Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Franks and My New York Minutes

When I was a teenager, I visited New York City in a convertible with my Mom and step-father Frank Lies--a champion race car driver--and got a long, leisurely look at downtown Manhattan because big trucks kept pulling into intersections on yellow lights. Eventually Dad got out to "go check out what the trouble was," telling Mom to get behind the wheel if the traffic began to move. It did. 

We looked around for him, and as we approached the intersection, there he was, in his short-sleeve print shirt, one hand up blocking the cross traffic, the other guiding our two lanes forward. As we rolled up to him he yelled, "Keep going," and jumped into the back seat. We laughed all the way across Times Square to our hotel. My second favorite memory was seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Big city, big kicks, pure glamour.

As a college student, when I returned to the East Coast just after Christmas to visit my first father, Frank Manley--also a champion race car driver--and my stepmother Joan, I found the city far less intimidating, but no slower paced (when I got back home, I was pushing past people on elevators until I recalibrated to the more relaxed midwestern pace.) We took a train in from Long Island [lon-gi'-land], and I was old enough to appreciate trekking through museums and art galleries, winding through the amazing Hallmark display of Christmas trees donated/decorated by famous people, and taking a spin through the winter wonderland of Steuben Glass Company's intricate treasures born of sand and fire. I realized a few years later I'd unknowingly been earmarking what was to be my wedding gift. 

But the best moments of that visit came while dining in candle light next to a plate-glass window at Rockefeller Square and watching New York glide by on the famous ice rink. It was like those evenings in Kansas when the wind winds down and the world feels wider and closer for the moments you are content to just be. I'd return to the big city in a New-York minute to relive that experience. And I've heard that the Rockets have been known to perform on ice. What a kick that would be.

I'd love to hear about your New-York-minute experiences as well as favorite Christmas-season memories. Here's hoping this year's holidays are filled with both joy and contentment. <>

#TrophyGirlNovel #Newyork #Christmasmemories #author #Kansascityauthor #

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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Dad Number One and His Deutsche-Bonnet Racing Car

A brilliant engineer, my father once tried to explain aerodynamics to me on a cocktail napkin. I wish I’d saved the napkin, because to me every liftoff still seems more magical than mechanical. I feel that way about the amazing life he lived, as well—racing with Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and investigating plane accidents for the Boeing Company both in the states and overseas. 

The limited time we had together between planes was enriched by his sharing his passions. He took me for a couple of racing laps around Seattle International Raceway in his red Dino Ferrari, flew me to visit him in Japan, and got me a guest passage on a delivery EL AL flight with stop-overs in Europe on our way to experiencing the incomparable energy and history of Israel. On the way over, I got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat of the new 747 and switch on lights while cresting the top of the world. And after celebrating our last night in Tel Aviv dancing to a Welsh band until five in the morning, he managed to find me a bed to catch a nap in on the flip-down seats behind the pilot as we flew to London.

Whether piloting his Deutsche-Bonnet to yet another victory or restoring one of only five Abarth Zagatas ever built, his considerable skills earned him the respect of a multitude of like-minded car enthusiasts and drivers and made him friends all over the world. Dad lived a huge life with such enthusiasm and intensity he was a hard act to follow.

Friday, July 9, 2021


These guys (Frank Manley, below, and Frank Lies, right) raised me, and yes I spent A LOT of time in garages and at tracks. But they didn't teach me much about cars--forcause I'm a girl, I'm guessing. 

But I managed pretty well on my own.

For instance, if your battery cables are loose on a '55 chevy that goes 103 in a quarter-mile and you have a portable clothes iron in the backseat (no idea why, now, but there it was), you can use it to hammer nails in next to the cables and get the battery to work. Probably not recommended.

And if the car still won't start, you can leave the hood up in a shopping center on 13th Street and Oliver in Wichita, Kansas, and eventually a sympathetic woman will stop by and pour her coke over the cables to get them cleaned up--and get the car started.

And if you wear a a yellow-lace two-piece bathing suit and sit with your legs in the engine compartment while holding a big screwdriver and can of Gunk, guys will pull over and offer to help you clean that sucker right up.

