By TJ Buffenbarger
The alarm clock rings at 6:00 a.m. on race day morning, and the weather forecast calls for a slight chance of scattered thunderstorms. Always the optimist, I blow the report off and start upstairs to get ready to head to the track. An hour later after packing all my computer gear back up I head to the speedway.
What a great night! A strong field of cars with some of the best drivers in the country, and a full house to watch them race at my home speedway. The best part is I’m there to cover the event for my page, the speedway, and the All Stars. I heavy weekend workload I look forward to every year.
Kasey Kahne and I walk down the pit row talking about the next few weeks ahead with the big races when he notices the lightning in the sky. Always the optimist I notice the storm is moving to the north. What I failed to notice large storm that blew up out of nowhere to the south and was headed right towards us.
The damage was done though, the track was watered upon the All Stars request, and we were all sinking on the ship fast. A call comes off the radio to push up the sprint car B-main right away, and the feature would follow right after. The storm blew up so quickly I couldn’t pull it up on the radar up in the tower on my laptop, but the everyone wasn’t going to bow to mother nature without a fight. The B-Main was pushed out.
About two laps to go it started to spit rain. Always the optimist, I mention that the rain is just passing over and would stop in a moment. A few minuets later I’m in Brett Mann’s trailer because my umbrella blew apart. Shortly after the rain tuns into a downpour mixed with hail.
A few moments later the rain stops. Several drivers and crew members come out to look at the track. Always the optimist, I overhear that we’re going to try and run the track in for the feature. I walk back to the Peterbuilt team’s trailer to get a little work done on a feature I want to write later on this month and report the good news. No sooner do I get back there they rain picks up again. This time harder than the first, with wicked lightning and hail.
After the rain stops, I contemplate what has just happened. For the first time in several ages my home track had a huge crowd to watch one of my favorite touring sprint car groups, the wind was blowing the right direction, and the show was moving along fairly well. Then just before the feature thunderstorms pound us.
There is no worse time in a program to get rain. Only the biggest event is left to race. The only real options are to run an all nighter, or schedule a double feature night with an entirely new double feature program. The other problem is it’s the end of summer, and there is not really even any Friday night’s left with the Big One, the Amoco Knoxville Nationals, and the Thunder Through the Plains Tour left before high school football starts. Running against that is suicide in almost any part of the country. There is no free Saturday night’s left for the All Stars, so this is a real pickle to be in for any racetrack. Why did it have to happen to my home track I work at?
One of my closest friends mentions to me, “A pessimist is never disappointed when proven wrong”. Also the attitude I take with my job. In the computer network field, you always must think of everything that might go wrong so steps can be taken to prevent the problems from happening. I go and sit down on the other side of the pits near my truck. I think to myself, “What if I’m to optimistic sometimes? Should I take the same attitude with my hobby as I do with my job”.
A call comes over the loudspeaker; the race will be run at 5:00 in the afternoon on Sunday. Disappointed at the prospects of a day race and missing Indiana Sprint Week at Kokomo, I head up to the tower to spread the bad news. I walked through the pit gate enter every Saturday night in the summer, and walked the isle behind the stand where I wondered since I was just a small child. I realized that tomorrow is another day of great racing 25 min from my house, and I’ll sleep in my own bed again on Sunday night. I would see all the great people I have met over the years one more afternoon.
While a pessimist disappointed when proven wrong, a true optimist can take a bad situation and look ahead towards better days ahead.
Sunday afternoon came, and an ice cream truck showed up on another unseasonably hot Michigan day. I saw someone who thanked me for helping her with some media work for the Amoco Knoxville Nationals, the wind blew the right direction, and the feature wasn’t half-bad for a daytime race.
After I got home and contemplated the entire weekend, I had a new energy. After all the heat, rain, complaining, dust, and sweat, I had managed to juggle all of the different media I had to do throughout the weekend. The best part was I get to do it all again next weekend. I flip on the weather channel for the extended forecast.
“Scattered showers next weekend”
Always the optimist, I realize it’s only Sunday. What the heck am I watching a weather forecast for? I’m sure the weather people will change there minds three or for times before Friday.