Tag: Fremont Ohio

Through the Eyes of a Child

On a hot July night in 2012, I witnessed the passing of a torch. 

There wasn’t a ceremony and no one from the local newspaper was there to take a picture to document the event, but make no mistake, what happened that night was something magical.

As I made my way through the crowd along the dimly lit back stretch of Fremont Speedway, trying to get to Brian Smith’s pit stall.  I could not help but notice that the people who passed by the “Grace Car” that night were not aware of the magic that was taking place right in front of their eyes.  

But I did.

As the adults and race fans were getting the opportunity to see the “Grace Car” up close, Brian Smith, then a 26 year veteran sprint car racer from Fremont was kneeling down talking to a young boy.  I could see the eyes of this young boy as Brian bent down and talked to him.                                                                     

The look in this young boy ‘s eyes initially was a look of awe.  I am sure the boy was amazed that he was actually talking to a real life race car driver and I immediately noticed the look of awe begin to sparkle in the eyes of this young boy as the transformation had begun.  The torch was passed on to another generation. 

No one noticed that Brian had just performed magic. He just transformed a young child into a lifelong race fan.  He just made a young fan believe in heroes. One that is not found in the comic book store or on the movie screen. 

Through the eyes of a child was a real life hero… living right here in Fremont, Ohio.

While some drivers lined up their race cars to get them on the trailer and get out of there.  Brian was still there… no hurry… sleep could wait… there was more important business to do.

Brian isn’t the only driver doing this. There are others. 

They all realize that the most important aspect of building a fan base sometimes takes place before and after the race itself.

Heroes emerge sometimes from the most unlikely of sources.  

It is no secret that I am a racing fan.  I have a special place in my heart for sprint car racing and it was instilled in me at a young age.  

I know this to be true… because my hero found me more than 40 years earlier at the same little dirt race track in Fremont, Ohio.

His name was Harold “Mac” MHaroldMcGiltoncGilton.

For those that don’t remember him, Harold may be just another name in the record books, just another plaque on the wall.  To those of us that remember him, he’s a legend, a hometown hero, a sprint car racer and a cherished memory.

I first met Harold McGilton in the early 1970’s. I think I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time. It was a chance meeting and though it was a long time ago…I remember it like yesterday.  I watched him drive his sprint car full speed into the corners of that wonderful dirt track in Fremont, Ohio and slide through the turn and then fly down the straight-a-way passing cars  and winning races.  In my mind, Harold never lost a race… there were just times he didn’t win.  However, when  Harold would win his race.. he  just didn’t win, he beat the other drivers. 

Har carAs a young boy, when I rode my bicycle, I imagined that I was Harold making the heroic and dangerous pass on that final turn to win the race.  And when I played with my “Matchbox” cars…I had a special car that was “Harold’s” car.  It NEVER lost a race. I am sure there were times when in my mind, I was more Harold McGilton than the real deal.  I am also sure that his family had a different perspective of Harold and his life as a hero.  After all he was human… just not in my eyes.

Harold McGilton
Harold McGilton

Harold McGilton had no way of knowing that when he stopped what he was doing after a race all those years ago and took the time shake my hand  on that July evening, at the Fremont Speedway, he would have had such an influence on a young boy from Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Harold never knew my name, nor did we ever talk to each other since that first night I met him.  However, Harold “Mac Attack” McGilton had a tremendous influence on me during those early years. He just never knew it.   He was larger than life to me and I idolized him and when he passed away a few years ago, I cried.

Tonight as I sit at my desk, I imagine I hear the roar of the engines of the sprint cars as they fly around the track just a few blocks from my home.  As I imagine each lap as the cars go around, I wonder if there is another young fan in the stands watching their favorite driver take their car into a 100 MPH slide through the corners of the Fremont Speedway.  Much like I was in the early ’70’s,  I came to the track one night a young fan of the races and little did I know that I would leave a few hours later with a hero in my life that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.

Brian Smith understands this… he too has heroes. He was influenced by many drivers over the years and shows honor and respect for those he looked up to all those years ago. In addition, his grandfather and father were racers that planted a seed in him that he passes on each week to each child he talks to.

I have said this many times, in my life, I have traveled around the world. I have met a number a professional athletes, politicians and famous people over the years. I have even had the honor of meeting two U.S. Presidents and shaking their hands.  All of these people would be considered heroes for many people, but not for me.  I did not have to travel all around the world to find a hero.   He found me at a little dirt track in Fremont, Ohio.

For those of you that say that there are no real heroes in life. 

I say you just don’t know where to look.

Come out and bring your children to Fremont Speedway on a Saturday night and I know where you just might find one.

