Huber's Hash by Walt Huber

It’s been a busy couple of months.  But you probably guessed that already since this column and this whole entire Pole Position issue is running late.  It ain’t my fault – but I’m kind of glad the old Pole Cat’s running late, ‘cause I would’ve been the one holding things up had it not been for the hard drive problem which I understand Miz Linda’s computer is having.  At the same time Linda’s computer isn’t the only thing ailing….  

Diane Miller was in the hospital for a while recently.  She had been feeling punky for a couple of days in mid-June and finally visited the hospital’s emergency room.  Diane was admitted and they kept her for a day or three.  Despite a variety of tests, the docs couldn’t find what was ailing her.  They even did one of those buttonhole procedures where a flashlight on the end of a stick was inserted into her abdomen, but that didn’t show anything either.

Finally a full blown exploratory found a ruptured abscess on her colon and they wound up removing some of her plumbing and rerouting some of the remaining piping.  After leaving the hospital, Diane went for a stay at a nearby half-way house before getting sprung from that joint (or kicked out – whichever) and allowed to go home.  Now it’s up to Dave and their daughter, Kathleen, to nurse her back to full health and keep her on the straight & narrow.  I’m sure they’re up to the job.

Continuing in the bad news department….   Our Region lost one of our long term members at Lime Rock in late June.  Jeff Bower, who lived in Chester, New York, died while racing his Caldwell D-13 Formula Vee on Friday, June 21st.  Jeff’s continuous membership in SCCA extended back to 1990, but I remember him from prior to that.  Jeff worked at Bob Dowie’s Village Auto shop in Chester.  Bob wrote that Jeff was a big part of the Village Auto racing family.  Jeff spent countless hours taking care of his own cars as well as Bob’s race car.  In fact, says Bob, had it not been for Jeff, Bob feels that he would not have been able to race while serving on the Club Racing Board (CRB).

It is thought that Jeff may have suffered a heart attack or a stroke during the race and, as a result, failed to negotiate the entry into big bend.  He crashed heavily into the tire wall at the outside of this turn.  Bob enclosed a photo of Jeff in his driver’s suit taken just that morning as he and another driver discussed the session just ended.  The funeral service was held privately, following the family’s wishes.  Our region’s thoughts and prayers go out to the Bower family and all who knew Jeff.

I also learned from VP of Club Racing, Terry Ozment, that an old friend of our Region, Clyde Bales, had passed away over the same weekend in Atlanta.  Clyde was a Timing & Scoring guru – his expertise in this area of our sport was legend.  It was perhaps a dozen or so years back that Clyde had moved to our area for business reasons.  For several seasons we enjoyed the benefits of his experience and teaching before Clyde returned to the Atlanta area.  A gentleman of the finest order, Clyde will be missed.

Now it’s time for some good news!   Our Region Treasurer, Jason Evangelista has gotten married.  Jason and the former Michelle Edwards tied the knot on Friday, June 14th, two days after our Region’s June meeting.  Of course, marriage is not something one should jump into lightly, or without giving it due consideration and thought.  In Jason’s case, this appears to not have been a problem.  He and Michelle got engaged on December 23rd way back in 2011!  Their marriage plans have had, minimally, some eighteen months to formulate, develop and season.  Therefor, we can be certain that the bonds tying the happy couple are strong and lasting!  Jason and Michelle spent their honeymoon on a trip touring in Italy.  Many years of health and happiness to you both!

Speaking of situations involving churches, there was some newspaper information recently about the Central Baptist Church in Millville which sponsored a bus trip out to western Pennsylvania.  Among the places visited was a stop at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville.  Central Baptist is a church which most all of us pass as we drive through Millville on the way to New Jersey Motorsports Park.

The Jersey Racing Board (JRB) has had a couple of very successful events at NJMP recently.  At the time the last issue of the Pole Cat went to bed, the 12 Hour Devil in the Dark endurance race was coming up.  Once again this year it was a successful event with more and stronger entries than the year previous.  This was the fourth year that the event has been held and it has grown each year. 

I find that I didn’t write anything about the Devil in the Dark in the Pole Cat last year.  But back in 2011 I wrote that the winning car had made 428 laps of the 2¼ mile Thunderbolt course.  Well this year the winner completed 439 laps – eleven more than two years ago.  In 2011 the entire field of race cars completed around 11,200 laps in the twelve hour race.  This worked out to a total of 25,283 miles which would have circumnavigated the earth and then just a little bit more.

In 2013, the field of 44 cars completed a grand total of 13,546 laps in twelve hours.  That’s more than 2300 laps more than the total of two years ago.  Multiplying that by the 2¼ mile track length, tells me the total distance covered by all the competitors in this year’s race was 30,478.5 miles or a couple hundred miles less that one and a quarter times around the earth at the equator.  Wow!

