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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tony Vickio Lap 23

Steve Tinker
Originally uploaded by Sally Ann.
Experiences of "The World Famous"
by: Tony Vickio

Painting at the Famous Race Tracks

Lap 23: Back to Work

"Hi Donna, how are you doing"? I say. In her best "Southern voice" she says, "Well, I'm doin' just fine! How are you all doin'? I say, "We are just workin' away as usual". Mike wanted me to call ya. We have a ton of wall logos to paint and he wants you down here two weeks before the race. Let me know how many rooms you will need and we will see you then".

"Great! I'll call you tomorrow with the info. Thanks and see ya later!” I say and smiling I hang up the phone. It’s so nice to work with people who totally trust you to get the job done. Mike (Talladega General Manager) doesn't ask the price or how I'm going to do the job or how many men I'm bringing. He tells me the job and from there on he trusts me to get the job done, I'm the "boss". I feel great!

I get on the phone and call Larry Orr (Orr Signs) and tell him of the new "Gig".He's in! I need one more guy. A while back, I remember Steve Tinker saying, "Take me on one of you're trips to Talladega, I'll kill to go! I'll do anything"! I call Steve. He literally went crazy! I finally hung up on him! He called right back, "are you sh****** me?" came blasting out of the phone! I said, "You’re going to have to work and work hard". He came back with, "I will do anything man, Holy Christ, I can't believe it, I'll get my vacation scheduled today!"! I hung up the phone and with a smile turned and went back to work. I started thinking how one phone call could make someone so happy. It made me feel really good. I've known Steve most of my life. We rode the same school bus. As a matter of fact, you could say I saved his life in the 70's.

Years ago, we had "real" snow storms. We all had snowmobiles and we rode the crap out of them! Steve lived in Townsend, which is just west of the Race Track and about 5 miles from my house. One night, around 9:00pm, a friend of mine, Don Romeo, drove in to my parent's house, where I had a garage, with his four wheel drive, a trailer with his snowmobile on it. We decided to ride to "Pappy's". Pappy's was a bar that is located in Monterey, NY. Monterey is located west of the Race Track and about 6 miles from Townsend, where Steve lived. It is in "no man's land"! When you hear of record low temperatures and record snow falls in the state, it will most likely be in Monterey.

We unloaded his sled from the trailer. It just started snowing again. We had a good foot on the ground already and this looked like we were in for a good snowfall. As we were in the garage putting our suits on, outside the snow was really starting to come down. When we walked out the door and saw Don's sled covered in fresh snow, we considered not going, but then the challenge of facing danger took over and we headed out. It was cold and the heavy snow was wet. A couple of pulls on the starter cord and the twin cylinder 340cc Yamaha came to life. The headlight, at first, is dim, but after the engine revs up it is bright and pierces the heavy snowflakes and engine smoke (gas mixed with oil) for about 50 feet. With me in the lead, we head past my house to the shrub filled field and to the trail that runs along our field parallel with the railroad tracks. The grass has been packed down on our trail, so even though it is covered by a foot of snow, you can still see the trail clearly. We are riding through the field and into a small stand of trees. The trail snakes though the trees and into another field where there is a gap in the old, rusted wire fence that leads to a farmer's crossing of the railroad tracks. We zip through the gap and across the tracks. No train has been by for some time and the snow, now "really" coming down, has completely covered the tracks. We don't even slow down as we cross the tracks.

Across the tracks we go down a 12 foot bank and continue our ride through another field to the Race Track. It is getting very hard to ride as visibility is rapidly decreasing and the snow is getting so deep it is hard for the snowmobiles to get through. We stop at the far end of the track, near Townsend, and discuss the situation. It is now snowing like hell! You can see it building up on the hood of the sleds while we sit there. The challenge is there, but after watching an inch build up on the hood of my sled while we talk, we decide to head back. It is getting so deep it is hard for the sleds to get through. We take turns breaking a path so we don't burn up a drive belt. About a mile from the track and two miles from Townsend, Don is breaking the trail. The snow is coming down at an unbelievable pace. You can not see twenty feet ahead. Just then, with the snow swirling up from Don's sled and into my headlight, out of the corner of my eye to my right, I spot a dark form maybe 10 feet away. It was right at the edge of visibility. One more foot and I wouldn't have seen it. "What the hell was that? It was big and we are driving on the road" I think to myself. We are riding on County Route 16 now as we can no longer see the trail. Knowing we were in the road, there definitely was something back there. I decide to stop and see what it was. When Don saw my light turn away, he stopped. He looked over his right shoulder and through the snow fall, he could no longer see me.

Thinking I broke down, he turns around. Not an easy chore when the snow is now two feet deep and getting deeper. I drove about 20 feet up the road and I see nothing. I look back, over my left shoulder and I see the glow, through the snow, of Don's headlight. It's now snowing so hard, the light looks like a car headlight in heavy fog. It is really getting worse fast. I am a little nervous about getting stranded out here as there are not many houses. The shield on the helmet keeps fogging over and to open it is useless as it is snowing so hard, you can't keep your eyes open. There! A dark form in the snow and it is moving! I ride over and about ten feet away I make out the form of a man, bent over and barely walking in the now, 30 inches of snow! I get off the sled and walking through the snow approach the guy in this blizzard. He is disoriented and totally exhausted. His face is snow covered and I now I can see it is Steve Tinker! "Steve, come this way", I say. Just then Don pulls up. We get him to my sled and get him on the seat. We are closer to my house than his so we decide to ride the roads to my house. It’s so hard riding, especially with two, that it's putting a strain on my arms and the sled! I'm breathing so hard my shield is fogged over to the point I have to flip it up and ride with my head down and just peaking out the top of the opening. We are now about 50 yards from my house and I feel better. Almost there! It's snowing so hard the snowplows aren't even out.

We pull into the drive way and help Steve into the house. My parents were worried sick as we are now in a real blizzard and we were out in it. Steve gets revived and later when a plow finally went by; Don took him home with the help of his four wheel drive truck.

I don't know if I saved his life or not, but I don't think, without someone else coming by, he would have made it. Now he "owes me his life twice" as we are going to Talladega!

We will be painting wall logos so I need my computer and plotter to make patterns with. Steve is going to drive his truck down so we load all of our gear in his Chevy pickup, with a cap on the back, and at 4 in the morning we head south. We stop at Larry's house, which is on the way, and we pick him up. Not 50 miles down the road we hit a deer! In the dark, we pull over and get out to inspect the truck. We didn't hit the deer full blast or we would be going back and getting my truck. The deer spun around and headed off into the field at a full run. No damage to the truck or the deer and we sail on. I say to the guys, "I hope this isn't an indication of what is to come"!

Lap: 24: Painting and Repainting on the High Banks


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed Lap 21: Pace Car Rides. Can you please re-post? I have all of the other laps and don't want to have this lap missing. Thanks.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Sallyann said...

Go to the "Archives" on the left side of the blog and click on July. Everything that I posted for the month of July will appear on one long page. Scroll down until you find Lap's there waiting for ya....

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found it ... thanks, Sallyann, for your help!

7:52 AM  
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