Woodburn Dragstrip
7730 Hwy. 219
Woodburn, Oregon
503-982-4461

Calm In A Crisis – June 2012

There is something that is not right about hanging upside down dangling in the air with a log that is being loaded onto a logging truck directly above. With my ankle pinched between the log and the cable that was hooked into the end of the log, there I was dangling like a spider on a string, knowing that if that log would come down, I would be crushed beneath it.

There is a good reason for the guideline that you must 18 years of age to work in the woods. Not that I ever was a logger, but dad and mom did take a few trees off of our 160-acre property where we lived on the coast. It wasn’t much of a sophisticated operation, but it did serve to get some logs to the local sawmills and bring in a small income to help mom and dad support raising their four sons.

Dad was the tree faller. He would do the undercut for the direction of the fall and then trim and buck the tree into 16’ lengths. My older brother would often drive the Caterpillar 22 and drag them out to the landing. Dad had built an “A-frame” with a pulley rigged to the top which would serve to help load the logs onto the old truck to haul the logs to the mill.

Mom was driving the 22 Cat on this particular day. With a cable connected to the front of the Cat, mom would back the Cat up. The cable rigged through the pulley atop the A-frame and down to one hook in each end of the log would drag the log toward the truck and lift it up. At the young age of 16, I was trying to help my father because my older brother was not available. It was while the log was up in the air, just before we raised it a little more to position it on the truck, when my foot slipped while moving to a safer location, and there I hung with the log directly above me.

It was on this day that I gained a lot of respect for my mother. So carefully and calmly, she gently eased the cat forward and gradually lowered the log bit by bit. When my hands could reach the ground, I began crawling forward while the log came down behind me. As the log reached the ground and came to a rest, dad came to my rescue, disconnecting the hook and releasing my ankle. Again, I had one more reason to say “Thank You.”

In the racing family, sometimes unexpected events happen. To be calm in the face of crisis is indeed a necessity. We often see that trait displayed in racers, friends, staff, and first responders. And again we say, “Thank You”.

Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980.

Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Strait Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip. Hopefully, you will enjoy reading them.

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