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Cheer Up – (Official Video) and The Story of The Undeserving

The Story of The UNDESERVING

The Undeserving… is a four-piece rock, alternative, acoustic band from Fremont, OH.   Brothers Clay and Kyle Kirchenbauer grew up around music and were encouraged to play from a young age.   While participating in a music class at his local community college, Clay met guitarist Brennan Willis who was pursuing a career in production at the time.  Through a series of events, Brennan and Clay came to the conclusion that they wanted to create music together and recruited Clay’s brother Kyle to play drums and their friend Jimmie Getty to play bass. They began writing songs and playing local gigs but wanted to reach beyond their Northwestern Ohio roots.

Since that formation in 2005, The Undeserving’s music has indeed taken them far beyond the boundaries of their quaint NW Ohio town of Fremont, Ohio.  After a lot of hard work, labels caught wind of The Undeserving and began vying to sign them. Ultimately, Kevin Law, the force behind mulit-platinum artist Nelly, caught the band’s eye. They signed with Warner Bros. Records.

Ready to get things going, The Undeserving returned to Nashville to record and fine tune their record.   The band joined Secondhand Serenade and Safetysuit on part of their American tour.   Upon completing their project, Warner Bro’s Records went to work on promoting the band by placing their music in popular TV shows.

In 2010, The Undeserving released their first single... “Something to Hope For”.

The small town band experienced huge success in the media with their hit single “Something to Hope For.” The song has been heard across television sets: on the ad campaign for Season 9 of American Idol and throughout Season 10, So You Think You Can Dance, The Biggest Loser, I Used to be Fat  Celebrity Rehab and the CNN Red Cross special for the Haiti Relief Effort.  In addition, their single “There For You” was featured in a month-long campaign for CBS’ Blue Bloods, Disappeared  and the season finale of Ghost Whisperer.  It also has over 1 million plays on their MY SPACE site.   (Click Here)

“Something To Hope For” and “There For You” are featured on The Undeserving’s debut album, “Almost Alive”, which released on September 6th, 2011.  The album was mixed by Grammy Award winning  Michael Brauer (previous clientele include: Coldplay,  The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, John Mayer and The Fray).

In the Spring of 2012, Brennan Willis left the band to focus on producing and recording new artists.   A long time friend of the band, Matt Grabowski was brought on as his replacement.

The band is currently putting finishing touches on a new EP, which will be released before the end of 2012.   All of their music is available on ITUNES.

A Story to Tell

At Birchard Public Library in Fremont, Ohio the books are spread across carts and tables.  This is the annual book sale, and a few people mill about perusing the titles.  I am not sure what draws me to this sale every year except for the chance of finding a book to rescue.  I eagerly walk up and down each aisle, hoping to find a diamond in the rough.  Maybe I could find a book that I have always wanted to read or a book that I have read and wanted for my book shelf in my office.  Either way, this is so much fun for me.

I favor the old hardbacks, with their worn corners and soft pages.  I usually lift one gently, open and inhale.  The smell is a scent I can’t quite classify—something at once comforting and yet wistful, like the flowers of late summer fading by the porch steps.   Most times, I have never heard of the book, and strangely enough, that makes me all the more tender toward it.  Books are in and out of print so quickly, and then stray copies wander from place to place like traveling preachers in search of an audience.  They say, Take us in for a time and listen; we’ve stories to tell.”

I am always drawn to the vast array of different authors.  I look and it is just a constant stream of names written on the binding of each book, each of them with a story to tell and each one of them hoping that their story gets read.  I can only imagine the frustration of some of these authors.  The time and effort put in to tell a story and now it is on the discount and bargain table with a price tag of a dime or maybe a quarter.  It truly is not fair for the time, effort and pain it took to pen the words of their life and work.

Christmas Gift Tag I Found in My Book

On this day, I scan the tables looking for that special book that will be coming home with me today.  I find a one that looks interesting, but sadly, the condition of the book shows that it has not been read in quite sometime.  The book was just another casualty of time.  It was discarded just like the hundreds of others strewn about the tables of that room. As I fanned through the pages, I wondered,  “Did it live up to its purpose?  Did someone cherish this story?” I was just about to put it back on the table when a small piece of paper fell to the floor.  It came from the book and I bent down and picked it up. It was an old faded gift tag for Christmas.  It said, “To Dad.  From: Kathy, Tim, Jason, Justin, Timmy.”

There was no way I could put the book back down on the table now.  This book was a gift to someone’s father.   I wondered about what kind of journey this book may have taken.  How many times had it been read?  No, I wasn’t going to let this book fall into just anyone’s hand.  I was going to give it a new home.   This book was going to be put on my shelf in my office.

