Diary Of A Season 2008

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:06 pm

August 30th.......................Flamboro Speedway

Race #19

High Lites
* 11 cars
* Jason Shaw wins
* We get 3rd

Results
Heat.......3rd
Feature...3rd

Winnings
$350

Repairs
Good news...none...get ready for APC 300

Crew
Jason, Perry, Troy, Jessica

Conclusion
We had a special occasion planned for this day. Besides getting tires ready for the APC 300 at Delaware, we prepared a surprise for our youngest crew member Morgan Crewson. It was Morgan’s birthday and we wanted to make it special for him. Our team pulled together and bought some “CARS birthday balloons to fly, and a cake with the movie “CARS” theme, and a golf shirt with our logo on it. John Casale let them in the pits.
Before Morgan and Steve got to the track we were able to get some hot laps on our car. We had four new tires we wanted to scuff for the APC 300, and a new one for our right front for the tires that would be used for the Delaware 50 lapper. We decided to go with the same tires we ran for the Grisdale 50 lap race for this race. They had 3 cycles on them and about 70 laps. They should have been okay, that is if everyone else was using older tires….they weren’t.
After practice we were happy with the car, though we needed to be on top of the chassis after the heat to get ready for the feature because the temperature was getting a little cooler.
At about 6:30 Morgan and his dad got to our pits and we presented him with the gift and cake and even sang happy birthday. He was thrilled and somewhat taken by the surprise, but we were glad as a team to celebrate with him.
There only was one heat race. Some cars were taking the night off to go to Delaware, but not many, some were awol for various reasons. I talked with Mark Burbridge before the heat and he expressed his feelings with the low car count and how it discouraged him to be involved in such a poor showing. The catch 22 in this situation is that the track owner vents on those who show up. “Hey where is everybody”? He asks, or “do you know how many cars we have tonight”? Yes, we do, we know how many have been here every night. How many cars did you phone? Where is this car and that car?
I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to encourage racers to come out. Our part is simple. Treat each other with respect on the track, not wreck or bump cars out of the way, offer to help other teams if they ask or even if they don’t. However the real effort is the owners responsibility. He has a business that provides entertainment, so he wants cars to put on a show for his fans, or at least he should. He needs to call all race teams that have not come out and find out why. Offer them help. How about giving the team with the worst luck, every night, in every division free pit passes for the next weeks races.
When the owner says he’s not going to beg racers to come to his track it’s only a matter of time before there are no more Late Models. That’s what worries Mark and most all Late Model racers.
We keep making suggestions, but they go by the way side. Maybe a meeting just on the issue of car count is needed. Invite all the racers including those from other tracks and find out why they won’t come out. Take their ideas and put them into effect, and do it before it’s too late.
Anyway we started behind Scott in the heat and finished there. Paul Howse won the race with Jason finishing 4th. Those two were racing for the second stupid bonus put up by the track for the car leading the points at the end of August. The first was for the team leading at the end of June. One car got $2000 at the end of June and possibly the same one got it for the end of August. How dumb, accept for the car winning one of those bonuses or the car that won both. The bonus should have been spread out to cars with 100% or $500 to the leader and the rest split for those with 100%. I appreciate the idea, it just needs to be given out differently. I guess a few things upset me...did I mention car count?...okay, to the 11 car main event.
The feature looked like the Grisdale race with all fast cars at the front, that's because there was no rear of the field, with 11 cars, everyone is up front. Richard Bosscharet #90 got the early lead from the pole. Richard Holmes #42 did all he could to hold on outside. A caution after one lap had us in second. We followed the leader for a few laps and then got by in turn three without incident. Jason Shaw was on our tail and we ran away from the field. With six laps to go no one reminded Jason about last Octoberfest, when he was leading by 15 car lengths and I ran him down. I tried to get by but settled for second because I wasn’t going to hit him to get by. If I had hit him, the pass was worth another $500 to me. Coming off turn two he got into me, not hard enough to spin me, a hit and run deal. I raced into three but wasn’t able to get the spot back, and worse, lost second to Jeff Stewart who was right on Jake’s tail. I was slower for sure, maybe new tires would have done the trick, however we were good enough to finish 3rd. Our team was happy, me to, we got over it, knowing that we would be going to Delaware, and more importantly, that we wouldn’t be working all night on the car to get it ready. The crew changed the gears and tires for the APC race. We put the batteries on charge at home and went to bed to get some sleep. The Polar Express was leaving Waterdown for London at 7 hundred hours and anyone going had to be ready and on board at that time….and I was.

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:06 pm

August 31st.................Delaware Speedway

Race #20

High Lites
* weather was awesome
* 34 cars
* Ron Sheridan wins
* David finishes 2nd
* David turns lap time of 18.9
* We have good car but get caught up in wreck

Results
50 Lap Feature #36...14th...#37...7th
200 Lap Feature #36...28th...#37...2nd

Winnings
#36...$300
#37...$2500

Repairs
body, front end, spindle, rear bumper, cosmetics
#37...polish the runner up trophy

