Well here it is, September already. Seems like just yesterday we were in summer. Let me start with the Pity Party….
It has been yet another year of Dina Parise Racing fighting with Stella the Cadillac Pro Mod. Some people would look at us and say, “ok it’s enough, already, throw in the towel and sell it all”. Trust me, we have thought about this. The pain of quitting will last forever. We owe the companies and fans that support us more than that. I want to thank our marketing partners for staying with us, and our fans for all the love they show us. Without the support and love we couldn’t continue. So, enough of the Pity Party…..
We swapped everything out the beginning of the year and were bitten with electrical issues. We chased them like a cat chasing his tail. So, we changed everything once again. Stella was doing a bit better till we lost the fuel timers. It’s been a real fight. We had taken my engine package from the 53 Corvette and put it in Stella. Well, Stella just seems pissed off because she won’t cooperate and trust me it’s not like we aren’t trying. Between buying new parts and lack of funding we might be moving into a cardboard box soon! But like they say, if it was easy everyone would be doing it!
When we had two cars we ran very well. Now running one car is a struggle. Hero to zero as they say! Sadly, it seems some like to see us down in the ditches. What I focus on is how many people really want us to be back on top. That is what keeps us going. I think it’s time for me to go to church; maybe take a shower in some holly water. That’s the ‘Altar boy’ in me talking (yes, I was an altar boy).
As many of you may know, in November we lost our Bella girl at 15 years old. It was so hard and painful to see her go. Truth be told, she had a better life then me. I want to come back as her. I still can’t believe that 15 years passed so quickly. To get another dog was so hard because our hearts were still hurting. In April, Dina found Pickles, and we drove to Tennessee to see her. Well, Pickles was a cute little thing and we took her. We had the Vet check her and give her shots as needed. She brought joy and fun back into our lives. It was as if Bella sent her to us. She had such an amazing personality and was a great companion. The “Triple P” (Pickles Petunia Parise), was doing tricks, sleeping on my pillow as soon as I got out of bed, just funny things. We brought her in for a ‘basic procedure’ but she never woke up in recovery. We found out she was a very sick little girl. Her organs were compromised and it went undetected. Some people will say it’s ‘only a dog’ or ‘she had issues before you got her’, move on. For us She was Pickles Petunia Parise. She was part of this family. So, the guilt we feel for not finding this sooner eats at us. I wish we could have done more for her. 7-month-old PPP will be missed dearly. Thank you to everyone for all the comments. She seemed to make an impression on so many! Dina has created The Pickles Project. It is going to be a new web site for Pet owners, with tons of information. Everything you can think of. So, keep an eye out for ThePicklesProject.com! You know Dina when she is on a mission you best watch out! You can already find the Pickles Project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
As I said before, if this racing thing were easy, everyone would be doing it. Not many really know just how we roll, so here goes….. Let’s talk crew. At the shop, it’s me and myself. Yes, both of us work on the car, load the car, entire trailer and take care of everything. We have got it down to a science. We get all the parts ready, wash the rig and even put the food in the motorhome. Not every trip is ‘load and go’. Take our trip to Huntsville Dragway for example. As we go to leave for the Huntsville Match race, I begin to pull out of the shop and BAM; a flat tire on the trailer. Well, that would have been an ugly one so I am glad it happened in the shop. We change the tire (our friend Russell was with us to help crew) and must go find a spare. That took 3 hours because it seems everything in Georgia that is considered ‘just down the road’ is in actuality, an hour away. As we go to leave for the second time, the EGR decides to say, “sorry I am not going to work.” Oh, did I mention? It’s brand new. So, Russell and I pull it apart and fix it while Dina does a Live Video and annoys us. Finally, we get on the road. In the end, Dina did win 2 out of 3 races, and the crowd was amazing. So, a negative became a positive!
