My Father
-always with me-
Armond Wickham

1923 to 2006

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So... Where's Dave?   Dave's not here, man.

It has been a busy 2016.   Really busy.   And here's the story.

I raced in the early part of 2016 and then backed the car into the wall between the turns at Canandaigua and used up the car.  Then we ran the back up car at Fonda. I planned to run more races during the season, but as it turned out, I had more projects than time and racing had to be set aside for a while, anyway.

After the crash I ordered a new Triple X frame and painted it.   Greg and I started working on stripping the crashed car and getting the new car ready.   We had a spare car sitting there but it also needed some work and to be honest it is a chassis that we've always struggled with.   The car I crashed was the Maxim that worked best for us but the rear torsion tubes were now moved over about six inches and it would cost as much for LPS to fix it as buying the new XXX.   I really wanted to try a Mach 1, like cousin Tommy has been using but I had a connection to get a good deal on the XXX and get it quickly so I went that route.  

The reason I didn't get the car race ready really starts 40 years ago.   Back when I started racing at Port Royal, Jim Nace's uncle introduced me to Teresa.   We've been together ever since.   When I moved from Pa back to Brewerton, NY  in the late 80's,to help my father with the family business, Teresa came along and spent the next half of here life away from her family.   Four years ago, she said that she wanted to move back to Pa when I retired, so we searched for a house in the area between Harrisburg, Carlisle, Gettysburg and York.   The place had to have a nice house, some land and a shop.   After looking at about 50 houses we found a gem in Hanover.   Teresa got her historic brick colonial and I got a big shop and the two acres has a barn to boot.

We rented out the house for the past 4 years with 2016 being the year of the big move.  

A year ago, I bought a 24ft enclosed trailer to race with, also intending to use it to move.   In April I notified the tenants that they would have to move out by July and gave them to the 8th.    They found a place and did a great job of leaving the place in clean and excellent condition.  

We started packing and moving stuff out of our house in NY and transporting it to the barn in Pa in early May.   We made five trips just to empty the house.    It' amazing how much stuff we had accumulated after 30 years.    We are both savers and realized that we've got a lot of good things we no longer need so next year will be the beginning of The Big Barn Sale!

The pack and move cycle started with the first load in early may and the last load in late July.   I spent the entire month of June and half of July doing fix-up and painting the whole inside of our house in NY.    Using all my vacation time, I worked my full time job half days in the morning and then went home to work on the move/fix/paint project for the rest of the day.   August 1st was the last day of my full time job.

Teresa moved to the Pa house July 8th and was able to continue working her same job, now from home.   The things she complained about most in NY was the winter weather, the traffic getting to work and the office politics.   We made one of the bedrooms into her office and now she doesn't have to deal with getting to work or the interoffice.

Meanwhile, I worked 7 days a week on the move/fix/paint projects and by mid August had our NY house ready to rent out.   After an open house with the leasing agent we found a great family and they moved in starting the first of August.

The next project was moving the race shop.   Along with two race cars was all of my shop equipment, tools, spare parts, and a second floor of stored parts.   All together it was another 5 trailer loads.   The milling machine, large bandsaw and lathe were lifted and set into the bed of the pickup to be moved and lifted out at the Hanover end.  

Just about the time I finished the last pack/load/move from the race shop, another unexpected project came my way.    I had another house to clean/fix/paint.    My mother inherited her parents house (where she grew up) many years ago and she had rented it out.   Now the tenants were leaving and she wants to sell it.   It needed some fix up on the inside along with paint and the outside needed to be completely scraped, primed and painted.   This eight week project was a scramble to finished before the weather got too bad to paint outside.   Teresa's sister's husband Dave came up from PA and helped for a week.  Greg helped with the outside and I finished in early November and we put the property on the market.   It will probably be after the holidays before there is any sale so that is one more thing to me to take care of until it's gone.

