Bob Wilber grew up aspiring to follow in his father’s baseball footsteps, and while he was able to secure a full college scholarship and later spend parts of six years in professional ball, as a player, coach, and scout, his mother’s writing, communications, and public relations skills were what eventually defined his career. After a successful and adventurous sports-marketing trek through the sports-apparel business, agency work, and professional indoor soccer, he saw his first drag race as he closed in on his 40th birthday. Little did he know that he’d go on to spend 20 consecutive years as a team manager and PR representative for Del Worsham and then Tim Wilkerson, two of the most popular Funny Car drivers on the NHRA tour. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Bob ended his drag racing run in order to take on a longtime assignment. He is currently writing his autobiography, entitled “Bats, Balls, and Burnouts” which is due for publication late in 2016.
My wife Barbara and I are both big hockey fans. Like, huge hockey fans. And not just the games, either, (Go Minnesota Wild!) but also the talk shows and highlights. And, since many hockey players and executives are Canadian, we get a big kick out of one of the most standard lines you’ll ever hear from a Canadian-born team executive or NHL Network analyst, with a perfect Canadian accent. When things haven’t been going well but are starting to turn around, for a team, they’ll say “There’s PRO-gress in the organ-eye-zation.”
There’s still one week left in the month of June, but by all counts it’s already been a good month in my life. For a lot of reasons. It’s been incredibly busy, frustrating at times, deliriously happy at others, and a good first taste of this new lifestyle we’ve adopted, wherein we live at “home” in Minnesota but Barbara maintains her executive position in Spokane. And it’s not over yet.
Currently, as I write this, the NHRA Mello Yello tour is in the midst of a very real summer grind. Six races in seven weeks is at the heart of it, but the bigger summer picture shows the classic crunch. The teams get a breather on either side of Joliet, then it’s off to the Western Swing for three straight. Blink when that’s over, and you’ll miss Brainerd and it will be time for Indy.
As a couple, Barbara and I have moved a bunch. Before we got married in 1997, I moved from Indianapolis to her home, in Chapel Hill, N.C., then after about six months there, IBM transferred her to Austin, Tex. We loved both places, although Austin officially did make it almost impossible for me to find any Mexican food that meets the Tex-Mex standards I became accustomed to in that fine city. After four years in Austin, we moved to Woodbury and our beautiful 3-level home on the pond. After 10 years there, we were off to Liberty Lake for what we figured would be two years. It ended up being four.
It was a long trip. It was a long week. It was a long time coming.
Moving is not easy, even when a moving company is involved. Months of advance planning led to weeks of actual change, as we modified the look of our Liberty Lake house to stage it as well as possible for showing. Then, when niece Leah and her boyfriend Levi came out to “go shopping” and take whatever they wanted back to Colorado, to furnish their new house, we had more changes to make and more adjustments to deal with. Finally, when the movers descended on the house to pack us up and load our goods, we dealt with two more days of displacement, even going so far as to spend those two nights at the Residence Inn in Spokane Valley, since we had no place to sit or sleep.