Originally posted September 5, 2008
Current mood: happy
Some people look forward to Christmas. Some people look forward to their birthday (day/week/month, depending on the person) But I look forward most to Oswego Classic Weekend. Granted it's bittersweet because Labor Weekend is the unofficial end of summer.
I made my first trip to Oswego for Classic back in 1981 and have been every year since, excluding 1985 and 1986. It's truly the one time every year I get extremely pumped up for. Even when I had started my last suicidal stage back in July 2004, I knew had to see one more Classic. It was a few weeks later that I had the final breakdown and came clean to myself. Had the Classic not been so close, I may not be here today.
As a kid on a super modified crew, I was told wondrous things about this magical place. I was also forewarned not to mess with the Oswego officials. Not that we ever messed with the Star Speedway officials, but the riot act was read to us several times. When I got there, I found all
the hype was true. I was in heaven.
But early that first day, I was sent to ask an Oswego official a question.
I found one and asked in fear. This official answered my question but then asked me a kind of sarcastic question. Not that he was being rude, it was his way of joking with the racers. I hastily sputtered out an answer and quickly returned to our pit spot. That person, would be an inspiration to me years later when I became a Lee USA Speedway official, because I saw and
admired the way he ran a pit area at Oswego and at all of the ISMA shows.
Later we worked together when I joined ISMA as an official, we hit it off great. Jump ahead to 2008, this person was the person whom called me the most when I was in Montreal. The sarcastic guy I feared 1981, remains one of my best friends in racing or life today. That person is Jerry Rich (aka JR).
When I worked for ISMA and later Oswego, JR gave me a key to his house which I still have and anytime I'm in Central New York, I have a home where I'm welcome 24/7. I stay at his house for Classic Weekend now and this year was the first time I had seen him since surgery. It was a great "Welcome Home"
Thursday JR and his girlfriend Linda Hurn, went for dinner, after which I left them to head up to the track for "Party In The Pits", which this year was kinda lame, but I did get to see one of my MCM sistas and her boyfriend Rich. We made the best of a quiet night, and found hot buffalo wings and plenty of adult beverages.
Friday I went bargain shopping as last year I found some great clearance sales at a local mall. This year didn't disappoint either. Then I headed up to the track to see the first day of winged super modified racing, but more importantly, a lot of friends I hadn't seen in a year. Getting my Trina hug and seeing Debbie, Samantha, Barry and tons of others was awesome. Did I mention the Trina hug? If the MCM ever needs a "NY Sector", Trina would be a perfect candidate. In fact Samantha asked for me to bring the MCM with me sometime. Look out Oswego, if that ever happens
The whole time I was gone, I feared my mother would put the stray cat in the animal shelter.I've really befriended this cat and he, me. To think I'm 300 miles away, having fun, but more worried about a cat that's not really mine.
I had shut off my cell phone around 1:00 a.m. Saturday. I got up early on Saturday because I hadn't seen my host, JR since I left him after dinner on Thursday. When he needed to get ready to head to the track I returned to bed and turned on my cell phone, in case some one up at the track was trying to reach me.
My messages signal went off. WTH??? I got two messages from my mother to call ASAP and before heading to the track. She left me a number I didn't recognize to call her at. Was this a message from Friday that didn't come through? I tried calling home twice. No answer. Had there been a fire? I relistened to the message and got the 'strange' number. It turned out to be a local hospital.
My mother had gone for her annual physical Friday morning and all was fine. I talked to her around 2:00 p.m. and all was fine. At 4 p.m. she got a call from the doctor. "Get to the hospital, NOW" was his message. Her blood platelets had dropped to 4,000. Normal is 150, 000 to 400, 000. She left thinking she'd be back. The stray cat was in the house sleeping, locked in with my two cats that dislike the stray. Mother didn't return home until Sunday morning. Luckily her friend came in on Saturday and fed the three cats and let the stray outside.
Saturday, I spent more time with friends and went out to have lunch on the shores of Lake Ontario. As we dined, the sun broke out and remained that way for the balance of the weekend. It was the perfect Saturday and Sunday weather wise. Just after I got to the track I spent time in the pit area, seeing more friends and stealing another Trina hug. When I went to the grand stands a dear friend, Melinda had called, but as I listened to her message, I couldn't call her back, One I was at a race track, where it remained quite loud. Two, I was with friends it would have quite rude and three, she likes long phone conversations. Not today I can't.