Lies did quiz me one day about my red Corvair convertible with the 8-track player and Muntz speakers in the doors:

Lies: Have you noticed anything funny about your car lately?

Me: Yeah. It's pulling to the left a little.

Lies: What do you think might be causing that?

Me: Well, the guy at the gas station said I need an oil change.


Lies: I'm sure you do. You also have a tire going flat.

Luckily, I amused him more than I irritated him. Of course, the bar was pretty low--forcause, you know, a girl in a garage.


#novel #fiction #author #mustread #summerreading #bestnewbooks #booksoutin2021 #authorstowatch #debutnovel #racecar #racing #dirttrackracing #readinglist #bookclub #bookaddict #goodreads #booklovers #midwesterner #nostalgia #carracing #racetrack #comingofage #WichitaRacing #81Speedway #HutchinsonFairgrounds #TaftStadium #Kansas #Oklahoma #racinglegend #racingbooks #trophygirls #romance #candidchildhood

Monday, July 5, 2021

Years Beyond the Finish Line

The Hall family has owned Park City's 81 Speedway since 1963.

This happened and I didn't even know it . . .and now two years after the fact, I find myself staring at the place I used to sit in those stands, halfway below the press box on the right aisle--watching my stepfather fly around the track in blue 55, my mother looking into her lap with fingers crossed on both hands until the checkered flag dropped--or some mishap sent cars spinning or flying and the crowd howling. 

I'm wishing desperately for one more evening up there, Juicy Fruit gum in my clutch bag next to me, warming paper cup of Coke at my feet. Mom's friends would be gathered around--often including Happy Bottom [Gladys] Balzer, the sweetest Mennonite lady on the planet ("Come see us once!") all talking about deliciously and often hilariously grown-up things. The brightly painted, heavily branded cars wove onto and around and back off the track to the rhythm of the flagman's signals. 

For most of my young life--up into high school--I was a captive audience, sometimes at three races a weekend. I never expected, at this late date, to miss it so much.

81 race track selling

By Randy Fisher
Last Updated: November 21, 2019

By Randy Fisher

After more than 55 years of ownership by the Hall family, 81 Speedway in Park City is being sold.

Owner-operator C. Ray Hall confirmed that the sale will be finalized Nov. 29. Until then, he is not able to reveal the buyer.

Hall wasn't looking to sell the Speedway when opportunity came knocking a couple of years ago. He entertained two separate offers, but nothing happened. Unexpectedly, one of the parties resurfaced this July.

Although he still wasn't interested in selling, Hall realized that in 50 years no one had ever offered to buy the track. Then the other party from two years ago came back to the table.

"What greater scenario than having two wealthy companies/individuals wanting to purchase the place," he said. "The more I thought about it, what happens in a year or two if I need to sell for whatever reason and there's nobody there, then what happens."

Hall was able to hammer out an agreement to sell the track. He understands the new owner has a lot of plans for the track. That will result in many changes Hall never had the extra capital to make.

"They're going to invest a lot of money in the place. I always had to do it the hard way," he said. "They want the experience to be nicer for the fans. That tells me they're going to spend quite a bit of money."

Originally built in 1954 as Robbins Speedway, the track was sold in 1958 to O.L. Douglas, who renamed it 81 Speedway.

In 1961, C. Ray's parents ran the concessions at the track. He had a full-time job and worked there on weekends. Two years later, his parents purchased the track. C. Ray took over operations in 1971 and later became owner.

"I was working for Phillip Morris USA and decided it wasn't enough of a challenge, so I tackled me a real challenge, not realizing what kind of a challenge it would be," he said with a laugh.

Just because the 75-year-old Hall is selling the track doesn't mean he is retiring. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

He will continue to operate the National Championship Racing Association (NCRA), a historic regional touring series of sprint car, late model, modified and modified lite racecars. Two longtime 81 Speedway employees, Mylisa Powers and Warren Hardy, will work with him.

"When I signed the agreement, I … said to Hardy and Mylisa, it's not a fun day but it's a good day," Hall said. "I enjoy doing what I'm doing, and that's why I want to continue. I still feel as enthused today as I did five years ago; 10 years ago. It's a good day because now I know where I'm headed."