Crew
Jim, Jason, Perry, Troy, Ken

Conclusion
Only three racers that competed at the APC 300 ran the night before. Jason Shaw, Glenn Gault, who is from Ohio, and our team. The other 31 competitors saved their machines for the biggest race of the year, and as much as I understand why they did that, our team could not miss the opportunity to race at our home track. Our sponsors and fans want to see us race at Flamboro Speedway and that is where our commitment is….plus I want to race as many times as I can every year.
We always pray before every race for safety for all of the racers and that we will have a good clean race. Also for our testimony, the way we act on and off the track, that part of our racing needs protection also. Because of the race at Delaware, we delivered up extra prayers at Flamboro the night before, for protection for our car. My team knows even if the car is wrecked we’ll be working on it to make it to the next race, and as much as they would loved to have won the race on Saturday night, bringing the car home in one piece was there main concern. The third place finish with no damage allowed us to change gears and tires at Flamboro, get a good nights sleep and head to Delaware at 7:00 in the morning.
We arrived in plenty of time to get a great spot on pit row. Our tent was set up (that was a huge necessity with the hot sun blasting us all day), as well as all our tools. The tent must have lowered the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees. We got through tech with no issues and drew 20th for our starting spot in time trials.
We got out for warm ups and ran about 15 laps on our 40th Anniversary tires that only had 50 laps on them. After that session with times in the 15:4’s we came in to put on four scuffs. Only David and I were running 10” tires, the rest were on 8”. The down side for us was we had to run Flamboro rules, 56% left side, 2900 total. All other Crate engines from Delaware, who ran the 8” tires, were allowed to be 57% and 2800 pounds. We didn’t want to change our cars, plus we could run used 10”, saving us a little money....but we had new ones for the big race.
We put on the new tires with 7 or 8 laps on them form a Flamboro session, and within a few laps were turning faster times. Our best being 19:11. David was in the 19:00’s during practice.
David decided to go with the new scuffs for time trials and I went with the older tires. We were allowed to run any tires we wanted for the 50 lap race but had to start the 200 lapper on those tires, unless we had a flat. My crew chief Jim, asked me if I wanted to run the new tires for time trials but I elected not to so they would be still be new for the second half of the 200....I think he was right and we should have seen how fast we could have run.
David was out before us and turned an incredible 18:92 putting him on the pole. We were all excited for him and his team. Now I knew I should have put on the newer tires, but stuck with the plan. I drove harder than I did in practice and got down to a 19:28, putting us about 20th of 34 cars. That was discouraging, but not as much as hearing that David got DQ’d in tech for being too low after time trials. He passed tech, so it was alarming that he failed the time trail tech. It was a simple error in his car. The left front spring lock nut on the load bolt wasn’t tight and backed off allowing the car to drop. He was upset and had to start scratch in the 50 lap race. Dan Delisle turned an 18:87 making him the fastest of the day, but David would have been next, an incredible feat, especially when you consider the car is 10 years old. It’s a Jeff Hanley creation from 1999, the car young Pete Shepherd drove at Flamboro, and still works fine, also adding to the fact that maybe too many cars are replaced when they don't need to be, just get them set up properly and learn to be fast.
Once qualifying was done we had some time to rest. The Delaware cars ran their points race 50 lap event first. I had a chance to talk to Glenn Gault from Ohio. He had 2 cars. The one he raced the night before at Holland New York. He’s an ace from Lake Erie speedway but had trouble getting around the track. He thought it was very rough (and he was right). I told him he was spoiled running Lake Erie, the best race track we ever raced on.
After the Delaware race, we lined up for our 50 lapper. There were 22 cars. David started last, we were 18th. Our car was good. The race was tight and just as we were getting through traffic a mix up coming off turn two had us right in the middle. Nonie was spotting and thought we got through okay, but the front bumper was jammed in a foot and the drivers door was damaged a little. I pulled into pit row and our crew did the best they could to get the car back out on the track. There were far too many cautions in this race. We kept going and ended up 14th with a lot of work to do.
Some things I could report to our crew were helpful in getting the car ready for the big race. We didn't have enough gear, so we went to a 486 final from 467. Ken Stenhouse helped Jim get the nose back to where it was suppose to be. The boys drilled out the nose cone and got it as secure as possible allowing the hood to sit normal giving me a good view. We were ready with a few minutes to spare.
Starting 28th was okay, David started 13th. It was exciting playing with so many good racers in front of such a huge crowd that included my mom, my daughter, grand kids and nephew, crew and beautiful wife. The race got going and we followed the flow trying not to get messed up in any of the wrecks. Then very early in the race, Glenn Gault lost a wheel going into one and went straight into the turn two wall, mounting it and stopping half way down the back chute. He was okay but beat up and sadly done for the day.
There were a few cautions and we were able to avoid being a statistic, though some were very close calls for us. There are times when you race and you get a break, some call it lucky, we call it a blessing. Other times no blessing is given, rather a tribulation that results in a not so good deal, like a crash that puts you out of the race. So, as a Christian, we are reminded of the song that says “Count Your Blessings”, and it goes on to say ”name them one by one”. God knows adrenalin is for real, and brings with it extreme joy or sadness. He’s not into adrenalin, though He produced it, he wants us to get pumped on Him and all He has to offer, and for the most part we try to do that. Our team, as energetic and enthusiastic as we are, still reminds each other that we have a testimony to up hold. When things go south for us, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. No one reminds me that more than Nonie. She was the head spotter and always does a great job, but today she was suffering from the very high heat.
Our testimony is the witness to those around us. That’s why there’s no banging into other racers to get by, that’s the kind of racing that messes up your testimony and only breeds bad feelings. I did all this preaching to prepare you for what happened next.
On lap 40, after running some fast laps, we were slowly working our way to the front. Nonie stated the car was very strong, and to keep driving the way I was. Then going into turn 3 I went outside to pass. As soon as I did, a category 5 pile up was forming in between turns 3 and 4. "Slow up, big wreck" Nonie reported. I slowed up as fast as I could, but the car I was passing had to move up a lane forcing me to keep moving up and soon I was in the speedy dry and then the cement. I didn’t hit that hard, in fact, many people after could not believe we were done. A few weeks ago at Flamboro we slammed the wall very hard and busted the right spindle. It was welded and worked great. However when put to the test of hitting the wall again, it broke, putting us out of the race.
I was dejected, but not anymore than my crew, family and fans who were so looking forward to us battling to the front. We now had to count the blessings. If you went up to anyone of us right after hitting the wall we may not have responded quite the way we should. “Hey Jim, please tell the fans about the blessings from your DNF”? “Hey Gary, now that your out of the race, tell the fans how good that is, or better, tell us the positives”? Wow, we need a few minutes to get over the disappointment of being out, then we’ll let you know. The list of positives very much out weighed the DNF. I wasn’t hurt, we didn’t wreck the car that bad. We did get to compete in the biggest and most exciting race of the year and now we had a chance to cheer for David and help his team. So, it was sad, but we got over it, and I think all of us did okay with our let down. The one thing none of us knew at the time was how sick Nonie was. Immediately after the wreck she went to her car, put the a/c on and laid down. She was suffering from heat exhaustion and was in bad shape. She was hoping I couldn't fix the car because she could no longer spot, and could not even tell anyone. Maybe that's why we were out, so Nonie could get out of the heat,a nd if that's the case...that's okay.
I spent the next hour standing and talking to Glenn Gault, the Lake Erie vet. He was out to. I enjoyed the conversation with him. Together we watched David work his way through traffic getting up to 5th. Then on lap 99, just before the competition yellow, David cut a tire when a lapped car moved up on him. He’s done we thought, then he received a huge blessing, he may have called it luck, when the yellow came out. He was able to limp to pit row and change the tire. While they were working on the car the rest of the field came in for the "competition yellow". They were not allowed to work on their cars because of the rule, but since he was already on pit row he was exempt. The 5 minute break allowed them to now change 3 tires, gas up and charge the battery. I was so excited for David, how he was running, that I got down off the camper and joined his crew and some of ours, who were helping get the car ready for the second half of the race. I went to David and told him how awesome he was running and not to worry he had lots of time to get back up to where he was before the flat tire…oh ya, and how blessed he was to get a yellow. He looked at me and nodded, realizing he could easily be out of the race or a lap down. Then I got busy and cleaned his windows inside and out, he gave me a quarter….....just kidding.
