Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Roger Penske Follow-up - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s
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Roger Penske Follow-up

At a recent alumni reception for Kettering University, the former General Motors Institute, my wife and I had the pleasure of being seated next to fellow alumnus Lud Koci, whom I’ve known since my college days back in the late ’60’s. We’ve played golf together for years in the annual alumni outing. He also happens to be on the Board of the Catholic high school, St. Mary’s Prep, from where our son graduated.

Lud and his wife Trudy reside in Orchard Lake, MI, where we've also lived for the past 28 years. Lud worked for General Motors as General Manager of Detroit Diesel until 1988 when Roger Penske purchased the business from GM. Lud was named President and eventually CEO. As a result, he’s worked for Penske for 30 years. Recall my recent blogpost about Penske Racing’s 500th win. When I told Lud of my blog about Roger and his racing milestone, he was intrigued and offered an insight into Team Penske's success.

Lud indicated that after work on the previous Friday before the alumni reception, Penske’s corporate IT manager met Lud at his Orchard Lake home because he was having difficulty logging onto the company network from his home computer. As the IT guy was trying to solve the problem, he received a call from Roger Penske, who was in Korea on a business trip. It was 4:00 in the morning on Saturday in Korea, and Roger’s cell phone was acting up. He could place calls but couldn’t get anything else to work on the device.

The IT guy had Roger try several steps to fix the problem, but to no avail. Roger said he was catching a plane to Australia in 3 hours, and would like the problem fixed before boarding the plane. The IT guy contacted the carrier Verizon’s tech support and was provided several other steps to take to get the phone working again. He called Roger back and had him try those steps while he was in the airport prior to boarding the plane to Australia. Nothing worked, so the IT guy told Roger he’d have a new phone for him when he deplaned in 11 hours.

After hanging up with Roger, he contacted Team Penske's local IT people in Australia at 8:00 am Saturday and asked them to go to the local Verizon store to pick up a new phone for Roger, then to call him back when the phone was operational so he could download all the Penske corporate security safeguards, apps and contacts onto the phone remotely from the US. By the time of the call back, it was 1:00 in the morning US time, and the IT guy had traveled back to the corporate offices to prepare for the remote download, but not before fixing Lud’s networking problems on his home computer. Finally at 3:00 in the morning US time, about an hour or so before Roger’s plane was to land in Australia, everything had been downloaded.

The phone was rushed to the airport just in time to meet Roger and hand him the new phone. It worked perfectly and he was none the wiser as to how the fix was arranged. That example demonstrates the extent to which everyone on Team Penske strives for perfection and success, resulting in those 500 victories.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Coors Tour - California - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s (Receive a weekly email whenever there is a new blog post. Just enter your email address in the designated spot below the blog and follow instructions to set up the weekly alert.)

Coors Tour - California

This blogpost will be the third and final installment of our so-called Coors Tour to California in 1970. After leaving Lake Tahoe, our caravan made a stop in Modesto, headquarters for Boone’s Farm winery, our second favorite drink at the time after Coors. Boone’s Farm was the cheapest alcoholic drink at the time so served it’s purpose well when we ran out of Coors or was low on cash.

After touring the winery and sampling some of their "fine" wine, the caravan headed west to our fraternity brother Tom Winslow's place in Milpitas, south of San Francisco. As a California guy, Tom’s nickname was Surfer, and he looked the part. Coolest guy in the frat house, he was a few years ahead of us and had graduated, so he invited us to stay at his place, promising a frig stocked full of Coors to culminate our California trip across the country.

Tom’s place was perfect, with enough beds for all of us to sleep comfortably. And just as promised, he had plenty of Coors on hand.

Given Tom’s nickname, our first venture out after arriving was to Half Moon Bay, the famous surfing beach in that part of California. To get there from Milpitas, we drove right through what is now Silicon Valley, the region given that moniker a few years later when Intel invented the microchip. Back then the area was only a bunch of sleepy, bedroom communities!

At Half Moon Bay, the surf was up, but I never could manage to stand up on the board. So most of us just laid flat on the surf board and rode the wave in. That was a lot of fun in itself. But mostly we just girl-watched and sucked down more Coors.

