Racing Diary 2000 _______________________________
This is a Diary of our racing adventure for the 2000 season. The stories are my first hand accounts and impressions of each night's races. The full race stories can be found at whowon.com where you can find the ELS results at www.whowon.com/sresultsdates.asp?sanctionid=317 and where ESS results are posted. Sprint car race results can also be found at www. hoseheads.com and other racing sites.Current pictures will be coming to this page as available.
The car is owned and maintained by Rick Dumigan, owner of Knight's Garage in Central Square, NY (near Brewerton, 20 miles north of Syracuse). The J&J Chassis has a 360 Cubic inch, fuel injected, alcohol burning motor that produces somewhere around 600+ HP for the 1275+/- lb car.
Rick's father owned racecars (supermodifieds) for years and his race team was a fixture at the Oswego Speedway and at races around the east and Canada. Oswego fans will remember the fluorescent orange #90 car that ran there through the 60's and 70's. Always a top runner, they had some great drivers in their cars over the years. Rick grew up working on the racecars with his father and kept the tradition going with his sprint car efforts for more than a decade. The red car still carries the #90 (a number that I raced under for a time with my ARDC midget).
We plan to mostly run with ELS, some ESS and the occasional open show trying to stay close to home for the most part. Baring unforeseen circumstances, we plan to race the ELS/KARS challenge at Port Royal and Selinsgrove. It will be the first time I have visited those tracks since I quit racing in the late '80s.
The stories below are organized with the most current at the top. Pictures are scattered throughout. Feel free to e-mail me at: email@example.com.
See you at the races.
|Eastern Limited Sprints|
|ELS Super Sprints|
|FINAL 2000 STANDINGS
1. (9) Brian Dumigan .... 996 *
2. (21H) Rick Hart .... 996
3. (74) Mike Miller .... 858
4. (69K) John Karklin .... 780
5. (27) Bill Bailey .... 779
6. (3A) Warren Alexson .... 765
7. (73) John Lieto .... 752
8. (90) Dave Wickham .... 704
9. (75R) Steve Rutkowski .... 693
10. (11) Brian Grisel .... 648
11. (23) Eric Robinson .... 641
12. (87) George Suprick .... 527
13. (37) Bob Wade .... 408
14. (81) Carmen Carnibucci .... 397
15. (7) Mike Barlow .... 372
16. (12) Bill Guertin .... 347
17. (65) Russ Bennett .... 324
18. (32) Justin Barger .... 323
19. (Y2K) Curtis Bradshaw .... 317
20. (20) Dan Kazubinski .... 309
21. (45) Jim Mccaffrey .... 295
22. (32) Doug Emery .... 295
23. (26L) Lee Sanders .... 274
24. (90E) George Ely .... 257
25. (6W) Rich Wood Jr. .... 243
26. (18) Frank Longo .... 227
27. (41) Mike Lauterborn .... 227
28. (36) Mike Stelter .... 225
29. (26) Howard Singer .... 221
30. (42) Mike Young .... 190
31. (54) Shawn Felt .... 188
32. (69) Aaron Thayer .... 186
33. (714) Gordy Button .... 185
34. (014) Jeff Thomas .... 175
35. (27C) Rick Wilson .... 157
36. (53) Tom Fletcher .... 142
37. (57) Tom Taber .... 134
38. (3) Darrell Bragman .... 120
39. (6W) Erin Crocker .... 118
40. (45) Brian Harrington .... 116
41. (21) Bill Vivian .... 109
42. (13) Fred Dittmer .... 107
43. (12S) John Wrobleski .... 100
44. (38) Buzz Wilson .... 89
45. (87L) Dick Longstreet .... 87
46. (90X) Jeff Reis .... 67
47. (37P) Patrick Parker .... 65
48. (36) Bob Cain .... 63
49. (13) Bill Coffey .... 62
50. (51F) Roger Ferris .... 55
51. (45) Blaise Regina .... 48
52. (11X) Chris Shuttleworth .... 39
53. (2J) Ben Balzer .... 35
54. (45) Rob Hart .... 33
55. (21A) R.C. Faigle .... 32
56. (34) Jeff Lamothe .... 30
57. (33) Kramer Williamson .... 30
58. (3) Dave Gable .... 30
59. (74Y) Doug Borger .... 30
60. (5) John Bridge .... 19
61. (2) Dale Planck .... 18
* - tie broken by wins (Dumgan 3, Hart 0).
Utica Rome Speedway ELS 9/15/00
The night started off pretty good in hot laps. The track didn�t have much water in it and it was clear that it would dry out quickly. After the last race we ran at this track we decided to changed torsion bars to stiffen the rear a bit because of the bottoming out and lack of bite that we had been experiencing before. The combination seemed to work good on the sticky track but the real test was how it would work on the dry track.