The race restarted with close to 100 laps remaining. David slowly worked his way through the field. By lap 140 he was 7th. On a restart he got by the 6th and 5th place cars putting him 5th. Ron Sheridan was leading from lap 111, with Duke Sawchuk second, Steve Roblee 3rd and Jesse Kennedy 4th. I knew he was in good shape now. He was right where we both would love to be in this situation. I told Glenn to watch him now and he didn’t disappoint. When the green came out David got a good run off four and passed Jesse going into the turn, Steve Roblee in the middle and Duke Sawchuk coming off turn two. By half way down the back chute he was in second and closing in on Ron. The next twenty five laps were very tight. Sawchuk started gaining ground. Then Roblee, Kennedy and a few others joined into a 7 car train. However, after 15 laps of this pace some dropped back with only 3 cars running nose to tail. Sawchuk stayed but fell back when Roblee got by and now it was a 3 horse race with 20 laps remaining. The final laps were nerve wracking. David often got his nose under the back of Ron but could not get a good run off the turns, well, not as good as the leader. The two put a few car lengths on Roblee and with 5 to go it was just the two of them. I kept saying don’t hit him David, both drivers were tense and doing their best not to mess up. On the white flag lap they were bumper to bumper and stayed that way to the finish. What a great race for David to shine in front of the crowd and racers. He drove an incredible race. I asked Ron after the race “aren't you glad we brought our boy up to race clean”? He said with a huge smile “ I was looking up and praying that he drove just like his dad, and that he would remember that I drove you clean at Sauble”. No kidding Ron, what goes around comes around and you got the respect you earned.
All in all it was a good day. We were able to share in David’s joy. I was honored to have spent the time I did with Glenn Gault also.
Next week is Flamboro. I hope we have enough cars, eleven is terrible, anything under 15 is no good for the fans or racers. I find it frustrating to try and get pumped in a poor field of cars. The owners should be on the phone to every car that raced yesterday getting them to come out, everyone but Jason Shaw and me, we’ll be there.
We do have some work to do this week but it’s not real serious. This coming Sunday we’ll take our car to the Oakville Church Of The Nazarene. Man, my car's been to church more times than some of my friends. I will be sharing about racing and of course our wonderful Savior.
PS, everyone is welcome to come, and there’s no entrance fee.

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:06 pm

September 6th......................Flamboro Speedway

Race #21

High Lites
* 13 cars
* Jeff Stewart Wins
* We finish 2nd...I think we were lucky, I think we'll take it
* Heat win 5th checker of the season
* Tires used at Delaware APC 300 worked awesome

Results
Heat.........1st
Feature.....2nd

Winnings
$400

Repairs
routine...easy week

Crew
Jin, Jason, Perry, Marty (Troy at Cambridge Fair)
Guests...Art & Jeff Lancaster

Conclusion
What a busy week we had after our crash at Delaware. We didn’t think we hit that hard, but the damage was much greater once we checked the car over.
We found the rear frame section bent, behind the quick change. It was over about an inch. The rear bumper and all it’s brackets were bent, as was the front bumper and brackets. The right front spindle was broke, but could be fixed. It took us a few hours every night to get the car where it was last week end prior to the APC 300.
I owe a lot of thanks to our crew. Jim Hulzinga, our crew chief, was on holidays and came over every night. Jason, Perry, Troy and Marty (from David’s crew) all put in extra duty. Ken Stenhouse and Linda Dean also came over to help. Ken took our spindle and got it welded and added a strong gusset. Since the suspension wasn’t damaged, other than the spindle, we didn’t scale the car at home, but did it once we got to Flamboro.
We arrived in plenty of time. We found the chassis was low in tech, so we made some ride height adjustments and then reset the bar and scaled the car. The numbers looked right on. A final toe check was done and we were ready for warm ups. We got one set, it was all we needed. We were as fast as everyone else, in the warm ups.
We started the night off lucky by drawing #1 for our starting spot. The track decided to run two heats, instead of all 13 cars in one heat. That was a good call, and I mention it only because I usually note the calls that are not so good. We started pole of the first heat. Before the race Kenny Forth #86 came over and said to me “I’m starting outside pole, you’re inside”. I looked at him and said “don’t forget”. He laughed and said “don’t you forget”. I guess he was asking me to run him fair because he was on the outside. We timed him in the mid 15:6’s in the warm ups, we were in the low 15:5’s. I felt confident, that if we got the lead we could beat him. Then I said to Kenny jokingly…”can you spell rainx”? He looked at me strange and a bit surprised, but before he could answer I said, “maybe you’ll get a chance”. I was being far more arrogant and confident than normal, but it was in fun. The last time the two of us started side by side he won easily. We also had Jason in our heat.
We started the night with the tires we took to Delaware for the APC 300. They had one heat cycle of about 7 laps. We wondered if they would be okay for Flamboro. We were told by some, the tires may be no good once a heat cycle had been put int them at the speeds we reach at Delaware. We did get some fast times at Delaware on these tires, and only put 6 or 7 laps on them in practice. They were taken off and set aside for the second half of the 200 lap feature. Once we were out of that race, I was reminded by Perry "hey you still have your new tires for Flamboro". His words were encouraging although, the other side of that issue was that the tires would not get heat back in them for Flamboro and they would be no good....well, they were awesome and I was glad for that.
In the heat I was well aware that I would have to bare down for every lap. I was sure Kenny would not be able to get me on the outside unless I got loose coming off or got a slow start. Both of those scenarios are very possible if the car or the driver aren’t ready. Heading down the back chute I was making sure not to get to anxious going into three, but still ready to plant the throttle. Just as we past the pace truck I picked up speed slowly and then jammed the gas pedal. I didn’t see Kenny beside me by the start finish line but he did get to me in the turn. The reason I seen him was because he went in deep. However when he started to brake I was on the gas and got the lead off turn two. The next nine laps were tense with Kenny a car length behind and Jason on his tail. We would go on to win our 5th race of the season and it felt awesome after all the work we did this week.
The key in Late Model racing is to have your car as perfect as it can be. The other factor is not to over drive into the corner. That can get you in trouble more than anything else.
We watched the 2nd heat and I put the stop watch on few cars. The fastest car of the night was #56 Jeff Stewart. He turned a 15:44 in the heat, faster than anyone else. Our best time was 15:53. There may be faster times by other teams depending on what laps are checked on the watch. We usually wait for 3 or 4 laps to start timing, that allows the tires and the Crate engihe to get to their maximum power and set up.
The feature had us starting 9th. With only 13 cars it was somewhat discouraging but not as bad as it would have been with 10 cars. We only went a lap or so when the first yellow came out. We restarted 8th. That restart didn’t even get off turn four. I’m not sure what happened, but as we were picking up speed between three and four, Richard Holmes #42 went into the high lane collecting the #90 of Richard Bosscharet. Kenny Forth was also a victim in this wreck as he got tagged and spun right in front of me. I was able to get low and off the track so I would not get into Forth. It took a while to clean that mess up and once the cars were sorted we restarted 4th.
On the restart Simon Wild was the race leader and chased by #34 Jason Tremble. Jeff made a move on the inside of Tremble to get by him going into three. I tried to follow but couldn’t get a good enough run and Jason held on to third. A lap later Jeff got by Simon and was starting to pull away. I was faster than 2nd and 3rd but had to bide my time because they were in a fierce battle. I also wasn’t quite as good as Jeff in the early going to get a good run off the turns. Soon Wild and Tremble were starting to touch as they fought for position. I just knew something was going to happen but I also knew that Scott Lyons and Jason Shaw were right there. Going into three Jason got into Simon sending the #106 in a Wild spin. I dove to the apron but saw Simon coming down. I tried going under him and Jason followed me. But once on the wet grass I was in trouble and got spun around but kept going. I pulled on the track, no cars were wrecked. I moved up the field, and my spotter said the track told us to go to second, and our #36 was on the score board showing us in second place. I thought they may send me to the back as an accident car but they didn’t so I gladly stayed where I was. Besides, almost every team has had questionable calls that went in their favour, so I concentrated on Stewart. With 14 laps to go I knew it would be a tough race. Jeff was very fast, Scott, Jason and Paul were all right behind. There would be no room for error. On the start Jeff pulled away a little, but we soon reeled him in. Getting on his rear bumper was fun because now I knew we were as fast as him, but unless he made a mistake that would be all I would see…hey Gary, can you spell Kubota”? The race ran non stop for the rest of the way and we settled for a very good second place finish. Our crew were very excited. Nonie congratulated our team on a job well done. They all worked so hard this past week and it was good to be in one piece and have a great night.
In the tech building Scott told me his was going to protest the race finish, because I shouldn’t have got my spot back. He also said “I would have done the same as you if they told me to take 2nd, oh, and by the way, good race”. I was cool with that. If they sent me to the rear I would have understood. But, once the race is over, it’s impossible to penalize a car unless he is illegal or jumped the green at some point. How would it be fair to send a car to the back after the race is over? It wouldn’t and the track had to look at the reason they made the call they did and either explain the reason or say they made a mistake, but it can’t change now, that would be insane to send a car to the back after the race was over. Send me to the back with 14 laps to go and I can make some spots back, otherwise it has to be left alone. Even the racers know that. We had the same deal a few weeks ago with Shane Gowan and Paul Howse. Both admitted they should have been sent to the back but neither was and the rest of the racers agreed nothing should be done once the call was missed. Anyway, to sum it up…we got second.!!
We ran our 18th night at Flamboro. I will be the only car that can count points next week. The rest must drop their worst night while we count ours. We may be in 4th place once the drop night is applied, if not, we’ll be very close to 4th.
On Sunday the 7th we took our car to the Oakville Church of the Nazarene. Our good friends Pastor Michael and Betty Zita asked us to be part of their Rally Day event at the church. We were honoured to be part of the day. Nonie and I went down and I was asked to share my testimony relative to racing and how I came to be a follower of Jesus. Next week we are taking our car to Central Gospel Church in St. Catharines. That will be a day similar to this only with more people.

