Lap 11


That year, the Can-Am race was at Road America on the weekend of August 29-31, which was Labor Day weekend. Jerry and Lynne joined us again and camped with us in Old Man Miller’s field. As promised, Tom showed up with a friend of his, named Jimmy, in tow. A short time later, Charlie and Jan arrived at Old Man Miller’s field in their little Sunbeam Alpine, a two-seat sports car. Every available inch of that little car was crammed with camping equipment, including stuff tied to a rack on the trunk lid. But what always amazed me was the amount of beer Charlie was able to squeeze into that little car along with the tent, sleeping bags, grill etc.

Charlie told me once that a friend of his at work was thinking of coming up to Elkhart Lake for a race and asked Charlie if he should bring some beer. Charlie replied, "Sure, we always take beer with us. It’s cheaper than buying from the concession stand plus then you have some for the campground." "How much beer do you usually take with you?" his friend asked. Charlie replied, "Well, for both Jan and me, I usually take three." "Three six packs for just the two of you?" his friend asked in amazement. Charlie laughed and said, "No, three cases."

Tom and Jimmy had originally met in the old Tuxedo Bar in Milwaukee while Jimmy was going to UWM (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee). Jimmy had since moved to Chicago, but still came to the races with Tom. I introduced everyone to Bunky, Eric, and Ernie. It was not long before we were all good friends.

Bunky, Jerry, Lynne and the author in Old Man Miller's Field

Jimmy had been a member of the Milwaukee Sports Car Club and had raced an old Fiat in the Midwestern Council. He often told us about how he had laid it over on its door in corner one at State Fair Park. Since he was now in Chicago, I invited him to come to a Chicagoland Sports Car Club meeting, which he did, and liked it enough to join. He was a valuable member of the club because he made his living as a commercial artist. The club soon put him to work doing the artwork for our race entry forms.

Wherever Jimmy went, he carried his trusty old 35 mm camera. I cannot recall ever seeing him at a race without that camera. Each race weekend, he would take dozens of pictures. Sometimes, there would even be a racecar in the picture but that was usually only by chance. No, Jimmy was not taking pictures of cars; he was taking pictures of girls, girls and more girls.

But he would not take pictures of just any girl. She had to be what Jimmy called "photogenic." To Jimmy that meant she must be reasonably attractive, but more importantly, scantily clad, with big boobs a plus. A life-long bachelor, Jimmy was a prime example of a dirty old man. A harmless dirty old man, but a dirty old man just the same. He was always on the hunt for the topless shot and he often got lucky. Occasionally, some over-served young lady would flash the crowd and Jimmy would be right there with his camera. Jimmy would have loved Fanny the Flasher.

One day, Jimmy and I were driving from corner six at Road America over to corner three. Along the way, we passed a slender, well-built girl walking with (I presume) her boyfriend. The girl was wearing an extra large, sleeveless, man’s undershirt with the armholes open nearly to her waist. It was apparent as we passed the couple that that was all she was wearing for a top. Jimmy said, "Did you see that?" I told him I had seen her and he said, "Stop the car! I have to get a shot of that." I stopped and Jimmy jumped out with his camera and telephoto lens and began to focus on the girl.

She saw him getting ready to take her picture so she put her thumbs in the armholes of the shirt and pulled the material together between her breasts, showing them off nicely. Jimmy was beside himself with excitement as he jumped back in the car, "I got it! I got it!" he shouted. "Did you see that?" he asked. I assured him I had seen it. Jimmy was chortling with glee as we drove off to corner three.

At that time, there was a grandstand set up just west of the corner and Jimmy and I climbed to the top to watch the race. A while later, when I saw the same girl and her boyfriend walking behind us, I said, "Hey, Jim, there is your girlfriend again." He turned and saw her and said, "I think I will take a normal shot of her." I am not sure how normal you could call the picture he wanted to take, as the view from the side was pretty interesting in its own right.

As Jimmy was focusing the camera, I figured it would be a better shot if he got her full face in the shot rather than just her profile, so I called out to her. "Hi there!" She turned and saw us and promptly pulled her shirt up over her head. I thought Jimmy was going to fall out of the grandstand.