Unfortunately, now our Motorhome has been in and out of the Freightliner shop for weeks. Once again, we are told it is all fixed. While driving down Route 24, (in the Tennessee mountains) we encounter a huge downhill slope (not uncommon). When suddenly, the engine light comes on and panic sets in. It only gets worse when the big light comes on saying ‘Shutting Down’ as we see the sign coming up that says Sharpe curve 45mph. I am holding the override button till my finger turns blue, but the truck says, “sorry that won’t help you.” Luckily, we made it to the bottom of the hill. I thought Dina was going to need to be resuscitated though. My guess is it was Stella (the Grandmother, not the car) was playing games with the truck. On the way back home from the race I noticed the brakes were not working properly on the trailer. Which is odd, considering, I maintain them properly. This trip just gets better and better. So, we pull into Pilot and we had no brake fluid in the reservoir. No big deal, right? Fill it up, right? Well, we come to find out that we broke a brake line on the trailer. As I said, I’m crazy with maintenance, so I have spares. Although, I don’t know why I would even have this? But, easy fix. Being it was 98 degrees outside, and I couldn’t get the line off easily, made for a miserable hour and half. Finally got back on the road.
Next, we head out to the NMCA race at Route 66 Raceway. Again, we are told the truck has been ‘fixed’. We also had the generator in the truck serviced (professionally). All maintenance done (again) and we are off and running (so we think).Suddenly, the truck is smoking like a chimney (from the exhaust), so much so that it appears to be on fire! Yes, you read that correctly. Other motorists are beeping at us, while pointing and waiving. Just embarrassing. We get about 5 miles out from the track and BAM, the truck begins to go into shutdown mode. Did I mention, it’s pouring down rain so hard, that we couldn’t even see 5 feet in front of us. Again, I hit the override button (until my finger turns blue) for the next five miles, and thankfully, we arrive safely. We do owe a big thank you to Gino Cavallo of Chicago Intermodal Trucking for swinging by to assist us as well as he could.
Now it’s time to relax a bit and turn the (just fresh from service) generator on to cool off. It ran for 10 minutes and BAM, it shuts off. Really? Is this a test in life? Well, let’s just say, MacGyver has nothing on me. I hooked up a battery charger to the fuel pump in the generator and it ran for 3 days with no issues. Stella on the other hand fought back a bit, but we kept moving forward. We qualified #13 out of 28 cars. Not too bad even after struggling, although, we went out first round. But, we made progress.
After a weekend of racing, we begin the journey home. We were a few hours into the trip and as I started to pull off the road for fuel, BOOM! A rear tire blew out in the truck. Not only did the tire blow, but the tire takes out the radiator on the generator as well. The hits keep coming! Unfortunately, more added, unexpected expenses. 3 hours waiting for a new tire, (in 100-degree heat) did I mention that the air conditioning in the truck does not work at idle? Ya, there’s that (but the truck is fixed, right?). Finally, back on the road again. An hour from the shop the truck decides to say, ‘you can’t go home just yet’, and goes into shutdown mode yet again. We FINALLY arrived at the shop and unloaded at 430am. We went home to have some pizza and refreshments at 5:30am. Was this dinner or breakfast? We were not sure. We took the truck back to the dealer, again the next day. Oh, well actually, that day!
It was not long after that, we lost Pickles. It just seemed as if things were going from bad to worse. So much happening at once, and not too much of it in the positive column.
For me, the nickname T.O.G. (the other guy) is well earned! As you can see, this life may not seem so glamorous at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe it would be a bit better with a couple million in the bank and me driving again, but it’s amazing just the same. That couple million sure would help though. About me driving again, well, that’s on hold. As a team, we have decided to focus on getting Stella back to winning again, work on ROI for our current marketing partners, as well as acquiring new partners. Trust me, I want to race more than anything, but this is a team decision. I don’t know who has it harder me watching or Dina having to deal with me driving from behind the car (and in her ear). Probably, Dina. That is why I think my crew radio is now on a different channel, so she can’t hear me anymore. But for now, I am just happy to be part of the team and drive Dina CRAZY. It’s what I live for!
My craziness is what keeps me going. It’s what keeps us going! We have had hardships in our life as of late, but I put it in perspective. So many are suffering due to Mother Nature’s wrath. We have a roof over our head. Although, I am hunting for outside employment, we are making it work.