Tale of Two Winters
They say time flies when you’re having fun. It seems like only
yesterday when I was in Florida enjoying Speed Weeks action and now it is mid-March. Waiting patiently and
praying ever so silently for the snow to melt makes me wonder, why in the heck do I have to have two
I’m sure you’re thinking I’m crazy because in most folks
calendars it goes like this: spring, summer, fall and winter. This is normal and widely accepted, but not for ole’
Mike. For me, it's more like spring, racing, racing, Winter, racing, and then the second Winter. Now you
won’t find this seasonal schedule in any book, almanac, or calendar. It’s a convoluted mess of priorities that
I’ve established for myself. The only season that matters is racing season! Everything else is, well...
I grumble every time when I hear someone say, “Oh I just love
experiencing the four seasons”. “The snow and cold makes you appreciate The spring and summer”. You get the
point I’m trying to make here. Feelings like these are normal, but not for me. When it’s not racing season,
I’m not appreciating it! I guess the racing calendar of seasons should have two, and not the customary four,
the racing season and the off-season. What the weather is doing outside really doesn’t matter. We’re either
racing or we're not. Simple!Being a race fan in a normal world that appreciates four seasons
gets me the strange eye sometimes too.
Beautiful sunsets, fall colors, blue skies, and crisp morning
air are all gifts from above. I just choose to associate my sensations with racing. The fond memory of
Nebraska’s Sunset Speedway, The West Virginia Mountains with vivid color at Pennsboro Speedway, blue sky drives while
Chasing the UMP Summer Nationals and the Crisp damp air in the morning after camping at Eldora Speedway during
the World 100. These are the seasonal pleasures that mean something to me.
Being normal in a non-racing world has its challenge. I fake it
the best I can. I like some football and even the holidays provide some enjoyable time, but underneath it all,
the lure of the dirt, the sound of the engines, and the excitement of racing quickly takes my heart
away. During the cold, snow, ice and frozen tundra of winter I keep trudging along. I keep going because of one
thing. That thing is Florida and the hot racing action at East Bay Raceway and Volusia Speedway
Taking a flight out of the Midwest in winter and going to
Florida during the first week of February is time travel at its best. To go from cold to warm, barren to green,
winter to racing in the matter of a few hours dulls my winter blues. The first night there I have to almost pinch
myself to make sure it’s real. Regardless how good the racing is, or even what the weather does, for one short
week its racing season again, and nothing else matters.
I made my first maiden voyage to East Bay Raceway and the Winter
Nationals in 1997 and have made it a mandatory trip for my psychological well being since 2001. Volusia
Speedway is rather new for me, with this being only my second year of attendance. Both are different, but both are
excellent events. Since racing is racing, it’s all good. Seeing friends and feeling that excitement you only get at
the track and not on the monitor makes the money spent all worthwhile.
So here I sit, gazing out my window, staring at my second
winter. It’s starting to warm up in Iowa now, but the frozen parking lot snow piles will be here for awhile. The
NASCAR boys are racing, so at least on Sundays I can wake up for about 100 laps. At times the second winter is worse
than the first, but then I have to remember one thing. Racing Season is just around the corner here in the
Midwest, and once it gets here, the other seasons don’t matter.
So the next time you see me, I don’t want to hear, “Oh Mike, I
like the Winter Season because…. “Or say, “Oh Mike, don’t you like Spring because….” Please stop! I like
racing season and the "off-season" is for all that other stuff I’m supposed to do to get ready for racing
season. Thanks for reading my column and visiting our