My mother is 89 and still going strong in her house, next to my old NY house (which was my father's parents house).    I still have a couple of other rentals nearby, so along with my mother's to do list, it looks like I will be going back and forth between NY and Pa for a while.

So where does that leave racing?    Well, I still like to race, have a bunch of stuff and I'm healthy enough to do it so as long as I can, I guess I will.   

All the race shop stuff is packed along one wall inside of the shop behind the house in Hanover.   First job is going to be to get everything set up in the new shop.   But first I have to help the contractor who is renting that space to move all of his stuff out and into the space at the other end of the building.

Then when I get the new shop operational, I need to assemble the Triple X and strip, clean, reassemble the Maxim.   The crashed Maxim frame is on the long term repair list.   Two of the 360 motors are fresh and the other only has a few races on it.   

As far as where to race... that is a good question.   Central Pa has lots of racing options but with 360 motors it's limited.    I can run Selinsgrove weekly.    That track is all motor and crashes are nasty.   All around, it would be the easiest weekly deal for me right now.

Another 360 option in Pa is URC.    They run all the Pa tracks and some in New Jersey and Delaware.   I probably wouldn't do the Jersey races or much of the traveling outside of Central Pa.

The other 360 option is to schedule trips to NY when there is a cluster of racing that I could do with the Patriots.   This would be familiar territory and  there would be help from Greg.   I could pack up a bunch of spares and stay in NY for several weeks at a time.    I wrote off ESS last season because they started handicapping heat lineups based on hot lap times.    It is a scheme that puts the faster cars at the front of the lineup and puts anyone not in the top 20 in time at the back of the heat.   I've struggled to be competitive as it is, and based on past records from transponder timing it was pretty clear I would have even more difficulty qualifying.   So ESS is a writeoff.

I could do any of the above with material on hand.   Other options would require buying different motors.   

If I could find a 358 that I could afford,  and pick up a 358 wing, then I could run Trailways weekly.   This would be a good option as it is about 20 minutes from the house, just on the other side of Hanover.   They have only been getting fourteen to eighteen cars so I could race and get some pay back every week pretty much guaranteed.  The track is small and tight but I've raced on lots of smaller tracks in NY.   

The last option is to find a good 305 at a reasonable price and run with the Pa Sprint Series (PASS).    This series runs most of the Central Pa tracks.   There would be some traveling.   This series is also competitive and has had a surplus of cars in the past.   Qualifying could be tough and the series doesn't pay much (by design).  

So that's my 2016.   I've got a ton of stuff done but a lot left to do.    If anyone is in the Hanover area and wants to help with the racing project, send an email (dave1w @ -eliminate the spaces-) and lets get together.     Also contact me about any 358 or 305 engines that are for sale.

Fonda 5-28-16
I’d heard the stories about racing there from car owner Pete Gillette back
in my paper route days as a boy and I’ve raced there on and off since the
‘70s with URC, ESS and Patriots.

Last fall the track was fast and the car worked good.  I made the ESS
show from the B and had a good feature run. This was the first time the
Patriots were scheduled at Fonda. There was a full 24 car field that would
start everyone.

It was hard to guess what the track would be like. One year recently,
the flooded river put 6 ft of water over the track on Tuesday and by Saturday
race time, the track was dry and dusty. Last year there was bite all night
as we ran flat out from hotlaps through the Bmain. This year there was a new promoter
and no telling how the track would be prepped.

By hot laps the middle groove was dry with some bite on the bottom and a
small-chunk cushion developing. We were using the original and older of
the two Maxims (2010) after using up the 2011 Maxim at Canandaigua.

A bad draw started me last in the heat and there was no headway to be made.

The bottom worked for me but I tried the top and found it no faster. The
middle had slicked up so running in too hard on the bottom made me wait for
the throttle as the car drifted up to the slicker line.  It's our typical problem of not
enough side bite.