We drew a high number and started last (9 th) in the 3 rd heat. The track was already dried out so we set the car up as we would for the feature. I passed a few cars in the first few laps and was 5 th on a restart. We got the green and coming out of two a car got on the outside of me and lost it and came down and hit the RF tire real hard. It broke the panhard bar that keeps the front axle centered in the car and snapped the brake line. The car headed for the infield with no steering and no brakes and I couldn't see much of anything for all the dust.
As the stagger arced the path all the way from the second turn, missing tow trucks and light poles it finally plowed into a dirt pile and came to a sudden stop in the center of the infield between 3 and 4.
It broke shocks and radius rods but didn�t bend the axle or anything else. They towed it back and we went to work fixing the front end.
We started last in the feature. I knew it was going to be a spin fest because of the very dry track. When they pushed me off the front end had a wooble that was worse than normal (they always wobble a little bit). There was something not right in the front end but I didn�t know what it was. It took four restarts to get to lap 3 and in the short runs the car felt pretty good except that in the middle of the corners there was wicked wheel hop on the RF and it would push or sometimes get real loose. I�ve never felt a car like this before and I was trying to figure out what was going on. It felt like the RF shock had come unhooked. On the next restart, as I entered turn one, the car got real loose and did one of those slow spins. I stayed in the throttle and ended up in the infield still moving and made my way back to the track. They threw the yellow and I went back behind the 5 cars I�d passed.
After a couple more restarts I went to the pits during a yellow and Rick and Chris changed the RF shock. The car was no better and would push or be loose. There were so many laps under caution that lots of cars were running out of fuel and on lap 17 we did too. It had been starving in the corners for the last 5 laps of racing, making it difficult to drive. I stayed out because I saw cars dropping out and this was the final points race for ELS.
After the race we looked over the front end and found that it wouldn�t move. Something was bound up. It turned out that when we put new radius rods on the front axle, we had it adjusted about 1/2 inch further forward than before. The axle wedged against the bolt holding the panhard bar to the frame and stopped the axle from moving up and down. That was why the car would be tight and then loose.
With all the restarts , spins and lineups and the out of fuel problems, the race itself was not fun for the fans or many drivers and there was lots of discussions going on in the pits when I left.
9-8-00 Black Rock Speedway, Nationals
The facility at Dundee, NY is well kept and well managed and was host to the second annual Bully Hill (a vineyard) 360 Sprint Nationals. The show is open to cars from ESS (NY), KARS (PA), SOD (Canada) and ELS (NY). About 50 sprints showed up for this Knoxville style two day race. Qualifying for the feature races is by points with points awarded for your finishing position in time trials and each race. The first night starts with time trials; two laps on the clock.
The 3/8 mile, high banked track was in good shape except for holes that had developed right in the upper grove entering turn one and three. Our car was pretty good in hot laps and although we drew last to go out for time, we didn�t see the need to change much. The first lap was a conservative one to get a solid lap in and the second was all out. On that second lap I drove around the hole in one and hooked up on the cushion never lifting. The car ran smooth around the top with good speed. As I headed for 3, I tried to go high around the hole, which was right near the top, but still got into it and it really upset the car. I was a little too wide to get a hold of anything and coming out of four I had to lift to keep it off the wall. The first lap was fastest but only 33 rd. We knew a good time was important but we didn�t realize how important until later.
The heats were inverted, we started 4th and finished 4th on a drying track and made up some ground in the points. The end of the night was 3 features of 16 laps for 16 cars lined up high point in front. We started 10th , and finished 9th and gained a bit more in the points but we were still only 27th.
We had a soft setup on the car the first night and the decided that with the 5 hours of rain in the morning and the holes, that stiffer rear bars might work better. So in the afternoon we changed bars to get ready for the second night of racing.
Points from the first day set the inverted lineup for heat races. Going into one on the start of the heat, the car was loose and didn�t hook up very good going in. I tried going in deep but cars would pass coming out as I had to wait to pick up the throttle. The track had dried out more than I would have guessed and we hadn�t tightened the car up enough to get a hold of the track. It was disappointing that we missed the setup.
The finale was a heads up, line up, by points. The point system seemed to be heavily weighted on time trials and even though the heats were inverted to give a second chance, there were only half as many points in the heat as time trials and you couldn�t make up much for a poor time. Then the first night features were heads up by points so you had to be very fast to gain anything there.
We would start 6th in the B-main, they take 4.
