Sugar River Raceway pt. 2, Roma’s and Jabba the Hutt – The Maestro’s Take

For both (the only?) of the people (person) who read (reads) this blog [Jane], I know that you (plural [or not (probably not)]) are anxiously awaiting the follow up to the last entry, especially w/r/t Sugar River Raceway and their Saturday morning League races.

Fear not.

On the second Saturday morning of November in the year of the Whopper, immediately following the surprise election of Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner, the Mrs. and I went up to Brodhead Wisconsin so I could participate in the very last Sugar Ricer Raceway Saturday League Race. The Doc and I had previously tried to do a league race, but arrived too late. So I made sure that we got up and got there ON TIME. We rolled up a little before 10 a.m., and were the only people there. We were probably the only people in the county.

At around 10:30 a.m. another car rolled up. by 11:00 a.m. 3 other cars had showed up, and by 11:30 a.m. we were able to register, pay and get ready to race. I was the only person there who had never done their league race before, so I was more than a bit nervous. In addition to the Mrs. (who didn’t race) there was only one other female there.

Besides being a League newbie, I think I was the only person who didn’t have my own helmet. Had I brought my super special racing jumper, I would’ve been one of two people with their own super special racing jumper. The other guy was clearly very serious about this.

So the way this works is you have about a 6 minute qualifying lap. That means you go out there, in no particular order, and you do the best you can, and depending on who gets the fastest lap, that’s where they put you in the order. So the fastest person during the qualifying laps is put into the first position, or pole position.

pole-position

needless to say, I did not get pole position

Out of 13 racers, I got placed 10th. Not too shabby for a guy who had never done this before. And then they lined us up.

They line you up about 100 feet from the starting line in the pit (see below) and they let you mosey on out there, and the way serious gokarters mosey is that they aggressively move the car right and left and right and left as extremely as they can, while slowly rolling out to the start line. This is ostensibly to heat up the tires, and lord knows they needed them that morning, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s because it looks bad ass, and gives you something to do. And once you’ve reached the starting line you idle for a little bit, until the guy with the gigantic green flag gives you the go ahead.

sugar-river-raceway-map-hardy

note “pit” and “starting line”

This is where it gets absolutely terrifying. Once the green flag goes you have 13 cars stacked practically one on top of the other, taking off and gaining speeds of 60 m.p.h. very quickly, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but let me assure you, when you are all in teeny tiny cars not much bigger than your actual body, and you are right on top of each other, and everyone is trying to overtake everyone else, and you hit that first turn (see “SUE #1”) and it’s very cold out, and your tires haven’t warmed up yet, when all of that is happening, 60 m.p.h.s is damn fast.

Damn fast.

So these little cars, piled on top of each other hit SUE #1, and even though I’m the only real new person here, I somehow manage to not be included in the 4-5 cars that completely skid out onto the grass. And if you skid, you are dead. Even if you come back and manage to do the best lap times of everyone else in all your remaining laps, it’s the total race time that places you.in the end. Fastest individual lap time only matters in qualifying races. But I didn’t know this at this point, so I manage to get through the first race, and i look at my placement, and I’m… 10th. So pretty consistent.

The second race was no less frightening as we tear-assed it past SUE #1, and another 3-4 cars wiped out between SUE#1 and #2. One thing I noticed the second time through was that the people who were in the top 3 during the first race had zero fear tear-assing it just a hair’s breadth from other cars. Now these are not Formula 1 automobiles. These are basically souped up lawn mowers. Don’t get me wrong. They are very souped up, but my point is, they don’t have the kind of control that even your crappiest F1 cars have. Meaning that there is only a certain amount that technique can help you in that crucial first lap. Meaning that at a certain point, you just have to decide you may die, and go for it.

I am not at that point yet. I was very happy in all the races to stay back a little bit and watch the cars fly all over the place, and I remained pretty competitive throughout. There were great drivers who killed me in average lap times, but I would beat them because they wiped out early on in the race. But the ones who took the biggest risks were the ones who, ore often than not, won. They were really aggressive, but they were racing to win. It was a race after all. You really couldn’t fault them if they came right up your tail and threatened to throw you off the track. The Doc has much more experience than I do with crashing, so I was able to avoid crashing,rolling over, and flipping for the day.

Like I said, it was a high risk, high reward type situation, the more aggressive you were, the more likely you were to place higher. And that’s always been fine with me. I’ve been known to be aggressive on the track too. Most people don’t take it too seriously, and of the ones that do, they fall into two categories. Type 1) new people who have no idea that some people take this real seriously, and get seriously bent out of shape when they are tapped, or ridden hard. Type 2) experienced people who have absolutely no sense of humor or fun when it comes to this and who are, in fact, OUT FOR BLOOD.

