The Truth About Iraq/Syrian Wars and the Refugees

A rewriting of history has been perpetrated on the American people. It is constantly and incorrectly being stated that Syrian/Iraqi refugees were caused by President Bush and the US being in Iraq. The beginning of refugees can be traced back to Saddam Hussein’s brutal dictatorship1. That’s when Iraqis, mostly Christian and Shiite, left by the thousands. After the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom it was understood why. Many mass graves were discovered by Coalition Forces in Iraq. With the capture and death of Saddam, the creation of a Democratic government, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis returned home2. Yes, RETURNED BACK to Iraq.

As al Qaeda in conjunction with old Saddam regime Ba’athist and some Sunnis fought back, similar to the post WW2 years of the Nazi ‘Werwolfs’ that killed US and allied occupation troops3, many Iraqis once again fled. However, after ‘The Surge’ of American forces, (the battles of US and Free Iraqi government fighting side by side to secure the country), Iraqis soon began to return again. With the cooperation of Sunni Clerics and the increased training of Iraqi Army units, some of which like the ‘Wolf’ brigade became very good at protecting their own country from Insurgents, the country was finally on track to normalizing.

Peace, fragile as it was, once again returned to many parts of Iraq and refugees came back once again. The country was getting stable with many US forces only involved in training and self protection. The date set by President Bush of 2011 for troops to return was conditional on progress made in Iraq4. It was not set in stone as many lament in trying to re-write history and blame President Bush on current conditions. Although in it’s own it was set too early. The US, Britain, and France occupation of West Germany lasted till the unification of Germany. Even then military equipment stayed in Europe. Little is it known by many that it was President Obama who withdrew US military equipment from Europe to the point that for the first time since WW2, no US tanks remained. That situation soon changed with Ukraine. The tanks are now back in Europe….with a great deal of money wasted.

It’s obvious that President Obama hated the Iraq War even with it’s ultimate, although difficult success. He was hell bent to get the US out of Iraq completely no matter what came about later. It was a personal, political decision. Not a thought out strategic, military plan. The last year before the troops left Iraq (actually the majority since unknown to most we’ve always had some number of troops in Iraq) there was one (1) military death (2012)5. Yes, even one is precious but true leaders have made those tough decisions throughout history. With the reduction of forces in Iraq, the same al Qaeda and Saddam forces left, lying in wait in Syria (thanks partially to Assad), gathered and strengthened into ISIS. Meanwhile, apart from all of this, Syrians saw what Iraq had obtained. A free, democratic government. The ‘Bush Doctrine’ was taking effect6. Freedom from dictators and free democratic rule of, by, and for the people. With the US being taken out of the picture by Pres. Obama,  that effort had been smothered for Syrians and Libyans who wanted what Iraq has. Thanks to Pres. Obama not wanting any part of it, not only has it become difficult for them but Iraq almost lost it as well.

So with the insurgence of ISIS (Daesh), Syrians have joined the realm of refugee status. Millions have had to flee along with thousands of Northern Iraqis (once again). It began with Saddam Hussein and continues today with Barrack Hussein. The only way this will be solved is if another Republican takes up the mantle of the Bush Doctrine and solves the Syrian problem by giving them a country to go back to like Bush did for thousands of Iraqis. But with Pres. Obama not having a no-fly zone in Syria and ultimately letting Russia in, I’m afraid it may be too late. Let no one kid themselves. Russia and Putin will save Assad and gain the power in Syria once again. What we’ve witnessed is two approaches to a similar problem. With Pres. Bush it was freedom and self democratic rule. With Pres. Obama it’s confusion and probably a solidifying of the status quo. Which ultimately displays the liberal left ideology. They only care about themselves and politics. They don’t care about getting their hands dirty and solving the problems that would allow people of the world to have what Americans have. To them it’s a commodity to keep to themselves. To Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans and others it’s a dream not to BE Americans but to have American ideals of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

 

1http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/how-saddam-hussein-laid-the-foundations-for-isils-success

2http://www.euronews.com/2015/06/16/iraqi-refugees-return-home-to-tikrit/

3http://www.resist.com/updates/2009/MAY_09/NaziWerewolves.html

4http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/09/12/bush-to-detail-conditional-drawdown-30000-troops-from-iraq.html

5http://icasualties.org/

6http://www.crf-usa.org/war-in-iraq/bush-doctrine.html

A different take on the MWR incident

I am not a Michael Waltrip Racing fan and I do believe in following the rules. But there has to be clear rules in place to follow. I have been in sports all of my life. If I wasn’t playing one of them I was coaching it. Now I am a sponsor in motorsports. There is one thing that my father taught me a long time ago when I complained about something. “Life isn’t fair”. To go along with that, I had another great coach tell me, being specific to the sport of baseball at the time, “Baseball is life. You  stand there alone, on your own, but with the consequences affecting many others”. Being a firefighter I’m well aware of life being unfair. I’ve found in my lifetime that all sports are like that in some manner. Those are the intangibles of the game played. There are specific written rules that must be followed and penalties. But nowhere in sports does the umpire or referee stop play and change the outcome due to HOW the game rules were applied. Especially not after the game is over. This is where strategy comes into being in sports. Many things are ‘unfair’ in how gameplay evolves. Let’s look at a few examples.

Baseball

It’s an integral part of the game to intentionally walk the batter. Fans boo at it. They don’t like it. That is unless their team is in the field and then it’s a brilliant move. Especially when a team is up a few runs, the other teams best hitter is up and the bases are loaded. It’s a smart tactical move to walk the batter, let a run score because the next batter may not be as good. It keeps a grand slam from happening and losing the game. It’s unfair but it has never been taken out of the game. Why? Too many variables. It can be used by any team. Plus Baseball core belief is that the game is decided on the field. Another situation is when runners are on and a batter hits a ground ball. A smart move by the other runner is to stop and make the infield play on him while the man on 3rd scores. It’s within the rules. It makes things difficult for your team on the field but anyone can do it when it’s their turn. Same goes for a runner stealing home and the batter bunting. It’s smart gameplay.

Football

How many times have we seen the quarterback, running out of time on the clock, throw the ball off the field. We all know that it is intentional to stop the clock. He wasn’t trying to hit the receiver. But again it’s apart of the game used on both sides. As is spiking the ball. You can even go so far to say that not going through with a field goal and faking it is unfair. So is standing around on the field and waiting for the clock to tick down to 1 sec before calling a time out. I bet there’s even more in these and other sports that you can come up with.

In NASCAR this past weekend, there was an incident where a team deliberately called a car into the pits which then allowed another driver to get a higher placement and more points because he was just shy of enough points to make it into ‘The Chase’, a playoff for NASCAR. On top of that, another driver spun on the track creating a caution. During the caution the leader, who also needed the points, came out of the pits slower than the others which put him back into 3rd place in the race and out of ‘The Chase’.