Hall attributes much of 81 Speedway's success to the fans and sponsors.

"Fans and sponsors is the only reason this place has survived," he said. "As everybody knows, every night doesn't have enough fans to do what we've done."

The sale of 81 Speedway marks the end of one chapter in the track's history and the beginning of another.

"It's coming to an end as far as my era is concerned," Hall said. "Hopefully racing will go another 50 years out here."

Saturday, July 3, 2021


TROPHY GIRL excerpt, page 20, for fun--Now available for pre-order with a 15% discount using code preorder2021 before launch September 30Th:

OFFICER MCDONOUGH motioned for Frank to follow him to the parking lot, well away from where Sandy stood by the open door looking back and forth from them to the girl in the bed. He placed one foot on the bumper of Frank’s ‘55 buckskin-and-white Mercury and bit down on a toothpick. “So what’s really goin‘ on here?”

Frank gazed out across the lot and patted his chest in a nervous reflex, feeling for a pack of cigarettes. “You wouldn’t happen to have a smoke on you?”

McDonough pulled out a red-and-white pack of Winstons and tapped the top against his index finger to coax a cigarette out.

Frank took it and put it between his lips, then ran his hand down his hip, getting it caught in the folds of the bed spread. “Shit! Gotta light?”

McDonough lit Frank’s cigarette, then one for himself. “So, Frankie. Is she your kid or not?”

Stay tuned!


#novel #fiction #author #mustread #summerreading #bestnewbooks #booksoutin2021 #authorstowatch #debutnovel #racecar #racing #dirttrackracing #readinglist #bookclub #bookaddict #goodreads #booklovers #midwesterner #nostalgia #carracing #racetrack #comingofage #WichitaRacing #81Speedway #HutchinsonFairgrounds #TaftStadium #Kansas #Oklahoma #racinglegend #racingbooks #trophygirls #romance #candidchildhood


TROPHY GIRL, my debut Historic Fiction, is now available for pre-order at 15% discount using code preorder2021 until launch date of September 30th, 2021, using the code preorder2021 from blackrosewriting@sales/womens/trophygirl.

And I'll be signing copies at the Grand National Race the novel is centered around.

C. Ray Hall (former owner of 81 Speedway in Wichita) who is organizing the GRAND NATIONALS has invited me to set up a book table in front of the grandstands July 15, 16, and 17--and in the pits Saturday morning. When C. Ray and I were track rats, I NEVER got to go into the pits until after the races were over, forcause I'm a girl, you know.

Mar-Car’s Dub Richardson Ford official Pace car 
April 24, 1965, with Queen Priscilla Fields on the far left and Linda Green on the far right, mentored by the legendary queen-maker Mary Carson.


#novel #fiction #author #mustread #summerreading #bestnewbooks #booksoutin2021 #authorstowatch #debutnovel #racecar #racing #dirttrackracing #readinglist #bookclub #bookaddict #goodreads #booklovers #midwesterner #nostalgia #carracing #racetrack #comingofage #WichitaRacing #81Speedway #HutchinsonFairgrounds #TaftStadium #Kansas #Oklahoma #racinglegend #racingbooks #trophygirls #romance #candidchildhood

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Laughing Matters


My starter husband was a great joke teller. Me not so much. I once tried to retell a visual joke of his where he wiggled and flourished his index fingers and thumbs forming two circles (think circus music here), put them behind his head, and ta da! Out from behind his head they came, magically hooked together!!!

Simple and silly and what could go wrong, right? 

So one day I decided to share the joke--made two circles, hooked them together behind me, and then . . . wait, what?!? I'd put my arms behind my back. 😆 

Eventually, I just turned around to reveal the "magic," the joke being on me.

May we find much to laugh at as we emerge from our Covid cocoons. And if you have a funny to share, as Pops, my favorite character in the novel I'm currently writing, says, "I guess that'd be awright."


  IS THAT YOUR MOTHER CALLING? Advice that Echoes Down Through the Ages tracks words of wisdom as well as cautions through the generations--...