We tightened the car up for the feature and I was planning to run around the outside in turn one expecting that I could pass the car on the inside of me and head for a qualifying position. As I charged into one I ended up getting into the hole and it upset the car as I tried to run the top. Instead of passing, I was at the top with a push and had to back pedal to keep the car from going over the banking. By the time I got it collected I had lost several spots. Three and four were not better. It took a few laps before I was able to move the wing ahead to get rid of the push. By mid race the car was better but it was too late to do anything. A restart gave me a second chance but I didn�t have anything for those ahead of me. I tried driving the car in straight to try to get off the corner better, I drove it in has hard as I could to get through the turns faster, I tried the top and bottom. It was very frustrating to go backwards and not make the A-main.
9-3-00 Utica Rome ELS
We had raced at this track a few times now and I was looking forward to a good nite. The track was dryer than it looked and we were loose in the heat but still finished in the top 4. The draw gave us 11 th starting spot. We just missed the setup and couldn�t get going. The track was really dry and it was easy to spin the tires coming out. Early in the race someone running the bottom, put their LF in the puddle at the inside of turn 4 and splashed the corner. I was running the bottom and when I hit the water, the car slid across the track like it was on wet grass. The next lap around it was worked in and the spot was actually tacky so I�d use it to get off the corner, staying real tight to the inside.
Somewhere after halfway, someone splashed the turn again and when I hit it the car just washed out, sliding across the turn. It was just at that point that Brian Dumigan, (Rick�s cousin) was lapping me and I banged wheels with him as the car slid out. I tried to steer away but it just brought the back end aound, Brian backed off as I came across in front of him and collected him as we went into the wall.
I flipped and tore up the car and Brian bent up his front end. Brian had been leading the race and defending his season long point lead. We were both upset that it happened. It was an unfortunate bunch of circumstances that was very costly.
8-19-00 Can Am ELS
The motor now was running right so we went to Can Am. The car ran well in hot laps and in the heat we finished 5th. We started the feature mid pack. At the drop of the green entering turn one I headed for the outside and found nothing there. By the time I got it collected I had lost a few spots. A few laps later a caution bunched things up and on the restart I ran the cushion in three and four and passed 3 cars. The track was icy in one and two with no cushion and the fast way around was on the bottom. I could sometimes catch a tacky spot low out of two and gain some ground. I ran the cushion in three and four and came off strong. Just past halfway I was closing on the car in front of me and between one and two he lost it and spun. We were nose to nose and when I bumped his RF with my bumper he spun back around and kept going. I had nearly stopped but kept the engine running and I didn�t loose any spots.
They had thrown the yellow and on the restart I ran around the outside of one more car. When the race came to an end we were seventh. Not a bad run for us.
8-12-00 Port Royal, PA ELS/KARS
We had a different cam and found a set of heads we could borrow and although the ports didn�t match up with the injection just right, we assembled the motor for the PA shows. Nothing came together until the last moment and we didn�t have a chance to start the motor until we got to the track. The trip to the track had it�s moments; the trailer had a flat tire on the way and ran over a curb in on of the small towns throwing things around inside.
At Port Royal, motor starts are on the track. When they pushed me off the track was not fully run in. A flagman stood in the first turn pointing to the rough and slimy bottom. I drove past on the inside of him and was rounding the corner when I came to a guy standing on the edge of the rough stuff. As I approached him (at an idle) he must have thought I was heading for him or going to go outside of him and he stepped to the inside about 5 steps. I was already headed where he was going, 20 ft in front of me, so I locked up the brakes and slid into him throwing him over the front wing and RF tire. He picked himself up and they threw the red. The guy was shaken up but OK but it sure had the corner workers all riled up. It was his first night as a corner worker. They said it wasn�t my fault but it still upset me that I ran over a corner worker.
They pushed the car back to the pits without me getting the engine restarted. The next time out was hot laps. The motor was flat and had no power. I came into the pits and we checked the timing and I found that in our haste to get the motor ready I had set the timing wrong.
They let me push off at the back of the first heat to start the motor again and when I stood on it there was a bad miss. Now gun shy because of the problems we had the past few weeks and not wanting to ruin the borrowed heads, it was decided that we start the heat for points and then park the car until we could figure this out.
8-13-00 Selinsgove PA ELS/KARS
The next day Rick went through the engine, checking timing, cam timing, valve settings and couldn�t find the problem. Afraid of possible bent valves we didn�t race at Selinsgrove.
At home we puzzled over the car when Rick�s son Chris pulled the plugs again and noticed that one was closed, then another. It turned out that the pistons just touched the electrodes on two plugs and closed them tight. We were happy that we found the problem and it was that simple but really pissed that we didn�t find it in PA. We had been looking so deep for the problem that we overlooked the simple stuff.
