This is a true story and the results of doing a good thing is often repaid richly. This is no exception. Back in the 90s I worked as a Support Group Facilitator for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America in Tampa. During my stint as facilitator I also volunteered to do the annual Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser.
One of my first stops was the racetrack at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida. The track manager was a former Air Force veteran and he got me going as well as connected with the track on a more or less permanent basis. Ron Braaten gave me the names of drivers who love to participate in charities, so I purchased photographs of drivers and their cars and then got autographs.
We had twenty-two race car drivers from that track, two big radio stations, one TV station, Jazz singer Belinda Womack and twenty-two football players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The year previous the CCCFA had only two lanes and we had twenty-two. That number keeps popping up. Oh by the way, we made a record $22,000 for that day and the drivers, fans and football players all coalesced to a good cause.
I got mentioned on Channel 10 and Reginald Roundtree, the anchor at NewsTen called me and asked me how I did it and I said, “I didn’t, we did”. But I am going to tell you, this event and others helped the track and the community. I was also working with the Tampa Tribune’s Weather page and a friend of the sports racing division, a Miss Holly Cain. She also helped with a friend who was able to get a week-by-week accounting of his racing exploits.
We’ve done events with the Taste of Town n’ Country, Florida Blood Services of Tampa at Hooters near the Airport, Crohn’s and Colitis of Tampa and a few others. I even used to do tropical forecasts for a local Christian Radio Station DJ who was one of the sweetest, kindest men of the cloth that I have ever known. This while I was working for Q-105, WWBA and about 80-90 stations across the country.
#22 of Johnny Gilbertson of Tampa. I remember Johnny’s old #10 sprint car owned by Gary White and later he moved on to the #3 owned by Kenny Mulligan, #42 of Paulie Milum. Johnny was one of the first and I knew him since he was around 20ish.
Bruce Watkins of the B12, modified and limited late model. Talked with him a lot on the phone and he too was there with the racing stuff on the day of the big bowling event.
Did a lot with David Schmauss shown here in the Cardinal #105 Late Model. He went on to be track champion at least once in his career.
Bobby Alexander is an interesting story. A big time star on both the asphalt and dirt tracks, he used to race at Golden Gate Speedway, East Bay Speedway, Tampa Fairgrounds and quite a few others including Tom Stimus’ Desoto Speedway. While he was racing at what is now the Oldsmar Flea Market outside of Tampa, he had befriended Gordon Solie, the former WTBS-Ted Turner-owned Wrestling Program. Tony Atlas and those days. Gordon was track promoter at Golden Gate and had Bobby improvise, TNT style. Funny stories there but promotions and intel matter.
One of my first friends at this track and since the Bowling Event. he has either won or came in 2nd in points around ten times. One of the classiest level-headed guys going and well-respected for that. I remember when he sons were young and now all grown up.
Kenny Adams was a national star in many respects and a big winner at East Bay. I was told that his wife wanted him to come out of retirement just to beat Gene Lasker. LOL. Kenny was also a multi-time champ with ASCS Southern Tour and garnered some interest from upstate NY, PA and CA.
Gene Lasker – Too many people see the wild side but if you have a need and are his friend, he would do about most anything to that end. We have done several events together for charities. Kids just love him to death and a lot of adults are wary or intimidated by him and I think he doesn’t care either way. He was the former American Winged Outlaw Champion in around 1996 and East Bay Champion in 1997. He has raced for Hulk Hogan and Bubba the Love Sponge (gimmick) Clem.
I have known the DeCaire family since father Terry DeCaire piloted the USA#1 Late Model at East Bay. The family also helped with that as did Dirt Devil’s Speedway.
The Lynch family is from outside of the Pittsburgh area where Ed Lynch Jr, a second generation driver has totalled well over 200 feature wins. I have worked with his Mom for over 25 years and have done charities where they helped out with raffle items much as we did with the bowl-a-thon. The Lynches are racing royalty with Ed’s father and mother in the Sprint Car Hall-of-Fame in Knoxville, IA. What gets things done is partnering with a common goal and the sky is the limit. Not one of the drivers who have helped have failed to have a winning career. That is no accident whatsoever because if you strive to help others, good things will follow. Drivers rally together to help each other and their families.
So rather than mumble, get out and rumble with life. It matters!