“Have some of the Rocky Mountain Oysters, they’re great.” Gordon said. 40 year old Gordon Johncock had already won the Indianapolis 500 in ’73 (again in ’82) and I was in awe of this old man. He was a master story teller, and I believed every single word. Down went the first crunchy bite of “oyster“.
It tasted a little weird.
But, everybody was eating them and laughing.
Gordon drove for my step-dad, John Eisenhour. John had owned Indy cars over the years. John was younger than Gordon, in the concrete business… always laughing and having a good time. The whole crew was just a bunch of grown up kids.
I just listened and pretended to understand what they were talking about. I was 14, impressionable and naive. This was a whole new world I’d “married” into. As Todd Schooler memorably said after a breakaway, “it was fun while it lasted”.
That one year we traveled to most of the races. At Indy, I got down into the pits. Not “the pits”, the general area… down into the shop where they worked on the cars during testing and prepping for the races. I wasn’t allowed to touch anything… when I asked to sit in the car I thought the chief mechanic would kill me.
One year was all it took to hook me on racing for good. I followed the Indy series for years. Then Supercross. There’s something about motorsports: the sound, the smells, the speed, the crowd.
The only real raceway I got to race on is the Rocky Mountain Raceway. It’s just outside of Salt Lake City. Tuesday nights, there’s a crit there.
Both times I’ve done it have been on the “long course”. You start on the drag strip, a real one. It’s super shiny black, and very sticky. You can hear your tires’ extra grip. After racing up the drag strip, you go around the outside of the banked oval track – which they also race on sometimes – and through some S turns and back onto the drag strip.
It’s really more of a circuit race. The laps take about 3 minutes. It’s wide, flat, fast and very safe. Everybody should be lucky enough to race it at least once in their life.
And when you’re up here, see if you treat yourself to some oysters… their seasonal, spring time.