Fonda ELS 8-5-00
Fonda has not been a good track for me. I raced there a few times with URC some time ago and then we had our problems in the spring race there this year. Last week at Hogansburg the motor went flat during the feature and we found a bent valve and broken lifter. We replaced the valve, rocker, pushrod and lifter and figured we had solved the problem for Fonda. ....NOT
In warmups the car worked great and the motor was strong. Starting third in the heat the car ran an easy third and then the motor went flat. I finished the last three laps in third and headed for the pits. After removing the valve cover we saw things weren�t right with the same valve so Rick removed the rocker arm and push rod and I took the green for the feature and pulled in.
This week we found a broken valve, damaged head and piston. This motor has been very reliable but you go through streaks like this.
Rick borrowed a set of heads, ordered a new piston we put things back together to go to the KARS/ELS race at Port Royal and Selinsgrove in PA this week.
July 29, 2000 ELS, Hogansburg, NY
We made the three-hour tow to the St. Regis Indian reservation near the Canadian border, home of Frogtown Speedway. The weather was threatening but the scattered showers forecast looked like a good bet.
The track is a symmetrical 3/8 with a wide flat inside that is easily two cars wide. At the edge of the flat part of the turns is a good banking to the outside of the turn. On this odd flat/banked track it looked like the fast way around would be on the banking, so in warmups I ran around the top and was able to pass some cars... no one else ventured up there.
It had rained the night before and the black clay really held the moisture. In warmups the track was predictably heavy but in the heat it was still sticky� so much so that the fast way around was on the flat.
At the drop of the green in the heat I drove in hard on the banking while everyone else bunched up going in on the flat. I moved from last (8th) to fourth coming out of two but that was all there was. The place was super fast and I could drive nearly flat out all the way around. But then so could most of the other cars. About 2 laps in, the motor went flat. One cylinder wasn�t completely there but the temperature and oil pressure was ok so I finished the race in 4th.
We checked the engine to see if there was a clogged nozzle or bad plug and could not find anything. The feature was coming up quickly so we put everything back together and went out, starting 8th (last in the draw again). I did the same move in the feature and got to 4th quickly. The motor started out flat but seemed to get better. The groove was low or at the cushion which had formed at the bottom edge of the banking. It was tricky getting into the turns. If I ran in flat out the car would hop the cushion and once I got up high and lost ground. If I let off too much the car didn�t turn in easily and wasn�t fast. It was a balance to get the car in just right to get thru the corners fast. On one lap I put the RF on the banking/cushion area and the car went way high and as I brought it around, it got over the edge between one and two. I was far enough ahead of 5th that I didn�t get passed but lost a lot of ground on third. Then a car spun and the yellow came out.
One lap after the restart two cars got together right in front of me and I slowed way down avoiding them and waiting to see which way they were going. I was sure they were crashing and a yellow would be out but they straightened out and in the process two cars got by all of us.
Later in the race, I got over the cushion in three and got passed while gathering it up. During the last laps of the race, the track was getting looser and although I had to run slower, the others were having a more difficult time as I closed in on the fifth/sixth battle. I needed a few more laps to make anything of it and ended up seventh.
The motor had started out flat but seemed to get better as the race went on. During the following week, Rick found that we had a bent valve, push rod and mashed lifter. We were lucky to finish without loosing the motor, and to run competitively on this flat out track while down on power.
4th turn, Canadaigua speedway
PennCan Speedway, Susquehanna, Pa., ELS, 7-14-00
The threat of rain was so certain that as I headed south to the track through the driving rain I expected to call the track and hear that the race was cancelled. Within a half hour I was driving on dry roads in the sunshine. The front was heading east and I was sure it would hit the track before the race was over but it never did and we raced on a comfortable July nite.
The track is an old facility on the northern border of PA just south of Binghamton. The well lit, paper-clip third mile has new clay but it hasn�t knit with the old surface and warmups and the heats were on a choppy heavy track. By feature time most of the new clay had been thrown to the top of the track leaving a smooth dry track, with two grooves.
Our nite started in warmup. I ran the top and the car was very fast. We tried to guess how the track would change for the heat and after talking with some of the local racers Rick set the car up for a slightly dryer track. Heats starts are by the draw. Our draw put us outside of the second row. We finished second.
The top two from each heat run a 5 lap Dash. This race is fun for the fans and gives us a chance to test our feature setup. Again we started outside of the second row. Coming out of four for the green, the car in front of me got sideways and as I checked up, the car behind me ran over my LR and bounced around before getting upside down. They towed me to the pits with a flat. I didn�t get a chance to see how the car was going to work or what the track was really like for bite.
The flat LR was punctured and was the best choice we had mounted for stagger for the feature, so Rick and Chris found a tire that would work but it was not mounted and we were up next after the race that was on the track. Chris scrambled and got the tire mounted while Rick checked over the car and Matt got fuel.
