Thunder Speedway kicks off its 2013 International Motor Contest Association season. We’re all anxious to see how some of the top drivers will do, including those who have moved up from one class to another. Names coming to mind are Brian Bagent, a Killeen racer who won the Outlaw Twister class and has built a truck (!) that he’ll run in the Street Stock class, and Belton driver Charles Cosper, last season’s IMCA Hobby Stock champion, who’ll give it a go in the IMCA Stock Car wars.
Remind me to interview Charles about his recent vacation ... aboard the Carnival Triumph. Yeah, that one ... the ship that went dead in the water after an engine room fire last month. That should be quite a story.
On a personal note, I’m barely touching the ground after learning that we’ll be blessed with one of the Texas Thunder legends, who has agreed to join as co-announcer.
Ken Essenburg, a former driver, promoter and all-around great guy, who’s forgotten more about racing than I’ll ever know, will be alongside this season, offering his unique brand of insight and knowledge of the sport. Since Ken was there racing when the track opened in 1972, he’ll have stories about the cars, drivers and the way it was before bleachers, sound systems and how things have changed.
I can’t wait.
See ya at the track!