The trail along the fence through Thunder Valley usually had a lot of traffic as many fans preferred to move around the track from one viewing area to another rather than camp out in one spot like we usually did. The trail provided an easy way into and out of Canada Corner. Jimmy usually kept an eye on the trail, because it was often a good source of photo opportunities. When we saw Jimmy bring up his camera, we all checked out the trail because there just had to be a photogenic young lady walking along it. The funny thing was, we never saw any of Jimmy’s pictures. We soon accused him of not even having any film in the camera. He assured us he did have film and that the pictures usually turned out.

Late one afternoon, while Jimmy was making an ascent to the john, Bunky spotted what he thought was a photogenic target down on the trail. He grabbed the camera Jimmy had carelessly left behind and clicked off a couple of shots. I guess he thought he was doing Jimmy a favor, but this girl was nowhere near up to Jimmy’s standards. No matter, Bunky continued to take picture after picture of her. We told him he was wasting film but he just kept shooting and saying, "Oh, but she is so photogenic!" It was late in the day and Bunky had consumed plenty of beer so maybe she did look good to him. The rest of us apparently had not drunk enough to improve her looks. At the next race, Jimmy wanted to know who had taken all the pictures of the ugly girl. Guess he really did have film in the camera.

After several years of not seeing the results of his photography, he finally succumbed to the pressure and brought a couple of shoeboxes full of pictures for us to look at. Sure enough, one or two of them even had a racecar in the background.

With the expansion of the Can-Am season to eleven events, Road America was the sixth race of the season. The McLaren dominance was continuing as the orange machines had won all five of the previous races with Hulme winning three and Bruce McLaren two.

Saturday morning, our now expanded group made its way down the hillside in Canada Corner to our usual position. The crowd in Canada Corner consisted of several groups of regulars and each group had their favorite location. Charlie and Jan often chose to join another group of friends that always sat to the east of our favorite location. They were further up Thunder Valley than we were and had a nice, fairly level spot. We preferred to be closer to the apex of the corner so we could see up the track to the Kettle Bottoms and watch the cars approach the corner. We would just level our terrace out before each race weekend with Jerry’s entrenching tool.

McLaren had new cars again this year; the M8B’s, which were high-winged evolutions of last years M8A. They had a wing mounted on struts that were attached directly to the rear suspension. The wing was high above the car and gave it tremendous down force in the corners. Other teams soon realized the advantage the high wing provided and quickly copied the design until most of the cars in the field were equipped with the high wing.

Lola had a new car as well, the T-163, which was much better looking than last year’s somewhat ugly T-160. Parsons and Revson were both in the new Lola’s. Porsche had entered the Can-Am series this year with Jo Siffert in a 917-8, based on the successful 917 endurance cars. It had a 5.0 liter, air cooled flat 12. Tony Dean was in a Porsche 908 Spyder.

Denny Hulme in the McLaren M8B

Ferrari was also present with a 612 for Chris Amon. It had a 6.3 liter, dohc V-12 bolted into it. No matter, the Porsche and Ferrari’s just did not have the power to compete with the aluminum 427 Chevys used by most of the field. Jim Hall had his new version of the Chaparral, the 2H, with all sorts of innovations in it but none of it mattered and the car, driven by an unhappy John Surtees, was not really competitive.

In one attempt to counter the Chevy power, Holman-Moody entered a McLaren M6B for Mario Andretti with an aluminum 494ci (8.1 liter) Ford V-8. This engine provided huge amounts of power but the chassis was not designed to handle this much power. In all there were 34 cars entered in the event.

Hulme won the pole with a new record - 2:06.3, 114.014 mph. Bruce was a second slower and Andretti had his Ford powered McLaren third on the grid alongside Revson, who was an amazing 6 seconds slower than Hulme.

