Monthly Archives: February 2010

Thanks SFR for the Tod Brinkman Memorial Award

Many thank-you speech as SFR Board president Scott Bohannon (left) and founder and Chief Gil Short look on. (Picture This Photos)

My thank-you speech as SFR Board president Scott Bohannon (left) and founder and Chief Gil Short look on. (Picture This Photos)

Steve Donovan initiated the award I'm holding. (Picture This Photos)

With my wife Sherry. (Picture This Photos)

My heartfelt thanks go out to Speedway Fire-Rescue of the Quad-Cities for naming me the 2010 recipient of the Tod Brinkman Memorial Award last Saturday night (Feb. 20) at their annual awards banquet at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa.

I have long supported SFR in many ways and have been an honorary member since 1995. I emceed their banquet Saturday like I do each year.

The Brinkman Award goes annually to someone who has been a longtime supporter of motorsports. Each year’s award winner is a surprise until the award is presented, so I was shocked to hear my name called.

Steve Donovan and Rick Stone, who co-hosted the “Around the Track” program until a couple of years ago on a Davenport radio station, originated the Tod Brinkman Memorial Award in honor of their late friend.

Tod was a Quad-Cities Late Model race driver who died suddenly on March 5, 2003, of a medical problem at the too-young age of 36. A copy of his obituary follows. It will give you a real sense of who Tod was and why he is so fondly remembered and missed by so many.

SFR, whose members themselves received the Brinkman Award in 2007 from Donovan and Stone, have taken over presenting it annually since “Around the Track” went off the air. But Steve Donovan was at the banquet Saturday, said I was deserving and congratulated me. That meant a lot.

I’m as proud as can be of receiving the award. People who work in motorsports aren’t accustomed to winning awards from racers. This season will mark my 35th consecutive season of announcing weekly races and writing about racers in trade papers and publications like Late Model IllustratedStock Car Racing, FasTrack and NASCAR Magazine. In all those years, my only other award of note was the Quad-Cities Racing Connection’s 2001 Oscar Award for “outstanding support and contribution to auto racing.” So the Brinkman Award is special.

I’m afraid I rambled a bit Saturday in my thank-you speech. But here are several points I hope I made:

1) Race drivers and their crews are wonderful people. I count many of them among my most treasured friends. While drivers are quite competitive on the speedway, most are very kind and even generous when they’re not behind the wheel. Many times I’ve seen drivers loan one of their spare engines to another driver against whom they’re competing in a tight points battle so the driver with the blown engine doesn’t have to park his car for the night.

2) The volunteers of Speedway Fire-Rescue are a trained, dedicated group of people who provide a valuable service — risking their own well-being to keep everyone safe at the race track — and they do it for free. How great is that? I’m honored to be in their company.

3) There is no finer honor than being recognized by your peers. Thank you!

Like I later joked with some folks Saturday night, I’m not sure I deserve the Tod Brinkman Memorial Award. But I’m not giving it back!


Tod Brinkman’s obituary

Services for Tod W. Brinkman, 36, of Rock Island, are 10 a.m. Saturday at Trimble Funeral Home, Moline. The Rev. Joseph Robb will officiate.

Burial is in Riverside Cemetery, Moline. Visitation is 3 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Quad City Animal Welfare Center or A-1 Fire and Rescue (now known as Speedway Firer-Rescue).

God called Tod into heaven on Wednesday, March 5, 2003, when he died suddenly at Trinity Medical Center, Rock Island, with his loving family by his side.

Tod William Brinkman was born June 29, 1966, in Moline, the son of William and Rosalie Erickson Brinkman. He married Susan Gnatovich on March 7, 2000, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Tod was a man with unyielding talents, a fun loving, energetic, caring generous man. Among his favorite lines were, “There was not anybody I cannot get along with” and “It doesn’t have to be this hard.” His bright light is now shining in heaven, and he will be greatly missed and never forgotten by so many.

He was a talented, avid golfer, a member of Pinnacle Golf Club, and traveled the world as a professional caddy on the PGA Tour from 1987 to 1995. He loved to race the late-model dirt-track circuit, traveling to many tracks. NASCAR was his life — he never missed a race, and was a Daytona 500 enthusiast.

He was a member of Davenport Moose Lodge 28, where he was looking forward to working with the Special Olympics. He was a devoted Iowa Hawkeye and Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He loved spending time with his friends. He especially enjoyed indoor go-karting with Derek and Denny. He loved when his Grandma Violet made him his special pancakes, and he loved music, dancing, sports, shoes, and a good haircut.

Tod is survived by his wife, Susan; his parents, Bill and Rosalie; brothers, Kyle, Smyrna, Ga., and Scot and his wife, Kelly, Rock Island; grandparents, Hiram and Violet Erickson, Moline; uncle and aunt, Randy and Cindy Erickson; and cousins, Kristy and Lynsy Erickson. Tod was preceded in death by his lovely sister, Wendy, and his beloved grandparents, Elmer and Dorothea Brinkman.


