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9705Happy New Year 2006

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    Jan 1, 2006
      Effort, PA
      January 1, 2006


      I'd like to wish a happy and successful New Year to all of my TrackChaser friends. This is kind of an end of the year, state of the union message for TrackChasing. Although I?ve been around from the beginning, I don?t think my spin on things is any more valid or valuable than anyone else?s. I would certainly like to hear from anyone else who has any ideas for the greater good of TrackChasing.

      A special congratulation is in order for Randy Lewis, for breaking the single season new track record. As is often said, the race is won with the preparation back in the garage, and I think that applies in this case. However, I don't want to congratulate Randy without also offering equal congratulations to Ed Esser, who also broke the previously existing single season new track record, to Roland Vanden Eynde, for having the top season for a European and adding to his record breaking country list, to Andy Sivi, for becoming the third person to reach the 1000 track mark, to P. J. Hollebrand for getting a new track for an incredible number of consecutive years, and to everyone else who has reached individual seasonal and career goals and milestones this year.

      It's a pleasure to have been the originator of this group of people from all over the world who share the same hobby and interest. I think it is commendable that most continue to act in a classy manner, sharing information on new tracks and races; and offering congratulations for TrackChasing accomplishments; even to those that will neither acknowledge them, offer kudos to others, or share info. It really shows the character of the group of fine individuals that make up TrackChasers. As an example, our first thought when finding out Saturday at DeVos was canceled was if there was any way we could contact Rick to let him know. Perhaps we should develop an emergency cell phone list for the group?

      If I have any concern about the group direction, it's about how competitiveness sometimes turns ugly and results in less than admirable actions. I am not saying I am immune to this, nor referring to any specific individuals. Perhaps we can downplay the competitive aspect by offering congratulations when people accomplish TrackChasing firsts, or reach TrackChasing milestones, rather than for "passing" or "beating" others. I pray that it never gets so competitive that winning becomes more important than the group camaraderie that has developed. I fear that it has already become more important than the racing, which is what started it all for all of us.

      I have mixed emotions that we continue to recognize Rick Schneider as the TrackChasing champion. As a friend of Rick long before the term "TrackChaser" existed, I am sad that he no longer wants to be associated with us, and feel conflicted that we do not honor his wishes to no longer add any of his new tracks. I don?t even know if Rick still considers me a friend, although I was proud that he called me to inform the group about the death of his mom. No one loves going to the races more than Rick. With Rick it has always been about the races. No matter what he thinks of this group now, and no matter how many tracks he really has vs. how many we know about, Rick will always be a champion. In the same way, Pappy and Allan will also always be champions as well. It takes a certain level of integrity and character to earn the title of champion, and having been to the most tracks does not necessarily make someone a champion. It only makes them number one. Pappy, then Allan, then Rick have earned the title champion. I respect and admire them all. Rick could have two hundred more tracks listed, and Allan could again be number one if he chose to be. Both Allan and I have vowed not to pass Rick for the top spot, as we know we would not be the true number one.

      The increased international flavor of the group has been a huge plus, in my opinion. Pam and I had such a great time visiting England and meeting up with Colin, Spike, Mark, and Colin. We treasure our two chances to spend time with Roland in the US. The recent project to declare a TrackChaser Number One for each continent is a great step forward for the group, as is the continued plugging away at the Chris E. list. It's cool to have some international drivers listed along with Kinser, Swindell, and Schrader.

      Pam and I were so honored to be invited into Allan and Nancy's home last month while in Grand Rapids. I'm very much looking forward to an ice racing trip with Mike Knappenberger this month or next. Another new chance to swap racing stories with someone who is one of us. It's the friendships and the experiences along the way that make this thing great.

      My racing goals for 2006 are fairly limited. I promised to myself that after reaching 1000 tracks in October, I would go to fewer than a dozen tracks in the next half year. I plan to keep that promise, as I have only been to four new tracks in three months, skipping December 31 and January 1 possibilities in Georgia. Last year I went to over 60 new tracks, which was a little too many for me as I have other interests, including letting Pam decide how we spend half of our time together. A non racing activity with Pam is almost always better than a new track without her. What you may not know is that when we got married, Pam said I could go off TrackChasing without her but not for more than ten days at a time. Fifteen years later, I have yet to go for more than five days. Maybe this year? I hope to get to somewhere around 40 new tracks in 2006, give or take a few, but without passing Rick for the top spot under any circumstances. That's just a personal decision, and I have no problem with Andy or Randy or anyone else doing it. Go for it, guys! I?ll be right there to offer my congratulations. I guess my main goal will be to try see if Will and I can get to 100 different tracks in Canada. I hope we can work together to help each other when possible and not turn it into too much of a competition. Other than that I'll continue to inform the group whenever I find out about new tracks or races, and continue to spread the word about the group in AARN. One of my projects for early 2006 is going to be a column on the ten greatest TrackChasing feats of all-time. I don't think I will try to rank them, though.

      I would love to read from others in the group what their TrackChasing goals or plans are for 2006.

      I would like to end by offering special thanks to Will for the tremendous website he has built for us. Without Will, we would still all be waiting for me to put together a yearbook every other year. Thanks also to Andy Ritter for offering to take over administration of the listserve, to Allan and Nancy for supplying us all with their invaluable NSD. And to Gordy, who called me today while looking for the Georgia double, I know you had a rough 2005 and were subjected to some hurtful guff, both publicly and privately, that was totally undeserved. I pray you get your Blessedness back and share it with Sue. Everyone else, have a great 2006 and feel free to ask if there is anything I can do to help anytime along the way.

      Again, Happy New Year from Guy and Pam.

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