Saturday night, we returned to Old Man Miller’s field and our usual dinner of brats and corn. After dinner, we built a campfire; well, actually, Jerry built the campfire. Jerry was the self-appointed campfire starter. If Jerry was there, only he was allowed to start the fire. He would place each log just so depending on the wind and also taking into account the dew point and the position of the moon, I think. If the campfire were left up to the rest of us, we would just pile up some logs, pour Boy Scout aid (charcoal lighter fluid) all over it, throw a match on it and stand back. Our haphazard approach meant that we often had to repeat this process a couple of times before we got a real fire going. Jerry believed in the one match - one fire theory and truth be told, he built great fires.

Jerry was also very particular on how logs were added to the fire. This had to be done precisely to his specifications and never more than one or two at a time. Others could add logs to the fire, but Jerry would always tell you exactly how and where to position them. Bunky, however, always ignored this advice and would throw several logs on at a time and always the biggest ones he could find. This would cause Jerry to put his guitar down in disgust and take a song break while he rearranged the fire to his satisfaction. For Bunky, a bigger fire was better, while Jerry was looking for the most efficient fire.

Jerry is also a very good guitar player and has a decent singing voice as well. Once the blaze was going, Jerry would get out his guitar and we would have a good old fashion sing along. We would sing songs like "Country Road," "Five Hundred Miles," "Hang Down your Head, Tom Dooley," and that all time favorite about poor old Charlie on the MTA.

As the evening wore on, there would be a shift in the type of songs. We would drift away from Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio and toward more risqué songs like "Charlotte the Harlot." Jerry knew a lot of off-color songs, which we quickly learned, and we would blare out at the top of our lungs. Among our favorites were the "Crab Song," "No Balls at All," and "Barnacle Bill." And then, of course, there were the limericks. This was usually the highlight of the evening. Between us, Jerry and I knew nearly a hundred different limericks and could sing them for hours.

For example;

"There once was a girl named Lenore,
Whose mouth was as wide as a door.
While trying to grin, she slipped and fell in
And lay inside out on the floor."

That verse is one of the few clean ones we knew. Jerry and I would take turns with a verse, and between verses the rest of the gang would sing the chorus;

"Aye yi yi yi, in China they do it for chili.
So sing me another verse that’s worse than the other verse
And waltz me around again, Willy!"

The more off color and disgusting the verse, the more people liked it. Singing limericks is not for the prudish. As we got older and started bringing our kids to the track, the risqué songs and limericks were put off until well after the kids were in bed. That did not help much as they would lie in their sleeping bags and listen anyway. I found this out a few years later when my son, Eric, recited "The Night of the King’s Castration" to me word for word.

Often, when all of my gang had gone to bed and I was not ready for the night to end, I would roam Old Man Miller’s field from campfire to campfire, offering to sing them a limerick for a beer. The people at the campfires almost always agreed, but usually with the caveat that the limerick had to be one they had never heard before. This was rarely a problem and I usually never had to sing more than two before they handed me my beer. I found this to be an excellent way to extend the night plus get free beer and therefore conserve my own supply.

The author, two people I do not recognize, Lynne and Jerry with his guitar

Race day dawned with clear skies and cool weather and we took our normal positions on the hillside. We settled in with our lawn chairs and coolers and began preparing for the race with a few beers. As usual, we would throw the empties down to the picket fence. Jimmy had the most historic throw of any of us, one that was never duplicated despite hundreds of attempts over the years. He drained the last drops of his Bud and lofted the can towards the fence. It came down on the very top of the fence and stuck between two of the wooden fence slats. Jimmy received a standing ovation from all on the hill who had witnessed this amazing feat.

The race was predictable, as usual. The two McLarens whistled away into the lead. Andretti lasted a whole half of the pace lap, when the huge 494 Ford’s torque snapped both half shafts. George Follmer blew his tranny after two laps, and Surtees retired his Chaparral with a flat tire after three laps. Siffert blew up the flat 12 Porsche on lap seven. Amon spent some time in second after slipping past Hulme. We thought Hulme might be in trouble but it seems he was just playing with Amon. Hulme was soon back in second and Amon retired from third place with a broken fuel pump.