Our next venture was an Oakland A’s game, seeing a bunch of future Hall-of-Famers play. I forget who won, but the Coors was cold and refreshing! The A's were a real nemesis during that time for the Big Red Machine that was just getting rolling, eventually yielding a few Hall-of-Famers themselves; Bench, Morgan, Perez and Anderson (and Pete Rose, in my book!).

The next day, we headed into San Francisco, enjoying the cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and especially Haight-Asbury, the hippy capital of the world. We didn’t fit in too well, but sure enjoyed the scenery!

Our last night in California was spent at Tom’s favorite bar in Milpitas. He had told us we had to be out of the house by 8:00 the next morning, so after getting in around 2:00 in the morning, we told Tom to wake us us before it was time to leave. 8:00am came and went, when finally a bunch of brawny guys showed up to find Tom fast asleep with his alarm clock blasting away to no avail.

Turns out Tom shared a home with a bunch of firemen who were on duty during our stay and their shift was over, so they arrived home hoping to go to sleep, but finding all the beds full of strangers - us! So we hightailed it out of there and began our trek back home.

That old Greenbrier had served us well, being our Coorsmobile, surf wagon and hippy van all rolled into one.

But since I was riding in the Mercury Cyclone GT, we kicked into high gear and left the Greenbrier in our dust. We literally drove all the way across country without stopping. Two of us were always sleeping in the back seat while the other two were driving and riding shotgun. I distinctly recall driving the last leg from Chicago to Dayton at about 3:00 in the morning. Somehow we made it in one piece.

More Coors stuff

Coors founder's grandson dies at 102: https://apple.news/AxX312glMRE2eWuHShycD7w

Coors rides balloon to 80,000 feet -75 degrees - cold indication mountains when cold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzF6scSZo40

Thanks for riding along with us on our 1970 Coors tour to California

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Coors Tour - Nevada - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s (Receive a weekly email whenever there is a new blog post. Just enter your email address in the designated spot below the blog and follow instructions to set up the weekly alert.)

Coors Tour - Nevada

Last week’s blog described the first leg of a so-called "Coors Tour" to California during the summer of 1970 between my junior and senior years in college traveling with several fraternity brothers in a caravan. Our love of Coors beer, only sold out west, inspired our trip. Click on this link for a short Coors video that helps to better appreciate our inspiration. Does this catch qualifies for the Fish Report Hall of Fame, Craig?

The saga continues as we depart Salt Lake City heading west on Interstate 80. We had two vehicles in our caravan, the Chevy Greenbrier van nicknamed the Coorsmobile that I wrote about last week and a wild ’68 Mercury Cyclone GT that we called the Circus Wagon. You’ll see why in this photo.

The Circus Wagon’s owner was Harry from Virginia and as a big stock car racing fan, Cale Yarborough was his favorite, driving car #21.

Heading west out of Utah into Nevada, the caravan had to fill up with gas in Winnemucca and as we pulled out of the gas station, little did we realize that both vehicles were now in a funeral cortege, literally right behind the hearse! Those two vehicles sure did stick out in that procession.

Although we didn’t cause an accident with the hearse like shown in this photo, we no doubt did create some chaos among the mourners until we quickly turned out of the line-up once our screw-up was realized. To this day, we still laugh about that incident (and many others) at our regular luncheon get-togethers with my fraternity brothers.

The gambling mecca of Reno provided the next stop for our caravan. None of us had ever been to a casino, so it was indeed an adventure. One of the guys had learned about a “fool-proof” system for playing the craps table. So of course, we had to try the gambit. It involved betting on the field.

First time at a craps table can be mighty intimidating for midwestern neophytes like us; however, his system proved to work great (at first). The Field bettor wins if a 2, 3, 4, 9,10,11 or 12 is rolled, with 2 and 12 paying double. Back then, there were quarter tables, with 25 cents chips. We’d bet one chip on the field and if we lost, the bet would be increased according to the following sequence 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160. If we won, the sequence would start over again at one chip. In other words, the bettor is hoping to never lose 8 straight times. If the occasional 2 or 12 is rolled late in the sequence, it would pay double with a sizable win. During that gambling venture, we never did lose 8 straight times and won about $200 between us, just betting quarter chips, while drinking free Coors beer the whole time. We were hooked!