Finishing at the back of the heat put me at the tail of the feature. The
first turn had some bad holes on the center line at entry that had gotten
worse for feature time. Large areas of the packed clay had been lifted off
the hardpan below making a two or three inch deep rut about the width of
a RR tire and as long as a car.

There was a lane on the inside just one car width wide that was smooth if you
made the entry early and tight to the berm and tires lining the inside edge. A slightly wider line
dropped the RR in the ruts and slammed the frame hard, I found out.

The top of one had a smooth lane but a dusty loose cushion that could suck you to
the wall. Top entry had to be done on the moist margin, just below the cushion
or with the LF in the ruts. The track really dried out but didn’t slick off to ice.    There
was tire wear and we were on a used RR.

Gray dust rolled up into the lights.  The drivers could see but not so much for the fans.
I tried top and bottom but would gain and then lose on the car I followed all race.
At one point I was passed but raced back to get the spot back next lap.

There wasn’t much passing in the whole field, I was told. Several cars broke, likely due to
turn one roughness but we finished 17th from 23rd and in one piece. In
the end, Fonda was Fonda... black clay, quirky shaped, uphill and down
and still an active fairgrounds with exhibit buildings, horse barns, a track
and the original covered grandstand.  Classic fairground racing.

Canandaigua 5-7-16

First race of the season for Greg and I. Our test session at Fulton got
us back in step with the pit routines of a race night and things were going

Rainy days have been common over the past few weeks and this Saturday had a
wet forecast. By race time the 80% chance of rain at 6pm had been moved
back to midnight but radar showed globs of color headed our way early in
the night. The overcast at the track blocked the sun and the cool wind had
the smell of rain.

The track was wet for hot laps and had a nice cushion about two lanes up.
The car worked good against it and made for some flat out laps.
We were in the first heat and the second class out so we left the setup
alone expecting a similar track and started the race in fourth, taking six.

I felt pretty good about our chances and raced into one on the cushion. I
held on to forth and a few laps in got into three a bit too hard or wide
and got over the edge of the cushion and into the loose stuff. I pedaled the
banking and got back in the groove by the front straight but it was too
late as three cars passed. I tried to pass one back a lap latter and ended up
in the same place in the loose stuff. The car just didn’t have side bite
for the bottom or middle and it was even a struggle on the cushion.

The rain showed up on radar but there was only an occasional raindrop in
the air. We were in the Bmain and starting sixth out of twelve taking four.
I thought there was a shot with some of the cars starting in front of me,
but there were some very good cars behind me. Greg mounted an new tire
for the RR and we changed stagger, offset, shocks and weight to try and tackle
the now black slick track.

When all the cars were started on track they told me to catch up to the
pack on the other side of the track. So I buzzed one and two and three and
four at speed and got a good feel for what the car could do, and it felt better.

Once lined up, the radio said “ has been sprinkling. Clean them out
and come back to white” so everyone stood on it to clear the motors of fuel
coming out of four and into one. I drove into one on the throttle and in
the middle of one the car just took off !!!! No warning, no sense of
being loose, it just turned sideways and headed backwards for the outside wall.

The car hit the concrete between the turns, on the back right rear corner,
bounced off and spun left side first, dug in and tipped over. It was a
hard impact that gave me a sore upper back, bruises on arms and elbows.
They righted the car and I got out more bewildered by the suddenness of the
spin than by the impact. I never felt it coming like when the back end
breaks loose and starts to slide.... NO, it just took off.

It must have looked bad or maybe it was just standard procedure at
Canandaigua but they made me ride the ambulance back to the pits.
Where I hit has been the target of many serious incidents and part of the
black heart of this tracks notorious first turn.

This is the turn where so many bad things have happened over the past few
years. Two weeks ago a sprint clipped an inside tire in the middle of one
and slid with a broken front end into another car and the two flipped hard
into the outside wall between the turns, with one impacting the wall hard
before he went over the top and landed outside. That driver had two
breaks in his back, one in his neck, a dislocated arm and broken sternum.