The guy who verbally assaulted the gold medal winner of the day I think was a type 2 racer? He had clearly been there before, and the gold medal champ was riding everyone real hard, and took risks and kind of put everyone’s well-being in danger the whole morning, but, again, it’s a race. And you there are no prizes for politeness. I was happy to consistently be in 9th or 10th place, but this one guy got real real worked up at the gold medal champ and started going off on him. It wasn’t a funny haha we’re all friends here type going off. This guy was pissed. For the most part nobody really thought anything of it, until the pissed off guy called the gold medal champ the Italian word for “bassoon.” The Mrs. and I agreed that he was just blowing off steam until that point. But then he crossed a line. Luckily he got out of there real quick before it came to blows, but it did kind of put a damper on the end of the morning.

Not to say that I wouldn’t do it again. I absolutely would. And I think the Doc would enjoy it. Hands down the best thing about the race was seeing better, more experienced racers, and what they did. I figured out more than a couple tricks regarding corners I thought I had down, and even got to try out some new equipment that I never would’ve thought I needed. Like elbow pads. More on those at a later date.

ROMA’S 

Roma’s Chicago is the classic Italian beef stand that also sells slices. And man, these are good slices. It doesn’t even qualify as a hole in the wall, because there is no wall. Just a gigantic window weeping with an alarming amount of condensation. The slices are probably the best I’ve had in Chicago. They have two kinds. Cheese, and sausage. I got one of each. And then I got another sausage. That’s how good it was. The doc took pictures of it I assume, but it’s pizza. You know what it looks like. Seriously, go to Roma’s Chicago.

JABBA THE HUTT

The Doc also mentioned the god-awful Jabba the Hutt scene that was included in the “special edition” of Episode IV, and just how terrible it was. The Doc erred, however, when he said that “Jabba the Hutt is one of the Maestro’s favorite Star Wars characters.”

Jabba the Hutt is not one of my favorite Star Wars characters. He is my favorite Star Wars character. For several reasons, Jedi was my favorite of the trilogy growing up. From a developmental point of view this makes the most sense. Although I’m told I saw “A new hope” in the theater, I don’t remember it. The only thing from “Empire” that I remember was the father reveal, which I didn’t really get at the time. I also remember the people I saw it with. So I was the oldest when Jedi came out, and I distinctly remember my mom taking us to see it in the theater. I also remember seeing it more than once in the theater. So I was the most mature and understood more with this.

This blog is definitely not the place to go into the myriad of reasons why I love Jabba the Hutt so much, but I’ll point out a few of them.

  1. He’s a classic Italian mobster. Right down to his nostrils kind of looking like a pencil mustache.
godfather

compare

jabba-1

and contrast

2) even his language always sounded Italian to me. I’m not real hip on the ins and outs of Huttese although I’m sure the internet is bursting with information on the subject, but having an actual career precludes me from finding these things out. I’m simply going on the memory of what Huttese sounds like to an 8 year old who grew up in a town where various forms of calabrese an siciliano were spoken on a daily basis. From a purely phonetic standpoint it had a Latin sound to it.

3) he had a band. ON RETAINER!

4) He had probably the coolest pet on all of Tattooine.

5) Despite not being a Jedi or being trained in the force, he was able to withstand Luke’s “jedi mind tricks” simply because of his force of will. That’s how much of a badass he was.

and then the usual stuff about power and authority and boilerplate conductor 101 stuff.

I won’t go into the millions of reasons why the added scene in the “special edition” of “A new hope” were terrible. The doc already did a good job dismantling it. For me, it boils down to one thing. Jabba was someone who was talked about for two movies who you never saw. You had no idea what he looked like. Were Hutts humanoid? Amphibian? Was he bipedal? You really had no idea what or who he was. If you were a real nut you saw some making of Star Wars TV special with part of the original scene that Lucas later digitized, but that originally had Declan Mulholland playing Jabba.

jabba-2

I’m not saying this guy’s a “Wermo.” The online Huttese language generator is saying that.

Now, nothing against Mr. Mulholland, who passed away in 1999, and whose many screen credits include “The Rainbow Thief,” 3rd robber in “Time Bandits,” and his last work “The Pig’s Family.” But it is hard to take a mob boss seriously if that same person was involved in a film called “War of the Buttons,” the plot of which IMDB describes as follows

Rival gangs of young Irish kids enjoin in constantly escalating battles that ultimately entails the removal of the buttons from the clothes of captured losers. While the shenanigans cause obvious problems, the two leaders of the groups nonetheless develop a grudging admiration of the other and an estranged friendship.

So as a kid, you had no real reference for what Jabba looked like. You just knew everyone was terrified of him. I remember other friends who had seen “Jedi” before me saying “You have got to see this movie just to see Jabba the Hutt.” And then they were unable to even describe what he was, because he was THAT. COOL.

Having said all of that, 3 films is a long time for a kid to wait for a reveal of an important character.

And what a reveal it was.

I’ve searched for a good 3 minutes online for his reveal scene, easily in the top 3 best reveals in the entire trilogy. You know what it looks like Do yourselves a favor. Get your copy of Jedi out, and watch the first 20 minutes of it. And then do yourself another favor and don’t even watch the inserted scene in the “special edition” of “A New Hope.”

Ever.

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