From Gravel To Asphalt, Life’s Many Changes – October 2012
The road from Beaver to Blaine in the southern part of Tillamook County in Oregon is a seven mile stretch of curvy country road. It currently is two lane and paved, but I can remember when it was gravel. What a luxury it was when the county came with their road grader, dump trucks of gravel and their spray trucks with hot tar, laying down alternate layers and driving the roller over it all so we could have paved road all the way to our house, seven miles up-river from Beaver. That was before the days of pre-mixed asphalt and the asphalt-laying equipment used today. Because the original road followed the flow of the Nestucca River, there were seven bridges in those seven miles. There was one stretch that was straight enough for my older brother and friend to use a 50 foot tape to lay out a quarter-mile distance with a start line and finish line. I remember one person who forgot to slow down for the curve past the finish line and ended up in the farmer’s pasture with the Holstein cows.
There are two corners in that seven-mile stretch with my name etched in their history due to the fact that my car found the ditch at each one. The first incident occurred in my parent’s VW Bug and the second occurred in my 1968 GTX. Both were the result of excessive speed and I take the responsibility for that. There is no question that it was my fault.
Sometimes life can be compared to a drive down a country road. There will be some straight sections and there will be some corners. Just as drag racers aim to keep their car in the groove, the road-of-life is best navigated when we can avoid the ditches.
My life at Woodburn Dragstrip can be compared to that country road between Beaver and Blaine. When I first arrived from my previous life as an educator, I needed to learn new computer software, new procedures, new policies, and the habits of my fellow dragstrip staff. You might compare that first adjustment to a gravel road. As I became more familiar, and adjusted to the office, I was like the driver who had traveled the road often enough to be prepared for the next corner. I do remember one time when I “put the car into the ditch” so to speak, having taken a bad check for a drum of race fuel. There may even have been some incidents of which I am not aware. Never-the-less, I can truly say, I have enjoyed the drive.
As the road I am traveling is now heading to new horizons, I am fortunate to have someone as qualified as Travis Hilton who is able to fill the position as Office Manager at Woodburn Dragstrip. He is very capable and will do well with that responsibility. Meanwhile, just as I enjoy returning to that country road alongside the Nestucca River, my plans are to return to Woodburn Dragstrip on occasion.. I will be available as needed in the office, but I would also enjoy making some trips down the quarter-mile. Maybe I can line up alongside you. My racing scrapbook needs some timeslips that are not hand-written.
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 Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.