Feature lineup is by the draw for the first 4 in the heat and I drew a miserable 9th. There were three restarts in the first 6 laps and by now I had raced to 4th. The car worked pretty good on the bottom and I was trying to pass coming out and charge in on the bottom. I tried to get by the 3rd place car for a bunch of laps and just couldn�t get the right line on him. Then the second place car broke and as I came up on the inside of him he started moving to the infield. The only safe choice I saw was to go through the infield grass. I headed toward the first turn and turned the car and set it in to the low groove between one and two loosing about 3 spots. I ran down the back straight with a group of cars and drove into three a bit off my line. The car I went in beside told me after the race that he really checked up. I drove in deep and my car drifted up into him and we banged wheels and I spun out and parked it backwards in four.
As you can imagine I was totally pissed at myself for getting myself into one of them racing tangles but "that�s racing". That put me last with 9 laps to go. It took a few laps for me to figure out that I had to go to the top to pass these cars at the back and once I went upstairs I got by a number of cars to finish 10th. Brian Dumigan won another feature and Chuck Suprick came from last to finish second.
We had a solid third and possible second in the bag and a car that ran in the lead pack. We felt good that the car ran so well but we were all disappointed with our finish. I learn and re-learn something every time I�m in the car. We are definitely getting better.
4th turn, Canadaigua speedway
Thunder Mountain, South Central NY, ELS 7/2/00
A full field of 24 cars showed up for the ELS race at this 3/8 high-banked track. The track is located on top of one of the rolling foot-hills in the farm country of south central New York State between Cortland and Binghamton. Fans were treated to an open wheel holiday special with the Mini Sprints and ELS Sprints. The track looks like a symmetrical bowl with lots of room on the straights and the wide turns. But the place was deceiving and a tricky place to run as we all found out when the racing started.
Warm-ups put us on a tacky smooth surface. Lots of stagger to get us around the tight turns. The second turn was the tricky one. It didn�t look like it would be a problem. It looked like there was good banking out of two, that swept smoothly out to the back stretch fence, but the cars wouldn�t stay on the bottom. It was hard to keep the car from drifting up the banking right where you wanted to be on the throttle hard.
We started outside of the front row, next to Brian Dumigan (Rick�s cousin and winner of two races this season in 5 starts). At the drop of the green I charged to the top of turn one leaving the bottom for Brian. I knew he couldn�t get on it coming out of the turns, off the bottom, because the car would want to drift up into me. I lead for a few laps and then Brian charged to the inside. We ran wheel to wheel, side by side for several laps until Brian found the bite coming out of four and I had drifted a bit high. It was a good race, lots of fun and a good show for the fans.
ELS starting lineups are by the draw. The first four finishers from each of the 3 heats draw for their starting position in the feature. Suprick drew outside pole Brian D would go third. I drew good for the heat starting spot but pulled the goats tail on this one. We would start eleventh.
I was having a hard time with this track and I didn�t really know what to do to make the car better. Rick and I discussed a bunch of things to do but I didn�t have any real solutions. Rick went though the tires we had and mounted up a good Hoosier and found a LR that gave us a little less stagger than we had run in the heat. We changed the ride height and Rick put on a different RR shock on to help get some side bit. This tricky little joint was tough to figure out. We talked about what line to run and whether passing was going to be on top or the bottom. We decided that being patient in the turns and coming off tight on the bottom would be the fastest way around and probably the only way to pass.
The feature lined up and took the green with a succession of one lap racing and a caution for the first seven laps. Lots of guys were having trouble with turn two but Rick�s setup was working pretty good for us. I could run through there on the bottom or middle and had good bite onto the straight. Already to eighth, I ran the bottom mostly. But every time I�d get going and start working on the car in front of me there would be a caution. Finally, I got under one car and was reeling in Brian D when there was a red for a two car tangle in one. I stopped next to Brian and it was clear from the overflow that he was overheating. Brian went to the pits.
We were part of the lead pack all race long and ended the night with a 3rd place finish (We crossed the line a close 5th but, two cars in front of us were penalized for not lining up properly, behind us, on the the first complete restart. Restart lineups were a mess early on, on this short track. We got screwed by scoring and restart lineups at other races this year so we'll take this one to make up for it). This was a good run on a tricky little track.
4th turn, Fonda Speedway
Canandaguia Speedway, ESS 7/1/00
Fourth of July weekend is always a big race weekend and this was the first of three races for us. The Canandaguia Speedway is a big flat half-mile with long straights and sweeping turns. This is DIRT Modified country but the fans pack the place for this holiday show featuring the ESS sprints along with the regular full card of racing.