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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Grandma was a (food) pusher

My grandmothers, Grace Roberts (l) and Minnie Miller, with Tippy.

My friend Brent Arp says he and I don’t have a weight problem — we have a height problem. I like his way of looking at things.

Most of my height problem, though, is my own fault and can’t be blamed entirely on the short frame God gave me. I can, however, place some of the blame on my late grandmother, Grace Roberts. She was a pusher — a food pusher.

My dad’s mother was a good cook. We ate well when we visited her home in Hannibal, Mo. I was skinny back then.

After I’d finished one serving of everything on the table, Grandma would look at my empty plate, and the conversation would go something like this:

“Take some more fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and coleslaw, honey,” she’d say.

“No thank you, Grandma,” I replied.

“Oh, come in. There’s plenty left.”

“No thanks, I’m full.”

“Just a little more, hon. Don’t you like it?”

Then I’d give in. “Oh, OK.”

Grandma’s gone, replaced now by another pusher, a voice in my head that says things like, “I’m really good, Phil, so eat me” or “If one serving is good, two are better.”

I’ve always been too quick to give in to those voices — Grandma’s and the one in my head. But WeightWatchers and I are working hard to change that.

Copyright 2010 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as a column to The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Cassette recorder takes its last breath

Gone but not forgotten.

Death came quickly and without warning. She still had energy but just quit moving. I guess she was just worn out.

My Realistic Model CTR-68 cassette tape recorder died last week. She was at work at the time, recording a lengthy hearing in Bettendorf when her motor just stopped turning.

I immediately gave her some tape recorder life support — new batteries. But she was gone.

Since she recorded audio on cassettes, an old-fashioned way of doing things by today’s standards, the Realistic recorder was a bit of a dinosaur. Though she was pricey when new — $80 or so as I recall — that’s a far cry from the $500 state-of-the-art digital recorder I was issued when I worked at WOC Radio News. Rather than cassettes, it recorded its audio on a card like those used in digital cameras.

We’d been through a lot together, my CTR-68 and me. We did scores of one-on-one interviews and covered countless news conferences and public meetings. I never gave her a nickname, but we were like old friends.

This isn’t the first recorder over the years that I’ve worn out and laid to rest. But, like the time I stopped using my trusty typewriter in favor of a computer keyboard, it’s tough to say good-bye.

Copyright 2010 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This article was submitted as a column to The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

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Posted by on February 11, 2010 in Uncategorized


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A sad day for Midwest racing: Checkered flag waves for WDRL

Jim Wilson and myself with Jody Deery and Evan Schoenfish at a NASCAR meeting during the 1990s..

Jim addresses a pre-season meeting at Webster City, Iowa.

Jim doesn't like carrots, and his officials made sure he got one at one of his racing banquets.

At Jefferson, S.D., in 1998.

Pow-wow with Craig Kelley at Sunset Speedway, Omaha.

A discussion with Larry Eckrich at Sunset Speedway in Omaha.

Jim with series officials in Daytona Beach.

Jim with series tech inspector Art Daufeldt at a trade show in Daytona Beach.

Jim Wilson, standing beside me in the truck in the blue jacket, was presented a cake in honor of the final All-Star Series race, which took place in Denison, Iowa.

As Jim Wilson looks on, late Denison, Iowa, promoter Howard Mellinger presents a trophy to Steve Kosiski for starting each and every All-Star Series race 1985-2001.

WDRL was born during this discussion following the final NASCAR All-Star Series banquet.

With Nancy Wilson at the 2009 WDRL banquet.

Nancy Wilson and I pose for a photo at the 2009 WDRL banquet.

Jim chats with me (middle) and a race car sponsor at the 2009 WDRL banquet.

Jim and Nancy Wilson at the final WDRL banquet, held in November 2009.

Jim Wilson congratulates WDRL champion Chap Simpson in 2008. Simpson also won the 2009 championship.

Yesterday I sadly edited and distributed a news release for my friends, Jim and Nancy Wilson, announcing the end of their Late Model touring series, the WORLD Dirt Racing League. (The release follows.)

I had been told by Jim in confidentiality a couple of weeks ago that this might happen, but it was still somewhat of a shock. Lack of a title sponsor had hurt the series for a couple of seasons, and no title sponsor could be found for 2010. To make matters worse, it was getting more difficult to find tracks willing to schedule races.

I have known Jim Wilson since at least 1982, when I began announcing NASCAR-sanctioned races at Davenport Speedway for co-promoters Al Frieden and Dale Gegner.

And I’ve worked closely with Jim Wilson for the last two decades.

