“Yeah, what’s this one for?”
“A 1928 Ford Model A. I just picked it up last week.” I set it back down as if worried about scratching it. The truck has no A/C or clock. Even the wristwatch hanging in the middle of the console is eternally stuck on 11:49. I never bothered to test the radio.
The old man wears a baggy green polo with gray sweatpants. He’s 84 years old, has watery eyes, a wide, open-mouthed smile, and a full head of hair in different shades of gray. As we bump along he habitually reaches over and whacks me on the arm to get my attention. Unassuming, he’s a local celebrity. A regional park bears his family’s name, and people routinely call on him for advice, a loan, or to sell him a collectible. At a local grill, the hostess comes outside to personally greet him and holds the door as he gingerly uses a walker to amble across the parking lot. Inside, every server and manager makes it a point to come by and say hello. Friends sit down and continue conversations they were having on the previous day.
In the supercross world, anybody who’s somebody knows him, yet the octogenarian hasn’t been to a race since Jeff Ward retired 25 years ago. If supercross ever had an unheralded benefactor, it’s this old man, Jerry Deleo, who holds the curious distinction of owning the land where the factory supercross test tracks have been since the mid-’80s and early ’90s. There are nine supercross tracks on the approximately 400 acres of land he currently owns in Corona. Eight of them are within sight of each other.