Now if NASCAR is a sport, why is it so wrong to intelligently decide as a tactic to pit a car that has no problems so that another car can get higher in position and therefore the points needed? Is it illegal to pit near the end of the race? No. Is it against the rules for a car come in and get fuel or new tires even though the tires he has probably will be ok? No. It’s a part of the game of racing. Yes, racing is a game. It has it’s own strategies. Was it fair? In my opinion it was completely fair. Just as fair as if the driver had only slowed down and let the car in front of him. Now let’s use the real word that no one is saying. Was it ethical? No. But if you’re counting on ethics during sporting event you best be ready to be disappointed. Plus you’re in the wrong place. Sportsmanship. Of course there should be sportsmanship. But everyone who has been in any sport know the time and place for it. Because the object of the game is winning and doing it in the best way possible while being a sportsman in an ethical way. There’s a time and place for everything. It’s impossible to be absolute. But the worse thing to do is to alter the results of the sporting event after the fact because it was unpopular. That’s why there are specific rules of the game. You don’t make it up as you go along. Unless you’re NASCAR. Then you can have a completely arbitrary rule 12.4 that says “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”. It might as well be written, “and whatever we decide”. Before we go any further, yes, there are arbitrary calls in Baseball and Football. But those are made instantly (more or less) by the umpire or referee.

Now as far as the ‘spin’ that caused the caution to come out, it could’ve been deliberate. Even NASCAR admitted they couldn’t tell for sure. But NASCAR felt the pressure to do something. Absent doing the legal and right thing in stating their belief that the spin was on purpose, they suspend the messenger over some words “they believe” were a signal to deliberately spin. Not the driver who has actual control and responsibility of the car. NASCAR has a specific rule about causing a caution on purpose. That is where NASCAR’s failure began. They could’ve ‘made the call’ that it was intentional right there after it happened. But I’m not sure there are enough procedures in play to be able to do that. Maybe they have instant access to review or maybe they could just make the call. Again there are too many variables. As for Newman losing the race?  That was completely in their hands. They messed up and got the car out late. So they blame the caution? How irresponsible. Anybody could’ve created a caution. That’s racing. It’s the responsibility of the driver and team to do better irrespective of what others do.

I’ve experienced this first hand. Just recently I had a driver win their feature race. The whole time they were in front I was praying that a caution didn’t occur and bunch up the field again. If it did then so be it. As it was the last laps were caution free and she won. I’ve also been on the other side. A stock car driver I sponsored was fighting for position with another car, holding her own. The other car spun out. On the first lap of the green flag they abruptly turned right, into our car. (although he bounced and hit the wall) Damage done. Couldn’t prove it was intentional but we all know it was revenge for spinning them out. To my driver’s credit she smiled at me and said, “that’s racing”.

What should’ve NASCAR done? Nothing. Not for this incident. So MWR ‘gamed the game’. It was over. If you think that no other team would’ve done this if they found themselves in the same position, your kidding yourself. A glass raised to someone who made a smart sports management decision. Just like I would to a Baseball or Football coach who, within the rules, did something. Fair or unfair is a social narrative. It should never define the result of competition. NASCAR should review what happened and write distinct rules if they don’t want this to happen again. But to change the result better open the eyes to teams and drivers that NASCAR can pretty much do what they want. This detracts stock car racing from being a sport.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas Bullring

Prescott 19For the weekend of August 24th, I sponsored Cassie Gannis (Phoenix, Arizona) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring. This was my second endeavor to help the three (3) major charities get promotion of their websites and to hopefully raise more funds for the families of the Prescott 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed in the line of duty on June 30th. It’s a project that has grown over time.

My first sponsorship using this decal was with Brian Keselowski Motorsports on their Sprint Cup car for the New Hampshire race on July 14th. It started out as a small personal sponsorship through the marketing of Jennifer Calandrillo. They were putting people’s names on the car for $30. In talking with Jennifer, I asked about a logo. I was thinking of my personal logo, which is a simple Twitter name, that I already had on Jessica Bean’s Ignite Midget. She said that they had other packages and placements which she talked me through. With the Prescott tragedy still fresh, I happened to mention that it would be nice to have a logo/decal for them rather than my simple personal one. It would be a decal that would get some use out of it. I did some searching and came across information on the website of the 100 Club of Arizona. They had many different graphics throughout the website that brought attention to the charity. The 100 Club of Arizona does charity work continuously through the year for first responders. I was able to see that there was two (2) other sites that they talked about. One was the http://www.yarnellfallenfirefighters.com created by the United Arizona Professional Firefighters in conjunction Prescott Charities. The second was the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The UAPFF site turned out to really be a direct donation site to the families.

I started working on a design using aspects I found on the 100 Club site. I came across the Granite Mountain Hotshot logo and thought that would be a good central theme to be included. I developed several different versions but settled on a decal that put the Granite Mountain Hotshot team as the center of attention. With the good work that the other donation sites did, I didn’t want to leave them out. So I included their website links. At this point there were no names on the decal. I struggled with this knowing that it’s representing the individual families. I contacted Ciaro Franklin from the 100 Club and Amanda DeShazo from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation with their thoughts on the project. The were very helpful and understanding. A representative from Prescott was more difficult. They were in the middle of a wildland fire that was still going on and preparing a memorial service. I finally got in contact with someone (not actually from Prescott) working as one of the Public Information Officers (PIO) in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). He made contact with someone there from Prescott and gave me the ok. So I decided to go ahead with the names and then added the ‘Prescott 19 Heroes’.

I notified Jennifer from Brian Keselowski Motorsports. The next day I got a pleasant surprise call from Jennifer. She said, “We’ve decided to put it on the hood”. The team very graciously took it on themselves to add it to the hood. They are an awesome group of people who support the military and first responders across the country. Added to this was the fact that they were having a special driver that weekend in Morgan Shepherd. He would be breaking the record for the oldest driver in a Sprint Cup race (71). This would help bring attention to the logo and the donation websites.

wff_logoDuring this time I was in discussions with Cassie Gannis concerning the aspects of driving stock cars and all facets of the motorsports business. She was in the contest with Peak Auto with nine (9) other drivers. (it would change to 8 after one driver left with a sponsorship) Through this time I noticed how much Cassie did charity work and how well she presented herself as well as her sponsors. She mentioned that she would like to do something for the families also.  So I thought, why not do the same decal on her car. She notified me of the upcoming Las Vegas race and we came to an agreement to become the ‘Prescott 19 Memorial Car’. I went through getting the permissions again from the organizations involved with very little trouble. I was amazed at how much her marketing partners at Phoenix Marketing jumped into action. They worked out tv and radio spots, raised awareness on social media and made contacts in Las Vegas. My emails and social media doubled in size.

I was able to add another decal on the car from Wildland Firefighter Foundation. They were intended for somewhere else that kinda fell through and Kathy Gannis who was handling the business side of things was nice enough to add these to the car. Burk Minor, the director at WFF, was great to work with and pleased to have a decal on the car. He and others there do a tremendous amount of work for injured and deceased wildland firefighters across the West.

