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Work’N Woody on the Road: Tours Roto-Rooter Facility in Des Moines

From Work’N Woody PR

Knoxville, IA—June 7, 2010—Traveling the circuit with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series doesn’t leave Eric Malies with much free time. After all, he pilots Work’N Woody, the Official Push Truck & Safety Vehicle of the series, traveling over 35,000 miles a year from coast-to-coast and Canada, as the “Greatest Show on Dirt” kicks off the season in early February and competed until early November. The second generation pusher did find a few minutes last week to tour the Roto-Rooter Manufacturing/Export Center in Des Moines, Iowa prior to heading to the famed Knoxville Raceway for the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic Weekend.

Malies, who is a fan of the show “Undercover Boss” on CBS, saw an episode in April that featured Rick Arquilla, the President and COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Roto-Rooter, the plumbing and drain service firm and got in touch with the folks at the company which was founded in Des Moines 75 years ago, inviting Arquilla to the races at Knoxville. In return, the folks at Roto-Rooter hosted Malies at their plant in Des Moines last Wednesday.

While Arquilla was not able to make it out to Knoxville, Dan Nicholson was. Nicholson, who is a Welder, at the plant in Des Moines, was also featured on “Undercover Boss.” Nicholson’s role on the episode was to train Arquilla, a new employee, who was going under the name of “Hank,” how to weld.

Nicholson, who hails from Indianola, Iowa which is just a stone’s throw west of Knoxville Raceway, was able to get an up close look at an 850-plus horsepower World of Outlaws machine as he toured the pit area last Friday night, with Malies as his guide.

“I really like the track,” said Nicholson. “It’s close to home and a lot of fun. Being in the pits is great, because I am usually in the stands when I come here. I’ve learned quite a few things here in the pits that go on and things I didn’t realize. It was a fun experience.”

On top of getting to see the best sprint car drivers in the world compete wheel to wheel, just inches apart at breathtaking speeds, Nicholson had the chance to ride on Work’N Woody as the iconic machine pushed car after car onto the famed half-mile.

While he had been on the track a number of years ago competing in some stock car enduros, the 13-year Roto-Rooter employee, experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity of being able to tour the historic half-mile on the same night, and in some instances, at the same time with the likes of Hall of Famers Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell and Jac Haudenschild, even pushing off a couple of those legends as he rode Woody, gaining an even greater appreciation and respect for the renowned machine as well as for Malies and the various tasks he assumes on a typical race day and night.

“I got my butt a little wet,” Nicholson said with a laugh, when asked about riding on Work’N Woody. “It rained last night and the seat is like a big sponge, but it was fun. I didn’t realize all of the different duties that he did with that machine and all that it could do. I thought it was just a push vehicle, but it’s much more than that.”

Nicholson chuckled, when recalling turning laps in the 26-28-second bracket in the enduros he ran at Knoxville in the 1980’s and 90’s, with the drivers blasting around the track last Friday in around 15 seconds in their fire breathing winged sprint cars.

“You sure do realize how fast they are when you get up close to them,” he noted. “I wish I would have had some ear plugs, because they are pretty loud as well when you are that close. It was a great experience to see the cars from the pits and be that close.”

While work keeps him pretty busy, Nicholson, who is a race fan, marks his calendar each year for sprint car racing’s biggest event, the Knoxville Nationals and looks to attend the historic 50th edition of the event this coming August at Knoxville Raceway, and take in all 50 laps of the main event of the finale.

“I’ll definitely be back,” said Nicholson. “I try to make it to the Nationals every year. I may not be able to make it to too many races in the summer, but the Nationals are the one I’ll always try my best to be at for sure.”