McLaren went on to take the win, with Hulme in second. Parsons brought his Carl Hass Lola home third, with Dean in the small Porsche finishing fourth. McLaren went on to win all eleven races that season with Bruce McLaren taking the championship.

Chris Amon in the Ferrari 612 leads Hulme through Canada Corner.

Since this was Labor Day weekend, none of us had to go to work on Monday and most of us decided to camp another night at Old Man Miller’s field. Jerry and Lynne went home because they lived only an hour away in West Allis. This meant we had another night to party, with the added bonus of avoiding all the southbound traffic.

All of us, except for Tom, slept in on Monday morning since we did not need to get up early to claim a spot on Canada Corner. Charlie and Jan and I had been invited to stop at Jerry and Lynne’s place in West Allis on our way home. They were up before me (I am not a morning person), and were packed well before I was. Since they were ready to leave and I was not, I told them to go ahead and I would meet them at Jerry and Lynne’s.

I finished packing up about 15 minutes later and headed south on Highway 57. There was little or no traffic, I was in a good mood after a great weekend of racing, and not paying a lot of attention to my speed. I came over a hill and noticed a police car sitting off in a cornfield. I glanced down at my speedometer and my heart sank. I was doing 75 in a 55 zone. I knew I had been caught and just pulled over and stopped. I was waiting on the shoulder of the road before the Sheriff’s car pulled out onto the highway to come after me.

He pulled in behind me with his Mars lights on and slowly walked up to my car. "Guess you know you were speeding" he said. "Yes sir, my mind was elsewhere and I was not paying attention to my speed." "Well, I am going to have to give you a ticket," he said. I was expecting that, but was surprised when he would not take my driver’s license as bail since I was from out of state. He told me to follow him to the Sheriff’s office in Port Washington.

Once at the Sheriff’s office, I was told my bail would be $50. I did not have that much in cash so I pulled out my checkbook. I was told a check would be no good for two reasons: one, it was from an out-of-state bank and two, it was a holiday and the bank would be closed so they could not verify I had the funds to cover the check. Being out of options, I asked what else I could do. They said I had the right to make one phone call and I could call someone to come with the money to post bail. I said OK, and called Jerry because he was less than an hour away. After Jerry stopped laughing, he agreed to come bail me out.

The Sheriff’s deputy told me to follow him and led me into the jail to an empty cell. I was appalled! "Can’t I just wait in the lobby for my friend to show up?" I pleaded. "No," was the answer and shortly an iron door slammed shut behind me and I heard a key turn in the lock. I found myself in a ten by six space with a toilet and a small wash basin sticking out of the back wall and a cot with a thin mattress with no blanket hanging from one side wall. The door to the cell was a solid steel door with a little, one-foot square window with the expected bars in it. There were no other windows, just three solid walls. Light was provided by a single, un-shaded light fixture in the ceiling. The walls, door and ceiling were all painted a pale green. Now green is my favorite color but this experience almost changed that!

I have never in my life felt more closed in, and I did not like it one bit. I had only been speeding, for crying out loud, and here I was locked in the slammer like Public Enemy Number One! I vowed this would be the last time I was ever going to be locked up in a cell like this. I have come close a couple of times, but so far so good. I laid down on the cot and impatiently waited for Jerry to arrive.

Jerry finally arrived, but I had forgotten to mention he needed to bring cash and, of course, he did not have enough cash. He pulled out a checkbook and they told him they would not take a check because it was a holiday and they could not verify the funds were there. Jerry argued with them for a while and I guess because his bank was a local bank and they probably did not want to have to feed me till the next day, they accepted his check and I was sprung. I had only been locked up for about 45 minutes, but I can tell you it sure seemed like much longer.

Charlie and Jan arrived at Jerry and Lynne’s apartment and seeing that Jerry was not home, they asked where he was. "He had to go bail Terry out of jail," Lynne told them. They were shocked, "We just left him packing up his car an hour ago!" Charlie exclaimed. "How could he wind up in jail in that short of a time?"

Copyright © 2006 by Terry Aasen


Back ] Up ] Next ]