IMAG0581

IMAG0586With everything in place, I decided that this would be a good trip to see a good track and witness a team going through what it prepares for a race with a stock car. I left from Indianapolis. The Indianapolis International Airports was one of the finer airports that I’ve ever seen. It’s a fairly new airport having opened November 11, 2008. It’s previous buildings were good especially with the observation area. However, after 9/11 this was closed. It has all that you need and isn’t a crowded airport. I smoothly went through ticketing and the TSA check very smoothly. Southwest has a fairly no-nonsense setup for their seating. The Boeing 737-800 is a beautiful aircraft. The stewardesses were very pleasant and easy to talk to. The one mistake I made was to not get a window seat. I planned on doing this on the flight home. But those plans didn’t work out as there was a 3 hour delay due to fog in California where the planes originated. Still a pleasant flight.

Las Vegas McCarren Airport was the exact opposite of Indianapolis. Very crowded with slot machines and stores everywhere. I felt as though I had landed in the middle of a carnival that just arrived in town. I actually enjoyed it because I was able to see just about every type of person that exists. Single travelers, honeymooners, families, groups of women, businessmen, limo drivers, merchandise sellers. A smorgasbord of humanity.

bikecop

photo courtesy of Cassie Gannis

I got a hold of the Gannis Family as they were arriving in Las Vegas from Phoenix. Unfortunately, an airport security bike cop didn’t like that a pickup truck & trailer was there even though they were in the pickup area. Not a real cop so it didn’t mean anything. Unfortunate that this poor cop wanna-be doesn’t understand that many real cops, like I worked with for many years, actually have some common sense and a service approach to dealing with matters. Until he does, he’ll write parking tickets the rest of his life.

Now past this little intrusion, it was great to meet the Gannis Family. They were very warm (not meaning cause of the 93 degree heat) and receptive. Probably a little apprehension as there is with any new meeting, but they were very easy to converse with and get to know. John Gannis, Cassie’s father, is a pilot. Unfortunately we never got a chance to talk about aviation. Seems we were always busy talking about racing. Kathy Gannis, Cassie’s mother, works the business side of the team and is the person I’ve talk with to set things up for Las Vegas. Whether it’s t-shirts, schedules, decals, or food for the team, Kathy was right on it. The fourth member of the group was Travis Van Strander, Cassie’s boyfriend, who works on the car. He has a good knowledge of race cars and worked extremely hard throughout the weekend on setups or any problem.

IMAG0599We took care of our hotel accommodations at Sam’s Town and proceeded to IMAG0596the track. But before getting there, the Gannis team treated me to some great BBQ at Memphis Championship Barbeque. We drove past Nellis Air Force Base Northeast to the speedway. John was nice enough to drive on into the main Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Great looking track. We then pulled into the ‘Bullring’ entrance, got our credentials for the weekend and grabbed a spot to park the trailer. This was an all concrete area very well marked. Going to many midget races in Indiana, I’m used to gravel, grass or dirt paddock areas. After rolling the car out of the trailer, we walked over to the tire barn for a fresh set of tires for the weekend. Back at the trailer it was pretty awesome seeing the hood decal for the first time. It took up the whole hood and with a white background, looked really good. John proceeded to add on some other decals also. Kathy surprised me with a decal of my own personal logo I have on Jessica Bean’s Ignite Midget. Also they added a smaller ‘Prescott 19’ decal on the ‘c’ post. Just below that is a decal I had sent down for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. They had some other personal decals they applied on the back of the car plus one of their mainstay sponsors, Mancavesite.org.

IMAG0606IMAG0600During the Friday night practice session, the team started managing the different setups and testing their effects. What Cassie noticed was that there were performance issues with the engine. Seemed to be fine in the corners but when she pressed on the gas to go on the straights it seemed to not have the performance that she is used to. This could be cause by many issues. The team did some minor changes but nothing seemed to change. It was late into the night now so it was decided to take the care in to a workshop and work on the engine. The team packed everything up and we went back to Sam’s Town where we were staying. John Gannis and I took the time to get a late snack and discuss different racing issues. Also go to know the Gannis family a bit more. It was about 2:30am and we were needed at the workshop by 8am.

IMAG0611 IMAG0607Joe Farre, who is a structural engineer, has a beautiful workshop in Las Vegas. The team got the car in and started working several ideas. During this time, Jake Koens was working on many other aspects of the car to get it ready for the night’s race. Wires were replaced and ultimately so was the distributor and cap. The carburetor was cleaned up just so to eliminate the possibility there. It took most of the day to do all of this. So much in fact that we didn’t go back to the hotel as planned but went straight to the track. As it was we were only able to do 1 practice session. Although it would have been nice to get more, one was enough as the performance of the car was greatly improved. While all of this work was going on in the garage, Cassie and her mom went into town for a radio interview.

IMAG0621 IMAG0623While the crew kept going over last minute adjustments, Cassie and the rest of us got to meet and talk with representatives from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, one of the charities I worked with to be shown on the car. Burk, Allison, Dina, and Patrick gave Cassie and I great looking plaques. We talked, took photos and ate some barbeque that Kathy had arranged for the night. I’m hoping they all enjoyed it as much as I did. I was a city firefighter for 34 years and dealt with  structural firefighting as well as technical aspects of the job. These people represent those who have suffered working a different type of firefighting that is extremely difficult and demanding over several hours if not days.

Race time. With her qualifying being a bit slower than the others, the Prescott 19 Memorial car started in the 2nd half of the field. Jake was on the radio with Cassie as a spotter/troubleshooter. Cassie raced well and could position herself low or high but was probably the only one that could drive the high line. The #8 car had tried several times to pass her underneath but Cassie held her position along the white line. On turn 2, the #8 car tried to force his way through, clashed with Cassie and spun out bringing out a caution. It didn’t really affect Cassie much. As they came around for the green flag, Cassie stayed along the high side. The #8 went low and in turn 1 made an immediate right turn seeming to deliberately slam into Cassie in revenge for spinning him out earlier. But Cassie sensing this, slowed down and the #8 bounced off and went hard into the wall between turn 1 and 2. Cassie kept going on but soon felt something wrong with the car and pulled off. The #8 car had to be put on a flatbed truck as it was totaled. Cassie had received enough damage that her race night was over also.

We all gathered at the trailer and discussed the events of the night while Travis and Jake got the car in shape so it could be put back into the trailer. Even though we would’ve like to see the car finish the race and in a higher position, we were proud of Cassie’s driving. I was also proud of Cassie’s attitude. As much as I know she wanted to do good not only for herself and the team but for the sponsor she had on the hood, she took it like a professional athlete. She took it “as that’s racing”. At least externally.🙂 Very difficult to do for an athlete of any sport. She knows that the best way to avoid an incident is to be out front.

IMAG0626Sunday, we met at the offices of Joe Farre. It was a chance to go over the weekend and debrief on what could’ve been done better and what can be done in the future. Joe, being associated with the fire service through FEMA as a structural analyst, knows too well about critiquing an ‘incident’ as do I. It was a great time to talk through all kinds of strategies from driving to marketing.

