Lap 38

 

On the east side of the town of Plymouth, near the intersection of business Rt. 23 and Highway 57, is another non-descript looking building that appears to be a tavern - a not uncommon sight in Wisconsin. The sign on the front of the building proclaimed the establishment to be called "Trudyís." I think Jimmy was the first to discover that Trudyís was not just another typical Wisconsin bar, and it certainly was not like Blanche and Orvilleís. Trudyís had a stage at one end, and on the stage, young ladies would dance and remove their clothes. Jimmy took an instant liking to the place even though they would not let him take his camera in there. Plymouth is only about five miles south of Road America, and it was an easy drive to Trudyís from Old Man Millerís field.

This was a drive Jimmy, Bunky and I, and sometimes others, made occasionally during the racing season. Jimmy and Bunky made the drive more than I did. I did not think the girls at Trudyís were all that good looking, clothes or no clothes, and besides, why pay for beer when I had a cooler full of it back at Old Man Millerís field. Jimmy made the drive often enough that he actually became friends with the proprietor, Trudy.

One weekend, Jimmy and Bunky made the drive by themselves. I had opted to stay by the fire with Liz, Jerry and the others. It turns out that this was a good decision on my part. Jimmy and Bunky stayed at Trudyís until closing time. Trudy invited them into the back of the club where she lived, and turned off all the lights in the club and out front. She then sat down to visit with the guys, while giving them free beer. This went on for some time until Bunky told Jimmy they really should be getting back to Old Man Millerís.

They said their good byes to Trudy and staggered out to Jimmyís car. Both were nearly too drunk to walk, let alone drive, but Jimmy climbed into the driverís seat and managed to get the car started. Jimmy had poor eyesight and had worn glasses for as long as I had known him. As they were headed down the road, Jimmy took off his glasses and covered one eye with his hand. Bunky asked, "Jim what are you doing?" "I am trying to see the road," Jimmy replied. "Well, for Christís sake, put your glasses on then," said Bunky. Jimmy said, "I canít. With my glasses on, I am seeing double. Covering one eye like this, I see only one road" "Jesus!" Bunky exclaimed, "Pull over then and let me drive." "Nope," Jimmy said. "Why not?" asked Bunky. "Cause youíre drunk!" replied Jimmy.

Somehow, they made it back to Old Man Millerís in one piece. Bunky and Mary Ann were camping in a little pop-up camper trailer at the time. Shortly after dawn, Tom, who was already up as usual, saw the door to the camper fly open. Bunky stuck his head out and barfed all over the ground, right at the bottom of the steps to the camper. This did not please Mary Ann, who made Bunky clean up the mess.

Later on, Mary Ann was making breakfast on a camp stove she had on a small table that folded out of the camper. Both Bunky and Jimmy were up, despite the damage they had done to themselves the night before. Mary Ann asked Jimmy if he would like some bacon and eggs. He said that would be great, so Mary Ann fried up a couple of eggs for him, put them on a plate and handed it to Jimmy. Still a little unsteady on his feet, Jimmy turned around a little too abruptly and the eggs flew off the plate to the ground, right at the bottom of the steps to the camper.

Jimmy leaned over to pick up the eggs and Mary Ann, knowing what had recently covered that piece of ground said, "Jimmy, leave them. I will make you a couple more."

"No, these will be OK," Jimmy replied, as he picked the eggs up from the grass. "Donít be silly, Jimmy;" said Mary Ann, "It will only take me a minute to make you a couple more." Bunky, with a big grin on his face said, "Oh let him eat those if he wants to." And so Jimmy did, probably wondering what Bunky, despite his obvious blinding hangover, was finding so amusing.

Doug and Randy were two friends of Bunkyís from Rock Falls, Illinois. They decided to join him for a race weekend. Bunky and Jimmy took them to Trudyís on Saturday night. There, they fell in love with one of the dancers/strippers. Bunky and Jimmy were somewhat surprised by their taste in women. While this girl had a terrific body, she was stone ugly and, as Bunky said, "She was a girl that should only be seen in dark rooms."

At closing time, they left the club with this girl and spent the night with her, never coming back to the campground. Bunky was a bit worried about them the next day, and was much relieved when they showed up on Canada Corner later in the morning. As Bunky recalls, "My fondest memory was looking up the trail along the fence as these guys stumbled into Canada Corner with this girl. She was preceding the guys down the trail, and all that could be seen or noticed was two immense boobs bouncing down the trail. This girl not only had big breasts, she had a really beautiful body in general. After checking her body out, I looked at her faceÖ.God, there was a sight to behold. A perfect body with the ugliest face in the world. Imagine Dolly Parton with a really ugly face. Now you know what she looked like. The girl gave credence to the stories about girls whose face was so ugly that you needed to cover it up with a bag. In fact, this girl was two-bag ugly; you needed to wear a bag over your head, too, just in case hers came off. Doug and Randy, however, were blissfully ignorant of her facial features. Interestingly enough, that woman did get better looking with every beer I drank."


