It was a hobby -- something the former motorcycle and stock car racer did "just for fun."
There wasn't much money in stock car racing when Roy Creach was behind the wheel five decades ago, but now the long-time Payson resident has something to show for his efforts -- an imposing silver and purple trophy.
He got the award a little late, some 47 years after he became Manzanita Speedway's 1952 champion and winner of three "Races Against Polio."
Creach was honored Aug. 21 at the 48th anniversary of the race track he helped build. Other honorees included former Payson residents Avery and LaVerne Doyle, a husband and wife racing team who now live in the Valley.
Through those many years, Creach has had daily reminders of his years as a motorcycle and stock car racer. His wife, Susie, says his three knee replacement surgeries pretty much put an end to his racing days.
"It's just overuse," said Creach. "You use your legs a lot when you're racing motorcycles, skidding around."
He talked about the years he worked with the Maricopa Sheriff's Department as a motorcycle cop. "There was a lot of chasing criminals over rough ground and jumping fences," Creach said.
Even though he was hired because he was a hotshot motorcycle rider, going to work as a sheriff's deputy in 1953 put an end to Creach's racing career. "They figured out it was OK to get shot, but they didn't want me to get hurt racing," he said. "I did a lot of racing with the sheriff's department, but it was mostly chasing people."
That was after eight years of racing motorcycles and doing stunts in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California, and four years of racing stock cars. His stunts included going through a wall of flaming, one-inch planks.
But Creach's most serious injury came not on the track, but as a sheriff's deputy.
He was going out on a call when a tire blew on his motorcycle.
"I threw my motorcycle down and it was sliding when I tried to get off," he said. "It tore the flesh off both my hands and broke my leg. I did desk duty for a while with both my hands bandaged and a cast on my leg."
Creach had a chance to go to Indianapolis to race cars, but he was a single parent of three children. "I wanted to stay home in South Phoenix to take care of the kids," he said.
He spent 16 years with the sheriff's department and moved to Payson in 1969, where he owned and operated the Exxon service station and became famous for his deep-pit barbecues.
"We were the barbecue family," said Susie Creach. "It's a family thing -- it's not just me," said Creach. He's turned the barbecue business over to his son-in-law, Albert Hunt, and helps out when he can.
What he does now is enjoy his family, particularly his little 2-year-old great-granddaughter. He still owns a motorcycle, but doesn't ride anymore.
"The most exciting thing I do now is try to stay alive and stay healthy," Creach said. "But every time I hear a Harley Davidson go by, I get to tingling."
On Aug. 21, when Creach got his award, he walked across the track. He didn't take that victory lap, because the fans were anxious to get on with the racing.
"They wouldn't have got me off of it," Creach said.