The Frontstretch: Driven to the Past: A Few Short Stories... by John Potts -- Friday August 14, 2009

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Driven to the Past: A Few Short Stories...

John Potts · Friday August 14, 2009

 

As I’ve said before, one of the neatest things about going back to O’Reilly Raceway Park for the Kroger SpeedFest was meeting old friends.

However, there was another thing that came up which I had completely forgotten about, and the significance of which I didn’t realize.

After the Kroger 200 on Saturday evening, winner Carl Edwards commented that it was one of his favorite tracks, and added that he had gotten his first race win ever on that .686-mile oval, in a Baby Grand event.

Son of a gun! THAT Carl Edwards? Never got to talk to him, but I was the official scorer that night.

- – - – - – - –

Another milestone. It was at the Minnesota State Fair, I believe in 1984, that I first saw Mark and Arlene Martin together for the first time. As I recall, Arlene had three daughters, and they all loved Mark as much as Arlene did.

Carl Edwards cites ORP as one of his favorite tracks, especially since he got his first ever race win there in a Baby Grand event.

At the drivers’ meeting on Saturday, Rex Robbins announced that the meeting for the next day would be at 8:30 a.m.

Mark spoke up, “Wait a minute, I’m in a room with four women.”

Rex moved the drivers’ meeting to 10:00 a.m.

- – - – - – - –

Does anybody but me remember the old rubber Camaro bodies? They weren’t around for long, and my only experience with them came at the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville.

We had an oildown and were working on it. After a few yellow laps, I got out on the track and signaled for the leader, who happened to be Charlie Glotzbach, to stop at the start-finish line so I could ask if the track was in good enough shape to race on.

The top door bar on the right side of Charlie’s car was only halfway up the door, as it turned out, and I didn’t know he had one of those rubber bodies.

I leaned into the passenger-side window and promptly fell into the race car.

“You OK there Johnny?” Charlie said, laughing all the time.

- – - – - – - –

One day at an ASA race on the half-mile high bank at Winchester, Ind., I was working the PR beat instead of flagging, and was standing on the landing of the stairway to the old press box in the infield.

Rex Robbins was sitting in the seat just inside the open window to my right, and he asked me to help him spot.

About halfway through the 100-lap feature, Don Higgins got out of control heading at the end of the backstretch and smashed head-on into the guard rail right at the center of the third and fourth turns.

He went right through and into the trees, disappearing over the hill and leaving what was left of the rail sagging down across the track.

I yelled “RED!”, slapped Rex on the shoulder and pointed.

After the cars got stopped and the emergency crews were headed for the scene, Rex said, “Who did that?

“Higgins, 69.”

“Where is he?”

“Hell, I don’t know – Muncie, maybe.”

- – - – - – - –

I’ve also said before that Neil Bonnett was one of those guys who were an absolute joy to know.

One night at Bristol after an ASA/All-Pro event, we were all talking in the infield, and he asked if we were going to stick around and watch him try to get his superlong trailer out. This was when you had to use to old gate at the head of the backstretch (right were Michael Waltrip later made his famous impact).

I asked what his hurry was, and he said he wanted to get home early and go fishing, then told me about this new bass boat he had with a humongous outboard motor on it.

I wanted to know why he needed such a big engine to go fishing.

“Hey, Potts, you hook a bass at 80 miles an hour and it takes the fight right out of him.”

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