Since that first venture in a casino, I’ve tried numerous times to replicate that success, always eventually throwing 8 straight losers and walking away with empty pockets. Now it’s almost impossible to find a craps table with less than a $5 minimum, so the losses mount up pretty quickly with each loss. So much for that system; or maybe I should try it next time drinking Coors!

While in Reno, we toured nearby Virgina City, the home of the popular western TV show at the time Bonanza. The show was about a family named the Cartwright’s who had a large ranch called the Ponderosa.

From there we headed to Lake Tahoe, finally arriving in California for the first time in our lives. Not so much today, but back then, visiting California was the wish of most college kids, and we exemplified those desires. I seem to recall getting out of the car at the state line and kissing the ground.

The music, movies and TV shows all made California out to be this idyllic place with perfect weather, white sand beaches and beautiful girls. We had all grown up watching the Mickey Mouse Club, filmed at Disneyland in Anaheim.

Annette (lower right) was my favorite, which was the case for every other boy back then. By the time we were in high school, she was grown up and starring in a whole series of California beach party movies. Made for great drive-in movie fun; but I digress!

Lake Tahoe was absolutely stunning, with its crystal blue water, stately pines and majestic mountains. That first exposure to California reinforced every perception we had of the Golden State.

On that note, our California adventures will be further chronicled in next week’s blog.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Coors Tour - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Coors Tour

New Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh had admitted during his testimony to drinking beer with his friends while in high school and college. I’d have to plead guilty to that charge as well. Being of German descent, drinking beer is in my DNA, at least that’s my excuse! My favorite brew at the time was Coors beer, which was not pasteurized and meant that it could not be stored at room temperature, but had to be refrigerated after leaving the brewery in Colorado (or maybe not - see below?).

Back in the ’60’s, Coors was only sold west of the Mississippi River due to the logistical issues of refrigerated shipping back in those days. As budding engineers in college, who enjoyed Coors beer, we innovated and had a fraternity brother from Kansas City with a Chevy Greenbrier minivan haul cases of Coors on ice to school each semester.

We helped him rig his van for storing the beer on ice in well-insulted boxes. It worked, as there was always plenty of ice upon his arrival at school each semester. The Coors was immediately transferred to various mini-refrigerators in the rooms around the frat house, to be parceled out one can at a time so it lasted (most of) the semester till the next stash arrived.

The Greenbrier was a derivative of the Chevy Corvair (aka per Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed). 

The rear mounted, air cooled 4 cylinder end-to-end engine was located in the space under the rear storage area as shown in this photo. So we obviously had to keep the chilled beer away from the rear to keep the ice from melting.

During the summer of 1970, a group of us traveled across the country in a caravan that included the Coorsmobile.

We of course sampled our favorite brew along the way once we crossed the Mississippi River, heading for a fraternity national convention in Aspen, Colorado. We stopped in Golden, Colorado, just west of Denver, to tour the Coors brewery. It excited us all to see the home of our favorite beer. Here’s a commercial about the brewery from that era.

At that time, Coors Field and the Colorado Rockies baseball team did not exist; otherwise, for sure we would have checked out a game at that namesake iconic stadium to further sample our favorite brew.

Once in Aspen, we enjoyed exploring the Rocky mountains for the first time, riding the ski lifts, albeit in the summer without the snow. Several of our fraternity brothers recently bought vacation homes in that area of the Rockies, a desire no doubt borne during the trip a long time ago.

We continued to head west after the convention, traveling Interstate 70 across the Rockies. I recall the old Greenbrier having quite a struggle at the higher elevations crawling up the grade since the Eisenhower tunnel along I70 was still under construction.

That old air-cooled, four cylinder engine was working overtime, however, eventually we arrived in Salt Lake City where a fraternity brother’s uncle was the football coach at the University of Utah.

After touring the campus and the football facilities, I recall going to the nearby Great Salt Lake and literally floating in the lake drinking a Coors. With the high salt content of the lake, the human body will easily float on top of the water.

We also drove out to the Bonneville Salt Flats where at the time vehicle speed records were being regularly set. This article about the Bonneville Jet Wars tells more of the story about racer Craig Breedlove breaking the 600 mph barrier in the late ’60’s.

Our caravan was gradually making its way further west, eventually heading for California to sample the Coors beer there (and obviously to check out the appealing California Girls commemorated by the famous Beach Boys song of the same name). Look for that installment in next week’s blog.

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