A few weeks later NNJR conducted a double Regional at Pocono.  This was our annual Mothers’ Day event.  Over the last couple of years Pocono’s road course had gotten a bad rap due to some changes mandated by NASCAR and how these changes were effected by the formerly unyielding management at the track.  Road racing clubs and their drivers were staying away from Pocono due largely to speed bumps located wherever the road course left or returned to the tri-oval part of the track.  Most all of our classes were affected, but most especially formula cars and sports racers were particularly affected by these speed bumps which were grinding away the undercarriages of their race cars. 

However changes made by the new Pocono management have eliminated almost all the problems – certainly the track is in far better shape for road racing than previously.  As important as the physical corrections to the racing surface is the attitudinal change of the management.  Nick and Brandon Igdalsky, grandsons of Doc & Rose Matiolli, the founders of Pocono, are themselves road racers.  They understand and they listen.  The Operations folks at Pocono are now among the greatest to be working with.  Our double regional Joe DeLuca & Linda Gronlund Freedom Races at Pocono were definitely a critical success, if not a financial winner – but as folks learn how good Pocono has become once again, the financial positives will also return!

And since I’ve just been chatting about Pennsylvania, let me tell you that the Department of the Navy has now confirmed that Somerset, the naval ship named in honor of the courageous passengers whose action prevented the terrorists from killing many more Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, will be commissioned at the port of Philadelphia sometime in early 2014.  I hope to be able to wangle an invite to the commissioning ceremony.  Somerset will be going out on sea trials later this year and then be commissioned in January.  On becoming the USS Somerset, she will join her sister ships, USS New York and USS Arlington, named for the other locations where the 9/11 terrorists struck, in service to our nation!

Somerset’s home port is going to be San Diego – why a ship named to honor an east coast event should have a west coast home port seemingly doesn’t make sense.  But then, this is the confluence of ‘government’ and ‘military’ – why in hell would I expect it to make sense?  Then again, not too many miles from San Diego is the town of Temecula, California, where a number of streets in a section known as Paseo del Sol have been named in honor of the heroes of Flight 93!  They’ve already named one street in this new section of town “Gronlund Court.”   I’ve communicated with the developer of Paseo del Sol and with Chuck Washington, the Mayor of the City of Temecula, to try to get them to consider naming another street DeLuca Drive.  And while I would rather the street be called “DeLuca Speedway” or “DeLuca Raceway,”  I have to accept the fact that those names would be a much more difficult sell.

Returning to the east coast….   Back a couple months ago – in April – the Flight 93 National Memorial conducted another weekend of tree planting to reforest the parkland which had been denuded by the coal strip-mining operation years earlier.  Hundreds of volunteers descended on the property over a three day weekend and planted many thousands of trees. 

Last year 20 acres were planted with seedlings.  This year some 23 acres were planted with over 15,000 seedlings. The seedlings were several varieties of evergreen and hardwood native tree species. Professional foresters supervised each of the teams doing the planting.  Participants in the planting ranged from members of the Friends of Flight 93 to faculty, staff & students from Penn State Altoona, to community volunteers and the Pennsy Governor & his wife.

On a local level, the Borough of Kinnelon here in Morris County, planned a Field of Flags for Memorial Day this year.  Residents could memorialize folks with a flag which would be placed on the lawn in front of our municipal building.  It was ready for Memorial Day and remained for about a week.  The program was very similar to one a year ago in Horseheads, New York where Chuck, Terry, Emily and Taylor Dobbs arranged for a flag for Joe & Linda.

As initially announced, the folks being honored here in Kinnelon were to be either current military or veterans.  But I buttonholed one of our councilmen and suggested that, if this program were to be continued in future years, they might consider opening it up so that non-military folks who had fought against terrorism could be included.  Councilman Dan O’Dougherty jumped on board with this idea and expanded the program to incorporate it for this year already.  As a result, Nancy & I were able to purchase flags to be flown this year memorializing Linda & Joe. 

And while I’m on the topic of flags, let me mention that our flag – the one sent to the South Jersey and the Northern New Jersey Regions which has flown over the Flight 93 Memorial -- has been busy travelling from track to track almost every weekend.  Yes, it was at the 12 Hour Devil in the Dark in April.  And, yes, it was at the first NE-Div SCCA Majors race at Summit Point on the first weekend in May.  And of course it was at our Mothers Day Regionals at Pocono -- the event which is named for Linda & Joe. 

And it was at the second NE-Div SCCA Majors race at NJMP on the first weekend in June.  Then our flag went north of the border and was hung at Turn 13 at the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal for the weekend. 

It took a week off before going to Lime Rock where for the first time it flew from the paddock flagpole which was dedicated to Linda & Joe back in 2006.  A week after that it flew for the first time at the Lightning Track at New Jersey Motorsports Park.  But it wasn’t finished – One week later it was at Watkins Glen where it completed the trifecta of appearing at all the NorthEast Division Majors races! At each event the Registrar has been asked to attach a hot armband thru one of the grommets which have been added to the hoist hem.  It’s getting to be quite busy along that edge of the flag!

And flag’s itinerary will keep going like that for the rest of the season, ending up at the US Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in November!  Phew!