The pits were full with 33 sprinters. The track was packed and hard for warm-ups.
After a lap in warmups, the dry sump cap worked loose and the car started smoking as oil spilled onto the headers so we only got a lap or two on the track and it was real tight and the car pushed in the turns some. Rick safety wired sump cap.
We loosened the car up for the heat race but went a bit too far. The track dried and was loose and in the heat I just couldn�t get a hold of anything. At his place the field gets strung out in a hurry and it�s as easy to run away with a race as it is to get left behind. We started eighth and finished eighth, they took six.
So on to the B-Main. We start 5th, four to qualify from the 14 car field. Rick made the changes to tighten the car up and the car felt pretty good. It really worked on the cushion but it was a very long way around. I could run it in hard on the top in three, just lifting a little and getting right back on it. In a few laps I was running second and running down the leader but we ran out of laps, finished second and made the show but we would start 20th on a track that was now getting slick. (Because we hadn�t followed the ESS tour we would have been handicapped to the back even if we had made it in the heat. The best we could have started would have been at the back of the cars that qualified in the heats, 18th.)
It�s a tough challenge to come from the back. Drop of the green in the feature; I�ve dodged the first lap crash in every race this year it seems, and I expected the same here. Usually someone gets in too hard or picks up the throttle to soon coming out of two and spins around collecting the next few cars in his mistake. I went to the top to give some room for the expected jumble at the bottom but it didn�t happen and I think I lost a couple of spots on that first lap. The car really worked good. I could run the bottom or the top, the icy track made it hard to find the traction to pass but I started running down the cars in front of me and picked off a few running the cushion, and out raced some off the bottom. The race went flag to flag and the field got strung out. We needed a caution, but even as it was, we made it up to 16th , finishing on the lead lap. A respectable showing for a non-stop race on a dry/slick track.
Five Mile Point ELS/KARS Saturday, 6/24/00
Back straight, five mile point speedway
We had towed to this race in early May and after warm-ups it poured rain. This was the ELS hosted leg of the ELS/KARS challenge. The 1/4 mile track was already dry in warm-ups and even a downpour wouldn't keep this place from being dry/slick tonight.
This was first real test for this car since we changed the car from a reverse bar car to a standard bar car (Standard bar cars have the RR torsion bar ahead of the LR). In warm-ups we were loose so for the heat we did about 8 things to tighten the car up. We started 5th in the 9 car heat and finished 3rd. The car was pretty good so Rick and I discussed a few changes. Rick chose some different rubber and Chris and Matt checked fuel. We were ready for the feature, 25 laps, starting 11th.
Another 1st turn stack'em up right in front of me and somehow I got through it without getting run over. After the restart we were running 6th or 7th and for a number of laps ran side by side with Dan Richcreek (KARS).
(Our car is a J&J chassis that Rick had bought from Dan a couple of years ago.)
Dan was running the top and I was on the bottom. Dan would run hard past me going in as I braked for the bottom and then I'd get bite coming off and pull him on the straights. This went on for quite a few laps; lots of fun, the best kind of clean, hard racing. We caught a lapped car entering three and Dan went high around him. The lapped car started to move down just as I dove under him. He did a good job in a tough situation and gave me just enough room to get through on the bottom and I pulled ahead of Dan coming out of four.
A few laps later, another tangle right in front of me and somehow I avoided it even though the brakes were getting weird. The brakes were there but not like they had been and I almost didn't get stopped enough to get through.
Lap 18 restart; now up to 4th and a bunch of good cars coming back up through after the various tangles. Now I'm thinking about how I'm going to get past the car in 3rd, they drop the green and we race hard into one. I pump the brake entering turn one and there is almost no brakes. As I collect the car, I get drilled in the back bumper and slammed in the left side as everyone is charging to the front. Two get by and I'm 6th and able to get the car around drifting in on the bottom and making ground coming off.
One more, two car spin, right in front of me; I steer off the track (no walls thankfully) and line up 6th for the restart with one lap to go. I'm thinking how can I do this restart now with no brakes and everyone bunched up behind me? On the green I dove for the bottom and made anyone who would try, have to do it around the top. No one did.
Rick's cousin Brian Dumigan won, we were 6th.
In the pits we found the LF brake rotor completely missing, brake fluid everywhere, and one of the steering arm bolts broken off possible from getting knocked around on the restart, maybe not. Another few laps and we would have lost the steering.
It's always a good night when you can roll the car on the trailer.
Sometimes you are just lucky.
4th turn, Five mile point speedway
Can Am ESS Thursday, 6/22/00
The cold front had moved through and the rains were supposed to be over but the lingering one cloud wonders would come and go dropping a little rain only interrupted by the sunny sucker holes. The overflow of cars in the pits left only room for us in the infield with a couple other modified teams but that turned out to be less muddy.
