Thursday, May 8, 2003

Knip's eye view


With dad's help, teen really is on fast track

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So, you were wondering, what the heck is car dealer Tom Gill doing in Los Angeles today? And why did he drag 13-year-old son Phillip with him?

Wellsir, turns out the two flew out there Wednesday to do a segment of The Best Damn Sports Show Period (various times, Fox Sports Network). The segment, all about father/son sports teams, aired Wednesday night, repeats today at 6:30 a.m. and may air again around Father's Day.

To wit: Besides being an A student, Phillip is an up-and-coming race driver who recently graduated from racing quarter midgets to Bandolero cars on the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Legends (KOIL) Tour. The Bandoleros are bigger and faster than the quarter midgets and they race on a longer track. He's still racing the quarter midgets as well, something he had done since he was 5 years old and doesn't want to abandon.

But it's his work in the 30-horsepower Bandolero, tooling along at about 80 mph - and he doesn't even have a driver's license - that's turning heads. He has already won his first three races and is getting a name around the Kentucky Speedway as one to watch.

Which is why the TV show snapped the two of them up.

And Papa Tom's job in all this? He runs Phillip's pit crew.

But more than that, he says, "The best thing about this sport is the way it deepens a father-son relationship and takes it to a whole new level.

"I am Phillip's coach, I'm his pit crew, I'm his cheering squad ... and because we work so closely ... a special relationship has grown."

Guess that's what they're going to tell the Best Damn Sports Show Period.

Tree relief: Cincinnatian Sam Sherrill, meanwhile, is still taking in homeless trees. And sometimes shipping them east.

Sherrill is the University of Cincinnati prof who founded a movement - "it's not a formal group or anything, just people who want to save good-looking wood" - called Harvesting Urban Timber (it was originally called Trees To Furniture). The group takes down trees destined to become firewood and makes furniture, cabinets, that sort of thing.

Sherrill also has developed a relationship with New Yankee Workshop producer Russ Morash and host Norm Abram. They featured him in 1999 and made a table from an oak tree he whacked in Milford.

They're at it again. Morash called awhile ago and asked Sherrill to scare up some black walnut for a table they wanted to make.

"I shipped them 200 board feet of black walnut that I got from a small tree service. They'll use it on Saturday's show (10 a.m., Channel 48).

"People ask why I do this. One, because it's so different from what I do in the classroom, and two, because the USDA Forest Service estimates that 3 to 4 billion - that's billion - board feet of perfectly good lumber go into landfills every year. That's unacceptable."

Big fight: Don't know for sure, but it looks as if Rich Franklin has a tasty future fighting on the MMA (mixed martial arts) circuit. Franklin is the Oak Hills High teacher who made his national TV debut last week fighting the favored Evan Tanner in the pay-per-view UFC (ultimate fighting championship) 42.

And would you look at this? He not only won, but did it with a TKO in 2 minutes, 40 seconds. Whew.

There's a batch of his fight pictures at www.maxfighting.com.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com



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