Little did I know that it would become one of my most favorite in my collection,  “Give Us This Day” by Sidney Stewart is a book written by an American soldier who survived the Bataan Death March.    The story is told by Stewart,  who was held captive by the Japanese in the Philippines.  He became a captive because the US military pulled out of the Philippines and abandoned him and about 11,000 other American soldiers.  He endured the horror and atrocities of the Death March itself where he was forced to walk over 90 miles.  The total death toll is not known, however, it is estimated that over 20,000 soldiers and civilians died during the march.  He then was held captive for over 4 years as a prisoner of war (POW).  The story of his experience, compassion, friendship and faith moved me to tears. The quarter I paid for his book is not justice.  The impact that it has had on my life and on my faith in man has been invaluable.

So now I wonder how an old tattered book ended up on a discount table in Fremont, Ohio?  I am sure that when Mr. Stewart wrote the book he did not envision that a copy of his book would fare such a fateful journey.   I would have loved to have met him but he passed away in 1998.  I plan on passing his book down to my children in the future, just so that I know that his story will live on.

I think we all want to be remembered and I think all of us have a story to tell. As the evidence of this post will convey, I do not have the talent to write a book, especially not one that could impact the world like Sidney Stewart’s book.  However, I think that most people are eager to leave something behind bearing their name; many of us can’t bear the thought of passing through the world without smudging it up a little with our fingerprints.  We seek creation, and the logical conclusion is a story to tell. Now, I know I don’t have a story like  Sidney Stewart’s, but that is not to say that I would not like to try to put something down on paper for my kids and grandchildren to read.

However, the thought and utter narcissism of me writing and reproducing a story is foolishness to me.  Does planet earth really need my remnants?  Do I owe this to humanity?  The obvious answer is a resounding NO!!! So, do not look for my book on the discount table at the library.  It will remain in the confines of my computer, maybe one day it will be extracted by my children.  Maybe they will have a good laugh and a good time remembering the memories of a life that was once part of theirs.

Maybe…just maybe, they may even print it off and place it on the same shelf as Sidney’s.

The Passing of a Champion – Harold “Mac” McGilton # 81

This is a sad week for me.

Harold “Mac” W. McGilton, Sr., 74, of Fremont Ohio, died Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at Countryside Continuing Care Center surrounded by his family.

He was survived by his wife, Betty McGilton, Fremont, OH; children, Michael McGilton, Steve McGilton, Harold “Mac” (Maria) McGilton, Jr., Lisa (Randy) Hammer, Linda McGilton all of Fremont, OH; fourteen grandchildren; and twelve great grandchildren.

I first met Harold McGilton in the early 1970’s. I think I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time. It was a chance meeting and though it was a long time ago…I remember it like yesterday.

Harold McGilton did not know my name, nor did we ever communicate at any time over the past 35 plus years since that first night I met him. However, Harold “Mac Attack” McGilton had a tremendous influence on me during those early years. He just never knew it.

Who was Harold “Mac” McGilton?

Harold was a Welder and Steeplejack by trade…but more importantly he was a race car driver. Not just any race car driver…but my race car driver. I watched in awe as he battled the corners of Fremont Speedway with the likes of Al Franks, Jim Linder and others.

He began his racing career in 1956. Throughout his racing career, Harold won hundreds of features and set numerous track records. He was a two time Track Champion at Fremont Speedway. In 1975 he won the first Speed Week Championship and in 1976 was Co-Champion with Billy Cassella. He traveled to many surrounding states winning numerous titles and events. After retiring in the late 70’s Harold returned to Sprint Car racing, competing and winning at age sixty-five. One of his great accomplishments was leading and finishing third at the Master’s Classic in 1999 in Knoxville, Iowa.

As a young boy, when I rode my bicycle, I imagined that I was Harold making the heroic and dangerous pass on that final turn to win the race. His daughter, Lisa Hammer recently said, “He was a bridesmaid hundreds of times,” she continued. “It took him seven years to get his first feature win.” However, when I played with my “Matchbox” cars…I had a special car that was “Harold’s” car. It NEVER lost a race.

I am sure there were times when in my mind…I was more Harold McGilton than the real deal. He was larger than life and I idolized him.

knoxville-3-1975hm

Little did Harold McGilton know that on that hot July evening, at the Fremont Speedway, that when he shook my hand he would have had such an influence on a young boy from Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Sadly, as I grew up, I moved on to other interests and other sports. Harold retired from racing.

I often wondered what he was up to and I always wished I could have made the connection with him again and tell him what a positive influence he had been to me. I wanted to tell him thank you for giving a young boy a hero to follow.

But as fate would have it…it never happened.

I came home from work this week and opened the newspaper and read the obituaries…and there it was… Harold had passed away.

In my life, I have traveled around the world. I have met a number a professional athletes, politicians and famous people over the years. I have even had the honor of meeting two Presidents and shaking their hands.  All of these people would be considered heroes for many people, but not for me.

I did not have to travel all around the world to find a hero…

He found me at a little dirt track in Fremont, Ohio.

Thank you, Harold.

Blessings to his family and may God give you peace and comfort in this difficult time.