The lead sled dog is the only one with a decent view. - Unknown
June 1962 to January 2015
This is one of my favorite pictures of my late husband, Dennis. He is so peaceful in his element, at the race track, contemplating the night ahead, cold Pepsi in his hands. Other than me and his kids, he loved racing more than anything. As a little tribute to him, I'd like to share an anonymous poem, then an article written by a racing friend and journalist, Brett Bowman.
Poem: What Is Racing All About?
It's about money, of course; for most it's about finding it, finding enough of it, and then finding more. It's about guzzling money like water, about living with the guilt of burning up so much hard earned cash. But it's much more.
It's about supremacy, being top dog, king of the hill, head honcho, the big kahuna; standing out above the crowd, being number one, the best. It's about speed. It's about riding the fastest, scariest, hold-onto-your-hats, geez-I'm-gonna-wet-my-pants, best-damn-roller-coaster ever invented.
And it's about power. It's about leading the charge of a thousand screaming banshees, having your body wrenched and twisted and tossed about by the hands of great unseen forces; and it's about taming a blind raging Herculean monster, and bending it to your will.
It's about brilliant colors, flashes of light, ear-splitting shrieks, and bone-rattling rumbles. It's about the unforgettable smell of burning rubber, smoldering brake pads, and gear oil. It's about reaching through the steering wheel all the way down to the tires and feeling the road slipping past your fingertips. It's about sensing the weight of the car shifting from tire to tire, like water in a pan. It's about the tug of the shoulder harness across the collar bones, and the cramp in the leg from pressing the gas pedal through the floor. Racing is about all of these things, and much more.
It's about passion; burning desire, insatiable hunger. It's a perverse yet overwhelming love affair with steel, paint, and rubber. It's about a relentless courtship with speed.
It's about conceiving and nurturing a child--the benefactor of your skill and wisdom, and a victim of your ignorance. It's about saving a rusting pile of disregarded scrap from the crusher and making it stronger, faster, more real and alive than it ever was, or ever deserved to be. It's about caring for your creation, loving it; pushing it to its limits, exalting in its greatness, and forgiving its weaknesses, because they are your weaknesses.
It's about dreams and hopes and fears. Dreams of glory; dreams of carving out a small niche in history, like Mario, and Swindell, and "King Richard". Hopes. Hopes that the many long winter hours of lonely toil in the cold, dusty garage will bring smiles come May, and a nod of approval from the brutally indifferent stopwatch. Hopes that the brakes will be there on call, as you hurtle without recourse into the unforgiving dirt canyon. Hopes that, in the end, you'll be able to look back on the whole experience and find it worth the price, while living with the fear that it won't be.
It's about determination, perseverance, and the strength of resolve. It's about patience and discipline. It's about putting in the time, double checking, attending to the critical details. It's about concentration, and focus. It's about controlling the overpowering urges, sticking to the game plan, and keeping your head when the unthinkable happens. It's about testing, and measuring, and worrying, and sweating the small stuff.
It's about faith; faith in yourself, in your crew, in your fellow competitors, in the workers, and in the men and women who designed this car, these tires, and this track. It's about believing in your roll cage, and your safety harness, your Nomex suit, and the fire system that has never been put to the test. It's about knowing that no matter what happens, you chose.
It's about deep and lasting respect, caring, and friendships; about sharing joys and disappointments, pitching in, and easing the load.
It's about living life on the cutting edge of a razor, hanging it all out there, going for broke. It's about knowing, without doubt, by-damn, that you're alive. It's about putting your heart and soul into something and letting the whole world see what you can do. It's about knowing that in the midst of the confusion and emotion and heart-stopping action, you were the one that mattered.
LASTING IMPRESSION: Former Kokomo Speedway and Gas City I-69 Speedway Rookie of the Year Dennis Veach passed away last weekend. Veach and columnist Brett Bowman forged a lasting friendship over the years through Veach’s racing as well as off the track.
BOWMAN: Veach's infectious spirit will be missed
By Brett Bowman Auto racing columnist Jan 22, 2015
Over the years it’s been my good fortune to meet and befriend numerous race drivers, fans and various track officials. During that time one person in particular left an impression that I will never forget — Dennis Veach. Over the weekend the former Kokomo Speedway and Gas City I-69 Speedway Rookie of the Year passed away suddenly after suffering a heart attack.
It wasn’t his prowess driving a sprint car that left its mark although he was a very talented runner who ran wheel to wheel with a lot of higher-budget teams. The thing I will always remember most is that he never seemed to get down no matter what kind of night he had at the track. Whether he finished in the top 10 in the feature or failed to transfer through the B-main he was the same Dennis after the race. Rarely would a person have a conversation with him when he wasn’t cracking a smile.
When I heard of his passing I immediately recalled when I had the privilege of working alongside Veach and Kevin Black each Sunday afternoon during race season at Shine 99 for the Circle Track Motorsports Hour radio show. There were countless hours he and I would talk on the phone preparing for the coming week’s show and how we could make it as entertaining as possible. To be honest, making the drive to Frankfort on Sunday afternoon’s then busting it back to Kokomo for the local track was, to say the least, stressful. However with Dennis and his enthusiasm and personality a person couldn’t help but have fun.
Whenever he came on board to help out Black and I, he approached the radio show just like he did a race. The guy came prepared each and every week and never missed a show although I know there were some Sundays that he would have preferred being in the garage getting his race car ready for that night.
When the RCA Dome used to host indoor races during the Winter, usually it was mini-sprints, go-karts and midgets. However, one year sprint cars were given a shot on the track that was by no means big or wide enough to comfortably accommodate the larger cars. As it was, I can still picture it like it was yesterday, Dennis’ No. 13V car got upside down and slid down the track, sparks flying as the roll cage was grinding across the cement floor. When it finally came to rest and Veach climbed from his wrecked car, he looked around and threw both hands in the air with a broad smile across his face. I asked him what that was all about, figuring he might be upset that someone got into him causing the flip. His reply was “I saw where I was at when I got out of the car and realized it was the endzone during Colts games. I was signaling a touchdown.”
The stories could go on and on but the one thing I’ll never forget about his friendship was the talks he had with me when he found out my wife and I were expecting my son. Everything from what to expect to changing diapers and he covered it.
Over the years he stepped away from sprint cars and began racing mini-sprints so our paths didn’t cross as often as before but when we did bump into one another it was like we just picked up where we left off, swapping stories and cracking jokes and pretty much just cutting up.
Far too soon one of the good guys, not just in racing but in the world, is gone. See you later my friend. Myself and countless others are better having gotten to know you.
Brett Bowman may be reached at email@example.com
Dennis, I could not have loved you more, but I could have loved you longer.
A little travel map of where I've sprinkled your ashes. You go with me everywhere.