Writer’s note: The following was written in 2007 and refers to a 2006 award. I recently concluded my 33rd year of race announcing.
Last September, I received a hospitality award from the Quad-Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau (QCCVB) in honor of my more than three decades of weekly stock car race announcing in the area.
This season marks my 32nd year of announcing races. My thanks to Joe Taylor and the rest of the QCCVB folks.
I have handed out a lot of awards to others over my years as a racing official but, not surprisingly, have not won very many myself. One big exception, of course, was the Quad-Cities Racing Connection’s Oscar, which I received in 2001 for my “outstanding support and contribution to auto racing.” There is no finer honor than being recognized by your peers.
The QCCVB award was special, too. They handed out a lot of awards that September night, so there was no time for acceptance speeches. Had I been able to give one, though, I would have told everyone that I was sharing the award with my wife Sherry, who, until they were grown, stayed home raising our four children while I was gone 40 hours a week at mu full-time job and two and sometimes three nights a week announcing races.
She also took racing results phone calls from area tracks from 1973 to 1990 for my “Around the Track” radio show. Remember, there was no e-mailing or faxing results back then. And the mail wasn’t fast enough.
Had I had the chance, I also would have told the QCCVB audience that I have been a stock car racing fan since I was a child growing up near the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. You can’t be a youngster living near a race track, hearing the roar of those racing engines, without being attracted to them.
Most of my young buddies back in the 1960s wanted to drive a stock car someday. But what I wanted most was to be a track announcer like my idol, the late Paul Liebbe. Some of those “kids” I hung around with — Gary Webb is one example — got their wish and became race drivers. And I got mine as well.
Over my 31 racing seasons as an announcer I think I’ve seen it all. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. And so much in between. And I’ve had the pleasure of telling all of those stories to racing fans in the Quad-Cities and elsewhere at a number of tracks.
But the best part by far has been working with and getting to know many ofracing’s weekend warriors — the drivers, crews and their families. In most cases, they are some of the finest people you’d ever hope to meet.
Friends often ask me when I’ll quit announcing, and I really don’t have an answer. I discovered a long time ago that the real joy in life comes from being on the trip, not in arriving at the destination. And I’m still enjoying the trip! So let’s go racing!
Copyright March 26, 2007. This is an excerpt from an “On Track” column that appeared in Quad-Cities Racing Connection, Iowa.