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Villainous Hero’s Thunder: DTD Hot Topic



Villainous Hero’s Thunder: DTD Hot Topic, by Rob Hazer

Published on July 21st, 2011 in Feature Column, Recent Columns

Volume 1: Column 1

A villain or hero should retire when whose thunder is stolen? Huh, say what? It’s about time for an idea that fuses posters thoughts with feedback from parties involved. So dust those reading glasses off kids; it’s time to feed your mind.

Creating a series that gains loyal followers isn’t easy, so in 2008 when Fonda Speedway promoter Ric Lucia decided to create his own little series it was somewhat unknown. In 2011 folks think differently about the Thunder On The Thruway Series, as it has gained the attention of guys like Hearn, Decker, Friesen, McCreadie and more. The first race scheduled in 2011 rained out at Utica Rome, which brought the series to the I-88 Speedway for the first time.

If Disturbed lead singer Dave Draimen had a twin brother he’d be driving the 1J modified at the Afton, NY short track. Come to think of it Jim Gabriel Jr. did get down with the sickness, was droppin’ plates, and left the field stupified after his 50 lap $5,000 triumph defending home turf. “It felt pretty damn good to be honest. As I came across the finish line all I could do was smile and chuckle in my helmet knowing I just beat the big guns at home” said Mr. Gabriel Jr.

In 1997 he won 31 races, track titles at Afton, 5 Mile Point, Weedsport, Rolling Wheels, and the Super Dirt Series title in Sportsman competition, but this was the biggest win of his career. When asked he said “I would say so and biggest money for sure. The car was silly fast and glued to the track.” Jim leads series points and will run more thunder shows. When compared to the lead singer of Disturbed he laughed and said “the guys said I looked like the singer, bald head and patch on the chin. I bet he isn’t as cool as me though.” Metal on, Mr. Gabriel.Metal on!

A top honor in racing is to be a champion and Dave Lape has done that 7 times in his career at the track of champions. Recently David had become the topic of conversation regarding when is a good time to call it a career.

Dave respectfully declined comment on the topic due to frustrations with certain posts recently. “I think going out on top you would have to have had a successful career up until the point you leave, not racing years beyond winning” said DTD poster Speedway21.

This is a valid point if a driver is looking to retire on top of his game, but what if the game is all he knows? Fact is time diminishes your physical attributes, but not necessarily your passion. Nobody wants to see his or her hero struggle. Lifetime fan, friend, and crew member Matt Noles said “The writing is on the wall; we’re struggling. When you’re up everyone loves you. When you’re down you get kicked from every angle, but we still think he can get it done.”

Mr. Dirt posted “If Lape wants to park on the infield and take a nap you should stand and cheer for it” which shows the level of respect the Duke has earned from his fans. When should a driver hang it up? “After winning a confirmed 191 times in his career, David has earned the right to go out the way he wants,” said Noles. “Just to get into the car after 48 years of racing is a win in itself” he continued excitedly.

Mr. Dave is heading for the 150 club; in which he would be the only member. No other driver can claim to both 100 career wins and 50 years of competition. A rookie in 1964 and still competing in his mid 60’s Dave Lape bridges different eras of racing together. “It’s no secret he wants to reach 50 years of racing then walk away,” commented Noles. “He is the last one of the coupe guys, so when he’s gone you’ll never see any racer from that era again” Matt said sadly.

When DTD poster Ben Hilton started a post asking if CD Coville was a Villain or Legend, he was half on the tracks, and half off. He stated, “I would never use the term hero to any race car drivers” however by definition the word Hero is a direct antonym to the word villain. If one word is to be used, so must the other to define how fans and his peers may have perceived a driver. Not to many drivers demanded attention like Super CD and Hilton’s criticism sparked a debate.

His message was clear; CD played the role of a villain in his eyes. While Johnson, Lazzaro, and Lape were busy making a name, CD didn’t care what name you gave him. “I didn’t care what people called me. I did my thing because I wanted to do it” Superman said. CD was more of a spoiler than anything, just ask Jack Johnson who Coville stopped twice from breaking Steve Danish’s consecutive wins record at Fonda.

For a guy with a bad boy rep he sure is fun to chat with. “Always good to be noticed for something. A guy who came to Fonda told me he came just to see me crash. He never left disappointed,” joked CD. Deckerfan said it best “Love him or hate him, your eyes were on him.” CD responded “It’s like Richards said, I put asses in the seats.” So is he a hero or a villain? Clarence Donald Coville is neither; I believe he has earned the title of Legend.

The idea of fusing styles found in a letter to the editor, blog, or article with informed opinion is a new idea. You could be featured, quoted, or you called upon for your comments. No ding’s and no notices; my logic is undeniable. Welcome to hot topic.

***Photos in this story were edited for the purpose of the story. Credit is still given to the original photographers.


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