Local race car driver Ron Bloomfield Sr. hasn’t done a lot of racing this season, but he has a good reason.
Bloomfield Sr. promised his wife, Jane, he wouldn’t “waste money” until the family saved up enough cash and took a family vacation to Alaska this summer. That is exactly what the Bloomfields did this month.
“It was a fair deal,” Ron Sr. said. “We planned it for two years. We flew into Anchorage and stayed in Wasilla, which is kind of in the middle of Anchorage and Fairbanks. We drove and did everything there is to do. If anyone can’t think of where to go for a vacation, Alaska is the place to go.”
Ron Sr.’s son, Ronnie Jr., was impressed as well.
“We went whitewater rafting, rented a cabin, went zip-lining,” Ronnie Jr. said. “We saw Mount McKinley. It was beautiful. We rented four-wheelers and drove up a mountain and went to an old mine from the 1940s.”
Bloomfield Sr. and his son, who live near Luckey, are ready to resume racing.
The elder Bloomfield, 52, took up racing at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon seven years ago, when his son was 14. They’ve been racing together ever since.
“I always wanted to do something like that when I was young,” Ron Sr. said. “When Ron was 14, you’re excited about a lot of stuff. We decided to build our own race car by Oakshade’s rules (specifications). We got a 1980 Camaro and followed the rule book to the T.
“When we went out there at Oakshade for their first time, I looked at the other guys and said, ‘we don’t have to race against those guys.’ We went out there and did have to race against those A-main Bomber cars. Our first year was to go out there and see what you need; we weren’t competitive at all. We bought another car at the end of the next season. It was a Bomber A-main car.”
Ron Sr. finished 11th in the points standings in the Bombers division in year three of racing. The following year, Ron had perfect attendance at Oakshade but things took a nasty turn in 2009, when he suffered a heart attack.
“It just about killed me,” he said. “When the doctors worked on me, they said I was the luckiest person they had ever seen, to live through that heart attack. They said I would never walk up a flight of stairs. We have heart conditions in my family. I got through it and ended up being able to do what I want to do. It didn’t take away my quality of life.”
Ron Sr. has only competed at Oakshade twice this season and is 60th in the Bombers points standings, with 140 points. He has also competed at Eldora Speedway and at Sandusky Speedway, winning that track’s fabled A-main “hangover” race on Jan. 1 a few years ago.
“I got in enough points down there at Eldora, after I had my heart attack, that I was invited to the Field of Dreams, when the big guys come and race,” Ron Sr. said. “I had to go in the hospital for an operation and didn’t get to go to it.”
Ron Sr. said he gets a kick out of watching his son compete. Ronnie Jr. is the only one of Ron Sr. and Jane’s three kids who took up racing. They also have two daughters: Tinamarie, 32, and Julia, 30.
“I love it,” Ron Sr. said of watching his son. “I feel you’re safe in the car, or we wouldn’t do it. There’s always a chance somebody can get hurt, playing football or whatever. As far as the cars go, I really do feel safe in those cars. They’re made to be in a wreck - not that you want to wreck them. My wife gets nervous about this stuff. She would rather us not do it, but everybody’s got to have fun.”
Ronnie Jr. has switched from the Bombers division to Enduro racing at Oakshade and has done fairly well. He is fourth in points at Oakshade, 28 points behind the leader, with his No. 14 modified 1980 Monte Carlo station wagon.
“There are only six or seven Enduro races a year, and the first one got rained out,” Ronnie Jr. said. “The second race, I was close to the front and my engine blew up. The next race, I had an overheating problem and I finished second. The third race was July 4 and I led the first 100 laps and had overheating problems. I had carburetor problems with eight laps to go and ended up fourth and finished 192 laps.”
One reason Ronnie Jr. switched from racing in the Bombers division to Enduro racing was the possibility of better paydays.
“The same rules apply as Bombers, except you are allowed to run snow tires in Enduro,” Ronnie Jr. said. “It’s a mud race. It also has to be a steel-bodied car. You’re allowed to run aluminum bodies in Bombers. In Enduros, it’s $1,000 to win every race, guaranteed. Second place is around $400. On a Saturday night Bomber race, an A-Main Bomber win is about $75. If you compare them, the Enduro races have a better payout.”
It should come as no surprise that Ronnie Jr. picked a career where he gets to work with moving parts. He is a diesel mechanic at Jim’s Garage in Perrysburg.
“My dad was a mechanic,” Ronnie Jr. said. “When I was 13 or 14 somebody gave us an old Camaro and we put a roll cage in it and went out and just learned a lot, I guess you could say. That was our first race car. My dad has always had four-wheelers and he got me into things with motors. In high school I restored an old Jeep when I was 16. Me and my dad restored it and painted it. That was our first father-son project and that snowballed into building things.”
Ronnie Jr. said the best thing about racing with his dad is, well, racing with and spending time with his dad.
“It’s a father-son thing, being friends with my dad,” he said. “That, and building stuff. I like that more than racing. Most of the time you’re not racing, you’re working on the cars.”
Ronnie Jr. plans to compete in the next Enduro race at Oakshade, on Sept. 7. The final race of the year, a 250-lap event, is scheduled for Sept. 29.
“I’ll probably do this my whole life,” Ronnie Jr. said. “Not big time, just around Oakshade when I have the money.”
Father and son, race car drivers Ron Bloomfield Sr. and Ronnie Bloomfield Jr., of Luckey. (Press photo by Russ Lytle)