Around five years ago, while having a boozy time during the halcyon era of our early 20s, my buddy laid out a grand plan for me. It would be part tribute, part race, part social experience, part communal moment.
A fiveday road race that would take up nearly three thousand miles and send us barrelling through America in a race that would end where it started, downtown Plainfield.
My buddy, whose name I'll leave out because he now has a wife and kid and needs not be dragged into our past shenanigans, had the perfect name for the race: The Dick Rock Run. The race is named after the former mayor and owner of Rock's Deli in downtown Plainfield back when Plainfield consisted of a couple thousand people and a couple thousand acres of farm land.
We used to discuss how great it would be if Rock's Deli was still around so we could literally just walk out into downtown Plainfield for a soup and a sandwich to kill the sun tanned glow of our afternoon drinking sessions. While other places sustained us, that was the place in our faded memories that stood out.
It was the summer of 2007. We didn't have real jobs, but we had the summer and all the time in the world, and nowhere to be. We played Xbox all day and watched the Cubs. We would have a radio in the room so we could listen to their broadcast. Ron Santo and Pat Hughes were the soundtrack to our summer.
One day, I showed up to his apartment and he had laid out the idea of a grand plan he'd conceived over the course of the morning. Here are the general rules, as best I can remember:
1) Cars will consist of three people. All three have to drive at some point during race. One person in each car has to be female.
2) There will be no restrictions on modifications to cars. If you want to build a rocket car, then you can race a rocket car.
3) Time spent on the road will be driven at your own risk. YOU and YOU alone are responsible for any speeding tickets/reckless driving arrests you will incur during your time of the race.
4) The race will start in Plainfield, and end in Plainfield. Downtown. None of this outlying area stuff.
5) First person to make it to the next city is the first person that gets to leave the next day. Next competitors will leave, relative to the time behind the first place finisher they were.
6) Day one of the race will consist of a road race from Plainfield to Detroit. This will be the shortest run of the trip. Time bonus to any cars that do a donut on the empty lot where the original Tigers Stadium once stood. Starting the next day. Things. Get. Real.
7) Day two of the race will consist of a road race from Detroit to Mount Rushmore. Time bonus to anyone that physically drives their car into Abraham Lincoln's nose.
8) Day three of the race will consist of a road race from Mount Rushmore to Las Vegas. Time bonus to anyone that survives long enough in Vegas to make it to the starting line.
9) Day four of the race will consist of the longest trek of the race. Las Vegas to Topeka, Kansas. While in Topeka, bonus points for everyone that takes a swing at you when you reference that evolution is a real thing.
10) First team to make it from Topeka, Kansas and chug a pitcher of beer at Moe Joes win's.
That's it. We had eight teams locked in to race. It was a who's who in local racers of the time, most of whom have since wandered off to the real world. I hear it's far too bright for me out there.
We actually had a time frame on when to do the race. It was going to occur during the spring of '08.
But, like most things in life, the plans slowly fell apart and everyone moved on with their lives. Families were started, condom accidents happened. People just got older and moved on.
In the back of my mind though, I always wanted to make the Dick Rock Run. Sometimes dreams are worth keeping. They are the things that keep us going in life when life is down, when times are tough.
Back before things like the internet and Scientology, people found happiness on the open road. Route 66. New York to California. The Cannonball Run. People would get in their car and experience America in a way that was never ruined by Apple Maps. They were life changing experiences. Experiences remembered forever.
I reckon that come this spring, it might be time to put the tires to the road. Celebrate not only Dick Rock, but all the friends that couldn't run the race with me. See America for everyone who let life catch them. I'll stay one step ahead. All I need is some Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival, and i'll see you all in Vegas.