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I happened to peruse the internet to see if Maple Grove got the brunt of the tropical storms that were making national news. The short answer was yes. Plus they had the joy of temperatures in the 40’s. I can tell you that during my career in drag racing I never wished anyone weather bad luck. There is no winner when the weather turns sour. Spectators, racers, and promoters lose. The amount of money that can be lost is staggering. Look at what happened to IHRA this year. The problem becomes even more pronounced because you have to rain check tickets for the event the following year, hence missing out on that fresh income stream. But sometimes the gods look upon you and for whatever reason give you a break bordering on a miracle. Here are three stories that prove that sometimes you can’t explain what happened but you are thankful for the results.
RAIN STORY #1
The place was New England Dragway and the weather forecasters were not kind. Our annual national event was about to get hit with not one but two hurricane-induced storms back to back. Sure enough, on Friday we got blasted and late Saturday afternoon we got hammered again. The torrential rain caused incredible flooding making much of the pits, especially the Pro Stock pits, useless. In the era of never-give-up IHRA attitude, we were determined to finish the race and we did. I remember hearing a radio call from the shutdown area saying there were hundreds of crayfish lying on the asphalt and a warning not to pick them up because they bite. No one listened and the radio traffic was colorful at best each time an employee got clawed.
Then there was the guy who took a high spot in the parking lot despite being warned that his choice of spots might keep his car dry but getting to it would be a whole different matter. Have you ever seen a golf tournament where a featured car looks like it is able to float on the water? That’s what happened here. The guy had the highest spot in the lot and when the floods came his little spot became an island. He was able to get to his car out several days later.
RAIN STORY #2
If you never believed in divine intervention this may change your mind. We were running a national event at Mid- Michigan Motorplex in Stanton. It was the first event we did since the passing of legendary owner Jim Ledford. To say the place was packed would be an understatement. Every square inch of property had either race cars or spectator cars on it. CARQUEST was the title sponsor and this was turning out to be a race that Jim would have been proud of. With the exception of the 50 mile wide super storm that was creeping across Lake Michigan with a bullseye called Stanton. The weather service was calling for tornadic conditions so we huddled to try and come up with various plans including a possible evacuation. About the time we decided to pull the plug and fight the fight another day a miracle happened. When the storm hit the Michigan shore line it literally split in half. I remember watching the weather radar in amazement. We all looked at each other and almost simultaneously said the word “Jim!” Nary a drop of rain hit Stanton while 30 miles away they were getting wiped off the map. So did it ever rain? Yes, on Sunday. Paul Romine won the event and not 5 minutes later the sky opened up. Jim Ledford had given us one last clue as to who was really in charge.
RAIN STORY #3
Have you ever heard a weather man say, ‘the front has stalled”? In Shreveport at Red River Raceway we got to see it first-hand. We were running one of our Night of Fire races in front of the largest crowd in Red River history. With a storm approaching, the object was to get as much show in as possible to avoid rain checking the huge crowd. It was a fight we were about to lose. Then the strangest thing happened. The storm front stalled right across the street from the racetrack! You could hear it. And you could see it. On one side of the street it was raining like hell. On the other side of the street we were running a drag race and it stayed that way for almost an hour and a half. If the storm had moved 2,000 feet we would have been wiped out. As it turned out we got the event in. When I got back to my room and flipped on the news the lead story was about the flooding the storm had caused. It was at that point that I figured God was a huge drag racing fan.