Rivalries at the track are real.  Friendships created at the track are also real.  Sometimes lines blur between rivalry and friendship.  The yin and yang of friendly rivals was tested recently between the Hart and the Jones families.

We, The Harts, have been trying to keep up with the Joneses for years.  Let’s just get that little pun out of the way immediately.  The Jones clan consists of the “Reverend” Tim Jones, Jill “I’ll poke your eyes out,” Josh, Jake and Jared “Diamonds.”

The Hart clan consists of Mike, Sheri, Shawn, and Dillan.

Shawn moved into the minor class in 2008 after a rookie championship.  Immediately Josh and Jake began to beat on poor Shawn.  That year Josh was minor champion and Shawn took third.

A new Jones executioner named Jared, “The galleria of diamonds,” started in the rookie class.  Jared won every round in his first year until late in the season (like August or September) if not the whole year.

In 2009 Josh advanced to the Major category.  Shawn won the minor championship by a very slim margin.  Jake placed a very close second.  However, the Jones family had missed a race due to a wedding.  Arguably Jake could have been champion had Jake not been forced to miss a race.  Shawn felt relieved to procure the Minor title belt (jacket).

Jake, in the meantime, won something like 16 straight rounds of racing at the national event in Denver.  During his win streak Jake won the Mile High Shootout followed by the Western Conference Finals.  The Western Conference Finals hosts between 400 and 600 cars from West of the Mississippi in an annual Junior Dragster Only national event.  Jake beat the best of the best.  By the way, team RMR won the whole event that year.  Each RMR racer won a Wally.  Jake won 2.

Jared squashed Dillan’s hopes quickly in the Rookie category when Jared took his 2nd consecutive championship in 2009.

This past year Jared “Diamonds” maintained his winning ways and took first place from Shawn.  This was Diamond’s 3rd straight championship.  Shawn was second.  Jake moved to the major category and placed 3rd amongst shark-like competition.  Dillan finished runner up in the Jones-less rookie class.

This year the Jr. Dragster class names change due to the switch to IHRA.  This year Josh and Jake will compete against Shawn who moves up to the Master category.  Jared and Dillan will compete against one another in the Advanced category.  This is Dillan’s first year running 8.90 second 1/8 miles rather than 12.90′s.  Both Hart boys are moving to a faster class.  The Jones boys stay put in classes where they have already been successful.  This Hart is very nervous for the up-coming year.

I apologize to burn a whole page setting the competitive stage for you.  Perhaps, with all of the competition information, you are wondering how the friendship began.  Sheri feels it began with Jill.

You see Jill always maintains the ladders for the 3 Jr. Dragster categories.  I like to accuse Jill of cheating though she normally does a very thorough job.  At one race Sheri caught an erroneous entry on a ladder.  Jill had written Holt instead of Hart into round 2.  “Holts, Harts, they’re all a bunch of fruitcakes,” chimed Jill.  Fruitcake was a term of endearment to Sheri.  Honestly the word wasn’t fruitcake, but I am avowed to not curse in this blog.

Kids naturally get along.  There are approximately 50 Jr. Dragsters in the entire state of Utah.  Junior Drag Racers are not understood by peers except other junior drag racers.  Most kids at the schools of these racers have no idea what drag racing is about.  So the Hart boys and the Jones boys were fairly natural about generating their friendship.

The friendship among racing families has grown throughout the years.  But, so has the rivalry.

This entire off-season I had to hear the ‘Eye Institute of Utah’ advertisement on Arrow 103.5 FM time and time again.  Jon Carter advises that listeners should call Jill Jones who took very good care of the radio personality.  Quite often I had to endure this advertisement while working on the junior dragsters in Harry’s shop.  If I call Jill, it will likely be a prank call.

A weekend or two ago the rivalry became kids versus adults rather than Harts versus Joneses.  The kids determined that there would be a sleep over.  The young men’s subversive little arguments forced the adults into allowing a party at the Jones house.  Jill and Reverend Tim were kind enough to host the kids and graciously invited the adult Harts over for dinner.

Was this event to be a dinner amongst friends or breaking bread with the enemy?

Sheri and I arrived at the Jones house Sunday at 4:00 PM.  I nearly hit a gang of green machine riders as they peeled out of the Jones driveway into the street.  Sheri and I entered the garage where Tim hurriedly threw blankets over the 3 dragsters and hid the NOS bottles.

Almost immediately, Jill and I began to verbally assaulted one another.  “If I have to hear Jon Carter say your name one more time, why I think I’ll…”

“Oh yeah,” came the retort, “you should have your eyes checked.”  The barbs continued from there.

I told stories to Tim of our psychotic cat in hopes that he would fear a sneak attack from the feline if he were to beat us again.

The enjoyable evening went from there.  Sheri rooted through drawers and cupboards in search of the Jones secret formula to winning.  Jill served her “special” funeral potatoes.  Is being served funeral potatoes an omen or a threat?  All I know is that the cheesy potatoes were very good indeed.

As we drove home Sheri and I were concerned that the glassy look in the Hart boys eyes was from hypnosis rather than lack of sleep.  Could Jill have taken them to the Eye Institute?  I suppose we will never know for sure what happened to our children while they were under the care of Reverend Tim and Poke Your Eyes Out Jill.  I know for certain that we will look forward to seeing the Joneses again (even though we will be watching their every move from the corner of our eyes).

Jill has read and approved this blog.  She advised that I should be very scared.  How much more scared of Jill could I be?  The answer is none more scared.

This is a picture of Sheri assaulting Jake at a race.  Presumably it was before a race against Shawn or Dillan.  Please note that the friendly smiles have been photo-shopped into the picture.

Mike Hart

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