After the race Saturday night, I wisely returned back to my temporary home knowing Sunday would be an early and long day. Plus I was going to return home immediately after that afternoons races. Not knowing if my mother was home and in what shape the three cats were
Early Sunday morning my mother called and she was being released, I could enjoy my last night in Oswego after all. I had breakfast with Linda Hurn and after as we headed to the track, my sister from Montreal, Sonja, called. I couldn't speak to her as, One it's illegal to use a handset cell phone in NY while driving(bad enough I wasn't wearing a seatbelt in NY), I was with Linda, and Sonja too doesn't know the meaning of a short phone conversation.
When getting to my seats at Oswego for Sunday, I've had the same tickets for about 15 years and sit next to the same people for all of those years. I don't 'know' them but know enough about them. They always liked having me there because if they didn't understand a race procedure or call, they could ask me.
Well just before the Classic was about to get pushed off, the guy next to me turns and asks "I hope you don't mind me asking, but how long have you been a woman?" I think this made my whole trip! He was great and very understanding. And impressed.
Classic Sunday came and went . It was a good race and beautiful weather. I saw a lot of friends that day in the stands and in the pits after. I was glad I was able to stay longer than I had anticipated. As I left the speedway that night I walked to my car with a former driver that raced under me when I worked at Oswego. He had also worked with me at a NORA show that I was the race director for at a show at Adirondack Speedway.
NORA had started strong but seemed to fizzle out. But towards the end of our conversation, he mentioned that NORA needed a director like me whom told it like it was and stuck to it, like I did those shows. I replied I'd be glad to. I liked working with those guys. They hated my strictness as race director but they listened very well. I guess the fact that I still worked forISMA but this called outlaw (USA sanctioned) show anyways, much to ISMA's dismay, helped. Could I be returning to the racing circuit in 2009?
Just maybe I will………
But it was great to see Joe K, Bobby G,Chuck H, SuzyNotISMA and all I've forgotten to mention in the above.
But on the way back to JR's, the incredible need to urinate every five miles was unbearable. Even when I didn't really have to go. But it felt like it every time. BADLY.
Monday morning I got started early on my 5 ½ hour return home. Still with this incredible need
to urinate, despite the fact that I had nothing to drink so far. When I finally went the razor blades struck. Great! Thanks to a urinary tract infection , my 5 ½ hour trip became a 6 ½ hour
I always get so pumped up for Classic Weekend, that coming home has always depressed me. Years ago I discovered to take Tuesday off in case one of the race days gets rained out and moved to Monday and it allows Tuesday to recover from the climax let down if I'm home on Monday. As I about an hour from home, feeling depressed about returning home, I got a text message from Mike Douglas Jr, whom was wishing he had been in Oswego like in the days his father had raced. His message read simply "This is the part I always hated about Classic", meaning returning home. I could only reply "Understatement" I knew his sentiments exactly.
Tuesday was spent doing errands, going for urine tests, chasing prescriptions and returning to my cribbage league in Auburn, NH for the first time in over a year. But my heart was in Oswego. A place I love, with people I love.
Yes, the stray cat was still here safe and sound. quite happy to have me home, as I went to sleep with him sleeping and purring on my chest. A similar situation I awoke to Tuesday morning.
Counting down to Labor Day 2009.
ADDENDUM ADDED 2/18/2012
The "stray cat" is still with me and named "Skippy" and I never did return to working as a race official on a regular basis.
The View From MySpace
i missed u and every 1 else last weekend... more than you'll know
Awesome blog! Thanks for the shout out!! I was rather bummed on Monday that it was all over. The week spent up to Classic week there is such build up and then the let down after it's over. It was good to see you.
Wow! Sounds like you had an emotionally and action charged trip! Happiness, sadness, stress, fear, excitement - is there any emotion you DIDN'T feel on this trip??? I'm sorry to hear about your discomfort, glad to hear that you are home safe with Pepper and I look forward to seeing you soon!