Soon though it was time to leave the desert landscape for the green flatland of the Midwest. To sit and watch the carnival at McCarren Airport. It was hot but everyone eventually adapts to their surroundings. I was thankful that during my visit the temperatures were down. I couldn’t have had a more pleasant stay mostly due to the kindness of the Gannis family of this intruder into their racing lives. I was pleased to meet Burk Minor and the people from Wildland Firefighter Foundation. While I was in the airport, they were on their way to Prescott, Arizona for a special concert to raise funds for the families of the Prescott 19 firefighters. I want to thank Joe and Jake for their help with the car and for sharing their knowledge of racing. All of them definitely made me want to return someday to the Southwest. As I tap my tennis shoes 3 times and leave the Land of Oz, I will miss the one I met first, Scarecrow, most of all, Cassie Gannis is a determined driver who, given the means, can drive at any level or series of racing. She is both charitable with her time as well as being open to ideas. Best of luck to her and the team.

A Weekend in the World of Dirt Track Racing

Midget Racing

In my last blog, I detailed how lucky I was to come across race car driver Jessica Bean and was able to support her efforts in racing. On Friday, April 26th, Jessica was scheduled to race at Gas City Speedway in (of course) Gas City, Indiana. Imagine that. A racetrack in a town called Gas City. Who would’ve thought. It’s actually one of a number of small dirt track Speedways in Indiana. After getting everything prepared for the trip for this weekend, I took off with a little trepidation into how this was all going to turn out. I’m not new to racing having been to Indianapolis for both the 500’s and Brickyard 400’s as well as watching tons of it on tv. I also wasn’t new to Sprint Car racing having gone with my dad to what is now Lucas Oil Speedway just West of Indy. Even though my Father had liked the fast paced Indy cars, he thought that Sprint and Midget cars were more important to him because of the way drivers had to fight their way in a sideways skid around the track. To him that was REAL racing. My eternal regret is that I didn’t do more of it with him. College, girls, career, and my own family struggle diverted me away from it.

Although I had a rocky start, the trip went smooth even with the extreme slowdown in traffic North of Indy and I arrived at Gas City Speedway at about 7:05pm EST. I walked up and got my ‘pit pass’ and strode through the pearly gates of dirt track racing teams. Walking into the paddock area was like letting a kid loose in a candy store. I was immediately met by about 8 ‘Thunder Cars’ waiting to go on the track. Hearing their idling engines put a big smile on my face. I quickly hopped across in front of them (as best I could with a pulled calf muscle) and then started looking at the cars and trailers for a black and yellow #9 midget. Noticing the situation of pretty calm teams I realized that through all the struggle of the day I had made it at a good time. It was a reminder to me to never let things get to me. God seems to always help me out to be where I’m suppose to be at the right time. Going around the second line of trailers I spotted it. A beautiful black and yellow Ignite Midget car. I walked up and recognized a girl who I had seen pictures of coming from their truck putting on a coat. I stood there and let her approach me.

She seemed very serious. I could tell her mind was elsewhere. It was on the upcoming heat race and feature. This was the part I was unsure of. You’re right there with the driver, car and family where they are either preparing or waiting for the next time on the track. There was tons I wanted to learn of this car, team and driver I invested in but like visiting some other city’s fire station, you don’t want to be a boob in the process and get in their personal space. I’ve been on the other end of that and it’s a bit awkward. We shook hands and she introduced me to her father, mother and brother. Very nice people. Jessica and I chatted some short and I’m sure purely inconsequential things as I start to look at the car and take pictures. The logo I sent to her looked pretty good and they did well to adjust it to match the overall theme of black and yellow. Plus as Chris Rhoad pointed out to me, it’s in a good place right next to the driver’s seat. But to me the others took precedent as they were actual companies with a product or a larger investor. It was just fine.

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After a while I left to look at the other teams and the track. When I returned to Jessica’s trailer I spotted an unmistakable blonde in sunglasses and her friendly partner in Twitter and Blog crime. Pippa Mann (Pippamann.com) and her friend Kelsey Minier (http://kelseyusa.wordpress.com/) had arrived and were talking to Jessica and her family. They were both very cordial and pleasant to talk to. The British accent I think is a great language to hear  Both women have great smiles and are very friendly. Pippa and Jessica are long time friends having worked together at the Glass Hammer Racing Experience school for young girls. As we were all taking pictures and chatting with each other and Jessica’s parents, Jessica was standing in the trailer. The gladiator was mentally getting ready to go into the Colosseum. Soon she came out, hopped up and over the top of the car very easily and lowered herself into the car. I backed up. Not because of the car starting, but I didn’t need to be there taking pictures like some stupid paparazzi. I know sports and an athlete needs their space. Jessica put on her nomex hood, gloves and helmet. With her stern eyes she looked more like a fighter pilot getting ready to scramble and go tangle with some bad guys.  I was half expecting some hand signals, a check of the flaps, ailerons, and rudder, and then a salute. I have no doubt that Jessica could do that as well. The all black helmet only accentuated the look along with the black car. Maybe Jessica needs to start putting little cars on the side of her Midget as if they were planes shot down. lol I used to think my logo was over the top but now I’m thinking it very fitting.

I did miss the first outing. Jessica had landed a 5th place in her qualifying run. In her heat race she would be starting in the 2nd (outside row) position. This would be an 8 lap race. I went up to the stands on the pit area side as her family, Pippa and Kelsey did. I looked over at Jessica and her 6 rivals lined up waiting for the word to enter the track. As it opened, Jessica didn’t wait for a second. She bolted ahead of the others anxiously getting on the track like football player darting out of the tunnel to play. Very telling. This race car driver wants to get going. After a lap the green flag was waved and my first glimpse of Jessica Bean Racing was before me. It was an awesome display of competitive driving. It instantly was obvious that when Jessica got outside high, the track was slippery. She fought hard to just keep her 2nd position but by the checkered flag finished 3rd. I know she’s not satisfied with nothing less than 1st but a good piece of driving. As she came back into the pit area, I looked behind me (as I had a straight view of the trailer) and watched her park and get out. She wasn’t mad but she wasn’t happy either. I debated whether to go back to the trailer. But I was there to not only learn the business but get acquainted with this team. I’m a hands on person from my days being a fire officer. I didn’t get into this to just throw some money and walk away not caring or supporting. I slowly started towards the trailer. As I got next to the car, Jessica was at the top of the ramp of the trailer. She looked at me, gave a big smile and said, “so, what do you think?” That broke the ice for the entire weekend. This was the real Jessica Bean. I smiled, chuckled a little as I thought of what I was going to say. I decided to stay within the game. “Looks like it’s a little loose on the high side out there.” “Ya, there’s not much grip up there”, she replied. Unbeknownst to her (until now as she reads this) I was right where I wanted to be. Talking to her as a driver learning what it’s like and what she’s feeling. For I know I will never be there and she is my senses and feelings to the craft of racing. About an hour or so later came the feature race. If I remember correctly, Jessica started 5th and ended 5th out of 12 cars. I decided to stay near the track and watch the other features. I looked over and there sat Jessica’s father. I sat down next to him and we started talking right away. He’s a very knowledgeable and friendly man.

