Thursday, December 08, 2005

Location: Central Florida

Earnhardt pulled a stuffed monkey from his driving uniform and slammed it down. "I'm here, and I've got that damned monkey off my back!" he proclaimed." That was part of Dale Earnhardt's victory speech after winning the 1998 Daytona 500. When Indiana native Andy Hillenburg substituted for Ricky Rudd at the 2002 Daytona test session, Yates said. "It's not like a place where you need great driver feedback, (even though) Andy can do that and do a great job for us. I'm not saying he's just a monkey or a steering wheel holder, by any means." Tim Flock, the son of a daredevil, sometimes drove with a monkey as his co-pilot.... Flock raced eight times with his pet monkey, "Jocko Flocko," in the co-pilot seat. But the monkey broke free during a 1953 race at Raleigh, North Carolina, and grabbed Tim by the neck, holding on for dear life. Flock had to make an extra pit stop to de-monkey his car, which ended up costing him the race. ( NASCAR roots reach deep in monkey tradition. With tradition in mind, I was certain that a trip to Daytona was necessary.

A few logistical problems had to be figured in order to make the whole thing work. Leelee dropped us at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls. She would drive the camper south through Indiana to pick up Freak Show Roy and proceed to the holy land of stock car racing. Freak Show knew a couple of guys who had a hot car and needed a driver. My first obstacle would be flying with Tater. With the unfortunate global situation we find ourselves in, I counted on security being tight. I checked my bags and proceeded through the metal detector. Upon exit, I was thrown against the wall and surrounded by three heavily armed military types. "What the hell you carryin' in that bag!" I turned and realized what started the commotion. My soft sider screamed and tumbled off the conveyor as wide-eyed security workers viewed the x-ray monitor revealing an ape-ish skeleton. It was then I figured we were in trouble. I unzipped the bag and Tater exited holding my KTM jacket as a security blanket. "You a bike rider?... We are too!" ... After a few minutes of negotiation it was decided that we could fly to Florida but I would have to keep the monkey under control and buy him a ticket.

Six hours later, they said to look for a Cuban guy holding a sign for us. I figured that we would be riding in style but an un-muffled Town-car, needing shocks, bounced us to our destination. I remember my dad telling me that if you opened the suicide doors on a 64 at speed, you'd get sucked out and run over by a concrete truck. Ricardo chattered with Tater while I enjoyed the sun and orange groves of eastern Florida, the smell of oil leaky valve covers filled the air. Aided by three semesters of high-school Spanish, I surmised he spoke of President Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs and that he was shot in a car just like this one. We arrived, in short order, at the garage complex of Frankie "Firebug" Roberts, a long time friend of Freak Show. Show would spend his winters in Florida and higher Frankie to repair carnie rides. I wanted to see the racecar. I envisioned myself speeding down the front stretch as Tater waived to the delight of the crowd. We rounded a deteriorated Tilt-A-Whirl and I stopped dead in my tracks. Before us sat a 97 T-bird covered with wood grained contact paper that you might buy to cover a kitchen cabinet. Some group called Gator Alley Pulp Mill & Stump Grinding sponsored it. Apparently the guys cashed in their alligator circus business.

When Freak Show gets here, we're gonna talk. I still think Tater and I would make a great team, one meant for the history books. I caught a story on TV where several drivers were asked a Barbara Walters type question. "If you were in animal what kind of animal would you be?" Answers varied from the speedy Cheetah, Leopard and Gazelle to Tony Stewart's reply of "a tiger of course". With the wisdom of an old timer Jimmie Johnson proclaimed, "I'd be a monkey!". Be proud, be fast, Be Monkey.


At 10:41 AM, Blogger josh williams said...

Set up a pay pal account and we will generate enough money for you and Tater to race "the" race! God Speed
R&T my bets on ya'll JW

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Willy Jo said...

yer a goddamn liar

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Cletus Monet III said...

Hey Josy,

You has got about as much personality as a pubic hare. BATCH!

tutorially yurs,


At 7:53 PM, Blogger josh williams said...

willy jo: AM not!
Cletus: Do too!

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Willy Jo said...

roscoe = mule blob?
ru the same monkey er wat?

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Roscoe said...

Hey willy jo,

I, Roscoe, am not Josh Williams. Your inference, my good man, is nearly offendable. I've known JW since fourth grade so our blogs might be similar, for instance motorcycle racing. We differ in that I find chimpanzees funny. JW has an affinity for little people. You have a good blog willy jo, except when you show pictures of tords. Tater flings tords all the time.

Hey cletus.
Hey JW.


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