** 1963 / 1964 / 1965 **
I remember the track. We would get to the gate entrance and a guard would stop our car, just like every
car. Dad would say hello and announce himself as ‘Charlie Dodge.’ The guard would step back in surprise. ‘Oh?!!
Go right ahead!’ There was never a charge. We entered many events just short of a personal escort.
Even as a child I could sense the respect.
Mom always had us kids in tow. In earlier years she
was right up there with the pit crew. But once we ‘little darlings’ came along, that ended. She was sanctioned
to the camper and setting up makeshift tents so we could watch Daddy and all the action without burning up in the
sun. My freckled face still bears the signs of many a sunburn.
We huddled under the blanket attached
to the fence and a few 55 gallon drums. Our own personal awning. Men ran here and there, car engines roared, the announcer
bellowed over the loud speakers... it was all very infectious. As the cars raced down the track, we pressed our faces hard
against the chain links to see all we could, screaming our encouragements. Sometimes Dad drove, sometimes Uncle George drove.
Either way anxiety gripped. I do not know how my Mother could stand the intensity. Especially given her childhood history...
Then again she didn’t have much of a choice.