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I stayed the night at a Holiday Inn Express. Believe me, the next morning I didn’t feel any wiser. But I did feel more comfortable about the next set of racing as most of the first day question marks were gone. Today the racing would take place at Montpelier Speedway in the same named town. It was mostly cloudy and there was a threat of rain. I pulled into the speedway entrance and as I was an hour past the gate opening I was surprised to see a line of team trailers still waiting to get in. I opened the back hatch of my Dodge Durango and sat down to watch the team come in. This is where I started to really noticed who these people were. Many of them were families like Jessica’s either working with their son or daughter. Some were adults just doing something they really loved to do. Within the different classes it appeared most were very serious about this only being a stepping stone to something greater. But honestly I think there were some that knew this was all they were going to do and they completely enjoyed it. Many were even younger than Jessica (23). I finally left the car, got my pit pass and strolled to where the JBR trailer was. The routine repeated itself from the previous night. But I was more aware of all the teams in more detail. The ‘Thunder Cars’ or late model cars were quite beat up. Except for one car. This team obviously had money and the car looked like it had a new body and paint scheme. It was somewhat like that with the midgets although not as obvious. Some teams, like JBR, had a new midget. Others were a second or third year car at least.

Meeting with the JBR team (just Jessica and her dad today), a lot of the first meeting awkwardness was over. Jessica’s dad and I talked quite a lot both at the trailer and standing in behind a double concrete wall while watching the races. This day would go much different and be more difficult for the two. The track had it’s problems. At one point there were a pair of divots that gave the midgets some problems. The stock cars didn’t have any problems due to their size but the powerful small midgets could easily be turned over or flipped by such a divot. Friday night in Gas City there were many side to side or end over end flips as Pippa and Kelsey can attest to. Unfortunately, Jessica would be a victim of another driver’s track problems. In her heat race while coming out of turn 4, another midget just suddenly turned right, slammed into the black and yellow #9, and then landed on their side. Jessica’s father and I were standing next to each other as we watched Jessica pull off onto the grass on the far side of the track and stop. At first things looked fine as all the other midgets had stopped also while safety crews attended to the injured driver in the midget on it’s side. Then I noticed a wrecker headed to Jessica’s car. I turned to say something to Jessica’s dad only to see no one there. He had already withdrawn to the trailer. As the wrecker dropped off Jessica’s midget, I surveyed the damage. A cut right front tire, some structure damage to some panels and frame. But worst of all, the exhaust pipe was dented and cut close to where the exhaust connected onto the headers. Jessica’s dad quickly replaced the tire but walked up to me and said,” I don’t think we’ll be able to run. Everybody brings spare parts but no one brings an extra exhaust pipe” he said with a little jest. “She’s on the phone to USAC officials about being able to run it”, he added with smiling amazement. I was impressed with Jessica’s no quit attitude. I also decided that this may not be a good place for me to be at the moment and went to the track to watch the safety crews. I was surprised to see Jessica’s dad walk up next to me and do the same. He said, “right now is not a good time to be at the trailer.” He smiled and I had a short chuckle. Then, looking back at the trailer, I felt bad coming back to the reality of how much Jessica wanted to race. God bless Jessica for her determination, I thought. That kind of athlete, while still being in control, I’m more than happy to support.

Montpelier Speedway damage

I also witnessed the motorsports family as a whole when this happened. Other racers or team owners came over to see the damage and offer advise or assistance. I had also seen Jessica’s dad help push some other cars into position in front of their trailer.  I wasn’t really too surprised being in Indiana and the heart of the Midwest. I stayed away for quite a while to let the team handle this dilemma. As the speedway crews prepared the track for the feature races Jessica’s dad told me they were going to race. She re-donned her racing suit from the street clothes that we all thought she was in for the night. As we all watched the feature stock car race from the trailer, Jessica hopped up on the roll cage of her car to sit and watch. Then she stood up on two of the rails. How great it is to be 23 and so nimble. I’d be lucky to make it on the cage let alone stand on it. Soon it was her turn and she worked her way down the center of the cage to the seat. Jessica redid her ritual of putting on her gear and I did my ritual… of leaving to the track that was only 50 yards away. But this time I turned and gave a thumbs up. I hadn’t expected her to see it but she had looked up just at that moment. I hoped there was a smile behind the front of that helmet but in the long run it didn’t matter. She was in the zone of ‘these people are gonna be sorry that i got back on the track’.

Jessica started in last place out of 9 I believe. She quickly passed a couple. All the cars were having problems with a rough track and avoiding a couple bad places. There were no incidents as Jessica moved into 5th place. I was standing next to Jessica’s dad and he said it looks like a 5th place finish. However, off the final 4th turn, Jessica surged ahead on the outside. It looked like a 4th place finish. Jessica’s dad turned and asked, “did she come across 4th?”, holding up 4 fingers. We both went to the trailer with Jessica’s dad taking a detour to where the USAC  Officals were. He returned holding up the four fingers again. Pretty dang good I thought coming from not racing at all to a 4th place finish. After a few minutes of talking I shook hands with both and thanked them. As I shook Jessica’s hand I told her, “YOU are a race car driver.” I left and looking back I saw the two roll the #9 into the trailer. They have a little work ahead (which they’ve already started on as of this writing) but they have a month in which to do it.

Mel Kenyon Midget

Photo by UAW Motorsports

The #9 Ignite Midget isn’t scheduled to race again until June 7th in Gas City. A weekend exactly like this past Friday and Saturday. In the mean time, Jessica Bean Racing will be on the track with their USSA #100 Mel Kenyon UAW, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Midget at the US 24 Speedway in Logansport, Indiana for three Saturdays with a Wednesday run at Anderson, Indiana on May 22nd, the week before the Indianapolis 500. I look forward to catching a few more races. Jessica is a pleasant person who is not just a female driver. She is a serious race car driver on par with anyone. She just happens to have long hair and a pretty face. She admittedly has her mind and emotions on the task at hand the minute she steps out of the truck. A mark of a true competitor. I can’t wait to see that ‘game face’ again this Summer. She is racing a couple of Skip Barber Summer Series races in her ascension to the IndyCar line of racing. I also can’t wait to see some of the other drivers who are just as deserving a sponsor, fans and audience to race in front of like Shannon McIntosh, Cassie Gannis, Beth Chryst, Shea Holbrook, just to name a few.

Sometimes you just have a feeling…

Mel Kenyon Midget

Photo: UAW Motorsports

After having her season opener at Kokomo Speedway this weekend cancelled due to weather, Jessica Bean took her Mel Kenyon, UAW Motorsports #100 midget to Anderson, Indiana. Jessica has been chosen to serve as an American Cancer Society Motorsports Champion and is promoting the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer awareness program. The #100 promoting the 100th Birthday of the American Cancer Society. Although I know she would’ve liked to finished 1st, she made a great debut of her 2013 season getting a 2nd place finish. It’s a great testament to her character after having a rough ending to her 2012 season plus an up and down preseason. Jessica hasn’t been just sitting still writing emails and posting on Twitter. She’s been busy with the construction of her new #9 Ignite Midget. She’s also been working hard to line up her sponsors for her 2013 Season. For all of you drivers out there, this is a testament to having a ‘Never Give Up’ attitude. It has a tendency to help us friends and fans wanting to get involved in the racing business as well.

