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A Family Tradition

Usually when you hear divorce and kids in the same breath you nearly always expect the mother to be mentioned, as well. People often express honest surprise when I tell them I kept custody of my two sons following my divorce 10-or-so years ago.

I get the surprise; dads often get a bad rap when divorce is brought up. There are certainly deadbeat dads out there in the world. But in my case, the kids stayed with me and thrived. We went through some good and bad times. The bad times, mainly, were financial. Imagine having your household income cut in half with little to no notice then game plan around that one. There were certainly more than a few nights when Ramen was the main course.

But through it all, we managed to stay the course as a family. When my wife came into the picture years later it only made everything that much better. Still, you don’t forget the hard times, and I tried to instill some lessons in what we went through.

One of those lessons was: no matter how rough things get, take some time to enjoy life. We did this with a yearly outing to the Dallas Supercross.

This indoor motorcycle race is tailor-made for the Williams boys as we ride as often as we can, and when we’re not riding we’re talking or thinking about riding. There wasn’t always money for even a small vacation in the early days but we always found a way to get to Texas Stadium, as it was the site way back when.

Things are much better now and bear little resemblance to those rough days so many years ago but we still maintain the Dallas Supercross as a family tradition. And what a tradition it is. Work crews bring in 1.5 million pounds of dirt to the floor of AT&T Stadium and a seven-man crew with commercial construction equipment take three days to build a race course. The track is filled with dirt, sand and jumps that launch racers 60-70 feet in the air. These racers that brave the track range in age from 16 to 36. This sport is so physically demanding that riders routinely retire in their late 20s and anyone in their 30s is considered old.

We go so often we’ve got it down to a science: where we want to sit, where to park, what time to get there, etc. And just like any large public gathering (70,000 people showed up for this year’s event) there is plenty of people watching to do. I routinely point out obnoxious drunks to my boys while preaching against drinking. This year, two groups in particular made the lesson an easy one. First, there’s the guy who is trying to sit down on the curb but continuing to fall over backwards while his girlfriend tries in vain to keep him upright. Of course, the whole time he’s half-yelling, “I’m fine, leave me alone.” Then there is the woman walking in front of us on the way back to the satellite parking lot. I say “walking” by way of being generous. She was more stumbling through the bushes and stopping before being dragged along by her boyfriend/husband. Inexplicably, he kept asking her what was wrong, like the slurred speech and stumbling through Dallas foliage wasn’t a dead giveaway. Or maybe the eight Miller Lites she ingested before leaving would have been a hint.

But you don’t have to be drunk to be obnoxious. I particularly love the woman who keeps getting up and down forcing everyone on our row to stand up and let her pass while the race is going on. And then there’s the guy in that same group who insists on standing for the first 20 minutes of the event for no reason at all and forcing everyone behind him to stand. It’s an ugly chain reaction as row after row has to stand up because of one doofus in the front row.

It’s all part of our overall entertainment package for the Williams clan. We can’t wait for next year.