They tried to run the track in for hours with the little showers setting progress back until it finally started to pack in and they could get some cars on it about 10:30 for warm-ups to finish the job.
This was our first ESS race and we would start in the back all night. We were in the third heat, starting 9th they take 6. In the first turn a few cars got together and somehow I found a way through it. They towed three cars
away. The track was heavy in the groove and greasy on top so everyone was fast and it was hard to find a place to pass. No sense getting in the slop and crashing or spinning, we finished 5th and we were in the show.
They ran the program off in a hurry but it was still 1:45am when we went out for the feature. This place is a big round 5/8 mile with long sweeping corners and now the groove was wider, tacky and fast. I was never told where
to start (the pit board was in the outside pit) and as Rick and Chris rushed to get the car ready, I was cleaning the inch thick wet clay off my helmet. All I knew was that I was behind all the qualified cars and ahead of the B main cars. I figured I'd be somewhere around 19th, although I found out later that I should have been 15th and that made a big difference in the night's outcome.
Coming down for the green the car beside me got sideways and hit my right rear real hard sending me sliding into the infield with a broken RR bird cage. The chassis dragged on the ground as I rolled to a stop just short of the first
That was it.
We finished 23rd.
McKean, PA Saturday, 6/3/00
We made the long trek to McKean County Raceway in Northwestern Pennsylvania for the 360 open sprint show. It was a longer haul than we had planned but it turned out to be a nice track and some familiar faces.
The bright sun beat on the track but when in warmups there was still some moisture and you could run this nicely banked 3/8 about flat out. When it came time for the heat it was another story. The surface was dry and slick. We started last and I thought I would drive by the cars ahead of me on the outside as we entered three. I drove in past one of the cars on the outside and there was nothing there. The car slid over the top of the banking and everyone drove away as I got back on track in pursuit. The rest of the race I tried top, bottom and middle and we were just not hooked up.
They said the moisture would draw back up into the surface, with all the calcium they use, and that the track would tighten up later. Seemed backwards to me.
The feature ran flag to flag. We started near last and I passed a car or two and got hung up trying to get under the next car in front of me for a bunch of laps. With about 5 to go the leader came by on the outside and the car I had been battling to get by left more room on the outside. I drove in on the outside and was surprised to find good bite there. I passed one car, caught the next group and with 2 to go passed the next three in three and four. I caught one or two more before the end and we finished 9th.
I had been concerned that the outside lane would send the car sliding over the edge. I should have tried the outside sooner. The track did come back.
Scoring had been a problem all night, especially with two #90 cars. They had us 17th or something. Some others were screwed (and some benefited), for me, I have never been in a race where the results were so screwed up.
Utica Rome, ELS 5/28/00
We had raced at Utica Rome last season and for my second time in the car we did pretty well until we cut the RR. This 5/8 is banked in one and two and flat in three and four. The smooth surface and long straights make this a fast place.
We were trying to figure out this reverse bar car, it could be a handful in the corners. Starting on the front row of the heat made it easy to lead the first lap. The car was working good if I got into the corners just right. I could run the car just about flat out through one and two and just lift for a second going into three. As the race went on Suprick stuck his nose under me as we came out of two but the car had good bite and pulled a car length on the straight. About two to go and I got in a bit high and ended up in the loose stuff coming out of four and lost the lead as two cars went by. Our finishing position in the heat put us in the "draw" for the feature. I pulled the #1 out of the bag.
As the green came out for the feature I pulled to the lead on the straight and ran hard into one. Mid pack, behind me, Gordy Button got tangled up with another car and took a wild end over end ride, down the front straight bringing out the red. Gordy's car was scattered all over the front stretch and he sat in the upright frame with a broken kneecap and torn ligaments. (Gordy won't be racing for the rest of the season and is out of work for 2 to 3 months).
On the restart I was able to take the lead again and kept it for four laps until the car took off unpredictably. On that lap, as I drove through one, I backed out to keep the car from sliding up into the loose stuff, like it had done in the heat and the lap or so before. When I got out of it the car took an abrupt right hand turn and headed straight up the track and over the banking (fortunately no wall). Down the other side of the banking the car spun through the grass to a stop.
On the restart I was last and had to work my way back to the front. Several cautions for spinning cars was to our benefit. We were able to catch up and have the spinners go to the rear behind me. If I could confidently run the car into the corner on the throttle it stuck and was fast but if I had to back out for anything the car would push, making it difficult to get through the turns. By the end of the race we had made it back to 9th.