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:06 pm

September 20th......................Flamboro Speedway

Race #22

High Lites
* 18 cars
* Jason Shaw wins
* We get 2nd
* We get lucky early and in the feature
* We get a good warning with the steering wheel bolts
* 19th night...top 18 nights count in points chase

* Points Standings before September 20th
82 Jason Shaw..........1869
8 Paul Howse............1868
52 Scott Lyons...........1841
27 Mark Burbridge.....1807
86 Kenny Forth..........1801
42 Richard Holmes.....1766
36 Gary Elliott............1719
49 Ted Horsfall..........1476
3 Chris Bochsler........1388
56 Jeff Stewart..........1367

* The six cars ahead of us must drop one night. Most will drop 90 points.
We'll be in 4th but a long way from the top 3

Results
Heat........2nd
Feature....2nd

Winnings
$600

Repairs
Routine

Crew
Jim, Jason, Perry, Troy, Marty and special guest Jeff Lancaster

Conclusion
The past few months have been very good to us. Other than the bad wreck on August 16th, we’ve had some strong feature finishes. I’m one racer who knows the value of luck. I’ve tasted both ends of it many times. This race night was one of the lucky nights, a night where we favoured well. Unfortunately many didn’t.
Luck can’t be defined just by the term “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”, or “Murphy’s Law”. Both of those reasons are valid, however bad luck isn’t a mystical thing, sometimes it can be prevented.
There are two situations for luck. Mechanical and on track incidents.
At home or in the garage, most race teams do a thorough check on their car. They discover a loose battery cable and fix it. By doing that they prevented a possible let down at the track, but they did it because they are diligent and have a good consistent maintenance program.
At the track, a racer gets the lead and the car quits, the battery cable fell off. The race was his to win, but instead he gets a DNF….was that bad luck? No, bad maintenance, because sooner or later the loose cable was going to let them down.
Mechanical is one thing, but many times the luck is relative to things that happen during the race. Instead of a loose battery cable, a competitor is driving crazy, overly aggressive. You decide to back off and just as you do he causes a wreck and you squeeze through. It wasn’t luck that you got through that one, it was racing with a clear head and watching everything that’s going on around you. However if you were three rows back and couldn’t see the situation and got caught up in it, that would be bad luck. Nothing you could have done would have prevented you from escaping certain destruction.
Racers learn from past experiences and when they see a situation developing they’ve seen before, they know to take evasive action to avoid getting caught up in it. That’s not luck, that’s experience the one thing you can’t buy for your race team.
Luck is part of racing, all we can hope for is that we have more good than bad. We had three incidents in the luck category this past Saturday at Flamboro, you determine if they were lucky or not.
We got to the track early and to our surprise the car wouldn’t start. It did turn over for a few seconds and then went dead. It took us about 20 minutes to find the culprit. We had everyone looking for the problem. I figured it had to be simple, but the OHM meter said we were getting power to the starter, and both side of the switch panel. We installed our spare Podd Box, but it didn’t change anything. We ended finding the ground cable, though tight, was not giving a good ground. If this happend just before the feature went out, we could have been in big trouble...lucky deal #1. Ten minutes later it was fixed and all six of us took credit for finding it, that's because we all did something to eliminate something else, so it was in deed team work.
That delay cost us the first set of warm ups, but we did make the second and the car ran very good.
We were to start 4th in the heat but Dave Bentley decided to take scratch. Jason Shaw was on the pole with Richard Bosscharet outside pole. Jason got the lead and we quickly moved in behind. We were running as strong as Jason but quicker in the middle. We ran bumper to bumper for seven laps and the yellow came out when Dave Bentley blew his engine (apparently he is picking up his Crate engine this week). The delay to clean the track was at least half an hour. What if Dave did take his spot in the heat and his motor blew up on lap one instead of lap seven? I think we were kinda lucky that he went scratch and the motor blew when no one was behind him. That would have been a bad deal if he blew up in front of the pack. Lucky incident #2.
We went to a red condition and sat in our cars waiting for the track to be cleaned. Finally we got going again and it took a few laps to get the track race ready. The last three laps was a different deal for sure. Jason was able to get a good run and his car hooked up much better with the cooler tires. Meanwhile the three car lengths I had on Paul Howse prior to the long delay were gone and he was all over me. We did finish 2nd in a fairly exciting heat race.
We made a few small changes for the feature.
A Great Pit Crew
Our pit crew are truly coming into their own as this season winds down. They are maturing and getting to know our car so good, they can make the proper changes, because they understand what the changes are going to do to the car. It’s a great feeling for me to have a competent caring crew. Jim, Jason, Perry and Troy have been excellent friends and a very capable team in helping bring a competitive car every week. They always give me an awesome car for the feature. This past week end we were blessed to have Jeff Lancaster help us, and he will be with us for the rest of 08’.
I must admit it’s been very difficult for me to let go of the on hands repairs and just be the driver only, but as each week goes by, I feel more comfortable to trust my friends fully. Jim will make a suggestion for the final set up and we usually always agree on the changes. I can’t say enough about our crew. They have contributed equally with all the good things that have happened this season. We are ready and I believe capable to take a run at the Championship in 2009.
Feature Time
In the feature we were to start 8th but Todd Campbell went scratch before the green, putting us 7th. We got hot laps and were ready to go. There were 18 cars, a great field. I said to my spotters as we headed down the back chute “I see chaos coming”. I had this feeling something was going to happen. Steve Adams #41 was on the pole and he hadn’t been out for most of the season. Beside him was #34 Jason Tremble driving a new car. Jeff Stewart #56 was up front as was Richard Holmes #42 and so I was on my toes just in case something went array. Coming off turn four we were going way too slow. I saw Jeff get into Steve but not too serious. We started backing up and even before the green came out I got hit from behind and spun to the infield. The three rows in front of me were checking up and by the time it got back to me I knew I’d get hit, but I didn’t think I'd end up on the grass. That was bad luck for sure. The starter threw the yellow right away and I got back out and went to the back. Nonie called me to go back to my spot because the green had not been thrown. “Is that right”? I questioned in delight. “Yes, take your spot back Scott is leaving the spot open”. So the bad luck reversed and now, because the green hadn't been thrown we got some good luck. Another half a secnod and we may have had to go to the rear.
On the complete re start we went one lap and I could tell our car was very good. Heading down the back chute going into three I saw roofs of cars making wild moves. I got ready just in case something crazy happened and sure enough, from third back, the cars got into a tangle blocking the upper lane of the track. I was able to get through and come out in forth. I guess that was lucky that I wasn’t in the high lane but many of the guys in the high lane were able to get down. Steve Laking got beat up terrible, he was very upset. Kenny Forth, Paul Howse and Richard Bosscharet were all in the wreck...Steve was hard luck for sure. We restarted in 5th on the outside of Richard Holmes. We got a great run down the front chute and was able to get into 4th. Another caution on lap two allowed Jason Shaw to restart outside of me. On that restart he got ahead of Simon Wild who was third and then pursued Steve Adams. After a lap I went outside to follow Jason. About 3 laps into this run Jason got in front of Simon and dove under Steve going into three. I had to move quick or get boxed so I backed off a little letting Simon get ahead and then got in behind him. He also passed Steve and I followed him. It took another 3 laps and I was able to get under Simon. When I did the yellow came out on lap 8. Paul Howse was involved in that wreck with body damage and a flat tire. On the restart I stayed right with Jason who was glued to Tremble. The next 14 laps went non stop. Jason tried everything to get under #34 but every time he tried the door shut. Jason drove hard into each turn and many times locked up the brakes so he wouldn’t run into the rookie. A few times Jason got up to his rear wheel on the straights but the youngster chopped him going into the turn. Tremble started changing lanes on the chutes and the starter warned him to pick a lane. Jason kept on him but the new Lawlor car was very fast. Every lap I was right on Jason but was watching closely in case the two got together. I wanted to be close enough to follow Jason under if he could get by, but I also wanted a safety net (a little room) in case they got sideways or tangled. The problem with giving too much room was that I might miss the opportunity to get by when Jason finally could make the move. Then on about lap 18 Jason got a good run off turn two and was able to get up beside enough that Trembles spotters had to say "car low", well they didn’t have to, but Jason was going this time, no more jamming on the brakes. I went high and got behind Tremble knowing that this may be my only chance to get by. Going into three Jason was slightly ahead and got a good run off four and I was right on his bumper and by turn one I heard “clear high” and was in second. That would be it for us, but it was a great run and it must have been good for the fans. There was another caution after that, Jason was too quick for me, we could run with him, but never get by, not unless there were 30 laps left. The track announced the race would end at the next caution and sure enough another yellow came out with two to go and the checker was thrown.
After the race was over I showed my crew the steering wheel. It was very loose on the coupler that fastens to the the steering column. Now this situation could have been devastating. One of the three bolts fell out and one of the two left were hand tight. Was that luck...no kidding, but it is now part of our check list. Like Paul Cornwall said in 1985 after the brake pedal fell off my Hobby car in the feature..."If that happened every 9 years, I'd be terrified come 1994!! Well, the same here, although it didn't come off and slowly got looser as the race went, I was lucky the 2nd bolt didn't come out. They will be checked regularily.
Paul Howse could not get out in time after his wreck. They must have tried very hard to get out but didn’t get to the gate before the white, or before the allotted time. That will hurt him in the points race although he can drop one night, so maybe it won’t be too bad. At the turn four entrance he was upset at not getting out and backed up right into mark Burbridge who was also waiting to get out. Mark was definitely in the wrong place but that whole mess never should have happened, he may not be back until Octoberfest.
There is one more night in points and we are a very long way from 3rd, but if we can finish in 4th, we’ll consider it a very good season for us…and it has been.
Next week David will return. We’ll need him because many won’t be coming back out. Kenny Forth said he’s done for the season, #90 Richard Bosscharet said they won’t be out, and likely Steve Laking won’t be out again until Octoberfest.
Jason Shaw asked me about going to a race near Pittsburg in mid October. I thought about going to that race when Glenn Gault told me at the APC300. Maybe we’ll go, it would be nice to run at a different track, maybe if our crew wants to go we can make the trip, we’ll post it here once we know for sure.