This is the turn where Michael Parent broke his back in a bad sprint car
flip and was helicoptered out, a couple seasons ago and where Tony Stewarts
“biggest crash in sprint car history” wrecked eighteen of the twenty two
starters with two broken backs occurring in that crash.

But the worst history of this corner occurred when Kevin Ward hit the
outside wall between the turns that flattened his right rear and then
walked out into the path of Tony Stewart’s car to complain to him about his slide

The first turn at Canandaigua has some history and I have to admit that,
that thought had crossed my mind during the week. Canandaigua is a fast
half mile and the first turn has nothing in its design or the racing lines
that makes it the point of so much trouble but that piece of ground has
created more than its share of misery.

For me, I was sore for a few days but the car was a mess from the back of
the cage on back. The rear tubes were moved over 6” to the left, the rear
end housing was broken in two, the rear axle bent, suspension and shocks
damaged, fuel cell bag torn and leaking and some wing damage.
The frame needs more work than it’s worth. There’s not much to save from
the rear and the fuel cell bag is probably toast. All are the expensive
parts of the car other than the motor.

I have to say that this is a 2011 Maxim that I bought new from the factory
and the welding looked good when I received it. This crash proved to me
that it was done correctly as everything bent or kinked but stayed
One point broke but it was the point of impact and received the most force.

I know there is a lot of turnover with welders in the frame shops and that
there will be some variations in welds but when my car broke up like my
Maxim of some ten years ago did, and Chuck Merrill of Maxim just blew it
off with no attempt to make it good, that leaves a bad taste for a long time
and questions the quality of the product. It also got the company 13645 hits
of bad press on my Maxim Disaster page.
I will update the page with the more favorable frame reactions of this

We have another car together as a spare but it’s never good to use one up.

It will probably be cheaper to get a new frame than repair this one.
The rear and bag will have to wait. I have spare rears but bags are
usually not repairable and expensive to buy new.

It looks like the LR torsion arm broke at the spline. This may have let
the left rear move ahead some, steering the rear of the car to the right
with loss of LR weight, instantly spinning the car. Even though I was
just clearing the motor, it was high speed and I probably hit the wall at fifty
or sixty.

This sucks and brings me back to something that I had mentioned back at the
time of the Kevin Ward incident.
Why is there a wall there at all?

Below is the letter I sent to the promoter.

I’m writing you to talk about the concrete wall in turns one and two at
Canandaigua. I think this matter deserves some serious thought and that’s
why I decided to send you my thoughts on paper instead of something that
would get lost in the noise of the internet.

Saturday night my left rear torsion arm spline broke open and spun my car
in turn one and I backed it into the wall between one and two. This was
while clearing motors during lineup of the Bmain.

There was lots of damage that destroyed the frame, rearend, driveline,
suspension, shocks, wheel, new tire, tore the fuel cell bag, and I’m still
pretty sore on Monday.

Why are there walls in turns one and two at the speedway? Or anywhere not
needed for fan protection?

Is there a property line that creates the boundary?
If not can the wall be removed or set back further to the edge of property?
Can trees be removed if that’s the issue?
Can a larger run off area be created on the outside of the track?

I’ve been around this sport since before I was born and for decades have
raced at lots of tracks in many states.
Here’s my thoughts on walls.

Walls are expensive to build, maintain and hit.
It costs to put up walls, paint them and maintain them. I think the money
could be better spent by filling and grading a runoff area outside of the
track that would give cars a place to go when they get off track.

When a car hits an immovable wall, the wall wins. Damage to the car is
severe and expensive.
The damage may keep the car from the race track for a week or two or may be
enough to end the team’s season.
With car count always an issue, minimizing wall contact will always help
the race teams afford to come back.

Wall contact slows the show. Cleaning up and towing a car in after a
crash into the wall takes time and drags the night out.
If a car spins into a runoff area, they can be restarted and rejoin the
race or If they just get off track they can race back on track and not even
bring out the yellow.