In my years as a corner worker, I often had to stand on a corner all day in lousy weather conditions. I vividly recall one bad weather day on corner six when I had the hell scared out of me. We arrived on the corner that morning in a moderate rainfall. We could hear thunder all around us, and I did not feel comfortable standing out on a corner in a thunderstorm, but the race had to go on, and someone had to staff it.

Liz was working corner one that day at the request of the head of race staff, who wanted an experienced phone person on that corner because of the rain. I had a new phone girl working with me who had never worked the phones before. While Liz and I were usually assigned to the same corner, our being split up was not uncommon, especially when we had a shortage of experienced phone people. I often got brand new people to train because they liked the way I trained phone girls. After all, I had trained both Pat and Liz.

I had given my new phone girl instructions on how to work the phones but, as usual with a new phone person, I was standing close by as the first practice started. Just as I was saying something to her, there was a very loud crack of thunder. The girlís eyes crossed and she dropped straight to the ground - out cold. I suspected lighting had hit the phone system and came through the headset to knock her out. Back then, the phone system worked via landlines buried in the ground connecting each corner, the main gate and grid with Central Control and the Stewards.

I ripped the headset off her head and screamed into the mike "Mayday! Mayday!! Ambulance to corner six now!!" I did not hear anything but static on the line, so I yelled at one of my other workers and told him to jump in his car, drive into the paddock and get them to send the ambulance because I was not sure if they had heard my mayday call or not. For all I knew, the lightning had knocked out the whole phone system. He ran for his car and I checked on my stricken phone girl. As I searched for a pulse, I had the very scary thought that Liz might be down like this in corner one. My phone girl had a pulse, and seemed to be breathing OK, so I relaxed a bit, more than a little relieved that I probably would not have to test my CPR skills on her.

Then I realized I was hearing someone screaming. I looked across the track towards the main gate. There I saw, Eric, the kid who was working main gate, writhing on the ground and screaming. Eric was the son of one of Councilís best race drivers, and I knew him well. I told the other guys on my corner to look after my phone girl and ran to main gate. You had to be 18 to work corners, but main gate was not considered a corner, so we often had kids 16 years old work main gate. All they had to do was to listen on the phone, and open and close the gate to let traffic in and out of the track when instructed to do so by Central Control.

Just as I managed to get Eric calmed down, the ambulance arrived. Pat, in Central Control, had heard my mayday call and dispatched the ambulance right away. As it turns out, the lightning had hit the phone line closest to corner six. My phone girl and Eric got hit the worst. Everyone on the system got a bit of a jolt, but nothing serious. Liz told me she felt a little shock and heard a buzzing sound, but was fine till she heard me on the phone screaming for an ambulance. She knew I was OK, but was concerned about what might have happened to the others on the corner crew.

When the ambulance arrived, my phone girl had already regained consciousness and Eric, who had been more frightened than injured, was feeling OK as well, but had some numbness in his left arm. The ambulance took both of them in to the medical shack to be checked out more thoroughly. I heard that Liz and everyone else was OK, and then I began to shake as the adrenalin wore off. It was not until then that I realized how frightened I had been.

I developed a reputation for early mayday calls and was, in fact, credited with the earliest mayday call of all. I was captain in corner seven at Blackhawk the day that I earned that dubious honor. I had just arrived on the corner and was getting things set up. A trailer would come around the track and drop all your equipment alongside the track, so that when the workers got to the corner, they could pick it up and place it where it needed to be. The equipment usually consisted of both a twenty and ten pound fire extinguisher, a bucket of oil dry, a set of corner flags, a broom, pry bar and a water cooler.

Corner seven was the last corner on the track and was preceded by one of the fastest sections of the track. This was a long, flat-out run from corner six through a bend at corner 6A and straight on into seven. The corner itself was a tight 90-degree right hand turn that led to the front straight. Cars entered the corner at high speed and, many times, left the braking a little late. This generally kept the corner crew busy and on their toes.

We were short of workers that day, and I had only one other guy with me - a worrisome thing because there usually was a lot of action in corner seven and two people were not nearly enough. One of us had to man the phones and one the flags. That left no backup for the flag man and no one to go to a driverís aid. I decided I would take the phones and if I needed someone to go to a car off in the corner, I would take over the flagging from the phone station and send the flag man. The main problem with this was that the drivers were not used to looking for the flags up on the corner station mound. They were usually positioned closer to the track.

I opened up the phone box, put the headset on and reported in to Central Control. Pat, who was running Central Control, gave me the very welcome news that they were sending me two more workers. They said they had never worked corners before but, what the heck, they were warm bodies and I could teach them what they needed to know. We did that all the time.

The problem was that someone should have told them how to get to corner seven. There is a creek that runs under corner five (remember the flood) and the access road. It goes back under the track on the front straight just north of corner seven. Between the creek and the main paddock is a marshy area. The creekís course between the access road and corner seven is in a ditch about four feet deep. To get to corner seven from the main paddock area, you had to drive out the access road across the creek. From there, you turned right onto a trail that leads along the south side of the creek to corner seven.

I thanked Pat, and turned to look for my new workers. I did not see anyone coming down the trail. Wondering where they were, I turned and looked across the marshy area. There, I saw a car bouncing through the weeds, headed right for the creek ditch. I ran towards them, waving my arms and shouting to get them to stop. They saw me and cheerily waved back. I guess they thought I was just really happy to see them. As I watched helplessly, they drove right into the ditch and I saw both of their heads bounce off the windshield.