#1Fan

Post by #1Fan » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:06 pm

October 3rd & 4th Flamboro Speedway

Oktoberfest

Race #23

High Lites
* 29 cars
* David Oktoberfest Overall Champ
* Jason Shaw wins first feature
* Steve Laking wins 2ns feature
* We stumble to a 9th in both races
* Johanthan Urlin Flips over, then flips out
* Track fails to recognize the Overall winner...again
* Finish 6th in CVM Clash...7th in CVM feature

Results
Heat........#36...DNS....#37...2nd
Consi.......#36...7th
1st 50......#36...9th.....#37...4th
2nd 50.....#36...9th.....#37...3rd

CVM
Heat......6th
Feature..7th
Clash.....6th

Winnings
#36.....$550
#37.....$950

Repairs
* Prepare for Autumn Colors

Crew
Jim, Jason, Perry, Troy, Jeff

Conclusion
This was somewhat of a bizzar week end in many ways. I'm not sure which of three key areas gave me the biggest disappointment. I love every aspect of racing, the people, the competitors and of course performing well. Perhaps the week end our team was going to have was summed up on the draw for position. Jason Shaw, maybe the fastest car on the track drew #1, pole of the first heat. We drew #38, 2nd last of the 3rd heat. The race was, and should have been a heads up start, so we knew we were in deep trouble right off the bat. There were 29 cars meaning a consi would be used to set the field for the feature. Then after a great set of warm ups, and ready mentally for the heat, our first shocker came when we ran out of gas on the 2nd lap of the heat. That was the one area of disappointment.
Another was the unexplainable conduct of Jonathan Urlin. I like this youngster a lot. He is incredibly polite and an awesome racer. I've done some dumb things in my race career that were enough to write a book about, but I never took a track emergency vehicle nor did I destroy race track property because I was mad. I understand how the crash in the 2nd feature could have sent a racer into shock, even to where it was funny that he took the emergency vehicle and drove himself back to the his pit spot with them chasing him. I still think it's worthy of a suspension unless it was proven he was mentally unfit at that time, which he wasn't. When the track disqualified him for the night, no points or money, Jonathan ripped up some cheques that were destined for Mini Stock racers. That was a fit of rage that ended up in him being banned for the time being. Two years ago he was so upet at being disqualified that he run up into the tower and confronted the scorers. That got him in hot water and a warning. I'm not sure if this suspension will last, racers in the past have done some really strange stuff, some things much worse, and never were banned, although none of them ever got into one of the track vehicles and drove away in it. No matter what, that is funny. I like Jonathan and hope he can make it work so he can get back to Flamboro. I can see the headlines for his return:
*...."Will Urlin Attempt To Steel The Ambulance"
*.... "Security Has Been Placed On Alert For Urlins Return"
The third was more frustrating than the other two. I called the track during the week and asked them who was the Oktoberfest Champ for 2007. There was a long pause, and then the statement, “okay, I’ll see you tomorrow”. “Wait”! I said, “you didn’t answer my question. “Is the track history going to show no one won the 2007 Oktoberfest Classic”? So I asked a third time “Who won”? Here’s the incredible reply “Was it David”? I went nuts, “Where were you, Peterborough”? “It was our team that won with 2 seconds but no one acknowledged us for being the overall winner of this prestigious race”. Then “Okay, I’ll give you a trophy at the banquet for last year”! A trophy, it wasn't about the trophy, it was being acknowledged for a hard earned achievement. Wow, so I hung up knowing that it really didn’t matter to him.
On the Flamboro web site, the criteria for this years race was posted, someone wanted to make sure there was a winner declared in 08’ even if there wasn’t in 07’. That was a good deal. The rule was simple. The racer with the best combined finishes in the two features will be the winner. If there is a tie the heat race results will be used ONLY to brake the tie.
Near the end of the 2nd 50 lapper, I could see David in 3rd with Anthony in 4th. They finished 3rd and 4th in the first feature, and if it stayed the way they were in this race, they would be tied for the Oktoberfest crown. Jason was in 7th, and needed to pass one more car to win, and Paul Howse was behind me taking him out of the race for the overall spot. As soon as the race ended I knew they were tied. Apparently no one in the tower did, even though both David and Anthony pulled up to the finish line. David knew he won because he had a 2nd in his heat and Anthony had a 3rd. His spotter told him where Jason finished, so there was no mystery. However, the track did not announce the winner, or even the unofficial winner. It had been a very long day for everyone and David knew his crew wanted to go home. He went to the tower to see if they were going to announce who the winner was. The tower staff were in turmoil after the Urlin deal with the cheques. So David waited and went up again. He wanted a team picture with the trophy or something to put on his site, this was a big race to win, the race was official, tech was done. The track told David the winner would be the car who won the most money, Jason Shaw. How stupid to say that, how thoughtless to not have an ounce of concern, after billing the race all day as the big show, and then carelessly make a statement like that. When they told David the winner was Jason, he left in disgust. This was yet another crazy deal by the track to turn off a good runner who already has many issues with the them, especially with the “who cares” attitude. Anyway I went up and asked about the overall winner, and why they would say that to David. Brenda apologized, John was totally indifferent and then Bob Munro said “we told David that so he would leave us alone”. Imagine, the driver that won the Oktoberfest race, the biggest race of the year, was not only unable to celebrate the victory because the track couldn’t take 30 seconds to figure it out who won, and then another 5 seconds to announce it, but then was disrespected by being fluffed off, and told a story "so he would leave us alone". Incredible!! The sad deal is they may have got rid of him for good, sad for fans and anyone who likes to see a hard charging racer.
Other than those three incidents the week end went very well. Here’s the rest of the story, some retold in more detail.
I decided to run the CVM this week end as well as the Late Model. The Coupe was so bad last time out I almost parked it for the season. Since my membership was paid, and it really wasn’t going to cost me much to run it I had to try once more, maybe to see if I could get to enjoy it as much as the Late Model.
Jeff Lancaster and his son Jason worked on the car last week. They found some serious issues that once fixed got the engine sounding better. There were worse chassis problems, and they did as much as they could until we got to the track and got some hot laps. Jason is going to drive our Coupe in 09’, so I guess I’m still not selling it. I would keep it and run it more if the CVM members voted to run the Crate engine. Wow, how smart would that be. Our team spent over $8000 on the inline just to compete 10 times. I talked to other race teams in the CVM on Sunday who had spent more than that this year. One Hobby car has had $14,000 invested in the six cylinder after two engines problems. The other racer, both with beautiful cars, said he spent half that so far in 08’ and by the time Saturday night was done, so was he with a cracked cylinder. What concerns me the most isn’t so much whether they vote to try the Crate or not. It’s the stubborn attitude of not seeing how serious a problem they’ve had for decades, and why do they not see how much of a struggle their members are having to keep engine costs down. In my 37 years with the Hobby/CVM, my single biggest cost was engines. Now the engine is way down on the list. I spent more on our tent this year than I did on our engine.
Anyway, enough on the inline.
We had double duty both days. The Late Model arrived early and went through tech okay. Then came the most important thing I had to do all week end…pick a good starting spot…and I didn’t. Picking 38 put us back of the 3rd heat. The car was awesome in the warm ups and we were ready to do our best to qualify in the best spot possible. Both Jason Shaw and Paul Howse were on the pole of their heats. They picked good numbers.
The track gave us a few laps to warm up the tires. Too bad they didn’t give us a stop and go for fuel. Anyway, we got the green and didn’t go two hundred yards when the yellow came out. The race was restarted. This time the starter liked the way the leaders came off four and let us go. We would go the least of the other nine cars in our heat. In fact on lap two the car lost power going into turn one and then picked up again on the back chute only to die half way down. The car quit and I headed for the infield. My spotter asked what was wrong…”I lost power”, was my response. Then I tried to start it again and it did run for two seconds and quit. “I’m out of gas”. “WHAT”!!! my crew chief Jim yelled on the head set. Jim is 6’4” 275 pounds and he was fuming. Apparently 4 men were seen running for highway six before Jim got back to our pit area. Just kidding, no one ran, and no one got yelled at. It was a mistake. Jason Shaw came over and asked me what happened. I just looked at him for about 22 minutes hoping I didn’t have to answer. He wouldn’t go away so I said “the boys told me we had 4 gallons in the tank”. Jason knew right away what happened and he said “they meant 4 laps”. We laughed it off, until Sunday that is. That’s when the Consi would be run. We weren’t laughing as hard knowing we’d be starting 9th in a field of 11 where 7 qualified. They announced a “Promoters Choice” may be given if John wants to. That sounded real assuring.
Meanwhile we had to run the CVM heat. The car was pushing very bad in the heat. The push was so bad it actually took my mind off the engine. Me and the inline don’t get along. Starting my CVM is like pulling a pin on the grenade. That gives you an idea of how tight the car was, I forgot about the engine. Also the Late Model, with it's no trouble, no hassle, inexpensive engine, has given me four years to relax and not worry when I'll take the long slide of death to an appointment with cement because of a blown engine...I'm getting off topic... We ended up 6th in the heat. We made some chassis changes in hopes of improving the handling. Our next race on Saturday was the CVM Clash. I qualified because of my past Champion status. I drew #2 putting me next to Brian Atkinson #92. Brian would go on to win the Clash while we faded back to 6th. The car was still pushing, but not as bad. So we knew we’d have to get it better for the feature on Sunday…although, after two races in the Coupe I couldn’t wait to get back in the Monte Carlo.
On Sunday, the first race out was the Consi. Thane Woodside told me he was going to follow me through and try to qualify. He said “you will probably be the Promoters Choice if anything happened". I hated that fact. I wanted everyone to be in the feature and what was bothering me was the wording in the meeting. They said John “may” decide to run 26 cars, picking 2 cars as a Promoters Choice… or he may not. I told my crew chief I wasn’t going to qualify, that way someone else would get in the race. I felt it was unfair saying they may or may not put another car in. That’s nuts. I figured if I was the one who could get the Promoters Choice but finished 6th, I may be taking away another racers chance of getting in the show. I told my crew chief “I’m going to finish out of the top 7 to let others in”. He said “if you feel so bad about that go talk to the track, I want you to race hard and qualify”. I understood that to, and I was in a bit of a bind. I talked to Donny and told him how I felt and he promised me 2 guys would get in. I felt better after that.
The Consi was a tough race. One of those runs that you can’t get out or get by without a good chance of getting wrecked. The cars around me were struggling very bad with handling. By lap 7 I was qualified and caught Steve Adams who couldn’t keep his car from braking loose. I figured I would settle in behind him because I knew he was in trouble and didn’t want to get into the back of him and spin him out. He's to nice of a guy and he just needed to tweak his car after this race. While I was being cool a car came up on the outside of me, Thane Woodside. He needed to qualify and dove in real hard then chopped down on me and beat me off the corner. It caught me off guard to say the least. The two lap flags came out and now it was three of us battling for the final spots. Then on the white flag lap Thane just tapped Steve and around he went. I dove low and got away. The race ended and we were scored 7th putting us 24th on the starting grid. The good news was that both Thane and Steve were allowed in the race.
The first 50 was in the bright sun. We had a long ways to go and needed to be patient. There were far too many cautions in this race, and it was hard to pass. I followed Larry Jackson for a while and we got up to 15th. Then a huge wreck in turn 3 sent me heading for the dirt. We made it through getting lucky on that deal. The track back flagged Jonathan Urlin for getting into Todd Campbell. The yellow took for ever. The next 15 laps ran non stop and we got up to 9th and that’s where we stayed. Jason picked up the win with Paul Howse second, Anthnoy Simmone 3rd followed by David.
In the CVM feature I started 9th. We worked on the chassis during the long wait between races and it was better. It needs a face lift, rebuild in the worst way, it will be done for 2009. I got a chance to race with my long time competitor Ray Hughes. That was fun for a little while because he had trouble. I got to hound Doug Hood for about 15 laps but could only stay with him. Anyway we ran as hard as possible finishing 7th.
The second Late Model race had us starting 8th. It was a reverse finish of the first race of cars on the lead lap.
The start of the 2nd feature was tight. The night was cold and for everyone, it was a long day. I was the only racer crazy enough to race two divisions, like I needed the extra energy drain, although I felt very good after the CVM feature. One way to look at it, I had a work out before the LM feature and maybe it kept me loose…that’s my story anyhow.
I knew there was zero chance of us being the Oktoberfest Champ again, there would be no repeat. Our 9th place finish in the first was not enough to expect to win it again, but we did hope to finish high, maybe even win the race. Our team has never won a race over 40 laps.
We got a clean start and ran a few laps before a caution came out. Then on that restart we got going again and cars started mixing it up heading into three. We were at the end of the chute when it happened and when I hit the brake my car started to spin. It was one of those deals that couldn’t be avoided. I was high on the track, turning slightly and then hit the brakes hard sending our car around. The worst of it was that I hit the wall, I thought, with the left front wheel. I pulled away and the crew said everything looked okay and I noticed the steering wheel was straight, not off set when the alignment goes out. I headed for the pits because there was a loud banging noise from the engine area. The crew quickly took off the hood and though they could hear it, they couldn’t see anything wrong. Junior Hanley came over and said everything looked okay, but the vibration in the car was very bad. I went back out and restarted in 24th. After a few laps the noise went away and I concentrated on trying to make up ground. There was lots of racing left. We battled with many cars. Soon after the restart I tried passing #56X on the outside. I went in hard and was beside him coming off turn two. To my shock he came up putting us in the fence just off two. The bounced and I held on, but I must admit I was upset. I thought to myself “why would Jeff do that”. Well first off it wasn’t Jeff it was Tim Ellis, and secondly it was an accident, he didn’t see me there, but I didn’t know that so I dove into turn one and was going to nail him but decided not to hit him hard and went back outside again, this time he let me by clean, and I assumed then, he probably didn’t see me, I also knew it was Tim and he always raced me clean. We went on to pas a few more cars getting us into the top 15. Then as we were heading down the front chute I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Jeff Stewart and Jonathan Urlin heading fast into the turn one wall. By the time they hit I was just entering the turn and the impact was so hard Jonathans car flipped over right onto Jeff’s side and then on the ground. I kept going and then the red came out. We were glad to here no one was hurt. There were still 30 laps left and the long delay ate away at our allotted time for the feature.
The race restarted again and we got in a long run to lap 40. The track announced the next yellow would end it. We got by a few more cars and closed the gap on a pack of cars from 2nd to 8th. When I caught that group we had gone as far as we were going given that no one was passing anyone in front. We ended up 9th again and in one piece.
When the caution came out on lap 44 I knew the race was over. I said to my spotters, “you got to hand it to Thatcher, running only twice this year at Flamboro and maybe winning the Oktoberfest”. We knew it was between him and David, they had identical finishes in both features. They both went to center ice expecting to get some air time and credit for being tied but that didn’t happen. You can be sure that Randy told Jason to head to the pits with his 7th place finish in the 2nd feature. Randy would add 1 + 7 and get 8, and know that 3 + 4 making 7, beats his car. I am still bewildered why the track could call what all of us knew already. David did quite awesome with this showing after his great performance at Delaware Speedway in the APC 300. Congratulations to David Elliott Racing...crew and sponsors.
I was a little disappointed with our run, but you can’t draw 38 and expect to excel. Most teams wanted double heats and if that was the case, like in years past, we would have been pole of the 2nd heat and maybe had a chance to qualify better…NEWS FLASH…don’t forget you ran out of gas in the first… okay, I forgot we messed up on the fuel deal.
Most of our crew have the rest of the season off, Jim Jason and Troy, that is until we start working on our 2009 race program, and in a sense we have already started and have a game plan...a big game plan with lots to announce on our site.
Perry and Jeff Lancaster and his family are coming to Autumn Colors as well as Marty from David's crew. Depending on how we do in the East we plan on heading South to race at the MotorDrome Speedway in Pittsburg. More on that later...like next week.
Great Pit Crew
Nonie and I are very proud of our excellent pit crew. They made the year a tremendous success. In the final 10 races leading up to Oktoberfest, we would have been 2nd in points only 4 behind Jason Shaw. They helped at the track and during the week to make sure we always brought the best race car possible each week. I know with this team we can win the Championship in 2009.

