It was hard to believe that a year had passed , as
I looked out the window of the airplane while it
was landing in Seattle. This was the beginning of
my much anticipated return to Elma, Washington
for the 6th Annual Shipwreck Beads Northwest
Modified Nationals at Grays Harbor Raceway. I
was looking forward to seeing my friends,and
looking forward to the most beautiful area of the
country.This year I brought along my good friend
& crew chief ,Johnnie Null with me and that was
gonna make the trip even better.
We landed at Sea-Tac Airport on Friday evening
a week before the Nationals and was met by my
friend & car owner Randy Ward and Race
Director Bob Valencia. Bob was still recovering
from a terrible accident at the track on opening
night where he was hit by a modified that had hit
the wall and veered to the infield. He still has a
long recovery ahead,but he's tough and will be
back to 100% in no time. It had been kind of a
long day so we went back to Randy & Sundy's
house to rest & eat. It felt great to be back and
both Johnnie & I could tell the pressures of home
were fading fast. We had a special treat this year
as the Ward's neighbor, Carole Wilson, heard we
were coming again and ended up giving us her
home on the lake to stay in. Again,I think these
are the nicest people in this area up here I have
ever met. The place was awesome and we felt
right at home. While we were relaxing and eating
dinner, Randy offered us a cold Coors Light
Silver Bullet , little did I know this was setting
things in motion for the whole week. I had never
seen Johnnie down more than a beer or two in
one setting before,so I thought it seemed odd
when he polished off six before bed.I knew he
was having a good time and so was I.
We got up early on Saturday morning so we
could tinker with the racecar some. The car
looked ready so about 10:30 am Randy asked if
anybody was thirsty and Johnnie said sure. We
had come in a week early so I could get some
more track time in Randy's car,so the plan was to
run the regular show on Saturday night and make
any changes during the week before the
Nationals.After we loaded the car and Big Wally
& "JN" had killed four more bullets each, we
headed to Elma Lanes (one of Randy's sponsors)
to see Henry Dawson again,fill the cooler and
relax a little.Oh yeah....and maybe see that girl ! It
was great to see Henry again and chat with him.
The boys quenched their thirst with bullets number
11 thru 14 for those keeping track. But my trip
was not complete til I saw her. She was not
working that day,but I did get to meet Lisa &
Molly.I swear theres something in the water up
there that turns out the prettiest girls I've seen
To say the car was a rocket that night would be
an understatement. We set fast time, ran a
conservative third in the heat, and had one of the
most enjoyable races ever with local racer Jeff
Foster who did beat me by a nat's ass.He earned
my respect for driving me clean the whole race
and the crowd went crazy at the finish.All in all a
great night of racing and no repair work for the
week,just general upkeep. Time to celebrate....off
to Elma Lanes we go.I noticed the boys were
looking a bit shaky so the silver bullets were a
welcome site. When we got there I got to meet
Jerry Springer of JLS Marble,another great
sponsor of Randy's.I didn't meet him last year due
to some health problems,so it was good to see
him this time.While I was chatting with a few folks
there someone put their arm around me and
said,"Nice to see you again".When I turned
around ,it was her...................oh my god
.............she looked even prettier than I
remembered(and I have a vivid imagination).We
talked just a little as she was busy keeping
everybody's order filled.Now my trip was
complete.I could die a happy man now.We
stayed for quite a while at the bar as silver bullets
number 15-55 were consumed.It was great
getting to talk to everybody again.On Sunday we
went up to Ocean Shores and took a ride on the
beach up there,it was a neat place to see.That
evening we had dinner with Bobby V. and his
family along with GHR's newest winner Jeff
Foster at the nearby casino.We had a great time
talking racing with Jeff and enjoyed some great
food.By now the Coors body count was up to
75. On Monday we slept in and got the car ready
to go for Thursday.It was a lazy day and it felt
good to relax. We did stop in and see Larry
Demoss who owns Cut Rate Auto Parts and
helps with Randy's racing.
Tuesday was a big day as we were treated to a
Mariners baseball game which was highlited by a
ferry boat ride up to Seattle.One neat site was the
Naval Yard in Bremerton where a string of
aircraft carriers were docked.Those things are
huge!During our trip I was introduced to a local
drink called a "Duck Fart". We had a great time
with everyone that went and hit a few casino's on
the way home plus a gentlemens club where their
sign said,"100 Beautiful Women and 3 Ugly
Ones".The way I saw it the three ugly ones
weren't working that night.By my count bullets 76
thru 96 were consumed during our road trip.
Wednesday was another off day,so we finished
up the car and relaxed at the Elma Lanes in the
evening.I believe the beer count ended the night
around 120.During our trips up and down the
road my crew chief earned the nickname
"Pathfinder" due to his uncanny ability to tell
Randy which direction we were headed.An ability
which sharpened after several Coors Lights,I must
say.We didn't get a chance to stop and see
Savage Wholesale or Northwest Collision who
are strong supporters of Big Wally Racing.Maybe
we can pay them a visit next trip out.
