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For Old Geezers Like Me

As we get older our mind starts to change. It becomes less sharp. It gets a little harder to focus. Just like your body, it becomes tired easily. And we all know that memory loss is one of the primary ravages of time. However, I am discovering another way the mind changes with age. As the day-to-day worries of raising children and advancing in your career are pretty much over your mind is freer to let certain memories break-through in powerful ways. Especially when those memories are from your early childhood. Things you haven’t thought of at all for many, many years suddenly rush back to your consciousness in surprising ways.

I saw that Gene Romero died the other day. It took my brain less than a micro-second to generate an image in my head of Gene on his Triumph with his #3 plate going flat-out through a turn at 100 mph. That made me think. Why was that so easy to bring to the forefront of my mind, when so many other memories have long faded from my brain? Well, I believe I found the answer.

Most of my earliest childhood memories of my father take place at a race track somewhere near San Jose, California. Flat track, speedway, and sprint car races were very popular back in the early 60s. All three were awe-inspiring for a four-year-old kid, but flat track always stood out to me because of the speed. Although I raced countless motocross races as a teenager, and some observed trials and enduros, I never had any desire to try flat track. That seemed reserved for people with a special level of daring and fearlessness. Maybe that’s why flat track racing has a special place in my heart. Of all the racing disciplines, it’s probably the one I could least see myself doing. It terrifies me just to watch those guys, and girls, swing it sideways at 100 mph. Insane. Yet at the same time it is so simple and pure. Motocross seems incredibly complicated compared to flat track. For whatever reason there were very few conversations between us, and maybe that was quite normal for fathers and sons back then. It was really those moments spent in silence, while motorcycles or sprint cars went whizzing by at deafening volumes, that we bonded.

Castle Rock is a city in Cowlitz County, Washington, United States. Located between the Willapa Hills and the western base of Mount St. Helens, Castle Rock is at the heart of Washington timber country in the Pacific temperate rain forest. The Castle Rock Raceway has been around since the 70s. It has a lot of history, not all of it so great from what I hear, but for the past ten years a lot of effort has gone into turning it in the right direction. That is where I found myself tonight, watching flat track races on a somewhat overcast Washington evening. Semi-ancient and well-worn grandstands surround a little over half of the track. The vast number of seats harken to what it must have been like when the stands were full of cheering fans. I don’t know what a decent crowd would be, but all I know is there were a lot of people there who seemed to be having a good time. As the races went off, one after another without a hitch, I felt that this was a very well-run event in the hands of the folks at the Mount Saint Helens Motorcycle Club. I see a lot of potential here, and I know I’ll be back. Maybe I’ll see you there. I know my Father was there, in spirit, soaking it all in. Maybe yours was as well. After all, what better way to spend a Saturday evening? My experience even inspired a poem…

Blue grooves and steel shoes
At the Castle Rock track
Inside, outside, you choose
Or move to the back

Under the lights
And the roar of the thunder
Saturday nights
Full of awe and wonder

Flat track racer
Smiling at me
Grin ear-to-ear
For all to see

Recollections to reprise
Now coming to be
As it once was
Again it shall be

And that’s no better wish
For old geezers like me

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