Wall contact is dangerous. Unlike hitting another car that moves when
hit, the wall doesn’t move and impact forces are very short duration which makes
them very high. You have raced enough to know that this impact hurts and
can injure drivers.

Racing is difficult and expensive enough and having things around the track
that break cars just makes it more difficult and expensive for everyone.

The tracks I like best are the ones that have a raised smooth berm at the
inside of the turns (infield tires damage front ends) with open runoff
areas outside of the turns and back straight. This give the cars some place to
escape when things happen in front of them or a place to collect it if they
just lose it. If cars are hitting a wall, then it’s too close or shouldn’t
be there if not necessary.

Think of all the times the walls have been hit and all the damage and
injuries that have happened because of them.
I hate to bring up a very, very sore subject for you but if there was no
wall in one and two, Kevin Ward would have just spun out and been restarted.

Please take a look at the outside of the track and what could be done to
minimize the “impact” that walls have on a race night, the cars, the
drivers and the wallets.

Hope your race season goes smoothly,
Dave Wickham

Fulton Test Session 4-23-16

Sorry for the few entries in this year’s blog but it’s been a very busy
So here’s the spring racing poop.

The motor we ran last season had a problem at the last race at Rolling
Wheels and I pulled in when it went flat. The problem was some small
amount of debis in a couple nozzles that restricted the fuel to those
cylinders and they ran a bit lean.

The lean mixture created more heat and
that softened the heads of the valves on those cylinders just enough that
they “tuliped” (cupped), making the valve length longer, taking the lash
out of the rocker and then letting the valve stay open by a few thousandths.

Bottom line was that I pulled in before it blew and had to replace all the
valves and pistons as part of the rebuild of that engine. While we had
things apart, Jimmy D found a very good injector that would improve the
motor over what was on it.

So over the winter Jimmy did the rebuild and in March we dyno’d the motor
on Jimmy’s new dyno installation and then Greg and I put the fresh motor in
the car we ran last season. A fine filter is now installed on the fuel line
going to the injectors.

So with everything ready to go, Greg and I headed to Fulton Speedway for
the rest session in late April. We set the car up the same as we had left off
last season after our good run at Fonda. We knew Fulton would be slick
but were surprised to find a reasonably good bottom groove with a nice cushion
a car and a half up the banking. There were only four sprints at the test
session which was good and provided a lot of track space.

In the first session I tried the bottom and after a few laps moved to the
cushion where the car hooked up well. I tried some different corner entry
things that Greg and I had talked about and stuff I had tried on the
computer sim. Driving it in was letting the front end push over the
cushion but a little toss to hook up the right rear on entry seems to help
a lot. I could run flat out if I got the corner entry right.

By second session the track was slicker and the cushion had moved up
another lane from other classes running. I tried a couple laps around the bottom
and then attacked the cushion. The car felt good but I knew that leaning
on the cushion was the easy way around and the real trick here was going to
be running the bottom and the black middle.

For third session we put on a soft shock package and I run just the bottom
and middle to see what I could learn. It was slick and slow and I wish we
had about four more sessions to try some other stuff.

It was a sunny cool Saturday and the track stayed good with no dust unless
you got over the cushion. Aside from a small water leak that was fixed
with a hose clamp, it was a good test and we are ready to go for our first
race at Five Mile Point.

Five Mile Point
I haven’t raced there since about ’05. I’ve had some good runs there but
a lot has changed in eleven years. There have been some changes to the
track and the quality of competitors.
But the weather didn’t cooperate and the 100% chance of rain up to race
time was sufficient for the promoter to pull the plug early.
So it’s on to the next race at Dundee (Black Rock) with a new owner.

2016 Begins

Always trying to improve.   Going through the cars and have one motor at the shop for a rebuild and some upgrades.   Progress happens a little at a time.

Working on the driver too with exercise and time in the simulator.

Planning to run the Patriot tour this season.
Movin' Forward.