Thursday was the start of the NW Nationals and I
was confident we were ready.I think Randy was
still nervous because a few hotdogs from out of
town were here to race(Eddie Martin,Ron
Jones,and Alan Sharpensteen).After a decent hot
lap session it was time for time trials.The car was
on its game and so was I.When I came in after
our one alotted lap the crew was all smiles,and
Randy came running back to the car with a look
on his face I'll never forget.He said,"Jesus,you just
set fast time and broke the track record by a
bunch".It was a better lap than I thought.We
proved the local cars were worthy to compete
with the traveling pros.The only drawback was
the weather,as we were lining up to go out for our
heat the rains came.The night was washed out,and
so was a nice points night.We would have to
come back and try again on Friday.So we loaded
up the car and headed to our favorite spot to
drown our sorrows.I believe many,many silver
bullets were consumed that night bringing the total
Friday was our chance to prove that we were no
fluke.We drew the last number and gave it one
hell of a lap that was almost identical to
Thursdays.The rev chip kicked in too soon during
the lap which cost us in time.But we still ended up
10th quick.A solid lap that proved we were a
threat for the $10,000.We ran solid in the heats
for more points,and ended up 8th in points for the
nights A-Qualifier.A solid run would have put us
up front in Saturdays Main.However,during the
qualifier we had a super good run going in
6th,battling with the 5th & 4th place cars when
the unexpected happened,on lap 17 we ran out of
fuel.It was a miscalculation on my part.I did not
realize how much more fuel the motor in Randy's
car burned verses mine back home.I thought we
had enough but we didn't.I know it kinda took the
wind out of the sails of everyone involved,but the
car had run awesome up to that point. We were
going to have to run the "B" on Saturday and run
against some top dogs to get into the
feature.Again,we ran solid and came in
second.Now it was time for the main,and we
were ready.After starting in the rear,we worked
our way up to 11th by midrace.The car was on a
string and I was just biding my time.Then disaster
struck out of the blue when the left rear axle
snapped on lap 24 and ended our run for the
money.It was disheartning to have everyone work
so hard and have the car break an odd item like
that.But, I was pleased with how well we showed
for the hometown fans.I was overwhelmed by
how many fans stopped by our pit after the race
to talk and get autographs.When the evening
finally came to a close,we headed to Elma lanes
one last time.The beer flowed heavy again this
night and I lost track of the count because I was
paying more attention to the "Big Boobed Beer
Girls" from the track instead of what Randy &
Johnnie were doing.These gals were sweet as pie
and definitely lived up to their well endowed
nicknames.I look forward to seeing more of
them(hint,hint) next year when I return.
Sunday brought a day of rest and a great day on
the lake in the Ward's boat.Oh man, what a great
finale to an awesome trip.I honestly hated to leave
because again everybody was so friendly and
made us right at home.On Monday Bobby V. and
Randy took us up to the airport and on the way
we had one last meal & beer together.You
probably guessed we stopped at Hooter's.Randy
wanted wings,and Bobby and I wanted oysters.It
was a great meal with great scenery.
Words can't truly describe how wonderful
everyone in that area is.My fondest racing
memories will always have these trips at the top of
the list.I have decided to put my retirement on
hold as there are a few races a year I still want to
do,the Washington trip will be on my schedule as
long as Randy & Sundy will have me.I hope
Johnnie gets to make the trip with me each year
as I think he has found a second home too ,just
like me.Besides I don't think I could go more than
a year without seeing Randy & Sundy,Bobby
V.,Chris & Kevin,the "Big Boobed Beer Girls",
and oh yeah,that girl at the bowling alley!!!
|The beautiful view from Randy & Sundy's home.
|I wish all tracks were this well maintained !
|A lighter "Big Wally" and I on the beach at Ocean
|Another beautiful view of the area.
|The awesome store at Shipwreck Beads.
|The 6 Amigo's - Johnnie , Henry , Diana , Jeanette ,
Andy , and Randy pose for the camera.
|The Naval Yard was a neat site.
|Yes ........ I'm in heaven !!!
|The view of Seattle from the ferry was a really neat site.
|At the old ball game .... Safeco Field was really nice.
|Great seats and the Mariners won.Great Day !
|The pulp mills in the area remind me of Virginia.
|Awesome fireworks on the pace lap !!
|Driving Randy's boat and relaxing with the nectur of the
|Our friends & hosts, Randy & Sundy !
|Mt. Ranier looms in the distance.
|Oh yeah, and on the way to the airport these Hooters
Girls posed for a truck driver as we were passing by !!!
I loved the writing on their shirts,they read,
"Weapons of mass distraction".
Those of you that know me very well
know how I feel about family's that
are close and how special the bond is
between a father and his son.
With that said,from my heart, I'd like
to say, "Rest in peace Mr. Swiglo .....
it was both an honor and a privilege
to have met you".
|I would like to thank Glen Vincent of Shipwreck Beads &
Everyone at Grays Harbor Raceway for their hospitality,hard
work,and for putting on a great,great Modified race thats
Keep up the good work !!!
|The photo finish with Jeff Foster !!!