Anyone writing a screenplay on racing champion Greg Anderson's life in 2010, could base it on Charles Dickens' "The Tale of Two Cities" and use theme song of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."
Mooresville's Anderson was thrilled when he won the National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock championship in storybook fashion.
"It was fantastic, because the season was such a struggle," said Anderson, 49.
Before the racing season even started, a fire destroyed his Concord home. Anderson, his wife, Kim, and their two children packed up what little was left after the fire and moved to Mooresville, near Lake Norman.
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The misery continued to the track.
"I don't know whether to use all the distractions and excuses or not, but we just didn't perform well the first half of the season," said Anderson.
Then the Summit Racing organization was shaken when team owner Ken Black suffered a stroke.
The buzzards were circling by the time Anderson unloaded his Pontiac GXP race car at the Z Max Dragway in Concord.
"We were behind a little bit in our setups and behind a little bit in our power," said Anderson.
The team was more than 100 points out of contention for a championship so they dusted off a car that had been parked because they couldn't make it go fast.
The team had a mountain to climb, but nothing to lose. Team engineers used the setup from stable mate Jason Line's car and Anderson's resurrected Pontiac claimed victory at Z Max. "The car was happy," he said.
That happiness turned to pure joy with three more wins before the end of the season, giving Anderson his fourth NHRA Pro Stock championship.
While Anderson was flying home from the season finale at Pomona Raceway in California, his transporter driver was just minutes out of the race track when yet another fire struck.
"The car, the trailer and 90 percent of the contents were a total write off," said Anderson. That included the winner's bottle of Dom Perignon champagne the team was to share in North Carolina.
The newly crowned champion didn't get the news until later that night.
"There were 50 messages on my phone telling me my trailer had burned," he said, thankful that his rig driver was uninjured. "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I had so much adversity already during the season. ... We made it through the first couple of catastrophes OK. We persevered and focused enough to win the championship."
Anderson summed up the year and the future in less time than it takes to make a six-second, quarter-mile pass in his racecar: "This is just another bump in the road. We're gonna recover from this just like we did with my house fire, Ken's stroke and the transporter fire.
"We've got two and a half months to recover and replace all our stuff. We really haven't shed many tears over it because nobody was hurt. It could have been a lot worse. The thing that I learned in my house fire and Ken's stroke was nobody got hurt. It's just stuff and that can be replaced."
The native Minnesotan is glad to close the book on 2010.
"It was a tough, tough year," said Anderson.