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:06 pm

October 10th, 11th 12th.....................Autumn Colors...Peterborough Speedway

Race #24

High Lites
* 20 cars
* Kirk Hooker wins
* We finish 7th
* Miss heat on Friday night, start 16th
* Mike Benntley very fast
* We were loose nuts

Results
Heat........2nd
Feature....7th

Winnings

$575

Repairs
Routine...get ready for MotorDome Speedway..Pittsburg

Crew
Jeff, Art, (Saturday and Sunday)
Perry, Marty (Sunday)
...Richard Bosscharet helped on Saturday

Conclusion
The format for Autumn Colors changed from 2007. Instead of practice on Friday and heats on Saturday, the first Late Model heat ran off at 6:pm on Friday. Most workers would have missed the early heats on Friday. Not sure why they didn’t start them at 7:30pm to allow their fans more time to get to the track, and if they were concerned about the entertainment, the extra time would have made it possible for some of us to get there before the heat. We left early, 3:00, and got to the gate at 5:55pm. Once we got to the end of the 407 from Burlington, the roads looked like Talledaga, bumper to bumper 3 wide, only at 2 mph instead of 200. Unfortunately we had no time to sign in, go through tech, let alone unload the car get it warmed up and ready to race. Missing the heat wasn’t the end of the world, I just felt having heats for a division where 75% of the drivers would be spending at least $1000, should have been given more time.
It wasn’t all bad. I complained that for the past three years we’ve had to wait a long time (2 hours in 07’) to get our pay. I asked JP if they could pay the features right away after tech. This year they did that, so instead of waiting until the last race was done to get paid, we got it shortly after our feature was official. That was a good deal, so maybe in 09’, qualifying will at least start a little later or left for Saturday.

Both Art and Jeff Lancaster came to help me on Saturday, as did Flamboro competitor #90 Richard Bosscharet. They were a welcomed site as my crew had fulfilled their contract with me for 08’ and wanted the rest of the season off. They don’t have a contract, but I make it clear they are not obligated for any race, even during the season. Family, work and other things they want to do come first. Actually our crew chief, Jim, went to Charlotte for the NASCAR race and no one in their right mind would miss that for any race. Our car chief, Jason, had enough for 08, as did Troy who had other commitments for this week end. That was okay, that’s the deal. Perry did come out with Marty. Not everyone can make every race, and in some cases, all of them can’t make certain races, so I make the decision to go with Nonie. I have no problem doing that because there will be a worst time with myself if I miss a race and felt I should have gone. The conversation with me might go like this….”Hey, dummy, do you know if you go to Autumn Colors, Lake Erie, Bristol or anywhere else, you may be on your own”?...my answer might be …..“and your point is”?

...I've decided to add a post here to explain the comments made about my crew...some have taken the above comments to the extreme opposite of what was intended, but I understand how they could take it that way, so I must explain..clearing the air is good...first, I am a tough racer to pit for. Not because I yell at my crew when things go wrong, or blame them. I understand things happen and don't hold a grudge or get mad at my crew. I've made every mistake possible when it comes to working on a race car. If a crew member forgets, or over does it, or misinterprets what should have been, we move on and learn from the incident...why?...because I could have made the same mistake....oh wait!...I have... I'm not tough to pit for when it comes to being in the pits, we usually have fun every night. Where I am different than most racers, not all, is that I want to race every single chance I get. That fact is hard on crew members not me. They feel as if they should be there every time I race and I want them not to feel that way...that's why I said "their contract was up". I made a joke above about what the conversation would be with me relative to going to a race alone. That wasn't to slam my crew for not going, it was to suggest the opposite...Gary will race 40 nights if possible....that's the tough part with pitting for me. When does the season actually end? Long before we get into the schedule I tell all of my crew they don't have to come to every race, I appreciate it when they can come out. Racing 20 nights is too much for many race teams, and many crew members. Some won't travel, rather they stick to a home series only, or pick and choose certain races throughout the season. I always want to commit to a Championship run, like Flamboro, and I believe my crew feels the same. That's why I let them know, they are not expected to go to Delaware on Fridays, Sauble on Sundays, Autumn Colors and now Pennsylvania. I mentioned " I make the decision to go with Nonie"...but if Nonie said "we're not going", I would be parked for that race and sulking in the garage. As for my crew, they have been awesome this year giving me the best car every night possible. I have commented many times on how well they've done. Please don't take what was said above to think that I am disappointed in them or think less of them because they can't make every race or a certain race. I'll say it again....family, work or other commitments come first.
Saying "Troy had enough", wasn't fair because he had a family commitment long ago and I knew he'd be away, so that phrase should have been edited. Jason also had "Thanksgiving Dinner" to be part of, a time of year I respect like Christmas for families to get together.
This week we are heading to the MotorDrome Speedway. My crew can't make it, but I know they'll be thinking about us and wishing us well. When we return we'll plan for 09', then start working on the car to get it ready before Christmas, and then take two months off....rest. Once again, no one is expected to be there all the time, and if needed we'll do a proper schedule so everyone feels part of the team when we start rebuilding. After MotorDrome I may be saying.."I've had enough"...I think....


We got a few practice laps on Saturday, two sessions, and the car was tight a little and very loose off. I knew if I could get the middle good, coming off might get better. We made some minor changes for the heat. Since we missed Friday’s race we started last in our heat. The race had a few cautions, one that took out the top three in our heat. That moved me to third and I got by the 2nd place car to finish 2nd. However, even with the good finish I knew adjustments had to be made, the car had a push in the middle and loose off.
I thought about changes we made throughout the summer so I decided to raise the pan hard bar on both sides. After fuel was added we set the bar. Usually, for more accuracy we head to the scales after, to check the numbers, but the congestion around the scales with all the cars getting tech’d made it tough. I went with my heart on the way we set it up and I was sure we’d be okay. We were all done by Saturday night.
On Sunday, Nonie and I were heading to Fairview Baptist Church to show our race car to the Sunday School kids and share our faith and how it relates to racing. Over 50 little ones, as well a dozen adults were amazed with the car and appreciated the autograph cards. Within a split second of starting the car up, there were 100 little feet two inches off the ground.
We headed back to Peterborough getting into our spot by 11:15am. Perry came out, as David’s Car chief, Marty. We were glad to see them, and they were a big help throughout the day leading up to the race.
Before the race started we went on the track to give away a bike. Two bikes were given out, one by our team and the other was donated by Bryan Mercer. Bryan for some reason didn’t get out of the pits, but his dad did. They wanted to support our effort this year with giving away a bike every night, and we appreciated their generous offer. The crowd loved it and I know we’ll do this again until we call it a career.
Because of our poor qualifying (missing one heat race) we were to start 16th. In a 108 lap race, that’s no big deal as long as you stay out of trouble. We stayed out of trouble in the early going. Our car was loose but we were able to avoid accidents and get into the top 10. Once we got going for 10 laps I knew we were in trouble because the car was side ways coming off every turn. On about lap 20 we 6th and I decided to head to the pits to get the car better. Some may question, with such good track position, why come in. I had to, the car was impossible to drive and I felt with changes we could get it better. After three quarters of a turn on the bar I went back out and ran 10 more laps and the car was better but still loose off. I went in again and asked for a half turn on the bar and to add 2 pounds in the left rear. For some reason, and I wouldn’t find out till later, the message was to add 2 pounds to the right rear. I went out and the car was worse, getting impossible to drive. Nonie said to me, “why did they add air and take air out of the same tire”? I thought for sure she was wrong, but one of our crew had the head set in the pits and didn’t comment so I assumed Nonie was wrong. Never second guess your wife! I made another 2 stops before lap 50 and on every run after the car was either the same or worse. I was complaining that the car should have been much better by now but it wasn’t close.
Over the next 20 laps we got up to the top 8, I headed for the pits. I wanted so bad to get it better, as did the boys. I asked for air to be taken out of the right rear. When the air was checked they noticed it was up to 43 PSI, but didn’t tell me. Had they said something we could have improved the car. They dropped it to 40, still far to high. Going into a turn with that much air is a disaster waiting to happen. With 18 laps left I spun out going into 3. Lucky no one hit us. Nonie felt bad but it wasn’t anything to do with the spotter. I called to my crew to add 4 pounds to the left rear. Left, left left! I said just to make sure. With 10 laps left I felt helpless and so confused that I started talking to myself. Anyway, my always optimistic partner, and spotter, said “don’t worry, maybe it will be better”. I thought, no kidding 9 laps left and we finally get it. We were able to finally race the car a little and got up to 9th and another caution came out with 3 laps to go. Nonie said they are giving you one green white, checker to finish the race. We got the green and I was able to get by both Kelly Balsom and Anthony Simmone on the final lap. The car was better and when the checker came out the 7th place finish wasn’t so bad. Nonie said “good race, I think you had a top 3 car for sure, maybe even top two”.
Kirk Hooker took the win. The biggest surprise was Mike Benntley who ran awesome. They had their car hooked up, coming off the corners almost perfect. Mike got up to second then fell back but tragedy struck when he hit the wall braking his control arm.
We left at 7:30 and got home by a little after 10. The car is on four scale stands now and we’ll strip every ounce of led out of the car to get it down to 2650. I may want to weigh more and get as much left side as possible. We have many handicaps. We’re running against ASA cars, off set coil over strut cars who can run 59% left side. We get a weight brake, but will find it hard to get the car light and have much left side weight. Jason Shaw is going. They will most likely get their program closer than we will, but with no damage at Peterborough, I have three nights to get our car close. We will all run the same tires and they will have to weigh a little more because their engines have different roller rockers (1.6) as well as other minor changes.
The Lancaster family are going with me as well as Nonie and this will be our last race of 08, and I am very much looking forward to this race. Rooms are booked, we have a set of used tires from Tyler Brown to use to practice and we’ll buy 4 new tires just before we head south.
We’ll post that story or any related to it as they develop.
Special thanks to all those who helped us at Peterborough. Jeff, Art, Perry, Marty and Richard, we tried our best and did alright considering.

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:06 pm

October 18th..................MotorDrome Speedway

Race #25

High Lites
* 29 Cars
* Neil Bown #98 wins
* 4 Canadians make it
* We all struggle
* Staff drivers and owner very friendly
* Anyone see our Quick Change fill plug?

