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DRIVING BACK HOME

ENJOYABLE JOB: Darrell and Darla Lowe made a stop in La Grande Monday to see family and friends on their back from Sunday's CART G.I. Joe's 200 in Portland. Their son, Benjamin (below) lives in the area. Darrell and Darla will be in town until Wednesday. They will drive back to Indianapolis and then out to CART's next race in Chicago. (Observer photos/RAENELLE KWOCK).
ENJOYABLE JOB: Darrell and Darla Lowe made a stop in La Grande Monday to see family and friends on their back from Sunday's CART G.I. Joe's 200 in Portland. Their son, Benjamin (below) lives in the area. Darrell and Darla will be in town until Wednesday. They will drive back to Indianapolis and then out to CART's next race in Chicago. (Observer photos/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

ISLAND CITY — It was no ordinary sight at the Wal-Mart parking lot Monday.

Towering above all of the vehicles was a semi-trailer truck driven by former La Grande resident Darrell Lowe, who is the senior transportation manager for Championship Auto Racing Teams.

Darrell was accompanied by his wife, Darla.

"It feels good," Darrell said about returning to La Grande. "It's been awhile. It's nice to see family ... getting together with people we haven't seen in awhile."

Darrell's mother, his son Benjamin and several friends live in the area.

The Lowes joined the Indy racing team, Team Xtreme, in March 2001 and moved to Rockwall, Texas, a Dallas suburb. However, the team folded after the season ended.

Darrell got offered the CART job in November and moved to Troy, Mich., a Detroit suburb.

He does not like cold weather but could not pass up the job.

"Drove a truck all my life," he said. "It's easy for me."

Darla works the unit at the track.

The Lowes were at the G.I. Joe's 200 in Portland this weekend.

Darrell is in charge of 10 semi-trailer trucks that haul equipment for CART; hiring and firing of drivers; servicing the trucks and having them licensed and permitted; getting the log book records; trip reports; and expenses after each race.

He is basically in charge of all the necessary stuff for each race to function.

"Yeah, there's a lot of challenge to it," he said. "It's very enjoyable."

He enjoys race car fans because they are great to be around.

"A lot of people love CART ... and how we do it," he said.

The races have been sellouts so far. Races have taken place from California to Wisconsin, from Mexico to Japan.

"CART is doing really well," he said.

Other items hauled are a medical unit, safety trucks and equipment, timing and scoring equipment, technical inspections and 11 pace cars and track radios.

Darrell's truck also hauls a business that is the at-track offices and hospitality area for the league.

The next race is the CART Grand Prix of Chicago June 30. The event will be televised on CBS at 12:30 p.m.

Although the skies were gray Monday, the Lowes were cleaning the truck and catching up with friends.

"It's a big billboard going down the road, so you want it to look good," Darrell said with a laugh.

 
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