Looking down on the track of the Letongaloosa International Raceway, Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins knew today was going to be a horn tootin’ sort of day. It was a day that had been 35 years in the making and Jeremiah was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. To be honest, the possibility of this day wouldn’t even be on his radar if he hadn’t listened to that darn message his grandson, Garrison, had left on his voicemail last Sunday. But here he stood waiting for the next chapter of his life to kick into high gear.
Jeremiah closed eyes, took a deep breath and continued gazing over the raceway. This is where his career began. This is also the track where he ran his last lap and won his final race just one month ago. The feelings of excitement from that race, and all the races he had won throughout his career came rushing back. Memories of the interview from his last Winner’s Circle played in his head…
“Jeremiah, so many drivers have tried to win the Letongaloosa 600. You’ve won twice. How are you feeling?”
“I’m so excited.. I had heard this was the first time officials had shortened the race because of rain since 1966. I’m glad the officials decided to do it again. I want to thank my sponsors, Hank’s Hardware, Alvin’s Auto Body. They were instrumental in helping us get our car on the track.”
He remembered telling the reporter that he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have won. He thanked his fellow competitors and all of the drivers who had come before him who had inspired him to start driving in the first place. It had been quite a day.
When Jeremiah was a boy, his Grandpa Sam had brought him to the Letongaloosa International Raceway to see his first race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and the rush of adrenaline he felt from watching the drivers run laps around the track made him dance with excitement. It was at that point, he knew he wanted to be a racecar driver when he grew up. That was also the day his grandfather gave him the name, “Junebug” because he was so excited by everything just couldn’t stop jumping around.
Jeremiah has now been a part of racing for decades and he has competed on all stages of competition ranging from some of the biggest races in the country to the smallest. Since early in his driving career, he has loved to go fishing. Dropping a line in the water excited him almost as much as getting behind the wheel of his racecar. Fishing is how he always celebrates his wins and cheers up after his losses.
Once Jeremiah “Junebug” Jenkins made his final lap in his last month’s Letongaloosa 600, he decided to retire. He wanted to celebrate his retirement by fishing and that’s what he was doing on the Sunday he got the message from his grandson, Garrison.
Garrison is the lead meteorologist at MEGA-TV in Letongaloosa. He and Jeremiah are as close as a grandson and grandfather can be. Like Grandpa Sam, Jeremiah took Garrison to see his first race. Garrison was excited about the race. The roaring of the engines, the speed of the pit crew and watching the drivers run laps around the track didn’t faze him. He was more interested in the rain storm that stopped the race. Since then, Jeremiah has relied on his grandson to give him the weather report before every race.
Retired for a month now, he knew the message Garrison had nothing to do with weather conditions. However, it did have everything to do with racing, but Jeremiah wouldn’t be racing around a track, but he would be back in the winner’s circle. MEGA-TV would be launching a network that had everything to do with racecars, pit crews and roaring engines. Jeremiah would be the lead reporter.
A week later, Jeremiah was back at the Letongaloosa International Raceway. As he walked toward the Winner’s Circle, he was so excited. He felt his feet dancing. He felt like a kid again.
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co