Fonda ELS Saturday 5-00
The first race for us was with ELS at Fonda, NY. This is a historic fairgrounds track that hosted the original Nascar series back in the 50's. Sprint cars have been on the schedule for decades. It's a flat half with a squared off 3rd and 4th turn. This was the first outing for us in 2000 and even though we left early, there was a long line at the gate and we didn't get in and unloaded for warmups. We started the car cold for the heat race and started last. Rick had gone over the car completely over the winter, checking and cleaning and reassembling with care. The car was a little loose and didn't hook up reall good going in and was spinning some coming out. About 4 laps in, coming out of 4, the LF spindle came apart. Everyone says they've never seen one separate like that, especially as new as it was, but it was one of those things that you would never find until it breaks.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the tire leave the car. It didn't jerk the wheel or make any other radical move, it just made the car go straight. The car pushed straight at the 4th turn wall, I had my foot on the brake but when the wheel left it tore out the caliper and brake line so the car didn't slow much. For the second before impact, I knew just what it was going to feel and sound like. It had been a long time since I rode one into the fence. When it hit it climbed the wall and bounced three or four times coming down on it's tail and the back hoop of the cage, pointed at the sky.
The flip looked bad, everyone says, as the car danced along the wall and the chain link fence. I waited a few seconds to make sure it had stopped and that no one else would pile in before I was ready to undo the belts. Hanging upside down in the car I looked around for something to grab on to so that I wouldn't just drop on my head. I left the steering wheel on and lowered myself from the car. My suit got hooked on a clip pin that was in the rear wing support and I couldn't move. The workers were pulling on me and I was yelling to leave me alone so I could pull myself up. All this time since the car had stopped, engine oil was running out of the breathers, inside the hood and was running on me as it ran out past the dash. Normally the oil temp is 20 degrees hotter than water temp but fortuneately we had missed warmups and only ran a few laps of the race. The oil was about shower temp and I didn't get burned.
After I got myself pulled back up in the seat, I ducked and rolled out of the car in 5 seconds. All together it took about 45 seconds for me to get out after the car stopped. I was soaked with oil inside my helmet and my left side to the knee. I spent an hour and several rolls of paper towels cleaning myself up so that I could put on my street clothes. Other than that it was just one of them crashes. No sore neck, just the normal bruises from the belts.
The car looked like junk. They always do when the wrecker brings them in by the cage with the axles hanging all a-skew. But it was only bolt on stuff, not as bad as it first looked, no frame damage and by the next weekend we were ready to go again and I had that crash out of the way that I was wondering if I could still withstand.
Racing Diary 1999
The first race was Fulton NY. It's a short half with good banking and lots of room. The place always gets dry and slick. I had run there before but it's been a while. This was the first time out for me in Rick Dumigan's car. Fulton was a good place for me to start. We had been waiting all summer for the motor builder to get around to freshening the motor. Rick had taken it apart in the spring just to get it checked out and put in new bearings and rings. There wasn't anything wrong with it and it should have taken a week or so to get it back but the guy that had always done the work for Rick had gotten a job and was doing the motor work on the side now. Finally Corky Stockham got us hooked up with Block-Head who did the work for Rick in a week. But now it was August and there were only a few races left with ELS. The car was another unknown. It is a reverse torsion bar J&J. Everyone tells us that with the bars reversed these cars are difficult to get a handle on. We used our best judgment and set up the car the way we thought would work. At the track the car was so tight it would not turn. I didn't think it would take as much stagger as we had on it but it really needed more. To get the car around the turns in the feature I had to break it loose and slide it around the corners. It was confusing by being real tight and real loose depending on how you would set up for the turns. I missed several spins and wrecks and we had a miss in the motor but we started last and finished 12th or so and the car was in one piece.
We ran Fulton a second time and tried some different things. Playing with stagger, bars and settings the car was better but still not fast. We ended up somewhere around 12th after starting last. The car got around the corners better but didn't have the side bite to really hook up in the corners so it was hard to pass even though the motor was solid and pulled well in the straights.
Utica Rome 9-99
The last race of the season for us was at Utica Rome, a big half. We tried a stiffer RR bar and some other adjustments that made the car work better. Even though I couldn't drive it deep into the corner, I could get on it as soon as the car was set and it came off great. We started in the back again and passed some cars early in the race. With about 5 to go the RR went down in the 1st turn with a cut in the tread. I was lucky to get the car slowed and not bicycle or get upside down. The race was encouraging because we were starting to get a handle on the car.Home Racing Again! 2003 Shampine Sharon Speedway Getting Started Knock Out First Win! Port Royal Win Lernerville Harry and the 35 car Putting it all together Syracuse Mile More Syracuse Mile Flat Out! Springfield Travelin' Spooky Coincidence Adventures of Carl and the Airplane Diary 2000 Send Email