- Monday 23 December, 2013
Around this time for the past several years, I have boarded a plane and flown to Orlando, Florida to attend the annual Performance Racing Industry show to view and learn about engines, blowers, turbos, nitrous kits, fuel delivery systems, suspension components and other race industry offerings in an attempt to write more informed stories as well as to attend NMCA and NMRA awards ceremonies to support drivers I have covered through the years.
Usually, I arrived a day early so that I could visit the Fantasy of Flight museum in Polk, Florida, about an hour outside of Orlando, Florida and explore aircraft from World War I and World War II, including a B26 and P-51C Mustang, as well as an F3F biplane, a Corsair and a Ford Tri-motor, and walk through heavy shrapnel-resistant curtains into a World War II re-creation scene with special lighting and sound effects.
I had been to the area enough to comfortably find my way around, and had enjoyed the short escape from the cold weather to the warm weather, so when it was announced that this year’s show and awards would be held at the Indiana Convention Center in Indiana, I’ll admit I was a little dispirited, even though I had no reason to be. After all, I would still be seeing great products and applauding great drivers.
The snow was falling when I pulled into downtown Indianapolis on Thursday evening, and even though I had accidentally started to turn the wrong way down a one-way street while trying to find my hotel - and was cursed at and honked at - I had decided the city looked inviting all decked out for the holidays, and I had discovered I was excited about the show and the awards regardless of where they were taking place.
I spent the next day walking each aisle at the show, marveling at what was before me, and then I spent the next evening at the NMCA and NMRA awards ceremonies, where Summit Motorsports Park received the NMRA’s Track of the Year award. The following night, I accompanied Bill Bader, Jr., Jayme Bader, Kurt Johnson and Nettie Damron to the NHRA North Central Division 3 Champions Banquet, where it was announced that for the fifth time since joining the NHRA in ’07, Summit Motorsports Park was named North Central Division Drag Strip of the Year; the Summit Motorsports Park Team was recognized for all they put into earning the championship at the NHRA North Central Division 3 Summit Racing Series Finals in September, where Nick Hastings won in Sportsman and Craig Adams won in Super Pro Bike and advanced to the NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championship in Pomona, California in November and Owen Hoover was recognized as NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference champion in the 15-Year-Old category.
Moments afterward, a beaming Bader, Jr. congratulated each of us, and even though I was not yet on board when those accomplishments came to fruition, I still felt an enormous amount of pride, and it was at that moment that my commitment to the track, my fellow drivers and my fellow employees, was even further cemented.
Congratulations to each of you for doing what you do with such passion and persistence, and here’s to a new year filled with new opportunities. I’m looking forward to coming along for the ride.