Monday, June 30, 2008

Vacation 2008

Belle with the winning 17.5 inch catfish

Ally at Wiffle Ball Stadium
Our cabin, On Golden Pond
Jamie and Dudley in the Pigeon River

Mom and Belle on the Skyscraper
Vacation 2008 is in the books. Thanks to all who participated. It was a great time together in the Great Smokey Mountains. The cast was made up of Mom, Ally, BJ, Belle, Regi, Jason, Dudley, Mary W., Holley R., Jamie H and me.

The cabin that we stayed in was named "On Golden Pond" and was within easy walking distance to the fishing ponds, putt-putt and the pool, all of which were used often.

Jason, BJ and I rode ATV's on trails that I would classify as treacherous. There were plenty of places where I was on two wheels, and places that I had to inch over huge boulders. There were dropoffs and great views all over the place. Mom and Regi rode horses at the same location.

Mom and Belle rode the Skyscraper. They were strapped into a tandem seat on a ride that has an arm attached to a tower. I'm guessing the tower is 70 feet tall. The arm then extends another 50 feet and it rotates around the tower, flinging the riders into the air in a circular motion coming down to earth at a dizzying speed and then rushing back into the air to a height of perhaps 120 feet or more and then continuing on that course for a while before reversing its course and doing it backwards. Great fun! I have Mom on video mouthing the words, "Never again", as she exited. Later, she said she might try it again sometime. Not me. I dove head first off the Bungee platform, but you would not catch me on the Skyscraper!

Several of us went to a little country Methodist church for Sunday worship. That was a nice experience.

We ate like horses the whole week. Some of the highlights were: BBQ ribs for Sunday lunch, Hamburgers with Swiss Cheese and Bacon by Belle and Mary for Monday evening, Grilled marinated Ribeyes by Chefs BJ and Dad on Tuesday, Omelets to order by BJ on Wednesday morning (mine was a Deluxe - 4 eggs with ribeye steak, bacon, ham, peppers, tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms), Dixie Stampede Thursday evening, Pancake Pantry for Friday breakfast and a fabulous Fish Fry on Friday evening hosted by Jamie.

Each day devotions were led by a different person. Those times were very special. Thanks to each of you for your participation.

The Lavy Putt Putt Tournament held at Professor Hacker's in Pigeon Forge was won by Ally Lavy. She won by 2 strokes over BJ and Jason and by 5 strokes over me. She won a total of 10 dollars in prize money. After several rounds of golf on the resort course, Saturday morning was the prestigious Lavy Open. BJ won with a 48 over Jamie and myself, who tied with 50's. Belle won the fishing tournament with a 17.5 inch catfish. Mary W. won the official "word of the vacation" contest, effectively using the word "fling" and its variations enough to impress the committee (made up of volunteers Ally and me).

It was a week full of fun and relaxation. There was swimming in the pool, a pool table, Putt Putt on the resort and two great Wiffle Ball games at the Wiffle Ball Stadium, which was created in a picturesque valley just across a little bridge from one of the fishing ponds.

Dudley went along for his first-ever vacation. He had a great time wearing himself out on the mountains so that he could barely crawl into bed at night. He finished up by swimming in the river at the Apple Barn with Jamie.

Hopefully, we can do Vacation 2009 next June.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kentucky Speedway

I received a big surprise for Father's Day. My five kids sent me clues via e-mail and phone throughout the day on Thursday of last week. These were in the form of letters, which had to be unscrambled. At the end of the clues, I had no clue! After some unscrambling, however, the words were "Sparta Kentucky". That is the city where the Kentucky Speedway is located.
Danette and I went to the Nationwide race on Saturday evening. We even were able to get pit passes. We spent a couple hours in the pit area before and during qualifying. We were able to get very close to Carl Edwards, Kenny and Steve Wallace, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, David Reuttiman and a few other racers.
Danette observed that the guys qualifying were a lot faster than I drove when I drove there for Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure. It is still neat, though to watch the racing on the same track that I was able to drive a few years ago.
When qualifying was nearly over, we went to our seats. There, from Row 17, we watched the start of the race. When it was about half over we went back to the pit area. From our vantage point there, we could get directly behind the pit boxes and watch the crew chief and crews work. We could walk the entire length of the pit road from Turn 4 to Turn 1. That made for an extremely interesting evening.
When Kyle Busch crashed on the backstretch, the crowd was thrilled. If you don't know, Kyle is not liked real well by many Nascar fans because of his run-ins with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the fan favorite. Danette and I were standing at the entrance to pit road when that accident happened. When they brought the wrecked car around to the front, Danette and I were leading the cheers of the 73,000 fans. That was the happiest that the crowd was all night, I believe. I also received a phone call from Paul Lavy moments after the wreck. As Paul said, it couldn't have happened to a better person! Even Mom isn't terribly enamored with Mr. Busch!
Eighteen-year-old Joey Logano won the race easily. He is the youngest ever to win a Nationwide race.
What a great night it was for racing, and what a nice Father's Day present from the kids. Thanks Regi, Jason, Danette, Brent and Ally.
On Sunday, we had a great meal at Danette's apartment. All the kids were there, and some friends also. Thanks, kids.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Some of you know that I am a Nascar fan. I'm not a huge fan. I've never even been to a Sprint Cup race. But, I do follow the racing somewhat. We have been to Kentucky Speedway to see the Busch Series race twice (now known as the Nationwide Series). We have also been to several other tracks to see some racing, including Myrtle Beach Speedway, Winchester Speedway, Shadybowl Speedway, Eldora Speedway, Indianapolis and O'Reilly.
In October, 2004, I had the drive of a lifetime, when I strapped into a 600 horsepower racecar at Kentucky Speedway, driving for Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure. Here, in my own words, is the experience as I recalled it.
Local Man Takes Drive of a Lifetime
By: Lowell J. Lavy
Most mornings when I get up, I get into my black ‘97 Geo Metro and head for work at Wholesale Carpet Outlet in Gettysburg. I pull out onto Rt. 127, push the accelerator to the floor, and in just a few short minutes I am up to my cruising speed of 55 mph. On Oct. 9, 2004, however, it was an entirely different situation. I had signed up to race at the Kentucky Speedway with Dale Jarrett Racing Adventures.