I ran back to the phones and called in a mayday, asking for both an ambulance and a wrecker. Pat thought I was kidding. Heck, I was the only corner that had even checked in with her yet. I assured her I was not kidding, and told her what had happened. She promptly dispatched both an ambulance and wrecker to my corner. Fortunately, my new workers suffered only from embarrassment and some bumps on the forehead. Since the bottom of the ditch was soft, even their car survived with only a few dents.


I was a proud daddy when our son, Eric, was born on November 1, 1975. After things were settled down at the hospital, and I had made all the obligatory calls to new grandparents and such, I went to Mr. Dukeís for dinner to celebrate. I had not called any of our friends to give them the news because Bunky and Mary Ann were having their annual Halloween costume party that night in Dixon, and I knew all our closest friends would be there, so I could cover them all with one call.

After I had ordered something to eat, I went to the phone and called Bunky. It was fairly late in the evening and the party was in full swing. The call took a while, as everyone wanted to talk to me and offer congratulations. I finally got off the phone just as my steak was delivered to my table. Duke surprised me by giving me a bottle of wine to celebrate. After I finished my steak and was sitting at my table relaxing and finishing the wine, Duke came and said I had a phone call.

I went to the phone and found it was Bunky. The party had gotten to the limerick stage and Jerry had run out of limericks. They called me to feed them some more. Being relatively sober, I could recall a bunch even without Liz there. I would recite the limerick to Bunky, who would relay it to the room as Jerry played his guitar. While the rest of the gang sang the chorus, I would feed Bunky another one. That call took a long time, too.

Mary Ann looks on as Jerry plays and sings at the party

I had an idea for what I thought would be a unique birth announcement. Iíve mentioned that Jimmy was a commercial artist by trade, so I told him my idea and asked if he could draw the cover of the birth announcement for me. Liz subscribed to Redbook magazine and they had a contest for the most unusual birth announcement of the month. I was sure the product of my idea and Jimmyís skill would be a contender.

Artwork by Jimmy

He agreed, and as you can see, he did a great job. Even though my plan B was scrapped along with my 510 after the autocross incident, I had Jimmy draw me in a 510. For the inside of the announcement, I also followed a racing theme. Unfortunately, after I had sent in our entry, I heard from Redbook that they had discontinued the contest.

Another Council member named Hugh was also a proud father. His son was born about a week after Eric. I liked Hugh a lot. He was fun to talk to because, being from Wales, he had a pronounced Welsh accent. He raced a brown Porsche 911 in Council.

Naturally, we both had baby pictures to show the next spring at the first Council race. Somehow, Hugh made it a contest between us to see who could show the other their sonís picture first. At first, we were like a couple of gun fighters - when we first saw each other, we would grab for our wallet and flip it open to our sonís picture and shove it in each otherís face. No matter how fast I was, Hugh always claimed victory. So I decided to escalate things and get a bit more creative.

The next race, I avoided Hugh when we got to the track in the morning so that he could not claim he had his picture out first. I went out to work corner one and taped an eight by ten picture of Eric to a blue flag paddle. Back then at Blackhawk, we used painted paddles on the corners rather than actual flags. Hughís group came out for their first practice and I stood at the edge of the track waiting for that brown Porsche to come out of the pit lane.

When cars came out of the pit lane, they were required to stay inside a white line all the way into corner one. That was to keep cars from moving directly into the racing line in front of cars already at speed. This meant that Hugh had to drive past my corner very slowly. When he came near to my position, I held out the paddle with Ericís picture on it. Hugh just shook his fist at me as he went past. I won that one.

At the next race, I had the Chief Steward, who was a friend of mine, page Hugh to the bridge first thing in the morning. A call for a driver to see the Chief Steward was seldom a good thing for the driver. Wondering why on earth the Chief Steward would want to see him first thing in the morning, Hugh dutifully went up to the bridge. Once he was there, the Chief Steward said, "Good morning, Hugh. Someone asked me to show you this," and handed Hugh a picture of Eric.

At the Chicagoland Race, I had an eight by ten picture of Eric placed in Hughís registration packet, so it was the first thing he saw when he opened the packet. But the best was when I taped an eight by ten to the back of Gregís Camaro. Hugh and Greg, while in different classes, were always in the same race group. Greg made sure that he was behind Hugh as they lined up for the first practice. Then, once the track had gone green and passing was allowed, Greg roared past Hugh going into corner seven. He pulled directly in front of Hughís Porsche and stepped on the brakes, giving Hugh a nice close view of the rear of the Camaro and Ericís picture.

As Hugh recalls the incident, "This bloody Camaro passes me going into seven and then cuts right in front of me and stands on the brakes. I have to jump on my brakes to keep from hitting the bloke, and then I see this bloody ten by eight of your kid on the back of the bloody car!" Hugh gave up trying to make a contest of it, but we still always took the time to look at each otherís latest baby pictures after that.

Copyright © 2006 by Terry Aasen

 

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