Results
Heat.......9th
Feature...20th

Winnings
$600

Repairs
Not a scratch on our car...poor Steve

Crew
Jeff, Art and Jason Lancaster

Conclusion
While at the APC 300 on the Labour Day week end, ASA racer, Glenn Gault gave me the flyer for this race in Pennsylvania. I was considering going right away, thinking it would be a neat way to end our 40th season.
Prior to Oktoberfest, the Shaw team said they were going to the race. Randy had made arrangements at a Super 8 Hotel and was good enough to set us up with the contact so we could get booked in. This race was called the “Piney Lasky Memorial 100”. He was the dad of the current track promoter, Stan Lasky, and loved every aspect of racing from the fans to the racers.
Our final decision to go was based on how we did at Autumn Colors. As it turned out we were in good shape, so the next task was to get rid of a lot of excess weight, making the car as light as possible. The rules were simple. We could weigh as low as 2650 pounds with a 59% left side weight, but unlike Ontario, we had to have a 77” maximum track. With our race set up we were at 78 ¾. I called the track promoter, Stan Lasky, to ask if we would be allowed to run our car the way it was. I tried to reason with him that we had a perimeter car (disadvantage), no coils or struts (disadvantage) a driver closing in on nursing home status, but he said could not allow us to be any wider than 77”. The only way we could make the track legal was to run 6” offset wheels on all four corners.
The ASA cars, offset, coil over strut, with doctored Crate motors (which most of their teams don’t like) had to weight 2750. If they were 2950 it might have helped a little, maybe 3250.
We removed every ounce of led from our car and got down to 2660 with a full tank of fuel. That looked great until we checked the left side weight percent…53. Wow, now we started adding weight back in the car to get the left side up. We couldn’t move the engine over, and with our track at 77” inches we could not space out the wheels. We added 75 pounds to the far left of the car and got to 55.3%…no good, but it was all we could get. Some say even if we had reached 57% we’d be taking a knife to a gun fight. With our car at 55% we were taking a sling shot to a nuclear war.
I personally had to dig about as deep as I ever have to convince myself we could be competitive with our car. I called Steve Laking and he was able to get to 2727 with 56.2, but Jason was able to reach 58% left side at 2750. Oh well, if we liked being the underdog this was the maximum opportunity, plus I really wanted to go and since we ran respectable at Lake Erie I deceived myself into thinking we might do it again here. Where was the deceit? At Lake Erie Speedway, we ran our normal wider track and either it wasn’t in their rules, or they missed it, because we ran fairly competitive, within 2 tenths of their fastest cars, but close to the majority.
Every one of our regular crew members wanted to go to Pittsburg, but there was no way to make it work for them. We were blessed to have the Lancaster family come with us. Jeff, Art and Jason made the trip. They will be a huge part of our racing program in 2009, an announcement will be coming soon.
Jeff towed us down with his Ford F-350 dually. I am getting one of those beauties before I retire. His is a 2000, it was very comfortable and you would never know the car was behind us.
We arrived at 12:30 p.m. The trip was without incident, only a 20 minute wait at the border. On Saturday we were welcomed with a brisk 33 degree morning. That wasn’t good, but we headed across the street to Bob Evans for breakfast and that was very good. We thought we had to be at the track by 9:am, so we got up at 7:am. After breakfast we saw Jason Shaw walking out in the parking lot without a jacket. “What are you nuts” I asked. He said “Holy $%&^% it’s cold out”! No kidding. Jason told us he got to practice the day before and was turning times of 18:1, their fastest cars were 18:00 maybe 17:9. So I mistakenly made the assumption and statement “so, we’re not that far off”? Jason thought, with more practice, he could get even closer to their cars. Steve was also running in the 18:2’s.
We got to the track at 9:am and unloaded in a decent parking spot. There were about 12 cars there at that time. Twenty nine cars would make the grid.
The staff were very friendly, telling us many times, “if you need anything let us know”. After practice we knew what we needed but they couldn’t help us there. Our car passed tech with no issues. The first thing they checked was the width of the wheels. We were 77’ in the back and slightly less in the front. We were okay on all the checks.
Around 11:am I was happily surprised to see Jamie Ramsay and his crew show up. Jamie came up to me and said “this is your fault”! He was reading our posts and they decided to have one more race for 08’ also, a pleasant surprise for us.
The first practice was at 12:45. We went out on old tires. We got a set of used tires from Tyler Brown, that was a big help for us. First thing for me was to get to know the track as fast as I could. As it would turn out, the fastest thing I had to find was “how to get out of the way in a hurry”. The track was very rough. Not as many bumps as Delaware, but the few they had were much worse. At the start finish line there were a series of speed bumps that could take your helmet off, or knock out your false teeth if either were loose. Coming off two was a pot hole, and I swear a ground hog was peaking out every so often. That hole was on the low side, so most teams missed it, only those running for cover, like me, would hit it and what a bang it was. After our first set of warm ups we were stunned to see our times in the low 19’s. We were running a 4:47 final. Many of the cars were in the 18:2’s or 18:0, we were a second slower. Almost every one of the regular cars were hitting the chip at the start finish line, their cars would make the cut out noise for at least one or more seconds, four or five car lengths. I found that weird, but not as weird is how far off we were. Okay, so it was our first time out, we need to keep trying to improve, plus we had older tires on it. Our car was loose off so we made a few adjustments to help improve the handling and ultimately our times. Every practice session we improved. We got down to 18:8 with the old tires and then put on the new rubber.
Out fastest times in practice were 18:6, 18:7 and I knew then we were in big trouble. At Lake Erie when we put on the new tires we got to within a tenth and a half of the fastest times. Here it was much different. My dad would have summed it up this way using a home made comparison…“were so far back in the woods we have to come out to hunt”.
As the night drew near so did the cold weather. The top cars were faster, they were mostly in 18:0’s with a few in the high 17’s. I started to get even more discouraged by that reality, but knew the only way to salvage the day was to find a way to finish as high as possible. We talked it over and decided to put in the 4:86 gears and take out the 4:47.
They had a draw for the heats. They announced “Late Model drivers, come and pick your pill”! I never heard that before. I’ve heard, come and draw for position. The owner of the track wondered how it was that I wasn’t familiar with phrase, and been 40 years racing, I wondered the same. Maybe it’s a U.S. term, but I had not heard it although I assumed it was a metaphor, “here’s your pill, take it and swallow it”. Well, for Jason it was an easy pill, he drew #2. He seems to have North America covered when it comes to getting good draws. We drew #18 but I asked to go scratch. “Oh Gary, don’t be negative, we watched you, your getting better”, was the response from the track. “Are you kidding me”? I returned, “I’ll tell you what let me run with the Street Stocks”. No kidding, we’d be impressive there, we were about one and a half seconds faster, and I could make it a race by going slower if I had to”.
As you can tell, I didn’t react to good to being so out classed. Bringing a slingshot to a nuclear war, was maybe about as accurate as I could get.
We started last in our heat and on the last lap we pulled up beside the leader to make the pass…NOT….I drove as hard as I could, trying to stay on the same straight away as the car in 8th place. I couldn’t see any of the other cars. For all I knew, they had already finished the race and were in the pits. We ended up 9th. We were hitting the rev chip at the start finish line, just like the fast cars, but 4 tenths off, unlike the fast cars. I must admit, I didn’t like that noise at all. I felt it was too hard on the engine. Jason was outside pole of the 2nd heat and I wanted so bad for him to win. The reality for us was delivered full force when Jason fell back to 5th by the last lap. He drove as hard as he could and like our heat, his was packed with top cars. Steve had the best finish of all with a 3rd in his heat. He was also in the weakest heat. The winner of that heat was in the 18:2’s and Steve was only 2 car lengths behind 2nd and 5 behind the leader. Jamie had bright moments and was in a good battle taking 5th in his heat.
During the week I asked Steve Laking if he wanted to contribute to a bike for the kids and we’d give two away. I had a girls bike left but needed a boys bike. His team and the Shaw’s got a boys bike in the U.S. Before the feature Jason and Steve and I presented bikes to a boy and girl on the front chute.
Prior to the feature we decided to go back to the 4:47 gears. It was also decided to take scratch in the feature. The last thing I wanted to do was get in the way. The only car on the track that I had a chance with was the pace car but every time we got to race he’d pull off. The race started with 29 cars. On the green we came through turn three and picked up speed only to have cars piling up on the front chute. As soon as I came off turn four I had to hit the brakes and the car came around. I knew what I was going to do it that happened and it kept me off the inside retaining wall. Incredibly, Jason got clipped as he tried going around spinning cars and the mishap sidelined him on lap one. His upper control arm mount was pulled out of the frame.
We had a lot of cautions throughout the race. Steve was the next one to get hurt when he spun off turn four hard into the inside wall on about lap 20. It was right at the finish line. His car was badly beat up and needed to be taken off with the flat bed truck. More cautions came out until about lap 25 when we got a long run. On lap 34 Nonie told me the leaders were coming so I moved down. The field lapped me by lap 37. They would lap others as well. With attrition mounting we were slowly making our way up the ladder, there were 19 cars left running and one behind me down more laps than we were.
Our day would come to a disappointing end on lap 68. We may have had a chance to finish in the top 15, maybe 14 but our fill plug came out of the quick change spilling gear oil everywhere and sending us to the pits. We tried getting another plug but no one had any so we were done. I’m not so sure why it was disappointing, not being competitive was the worst part and maybe for all of us we just wanted to take the checker.
We watched the rest of the race and the leaders were turning times of 17:78. Jamie was the last Canadian standing and could have finished 12th or even 11th if he didn’t run into trouble. He went several laps down.
Here is the official track site finish:
Event Summary " Motordrome Speedway October 18, 2008
Super Late Models
Heat winners: Garry Wiltrout, Neil Brown, Dave Rigan
Feature: 1. Neil Brown, 2. Bobby Henry, 3. Will Thomas, 4. Mark Poole, 5. Mark Cottone, 6. Garry Wiltrout, 7. Steve Black, 8. Doug Bacchiochi, 9. Dave Rigan, 10. Josh John, 11. John Komarinski, 12. Scott Nurmi, 13. Jamie Ramsay, 14. Dusty Rhoades, 15. Barry Awtey, 16. Richard Mitchell, 17. Rick Miller, 18. Tom Cloce, 19. Chris Ross, 20. Gary Elliott, 21. Kyle Martel, 22. Scott Baker, 23. Steve Laking, 24. Joe Moose, 25. Greg Kelley, 26. Jason Shaw, 27. Nathan Russell, 28. Todd Corson, 29. Mark SmithAfter the race an American fan asked me if I would come again next year. “Not with this car” I said. He replied “you don’t like this car”?
Congratulations to Neil Brown for winning the race.
We are currently trying to get a car ready for the Frost Fest at Flamboro. If we can pull it off, we will have raced in 4 divisions this year.
Thanks to the Lancaster family for being such a great help and making the week end fun. To all the Canadians for their help and contributing to the bike give away.
Special thanks to Mark Cottone #31, the track management and their staff, for being helpful and accommodating.

