Winchester: Andy Belmont preview

Off to Winchester! There is no doubt that Winchester, Indiana is one of my all-time favorite places to race. It's a nice facility with atmosphere, tradition and lure. This trip is especially rewarding as we are "racing for Shannon Mishon" ...

Off to Winchester!

There is no doubt that Winchester, Indiana is one of my all-time favorite places to race. It's a nice facility with atmosphere, tradition and lure.

This trip is especially rewarding as we are "racing for Shannon Mishon" a child in my son's class at Our Lady of Grace elementary school in Penndel, PA. We plan to donate all of our winnings to helping Shannon's family defray the immense financial burden of taking care of a child who has been stricken with a horrible illness. A win would be a blessing.

Winchester is one of the many tracks on the tour that make the ARCA RE/MAX Series so great. It is a one day show. Get there, unload, go to work and head up the road. It's the way racing has been for a long time, before greedy promoters figured out that keeping the race cars and their families on site for three days would help sell hot-dogs and programs.

We still touch the fans at Winchester. As most of you know, ARCA RE/MAX Series cars are lined up on the grid prior to the event and the fans are out there for an autograph session. All drivers attend.......OR ELSE!

We do this at Salem, Erie, Toledo and most of the short tracks. My biggest reward is signing autographs for little kids. It takes me back to when I was much younger and Mom & Dad would take us on the road with them. Years ago the Allison's, Benny Parsons, Lenny Pond and David Boggs would drop by our camp site and hang out. It was a wonderful time to be a kid. I never get over that odd feeling of amusement when signing autographs. To this day, I am just a mechanic's kid from Langhorne, PA, who grew up and dared to chase a dream. It would be rewarding to know that someday one of us who signed an autograph had inspired a child to grow up and do what we do.

Racing has kept our family close. Oh it isn't all gumdrops and lollipops. We squabble like any other family. But I am not sure there are too many sports out there where your parents and siblings all get to be together 22 weekends a year. This is the time in life where professions have separated families and they are miles apart geographically. My Mom still gets a big kick out of cooking for everyone. Dad still raises the devil when we screw up (we get that same reprimand about every event).

The dirt races are special as well. What a picture it is to drive off into the corner and folks capture on film a 3400 pound powerslide with a Ferris wheel in the background. Fans can still come across the track after the race and mingle with the racing fraternity. We are big enough to go to Daytona, but small enough that we aren't completely out of touch. I see a lot of the same qualities in the Craftsman Truck Series. Beyond that, it is big business and you need an act of congress to get a garage pass.

Someday soon, when it is all pay-per-view. When all the seats are corporate sales blocks, we will look back and realize what a wonderful journey this time of life has been. Yes, Frank gets a lot of trophies, but all the folks who make up this series are winners. A couple years ago we had a rift with the 84 car, but who was first in line with a jug of diesel when the generator ran out? There are a lot of us guys who just may never get a checkered flag, but come to us for a ball joint or a tire or a sandwich, it is all part of being family.

Come to an ARCA RE/MAX Series race. You might see what racing is supposed to be all about.

Just a side note. Mike Haggenbotham won the United Racing Club sprint car feature last Saturday night. Mike drove for us at Pocono. Congratulations Mikey!

See you around. AB

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Series ARCA
Drivers Andy Belmont , Benny Parsons