Don Oneal –
Happy New Year!!! Yes I know I am just a tad bit late with this opening, but hey we will go with it. I know that the out with the old in with the new cliché is a big one at this point in the year. New’s Year’s Resolutions begin to fly around as a catchphrase for normal everyday conversation. I always am amazed at how many more people are in the way at the gym during January and February, hence the New Year’s Resolutions. However, before I can officially kick the old out the door and drag the new in I must recap my uneventful however amusing last two months of 2011….. And here we go…..
I was headed to Las Vegas at the end of the last race brief. What you might not know or do know is this trip was courtesy of Thad Martin Motorsports. Lynn Ellison “aka the Pirate”, made this deal in the down pouring rain at a Mexican Restaurant while we enjoyed dinner waiting on the rest of the NHRA race in Columbus. I say he made it, it kind of went like this…Don, you going to Vegas, ME- Not on my own cannot afford it, and will you drive? Me- Sure, Lynn to Thad, Let Lt. Dan drive out, Thad to me, Are you sure, ME – HECK YEAH!!!… Now as easy as that sounds, don’t kid yourself, it was a task that only the 3 of us could pull off, and that meaning screw up. Lynn’s going to win the Division 3 Top Dragster title, I of course am chasing my own personal story, and well for Thad, he and Natalie got engaged, but she didn’t know anything about that, it was cool. Oh yeah he raced too.
This all sounds great, its Vegas right… Let’s see, we have 3 race cars, 2 dragsters, and 1 Cobalt. He has a stacker trailer gooseneck style and a dually. We (me) are racing 3 races in 2 weeks and traveling over 2700 miles just to get there. This was not the easiest of things to pull off to get all of the equipment in the trailer. But we did. Even put the Zuma in the living quarters, come on now, you have to wheels at the race track. So a day and half later, westward bound Lt. Dan!!!
The trip to the west coast was very uneventful, I met with Bad Brad Plourd in OK city and we proceeded to drive to Vegas, after 3 days on the road, rain and etc we rolled in trucks clean and beautiful. Let’s race!
The NHR A National event was first on the calendar, for me I needed to go some rounds to improve my standings, and after two great hits on the tree and track, I felt competitive to get the task at least partially handled. I go to the lanes and sit thru an extremely long round of Super Comp, to finally be paired with Sheldon Gecker. I do not know about most drivers and what they think when they pull beside well known, respected drivers for a round. I will be truthful with you, I said cool, make a solid run, well I think he heard me, because he 16 thou package and I am 23 thou and out of there. Nice one O’Neal. In a blink of an eye, I am now i am a spectator until Wednesday when we start the Supreme Series. I must say that this put a little damper on my spirits, not completely because I lost, but I am chasing my own piece of history, and this did not help. Could I have made a better run, yes, did I execute the way I wanted to, yes. Live and learn in the most humbling sport on the planet.
One of the downsides of this trip is that you are not going to load up and find another race anywhere during the nationals. It became a on the fence watch everyone else battle for those important Lucas Oil Points for titles, and of course socializing.
Fast forward a few days to Wednesday, it’s time to get after the Supreme Race, which was a very good start for my weekend with a win in the run for the money, sorry Mr. And Mrs. Terry Edwards Snacks and I needed food. This is a good sign being dialed, hitting the tree good let’s roll. The Run for the Money earned me a bye run for first rnd. Good on to 2nd, who is on the ladder, nobody really just some guy named Tom Bayer, never even heard of this guy, I guess he is some big time racer out the west coast, and I heard that he had won a National Championship or something… Ok, I am kidding, I know the guy. Well Tom showed me why had a National title under his belt, as he made ineligible for a win light when I let go. You would think be teen and going under and you have a chance, NOPE. However, he did go on to win the race. So for those of you keeping score, its 0-2 for O’Neal! Let’s not forget, the Divisional is the race for the points. It’s where I can pick up the most points to move Top 5 in the Division 3 and Top 10 in the World. Game Face!!!
The divisional is a like a National Event because there are so many cars there, it’s just a huge race for that part of the country. Now please stop me if you have heard this before…… We had two great time runs, on the tree the car is solid and ready to race. Once again, long waiting time in the lanes, finally get paired up. I am sitting in my car evaluating my opponent, his car is a little longer, and has the dragster pads on the roll bars, so he cannot use the 90 method on me going down the track, ok so the weather is very weird out there in Vegas, it can be slow one minute and fast the next. I leave and feel good but not great, I catch him and wheel him to the stripe and feel great about it, look over and yes that’s right no win-light. Take a few thou to be under more than my opponent. And that’s what they say is that! 2700 miles, 3 race, no win-lights. My first time being completely shut out on the West Coast way to go!!! Alright let’s get the heck out of here, well no so fast, remember the reason I was in the position was because of Lynn and Thad. Well Thad and I rowed the same boat out there as we were better at looking good, than racing well. Lynn however put up a fight for his efforts, coming up 2 rounds short for the Divisional title. Monday afternoon I headed home, as others headed to Pomona, now you are reading that, and prolly said “why didn’t you go to Pomona?” How many times do I need my butt kicked on one swing? Homes ward young man. 2700 miles later, I pull into Washington, IL and proceed to get Thad’s Trailer all kinds of stuck in his yard, but hey he should have made the driveway bigger!! I must back up though… I had an accident with Thad’s trailer, now some of you are going “way to go O’Neal, borrow someone else’s stuff and tear it up”, but it wasn’t my fault, Honest. Coming down an on ramp, 3 lanes to my left and off ramp in front of me, a lady who I am sure would not like what I was calling her, came from the far left lane across 3 lanes and Thad’s truck to get off, well…. I swerved to miss her, and when the trailer came back around it caught one of those nice concrete curbs, and cracked the corner. I pretty much became a big baby at that point. Because if any of you have ever seen Thad’s trailer you know right now what I am saying. It was a long 18 hours after that. That put the huge nail in the coffin for the trip.
Fast forward, It’s January, PRI and IMIS in the books. All the race car components are sent out, waiting on them to start rolling back in. Focus on the Jeg’s All Star for 2012. That’s it simple focus.
I do want to say a quick thank you to everyone who sent cards, packages, texts, emails and especially all the prayers for my little “Mini Me” Logan. She had an appendix issue that was just not as simple as removing it, and spent the better part of a week and half in the hospital. It was very stressing for me not being there, yet she is taken care of by one of the greatest medical facilities in the country at Womack Medical Center at Ft Bragg. Once again, thank you to all my friends, racing associates and sponsors. It’s nice to know that people still have good hearts and care.
And with that this 2011 year is done. It would not have been possible without the great companies that keep a Soldier like me racing and telling the story.
Mullis Race Cars, Huntsville Engine and Performance, Mickey Thompson Tires, Lucas Oil, Wiley X Sunglasses, Harland Sharp, VP Racing Fuels, Simpson Safety, Moser Engineering, Auto Meter, Brodix, The Fab Shop, Nitroplate, FTI Transmissions, K&N Filters, Autolite, Greg Slack Torque Converters, Moroso, Digital Delay, #1 Stop Products, B&M, Advanced Product Design, Holley, Figspeed.com, AFCO, Goodridge Hose and Fittings and Crane Cams.
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