There are times in life when you just have to stop and think, “Boy, it doesn’t get any better than this”. That’s the best way to describe the month of July for our man from North Carolina. While there were no trains involved, there certainly were plenty of planes, racecars, trucks and even buses as our boys made two separate trips up to the great state of Wisconsin. Once for the Kohler International Vintage Race at Road America and once for the annual EEA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, WI.
For anyone who is a fan of historical racecars, the summer vintage event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI is more like a “pilgrimage” than an event. This year’s marquee car was the all-conquering Ford GT. Included in the amazing display were cars that won not only Le Mans but also world championships along the way. Accompanying Doug on this trip was the mechanical staff from AutoSport Dynamics. Headed up by Ian Stewart, the guys kept a close watch over the DVM Mustang and made sure everything was ready for each and every demo-run. As frantic as the schedule was, the group manager Mickey Andrade kept everyone on point and looking sharp.
One of the many highlights of the weekend was Doug’s opportunity to spend time with former driver and current TV race analyst David Hobbs. “Mr. Hobbs was every bit as kind as he appears on TV and it was truly an honor to meet him.” Doug said. “We also got to meet Brian Redmond and a host of other truly famous race drivers from many different categories and I simply can’t thank Fritz Wilke and all the folks at Ford Racing enough for including me in this event. I pray we get more opportunities like this because these are without question, once in a lifetime events.” Van Den Brink went on to say.
On the way back to NC, Doug made a stop off in Chicago for some “non-racing-related-time” if that can be believed. As many of you know, our boy Doug is a bit of a baseball fan. So much so that he makes a habit of taking in games whenever he gets an off night on the road where ever he might be. Normally these games are seen from the general admission seats that you get when you buy your tickets at the gate as you walk in. This night however was something special as one of Doug’s “bestest pals” hooked him up with front-row seats, no more than 20 seats down from the White Sox dugout! “Ok, so coming to a game is always cool, but sitting down “on the field” made you feel like you’re part of the game. Especially when a foul ball goes whistling by your head. The experience was really unbelievable”. Doug said. “Then just when I thought it could get any better than this, I witnessed something so “heart-wrenching”, it’s almost hard to describe. Right after the game ended, an older lady came down and sat a few seats away from us, as I just happened to be looking in her direction. After a quick “look around” to see if the “coast was clear” she pulled out a small jar from her purse, leaned over the rail and poured the contents out on the dirt… She noticed me watching her and quickly slid over next to us to explain that her sister was THE BIGGEST Sox fan in the world. She told us how she hadn’t missed a home game in years and had just passed away. Her last wish was to have her ashes spread on the field of her beloved White Sox…. If that doesn’t help put your world into perspective, noth’n will.” Doug concluded…
After a short rest back home, Doug was again back-on-the-road. This time he would be without his trusty companion. The Red Mustang he knows so well would stay at home while Doug would be driving a steed of a different color. For this Ford Racing demo, Doug would find himself in a brand new 2010 Shelby GT500 prepped by the Ford Mustang gurus themselves, Livernoise Motorsports. The target for this “assault” would be the EEA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, WI. For this demo, not only would Doug be hanging out with his usual partner in crime, Vaughn Gittin Jr. but the two drift aces would be joined by two “aces” of a different type. Enter one Kirby Chambliss and his colleague Michael Goulian, two of the very best aerobatic and air racing pilots in the world! So, what do you get when you combine two Shelby Mustangs, two aerobatic planes, 7000 feet of runway and a little old guy who goes by the name of Dynamite?
How about this:
The “four aces” set up a stunt that pitted one plane and one Shelby head-on against each other and with enough runway starting out in between them so that the cars could get up to speeds exceeding 160mph. Then as the planes and cars came together in the middle, our man Dynamite set-off a 500ft. long wall of fire that rose over 150feet into the air. To see video of this amazing stunt click: http://www.fordairventure.com/wingvswheels.html
After it was all over and everyone had caught their collective breath, naturally it was picture time and if you’re driving Shelby Mustangs there’s only one guy you’d want to have your picture taken with, none other than the legend Carroll Shelby himself. After the last photos were shot, Doug had this to say, “Ok, somebody pinch me to make sure this isn’t a dream. Not only did I just race side-by-side with an airplane, I played “chicken” with my boy Vaughn missing each other by only a few feet with a closing speed of over 320mph, a guy just tried to singe my eyebrows with 500ft of explosives and now, I just got to meet Carroll Shelby… This is just too much…”
All together, the team made 5 passes for the thousands of fans in attendance with one of the shows even taking place in a pouring rain… Next time you see Doug, ask him what happens to a car when it hits some big painted numbers in the middle of a runway when you’re traveling 160mph in the rain….
As can be imagined, this was a month Doug won’t soon forget and he is so very thankful to all those people behind the scenes who helped put these programs all together. “These events are so large in scope, I was just a tiny little part of them. Sure a few of us were out front for the crowds to see but without everyone behind us like Curt, Kerry, Skip, Kevin and all the rest pushing us forward, there would have been nothing to take pictures of… To all of those people, I can’t thank them enough.” Doug concluded….
Next up for Doug and his DVM Mustang will be a few local grassroots drift events here in the South in preparation for another trip out West where the two will once again take on the high banks of Irwindale Speedway in So. Cal for Formula Drift’s final event of the season. From there the car will stay out in California to be prepped for the Las Vegas extravaganza known as SEMA. Stay tuned for all the fun and adventure… We’ll keep Ya’ posted…