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FLETCHER: Likeable Hillbilly Sullivan Just A Little Bit Crazy

EAST LEROY, Mich.  I had Jack Sullivan on the phone to confirm a few things from a larger piece of writing I was working on about his life and times.

He wanted to talk about fried bologna sandwiches and the fence in front of his Arkansas property getting knocked down.

Knowing about his affinity for Southern rock music, I told him about an attractive double bill coming up in my area featuring .38 Special and The Outlaws.

“Somebody’ll have to tell me about it ’cause I ain’t coming back up there,” Sullivan drawled. “Hell no.”

Sullivan spent more than a month in the Midwest, away from his beloved Arkansas, racing on the UMP Summer Nationals tour. He wasn’t quite ready for another long road trip just yet.

He told me down there in Arkansas they’ve got blue holes. I asked him what that was. He said they’re very deep water holes in the ground left over from some sort of mining operation.

In Arkansas, Sullivan explained, that’s where they dump the stolen cars after they’re stripped.

I’d heard of Jack Sullivan and had been told he was crazy. I met him on the Summer Nationals tour and can confirm that.

I took an immediate liking to him. I couldn’t help it. He’s my kind of people. When he told me he didn’t like to be messed with too much, I said if it ever got that way between me and him, he’d only have to tell me once. I listen pretty well and do what I’m told.

Sullivan went the entire month-long Summer Nationals tour without washing or changing his driver’s suit. A competitor’s mother washed it just before the last race.

“They felt sorry for me,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is 33 years old. He works at GRT Race Cars in Greenbrier, Ark. I called there for him once. The woman said she didn’t know where he was or when he’d be in.

“That’s Jack,” the woman said.

“Sounds like him,” I answered.

Sullivan this year became the driver of the GRT house car. He’s good and on his way to getting better.

Don’t get the wrong idea about the self-proclaimed hillbilly. He’s a lot smarter than he sometimes lets on. Not that his rural Southern ways are just an act, they’re not.

But that’s just a part of him.

On the national dirt late-model scene, Sullivan is still sort of an unknown. But he’s an element of freshness the sport needs, a different character to add to the already-diverse personalities.

You meet him and you’ll like him.

Sullivan grew up in Conway, Ark., which he says molded his character. Sort of, anyway.

“That place I’m from, you’d better have a sense of humor,” he said.

The people on his father’s side were business types, his mother’s folks were mechanical-minded. Sullivan took the best of both worlds and put it all to work for himself.

Coming from modified racing, he’s still learning the late-model game. He has a good friend and mentor in former Dirt Track World Champion Wendell Wallace.

They usually travel together and share information.

I was sitting in the concession area at Eldora Speedway. As Sullivan walked by, I said, “Well, if it ain’t Mr. Fried Bologna Sandwiches hisself.”

He muttered something and lowered his head and walked on. I figured it was one of those times he didn’t want to be messed with.

I have an open invitation to go to Arkansas and eat bologna. Someday, I will go. That’s what I think of Jack Sullivan.

We’re heading into my favorite and also least favorite time of the year. With Labor Day weekend and the World 100 now behind us, it means the racing season is dying off.

There’s not much left but big-dollar, end-of-season specials.

I hope Sullivan can win one or two so he can go to some rock concerts and buy some bologna and get his fence repaired before I get down there.

Posted by on Sep 28 2010 Filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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