In case you might be wondering why I’m doing sporting news results of Jessica Bean Racing. I made a small investment in Jessica Bean Racing. A sponsorship perhaps. It was somewhat accidental but there also is a thing about destiny or God providing connections to be made. I started following some drivers on Twitter last Summer. Slowly one after another I would see a retweet of someone and then follow them. I took interest in their discussions on racing but in particular evaluated what I could of their personalities and character. Very little in social media but it was a start. Words mean things so what was said on many topics and sometimes not said was very telling. Sometimes I could just get a sense of things in less than 144 characters of text. And so it was on a December day in 2012. I had found out about GoFundMe.com through messages Jessica sent out to everyone. I thought it was an interesting way for a driver to obtain finances to race. I thought I might do $25. Something Jessica wrote one day struck me. To this day I’m not sure why. But I felt a sense of urgency or disappointment. It seemed to me Jessica’s 2013 season was in question. I didn’t know if I was right or not. I went to the website, calculated the difference, calculated the cost, but most of all calculated the benefits to Jessica. A person who I had started to see as a hard worker and devoted to racing.  I entered an amount equal to her goal. I clicked the mouse button and it was done. I then got on Twitter and suggested to Jessica that she check her GoFundMe site. Next thing I see is: “From bad to good in a blink of an eye!#unbelievable #blessed”. I guess I made a difference. In my line of work, seeing someone happy and healthy is a great reward. Making a difference is all that matters.

Ignite MidgetOf course soon the communication would naturally increase with Jessica. I was very honored to receive her autographed 2012 suit. Having nothing to do with racing as a buisness, I asked her if she would classify this as sponsoring, investing or just a buddy giving a few dollars. Her answer was classic. “All of the above”. One message would get the idea wheels turning. She wrote me,”if you have maybe a company or something that you would like to put on the side of the car and/or on my suit we can do that.” Logo? Business? My reply, “I don’t have a company, any ideas?” to which we both had a laugh at. It then hit me that if I wanted to do this again, I wanted to do so in an organized way. So I started thinking of getting into racing at least with a business name to promote drivers and my efforts to change how people look at race car drivers who are women. That they are a race car driver the same as all the rest in the field. That means they can finish first, last, not qualify, be a great prospect for a sponsor and team, or not have media on them at all if they are running 42nd. (or 32nd). It’s a catch 22 that I wrote of earlier. So I contacted an investment professional and started the process. I wrote up a business plan and created a ladder of sponsorship levels. I added to my sponsorship of Jessica to match that basic plan. I was heavy into the planning stages when some personal legal problems would put a hold to everything. I still created a logo for the car and gave it to Jessica asking her to just put my Twitter name on her suit. A business name is more desirable and I intend to continue but sometimes you just have to adjust and keep going. I hope to continue with the business idea and sponsor other drivers. But of course, finances will dictate how much.

Skip Barber

morefrontwing.com

Jessica kept going also. She had weekends being an instructor at Glass Hammer Racing Experience. She traveled to Daytona Speedway in Florida to the Daytona KartWeek and worked WKA’s social media/internet. She has been to the Skip Barber School of Racing at both the 17 turn, 3.7 mile famous Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida and the 2.54 mile, 12 turn Grand Prix circuit, Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Just before her first week of racing, she announced in an interview with Racing Diva Radio that she will be racing in the Skip Barber Summer Series. She has two dates set. June 20-23 at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida, (the Spring Training home for the St. Louis Cardinals I might add) and July 3-7 at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina. I have the utmost confidence that she will do very well. Plus she will have a fun and success in her Ignite and Mel Kenyon Midgets. In a way we both are going through some new prospects this Summer. I am but a small assistance amongst some great sponsors like Glass Hammer Racing, UAW Motorsports, Bell Racing, Radical Racegear, and Race4Girls.com just to name a few. I couldn’t have met with a better individual as a base to start from.

You can see Jessica Bean’s full schedule on the right side of this page or at JessicaBeanRacing.com

Ignite Midget

Nonsense in the courtroom [Jeopardy theme music]

County CourthouseThis is only the second time I’ve been in a courtroom my entire life. Both for the same reason, an ex-wife. If you haven’t been in a courtroom, I hope you never have to. It’s an eerie experience. Even though it was a civil matter, I felt as though my life was on trial. In a way it was. Past decisions had come back to haunt me. What I was there for (for those who don’t know) was because my ex-wife had retained a lawyer and petitioned the court to receive some of my disability pay like she would have if I had retired according to our divorce agreement. No, not agreement. Warrant.

It was an early 8:25am that I arrived at the doors of the courthouse. Like all of them now, you have to go through a metal detector. There were about 4 Deputies there with a couple being female for any females that needed searched. Don’t know if they are ‘SteelOveries’ or not but they carry a weapon, that’s good enough for me. You have to put everything metal into the tray, even your belt. Cell phones are not allowed so I didn’t even have it there. Going through, I still ‘beeped’. So I walked over to a second Sheriff’s Deputy that used the wand around me. He said some dress shoes have some metal supports in them. I don’t know these guys personally but have worked with many over the years as I have other city police officers. Most are very attentive to the job.

After getting through that process, I redressed, got my things and headed up the grand stairway. Now this is what I don’t get about buildings anymore. I just went up 1 flight of stairs yet I am on the first floor. The level I came in on I can vouch wasn’t a basement. My courtroom, ‘G’, was on the ‘second floor’ (physically the third). Somebody needs to quit hiring architects that lived in the basement of their parents home half their life. Anyway, I get to the second floor. It’s an open area so I can see the people coming in. I was to meet with my attorney at 8:30am. There is no one in sight. Well, except for one guy who looks like he’s waiting to go into court (and looks like he just got out of prison). I go to the courtroom to check that my name is still on the list to be heard (or rather should I say crucified). This date had been delayed 4 times and one of those times I made it this far only to find out it had been cancelled. A little plug for how bad MSN Hotmail’s timing is on email. It’s there so I sit down and wait.

A pretty decent looking young woman walks by me and into the courtroom. Hmm… (yes, a shameless sexist remark). She didn’t say anything so I figure she’s  not looking for anyone. It’s now getting on to 8:50am and my hearing is at 9am. I’m wondering if this has been delayed again. Then two things happened at the same time. (hate it when that happens cause my brain doesn’t get a chance to interpret soon enough) On to the floor steps my ex-wife and her attorney and out comes the girl from the courtroom that walked past me. With a smile she says, “Hi, are you Jack?” Now I’M trying to multitask with my eyes. I’m trying to keep my peripheral vision on my ex-wife and her attorney walking by, while at the same time looking at these cat-like blue-green eyes that are talking to me, trying to keep them there, and listen to what she’s saying. Ya, no wonder why I’m in court.:/ This is my first realization that I’m screwed. Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s not suppose to be here. This is NOT my attorney. She tells me my attorney has some family problems and that she will be representing me instead. My thought? (Shea) You better have some Steel Ovaries. Then comes my second realization that I’m screwed. I’m going to be surrounded by females. LEGAL TYPE females. I’m seriously thinking about pointing my finger at one of the Deputies and saying, “I have a gun!” But then they probably would just wound me and then I’d be surrounded by male nurses for a week.