Ably assisted by my wonderful wife, Sherry, I was Jim’s publicist, media relations guy, photographer, Victory Lane organizer and sometimes race announcer for the NASCAR All-Star Series from 1990 to 2001. Sherry and I traveled to scores of races with the series those years and worked before, during and after each race on series publicity.

Although we traveled to only a few WDRL races, and that was when the series first began in 2002, I have handled series publicity from home from that point through 2009.

I have made many friends in racing, and Jim Wilson is at the top of the list. We’ve been through thick and thin together. The end of his series won’t end our friendship, and we’ll stay in touch. But things won’t quite be the same.

I wish the best for the Wilsons, the series officials and everyone else I had the pleasure of knowing and working with over the years. Like Jim said, it’s been a great ride. – Phil Roberts

For immediate release


Series president Jim Wilson thanks everyone for eight years of loyal support

By Phil Roberts
Media Coordinator
WORLD Dirt Racing League

Gilman City, Mo. (Feb. 5, 2010) — The WORLD Dirt Racing League (WDRL) is sorry to announce that its Late Model touring series is discontinuing business operations, effective at once. Series president Jim Wilson made the announcement today.

“We hated to have to make this announcement because of the loyalty of the race fans, race teams and racetracks that we have been fortunate to race at each year,” he said. “We have a lot of friends out there who will be missed tremendously, and we wish them all the best of luck. For all of these reasons, shutting down the series was a very hard decision to make.”

The idea for WDRL was developed in late 2001 by Wilson and his wife Nancy after NASCAR made the decision to discontinue its All-Star Series, which Jim Wilson directed, after 17 years of operation. WDRL began its eight-year run in 2002.

“I had many drivers and promoters come to me after the word was out that the All-Star Series would no longer be in existence,” said Wilson. “They asked me to start my own touring series to keep a Dirt Late Model tour going in the Midwest. I decided to resign from NASCAR at that time and do it.

“After working for NASCAR for 20 years, the only way that I knew or even wanted to run a racing program, was to run it professionally and with professionally trained officials. We hired the best officials we could find to run the race programs at the WDRL races. I thank Mark Ludwig, Ron Streger, Art Daufeldt, Rusty Daufeldt, Phil Roberts, Chris Hansen, Dean and Shirley Howe, Mable McCuen, Eldon Wilson, Tom Lathen, Steve Pauley, Cheryl Hutchinson, Bucky Doren and others for their part of making the WDRL a professionally run series. These officials didn’t all work with us at the same time but were all instrumental in making the WDRL the best-run short track series in the United States.”

Wilson adds: “In the eight years that we operated WDRL, we never had one complaint of unfair treatment and never had one injury that was serious enough to turn in for insurance. That tells me the officials were doing their jobs in treating all teams the same and making sure the race cars were as safe as possible.

“We lost our title sponsor, PolyDome, in 2008 due to circumstances beyond their control, and we were never able to pick up another. I thank Dick and Karla and Dan and Pam Johanneck of PolyDome for their six years of sponsorship and for all they have done for us and for short track racing through their sponsorship.

“I thank Jim Groves of Iowa-Illinois Taylor Insulation for his sponsorship for each year of the WDRL. Jim and Julie Groves supported WDRL from Day One and are great friends as well as being great supporting sponsors.

“I want to say thanks to Lee Havlik and Josh Anderson of Chase Signs and Graphics for their sponsorship from the beginning of the WORLD Dirt Racing League and for all they have done for us and for racing. They are the ones who designed the WDRL logo for us.

“I thank Hoosier Racing Tires for their continued sponsorship,” Wilson said. “I realize that our competitors are spending money with them, but they have been willing to put something back in. They have also been with us from the beginning.

“We thank all of the sponsors of WDRL. They have all been generous to our racing teams, and we appreciate that. I want to thank the fans of WDRL. We have received a lot of supportive e-mails and letters over the years and a lot of nice things were said to us after races, and we appreciate each and every one of those comments. We have some great fans.”

Wilson also thanked members of the media for their dedicated coverage of the series.

“We want to thank the racing teams who have supported the WORLD Dirt Racing League and have traveled all over the Midwest with us for the last eight years. These guys have all been a pleasure to work with and have been willing to work with us in any way we asked them to.

“Last but not least I want to thank the promoters and the race tracks who have supported WDRL by promoting WDRL races. We have been able to meet some new faces as well as work with some we’ve known for years, and it has been quite a ride,” Wilson said.

Wilson concluded, “What Nancy and I are going to do in the future is up in the air right now. I am too young to retire and am not even thinking about doing that. We have some irons in the fire, and we will keep everyone posted. Again thanks to everyone who has been involved in the WORLD Dirt Racing League. We hope you enjoyed this series as much as we enjoyed doing it.”


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Posted by on February 6, 2010 in Uncategorized


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