Gary
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:52 pm

Post by Gary » Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:06 pm

November 1st & 2nd.................Frost Fest Flamboro Speedway

Race....not scheduled

[November 1st Practice
In late September I began a partnership on a Thunder Car with Mike Van Slingerland. Mike wanted to get started in racing and we decided this was the class to start. We bought a 1984 Old Cutlass from Ken Stenhouse.
When I first heard about the Frost Fest I wanted to run it. I asked Randy Russnell at Octoberfest if he knew where I might be able to get a ride and he said he would check into it for me. When I didn’t hear back I considered running the car we bought. My biggest fear was not being competitive. We bought 4 new tires, replaced the rear shocks and made sure we got the weight, left side and rear as close to the rules as possible.
What discouraged me about the rules was that Crate engines were not only more powerful but could use a better transmission and weigh 100 pounds less. Here we go again. Maybe this time I wouldn’t be as outclassed as I was at the MotorDrome, but for sure we were at a huge disadvantage with this car.
We got to the track on Saturday early enough to get some practice. Our crew chief Jim said we should put in our radio’s to use for practice. It was a good idea and helped with this first time run with the TC boys and girls. It would be removed for Sunday. In the first set of hot laps I had no power. The crew checked it over and Ken Stenhouse found the timing way off, so he set it to where it should be and it was much better. We also found the fan belt had come off the engine. We fixed that and went out again and this time got into the high 17’s, however the belt came off again and the car overheated spilling water on my right front wheel and almost sending me into the wall between turns one and two. Every set of hot laps our fan belt came off. The boys worked on and thought they got it tight before I went out, but for some reason it kept coming off. It was determined that maybe the alternator was extended too far and maybe a shorter belt would help, but we didn’t have any a shorter.
Disaster In Linda Deans Car
I wanted to try Linda Deans car, and she agreed asking me to let her know how the brakes were. Her car was very comfortable, however I noticed right away the brakes would lock up on low speed application. When the green dropped the car responded well. It wasn't long before I noticed the brakes were mushy and after a few laps I could smell burning pad material. Other than that the car was fun to drive, that is until I heard that old familiar sound, from the days of my CVM, the grenading of an engine. The noise lasted just a few seconds as the car quit with lots of smoke inside. I knew it wasn’t good. I hoped it was the transmission, but if it was the tranny, the car would have kept running. Since our team started running the Crate the past 4 seasons, I've not heard that sound. I was thankful it didn’t blow up going into the turn, although the crew said all the debris and smoke came out the exhaust. I felt bad for Linda and Ken, but they were okay and felt it was going to blow sooner or later.
In the final set of hot laps we put on the new tires but didn’t go any faster than with the old tires, in fact we developed a push exiting the turn, but again the fan belt came off so we gave up on anymore tests...it's possible the push was from water blowing out.
After we were through practicing, I decided to watch the Rocket. His times were in the mid 17:3’s, much faster than our car times. I guessed he was at least ½ a second faster than us and that was enough for me to not want to race on Sunday. After all, we ran three sets of hot laps, the belt kept coming off and with new or old tires we couldn’t get below 17:9. The last thing I wanted to do was get in the way.
After some discussion we agree that we would return and work on the car to see if we could get the belt to stay on, and pick up some faster times. Jason, Jeff, Marty and I went to Linda and Ken’s shop to help take out the engine. Ken gave me some smaller belts to try. We’ll see if we can do any better in qualifying.

High Lites
* 32 cars
* Brad Collison won the first 50
* Randy Rusnell won the second
* Kevin Gallant won the third
* We don't qualify and miss the show

Results
1st heat....9th
2nd heat...8th

Winnings
$00.00

Repairs
Engine, body work

Crew
Jason, Jeff, Perry, Mike

Conclusion
There must be some way to give me a hint, a small sign…not to run against cars where we have no chance, no hope, not a prayer of making it. I thought it would be neat to end the season by running in the Thunder Car class, my first time ever in a TC. Mike Van Slingerland and I went partners on an 84 Oldsmobile and it was touted to be a decent piece. Mike would run weekly at Flamboro in 2009, but I would shake it down at the Frost Fest and maybe go out and show the Thunder Car drivers how to “get er’ done”….right! The only thing I got done was freezing when I came home after WATCHING the Thunder Car fifty lap features. I was so inept in this car, that after qualifying, we were the 6th bubble car…are you kidding? Sixth bubble…who even goes that far back in knowing who the 6th bubble car was. Maybe the first bubble, but the 6th? Wow, I was humbled, or maybe more to the truth, humiliated. Why? Sixth bubble car surely wasn’t the worst Thunder Car at the Frost Fest?…was it? To be honest, we were the worst of those who attempted to qualify. The only bubble cars behind us were guys who broke or went home to watch the NASCAR race, or went home to mow the lawn on their riding lawn more trying to out run docile, lethargic field mice, numbed from the cold November day. Once this post is finished, it may seem tame when compared to the “self slam” I did after the MotorDrome fiasco! Here’s how this night went…from bad to 6th bubble.

After practice yesterday I mentioned I shouldn’t even race on Sunday because I was so far out of the ball park, I needed a bus just to find the city where the ball games were held. I sort of talked myself back into coming, by rationalizing that maybe we could find a few more tenths. The problem was, we were closer to Mini Stock times than Thunder Car. Maybe, I thought, we could find out what the car would need for Mike for 2009, at least by testing the car in qualifying we’d know what it needed, and we’d have 5 to 6 months to prepare. The real reason I wanted to come back was because I wanted to race, side by side with the top guns. Winning is a bonus, but being competitive so you have a chance to win is the minimum. You hear lots of pro racers state “I had a good car” or “this car was awesome”. I love to race, but my interpretation of racing is being in the hunt. Were we in the hunt? How does it read so far? NO!! The boys did all they could, and I mean it, they did everything in their power to make the car as competitive as possible. Jeff, Jason, Mike, Marty and Perry were a willing team, and felt helpless knowing that what we really needed we didn’t have. Ken and Linda also helped us and Linda, being a racer, felt bad for us. She’s a warrior to and knows the empty feeling of not being competitive. Her team worked hard getting their engine in but struggled because of a severe brake problem that would hold back any top runner. She fought as hard as she could and came up short. Her invisible friend, after this week end, would be knowing she has five months off, just enough time to be refreshed and get back at it in the spring.

The track ran double heats. Your accumulated points in both races would be your qualifying handicap. The more points, the further up you would start in the first feature. The second feature was a reverse finish of the first, and likewise for the third, a reverse of the second. In our heat we started 8th of nine cars. From the start of the race we were done. No power. I watched as the cars in front slowly got smaller and smaller. There were two cars behind me but one got by and the other must have had some serious issues because he stayed 5 car lengths behind. By the half way mark, it was a fifteen lap heat, the lead pack were over a straightaway ahead. I was throwing the car hard into the turn every lap. It was pushing off probably from the way I was driving, but it seemed the only thing to do short of pulling off. I coudn't keep up on the straights, not even for a few car lengths. In that heat we finished second last. We talked after the race and Ken stated that our new tires would need many more cycles to be any good. “What”! I said. “Ya, you’re better off with the older tires”. We bought new ones thinking they would give us a chance, but the reasoning was different than the Late Models. So immediately we put on the old set. Linda suggested that I not drive in so hard. My crew, and Linda, knew I was doing it to try and keep up. We were in the neighborhood (not of any competitors) of being 7 to 8 tenths off. Wow, that’s nuts. The pace truck would be closer. So we listened and made the changes to the car. In our next heat we started 4th. I asked my crew if they thought I should take my spot. “Yes, take your spot”! they replied. “Okay”, I said, “but let’s have a bet, how many laps before I’m last? one, two, or three,”? As sad as that question was, it was a destiny that we would have to face. I didn’t want to take the spot, for a couple of reasons. One, I didn’t want to get in the way and two, I don’t really enjoy going to the back when I know for sure it’s coming. In spite of my own best judgment I decided to take my spot, “suck it up, be a good sport”. So I did. This race was different than the first heat. We found a group of cars that we could run closer with. The tire change made a difference. It was definitely better than our first heat in terms of how we looked, but the results were actually worse. We ended up dead last after a caution on lap 10 allowed the only car behind me to get by.

When the heats were done, so were we. We ended up 30th of 32 cars, 6th on the bubble scale. When the third and final feature went out we were down to the 2nd bubble car, meaning we didn’t make one of the races. ow sad is that. It was disappointing for sure, for all of us. Everyone stayed, and with-stood the incredible cold, until the final feature went on the track. Then we loaded up.

The week end was a terrible disappointment race wise, but we did discover that in 2009, Mike will run a Crate engine with the Power Glide transmission and the 100 pound weight brake. The car had a few donuts on it, but other than that it was the same as when it showed up Saturday for practice. I felt bad for Linda. They announced over the PA that she was in the final race. She got ready and went to the back gate only to find out that one of the cars thought to have scratched made it out, putting her back on the bubble. She didn't get to race either, and I felt bad for her and her team.
I am thankful to all those who helped. This is a fun class to run..(your probably asking “how would I know”). It reminded me of the Hobby's back in the late 80’s when there were lots of cars and side by side racing was every race. The Thunder Cars spread out into single file but the races were fairly incident free.

We are planning now to start working on our cars in hopes of having January and February off. Once we start those projects it’ll give me a chance to forget about what happened this week end……….6th bubble car. I can hear it now when I do to Tim Horton's..."can I take your order please"?..."yes I'll have a 6th bubble...I mean a double-double please"!

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