So me and Miss IJustPassedTheBarExam, start talking about what’s about to happen. Good news. No testifying. Just arguments between Judge and attorneys. Worried all night they were going to ask me “where were you on the night of …?”  She sounds ok, but kinda “I was in AlphaAlphaAlpha sorority and it was so cool” type. I have very little confidence. But you never know about people. She could get in the courtroom and start yelling, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” lol So we go in the courtroom and there is another case going on. I quietly let the door close so I don’t draw attention from the Judge. I turn around and he’s looking right at me. (f***) I smile and politely take a seat.

What a strange case going on. I see one lawyer, one plaintiff (a blind guy), and the judge. But I’m hearing the voice of a woman. Where is she? Then I notice the lawyer has a cell phone (which ‘I’ can’t have) and has it on open speaker. This is a divorce case and the woman isn’t even there. She’s on the phone. She’s in Arkansas. Don’t know if she’s at a pay phone at the local tavern or they DO have cell towers there. As I’m listening to the proceedings I start shaking my head and am sad (even more) This woman is divorcing the blind guy, has 2 of 3 children with her in Arkansas and he has the 3rd. What is wrong with this world. From here on I decree as Master of the Universe that no more weddings take place at churches. Plus, the same metal detectors I walked through have to be at the door so that they ‘beep’ and the guy has to turn around.

It finishes and it’s our turn. We go through the little gate thingy (cute) and sit on the left side. (always the bad side for a Republican to be) Her lawyer goes first. Excuse the term here but it’s the only way I can describe her. She was very ultra feminist, left of Castro, Bellatrix Lestrange type. I’m looking to steal her wand. She’s very boisterous and assertive. I look at The Princess Bride that is sitting next to me and know it’s over. Then it was my lawyers turn. Did you ever see My Cousin Vinny (1992) when the first attorney they retained, Austin Pendleton, started stuttering thru his argument? Not that bad but sure reminded me of it. The judge said something that I thought was very insulting to not only me but all firefighters. There was talk of me having a choice between retirement and disability. Nothing like people talking about you as if you’re not even in the room. “Who in their right mind would go back to work instead of being retired and doing nothing?”. Here’s a man who knows nothing of firefighters. I wanted to stand up. He obviously not only didn’t understand career firefighters but also that there are thousands of volunteer firefighters. But he did say something to Bellatrix…I mean the other lawyer. “You realize he could have surgery, be approved by doctors, go back to work and she would be totally out.” Did a flood light go off on my head. I never thought about going back to work. The doctors said that surgery would be a 50/50 outcome. It could make my shoulder even worse as well as fix it. So even though I fought to get back to work, once I was told that, my only choice was to apply for disability. Which brings me to the center of the whole problem for me. Doctors, lawyers, judges and an ex-wife are all deciding my fate. When do I get to live my own life? Decide my own fate. I literally put my hand on my forehead, looked at the table and quit listening. I was powerless to explain to these people that none of them knew anything and they were all just stabbing in the dark.

In the end, the judge said that he would look over the arguments and ‘facts’ then render a decision between now and May 1st. We walked out to the hallway and I’m thinking how terrible it was when my Prom Date says, “well that was good”. I looked at her thinking she must have a prescription for medical marijuana. She took it as a positive that because the judge didn’t render a decision today that at least he’s going to study it before making a decision. Ok, not a SteelOvaryNation but maybe a optimistic TinOvary.  I’ve already decided that if the ruling is against me that the best course of action is to appeal it. Not only for me but for many other firefighters out there both male and female. (I always mean both but thought I’d accentuate it this time) However it turns out, my plans for getting into racing are very much in jeopardy. Time for a nap.

Danica Patrick and the Catch-22 for Race Car Drivers Who Are Women

Catch-22 is a satirical novel about a B-25 pilot and his crew in World War II written by American author Joseph Heller (1923-1999) in 1953. It’s defined as a situation in which a person is frustrated by a paradoxical rule or set of circumstances that preclude any attempt to escape from them.

Notice in my title that I didn’t say ‘female race car driver’. There is a difference. Those in the media of all forms will use this term to differentiate or separate drivers according to their gender. If they were cops on the street they would be accused of profiling. Those that are in the industry to prove a point, to make a proclamation that they are a female in the racing world, are just that. A female race car driver. That is what they will always be. They will be the second female to get the pole at Daytona. They will be the third female to be voted the Most Popular Driver in the K&N West Series after Sarah Fisher and Cassie Gannis. They will be the next female to win the Long Beach Grand Prix after Shea Holbrook. They will be one of the top females since Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher. Do you notice a pattern here? Do you see any comparison to a driver that isn’t a female? I may not know who all the 33 or 43 drivers are but you bet before the green flag I’ll know where the ‘female’ is. Many sponsors even go so far as to put it proudly on the car. They mostly have their hearts and money in the right place but they don’t understand what it causes. How can you ever be considered as a equal in talent, experience, and character if a qualifier is tied to it? The driver may or may not agree but the sponsor pays for the car and season. Ask Katherine Legge and Shannon McIntosh how that works out for ‘women empowerment’.  Catch-22 initiated.

Let me explain my background and why I know all about this. I was a career Firefighter and Engineer (driver/operator) with a good size city. It is a challenging, difficult, and stressful occupation for anyone. Through the years we had several women take the test. Too many, including city administrators looked only at the job title, the ‘in station’ routine and not what it actually entails. If there ever was a job to look at solely at ability and not any other attribute it’s this one. Many didn’t want to see women on the job for 2 basic reasons. They were not seen as physically being able to do it and being in a close, 24 plus hour environment similar to living in your house or apartment was not looked kindly on (especially by the wives). Add to it having the city increase their times with separate physical tests and bypass almost 99 other people on the hiring list to get to the female hired. It would be like separate qualifying times and positions just for women in racing. It caused many to see women in the job as ‘tokens’. After all we’re talking about life and death situations. Honestly, after talking to the women they felt the same way. It created a ‘catch 22’ for them. It got them the job but they didn’t want the job that way. Something I’ll talk about later in racing.

