|Mohave Valley Raceway is situated between Bullhead City, Ariz., and Needles Calif. east of U.S. Highway 95.
The call came recently for a fill-in announcer at Mohave Valley Raceway south of Bullhead City, Ariz. Track owner Walt Carter needed help and I immediately started mentally checking my schedule to see if I could accommodate the request.
At the age of 61 (I will be 62 Dec. 21), I have announced hundreds of auto races ranging from stock cars to sand drags and asphalt drag events. An admitted gear head, I get a kick out of cars; and especially cars involved in competition.
Itís not just the cars, but the people who operate them. With every show car or race car, you will usually find a very interesting individual who escapes reality by identifying with the automobile.
Weekdays are spent trying to make a living either as an independent business person or working for someone else. When Friday morning arrives, itís time to prepare for a car show or competition at a race track or a car show somewhere.
I looked at Carterís call as an opportunity to return to reality with real people. I could travel south from Las Vegas for a couple of hours, make some money for my efforts and have the time of my life mixing with real people.
Mohave Valley Raceway is a third-mile dirt track situated between Needles, Calif. and Bullhead City, Ariz. It was opened 20 years ago and while I had forgotten the fact, Carter reminded me that I announced the trackís first event two decades ago.
Itís real America; much like so many other short tracks in the United States. However, key is the fact that Mohave Valley Raceway is surviving after many other short tracks in the country have closed.
Just in Southern California, El Cajon in San Diego has closed; and so has Orange Show Raceway in San Bernardino; along with Irwindale Speedway, a Taj Mahal-like facility near Los Angeles.
But Mohave Valley Raceway keeps going on a bi-weekly schedule that includes a break during the heat of the summer. When the schedule allows, the sun goes down and the fun begins with a field of cars including karts for the kids; Street Stocks, Mini Stocks and the ground-shaking IMCA Modifieds.
Gas is five bucks a gallon in the area, but racers keep patronizing MVR because itís the fun thing to do.
| Mad Dog at Mohave Valley Speedway
And when the announcer (me) couldnít get the National Anthem to play two years ago, the crowd simply reacted by singing the words.
No big deal.
Short track racing is comprised of good-hearted and downhome people. It is grass roots Americana at its best.
I have announced my share of big-time events and I enjoyed every one of them, too. My most memorable work came in 1998 when Jeff Green overtook Dick Trickle in the final laps of a Busch Grand National race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Trickle wanted to win the race for his nephew, Chris, who had been wounded by an assailant in the southwest Las Vegas Valley. Green would tell me later that he didnít want to win the race because he understood what Trickle was attempting to accomplish.
But Green had a job to do and he delivered. The storyline was picture-perfect, but Green was answering to his bosses Ė sponsors who demand results no matter what the storyline.
However, through it all, I will take the short track race any day simply because the people Ė the fans and the competitors Ė are not controlled by Corporate America and all the pressures that go with the element.
I will take the quarter-mile tracks like Craig Road Speedway that closed in 1982. I will take the requests from Mohave Valley Raceway and other short tracks simply because I love the real people and the chance to mix with them.
I love the fact that short track races many times include classes for the kids. Itís almost like boxingís Golden Gloves where competition is based on heart and soul; long before the professionalism of the sport is dominated by sponsors.
The public address systems arenít as elaborate as those found at the bigger tracks and the facilities arenít as nice as those found at places like Las Vegas Motor Speedway or Daytona Motor Speedway.
The bigger events donít usually allow for chit chat with fans and drivers. Announcers are too busy reading ďplugsĒ for sponsors and besides that, bigger events in giant facilities donít allow an announcer to identify with the average person.
I am common folk and proud of the fact. I'll take the excitement of the IMCA Modifieds, the Street Stocks and the kids in their Bandit and Outlaw entries any day.
Short tracks rock and so do the racers and the fans who follow them.