When I was much younger, my brother owned a 1967 GTO, and one time we went extremely fast. I don’t know if there is a statute of limitations on speeding so I won’t get any more specific than that. Besides, my dad may be reading this. One thing is certain- that Goat could move! However, this did not prepare me for what was about to happen.

Kentucky Speedway is located about forty miles from Cincinnati on I-71, near Sparta, Ky. The 1.5-mile tri-oval hosts several races each year, including the Nascar Busch Series in June. It is situated in rolling hills on a one thousand acre plot, ninety-seven of which are located in the infield.

On Saturday, Oct. 9, after spending the night at my daughters’ apartment in Erlanger, Ky., we drove to the track. After arriving at about 7:30 A.M., I registered, and then I had to be at the drivers’ meeting at 8:00. Here, they went over the track layout, introduced us to our spotters (who would actually be riding with us), and went over the rules. They kept it interesting and humorous, even getting one of the participants to admit to being a Jeff Gordon fan. They assured him it was something he would grow out of.

Immediately after class, we were instructed to go to pit road. There, eight cars were lined up – seven Tauruses and one Monte Carlo. Everyone had to take a van ride around the track for several laps so that the acceleration and deceleration points could be identified. Then, it was back to pit road to wait my turn.

There were thirty-nine drivers that morning, and I was about two thirds of the way down the list. As it got closer to my turn, I got into my fire suit and was fitted with a Hutchins device—a safety apparatus to keep your head from being tossed around in case of an accident. After selecting a helmet from the pit wall, I was ready!

When there were just a few drivers left before my turn, they put the number of the car I would be driving beside my name. It was the 7 car, a blue and white Monte Carlo. Soon it was my turn, and I made my way across pit road to the racecar. It was easier than I expected to slide into the fifteen-inch window opening and down into the racing seat. They buckled me in tightly so that I could barely move my body or head. After popping the steering wheel in place, they fired up the 600+ horsepower engine. On command from my spotter, I put it in gear and soon we were rolling down the 2800-foot pit road, at about 55 mph. A left turn at the end put us on a narrow entrance road, and when we got around the curve we were out on the apron of the backstretch. I quickly accelerated and my spotter instructed me to go up onto the 70-foot wide racing surface. Then it was through turns 3 and 4, and onto the 1662-foot front straightaway through the tri-oval to take the green flag for ten racing laps.

I was off the gas as instructed at turn 1, then down to turn 2 and back on the gas, down the 1600-foot backstretch, and then once again into turns 3 and 4, which are banked at 14 degrees. Then it was down the front straightaway and across the finish line to begin lap two.

According to the telemetry information provided to me on CD, my top speed was 139.5 mph. They told us that the record for holding your breath at Kentucky Speedway was six laps; I may have been close to that. Fortunately, there were only four or five cars at a time on the track, so there was not a lot of close racing. It is also fortunate that I am forty-five years old, and too old to change professions, because that is a lot of fun! This was real white-knuckle, heart-racing action, and I’ll never forget the experience. Tomorrow, I think I’ll climb in the window of my Geo and see if it will do any better!
I have changed jobs since then, and I am now happily employed at Creative Carpets in Greenville. Coincidentally, my boss, Jack Curry, also participated in the racing adventure at Kentucky. Brent, Danette and Jason joined me for a racecar driving experience at Myrtle Beach Speedway, last year on vacation. That was a nice drive around a one-half mile track.
Thanks for reading. See you next time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Congratulations, Brooklyn

Saturday afternoon was spent at the Collingsworth Estate honoring Brooklyn, a HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE. Congratulations, Brooklyn, for completing your requirements, much of which was done on the road in Big Red. It was a beautiful day, filled with fish, four-wheelers, food and fun.
Brooklyn even hit a home run off of my stellar pitching in the softball game between some of the older group and the younger group. Everything was fine until I pulled a leg muscle. That happens when you start to go over the hill.
Thanks, Brook, for inviting us to celebrate with you. I hope you always have success in what you and the Lord choose for you.