I personally was somewhat like the rest but if they could do the job, I didn’t care. I give weight to things that affect actual outcomes. A name, title, description of a person has no bearing. It’s the physical world that counts. But my entire look on the matter would move to a different direction at a single fire. At another department that we worked with, the first female was hired in the area. A fire in a large university building took place and we were called in on a second alarm. Another nearby town was already on the scene as we pulled up. Both were small departments. As I got to the open stairway ready to jump in to the fray, I came across several Firefighters from that first department not really organized and not really doing anything. I looked up and saw a single Firefighter on the second floor pulling on the attacking hose line. On the other end were two Firefighters from the other mentioned town directly fighting the fire. The person on the hose helping…. the Firefighter who was the woman. She was having lots of trouble do to her lack of natural strength. But she was there ‘doing it’. That spoke volumes to me. As the crew with me helped her, I went up, relieved the Firefighters at the nozzle, and we were able to advance and extinguish the fire.*

When we did get a woman on our department, she was not there to be the female on the department as the city got her for. She, to her credit knew what was expected of her as was expected out of me. To do the job. She blended in quite well. Unfortunately she had some troubles and had to leave.** Who would replace her? The city made no bones about it although in a quiet public manner. Another woman. She is a smaller, frailer person. With the change in the men on the department along with credit to them, they have been helping. She has had some trouble on the job but she also isn’t there to make a splash. These women may be thinking when they start just of the fact that they made it as a female. But once they see what we go through and is needed, they don’t want to be the problem where problems already are. Something I finally had to accept for myself when I had to leave.  20yrs from now she will walk through the ranks on her day of leaving as I did and will stand proud of her accomplishments as a Firefighter.

I was the third person in the history of the department who’s Father also was in the Fire Service. In my entire career no one ever labeled me as such. It didn’t get the fire out any faster or bring someone back to life. Racing is much like my job was. It’s very normal to be looked at and wonder if you can do it. There’s also all the outside hype and promotion. But you do the job or you don’t. You either win or you don’t. You don’t get any special lap times because of your gender. Many women like Sarah and Janet to their credit knew what place they were in. The same as everyone else. They either made it or they didn’t. There is nothing more equal than being in the same machine, with similar equipment, only needing the right touch to the pedals and steering wheel before them. But there is a conflict I have noticed. I see all kinds of talk, promotion, websites, ads on being a female. Yet it really doesn’t matter one second of time on the track. Like city administrators, the media talks of females. The woman has to decide just who is going to be in the car, a race driver or the female. There’s only one seat. But there is a lot of outside distractions and influence that will have to be endured.

I saved the best for last I guess you can say. Danica Patrick. She, believe it or not, has made me if not a fan of her, at least closer to being one. As you can imagine from what I’ve already have written, character goes a long way with me. I would not label myself as a ‘Danica hater’. I dislike her personality and some of the things she has done as a person. She has had a news media blitz on her like no other. I mostly blame the media doing the broadcast of the Indianapolis 500. Every 5 minutes no matter what was going on, in comes the report of ‘where’s Danica’. Very undeserved for the driver she was at the time. From an organization that cared more for social agenda than people being truely equal as drivers. A great deal of the time she went along with it and rode the hype. Just as a comparison I looked at Danica Patrick’s record and that of a somewhat average driver but having a famous name, John Andretti. To my surprise they are very similar. In fact John actually has more wins. But think now of how much you honestly hear of John over Danica. None if any. There you will see the problem with fans and those working in racing. The data just doesn’t equal the output of fame. I’m not saying she didn’t have a hard road or somebody who made things difficult for her just because she was a woman. The people that are true to racing were won over by her actions as a driver like at Daytona and you can’t deny she accomplished a tremendous amount in Indy Cars. Even though her driving is actually not the best overall it takes a great amount of skill to do what she has done. What is irritating are some of her actions out of the drivers seat, bar one. She has got to save the whine for dinner. It’s not good when a crew chief has to get on the radio to tell her to settle down and how wrong she is in many of her complaints. (ie: Phoenix) She’s definitely not big enough to carry the size chip on her shoulder that she does. But I see it a little less each interview. Time will tell.

Now I said I was turning into a Danica supporter in a way. This is why. Danica talked much these first few weeks in NASCAR of being a race car driver and steering (pun intended) away from any gender verbiage. She talks more as a race car driver and less as a female. It’s not 100% but she’s doing it more each day. Maybe she’s realized there IS only room for one person in the car. That what she is means nothing because she can win or she can fail like any driver. The media may never stop dividing up what the drivers are but the drivers can make things better by not helping them.  Yes, things like ‘Steel Ovary Nation’ are funny and of good nature of which I’m always happy to see. I enjoy the cliche’. (I would use the term Gonad since by definition both male and females have them and in a species that does, the one with the larger is called the female. A little science info for ya. lol) Plus I’m not saying for Heavens sake to stop being a woman. It’s that catch 22 talked about earlier.  When to use it? How much? Like trying to make a wonderful chocolate cake with chocolate icing after losing the recipe. (drooling yet Shea? lol) There is though the pressure of money, ALWAYS. So if you need a ride in the Indy 500 for example and a company says they will sponsor you fully but you have to do some things contrary to you’re beliefs, it makes it hard and stressful on a good natured person. What’s a woman to do? I understand that factor.

In a way it has come full circle. People would say (sometimes still) “Oh, a ‘FEMALE’ driver”. Janet Guthrie and others tried so hard to be accepted as race car drivers and now Danica, even with a pole position at Daytona is still trying just to be a race car driver. Despite all the media and websites try to keep them in the social box of females, the vast majority shake it off and are just race car drivers. (shhh.. don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret, don’t want to lose a sponsor) Things have changed. Getting sponsorship meant a woman proving she could do it. Now some of the sponsorship is going after the woman as a gender to use in advertising. Many just got people thinking they could do the job just to have Danica use them for their gender. But like I said, I think she is changing.  Instead of a battle of the sexes it may be more of a battle ‘within’ the sex. Some jump at the chance to say what they are. Even devoting websites.  All due respect to those websites, while it helps in some money and some promotion, in many ways it’s separating and making things harder on the drivers. They are the ones who have to say, “no, wait, I’m a race car driver not a female driver.” Staying away from it even correcting news reporters. That’s where Danica is now. If you’re thinking more about the fact that the drivers you support are women, you’re leaning on the wrong side of things. Social debates have no place in racing. It’s not helping all the work that has been done up to this time. Think about this. When you see an ad for a politician running for office, what is the two things you don’t see about them? First, most don’t describe themselves as a male or female. It’s rather obvious. Second, they never say that they are a Democrat or Republican in ads. They want the voter to vote for them because of what their message is and to remove any negative connotation. The drivers I know that are women, are winners in character as well as on the track. When I look at their name I know they’re a woman. When they take their helmet off it’s pretty obvious. Thanks to people like Janet, Lyn, and Sarah, it’s just another race car driver. Who could forget Captain Miller’s final words in the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

“Earn this”

Listen to Lyn St. James about her win at Watkins Glen:

Feel free to watch all of it. It’s a good interview.

Firejack007

 

 

*We were the first in the area to start using Nomex hoods. This allowed us to get closer into the fire than the other departments until they also obtained them.

**She had to leave due to breaking of some laws which I won’t go into specifics here. Let’s just say it’s something all of you wouldn’t have liked.