Racing in 2003!
News from back home...
The results on this site are different from most sites. Instead of hype or stats or hiding the ugly parts, I'll just tell the story. Most fans don't get to experience much behind the scenes stuff or what's going on in the mind of the driver or the team so here's the inside story, race by race.
This season got a late start in a lot of ways. The rain washed out a number of races and the late thaw delayed building the garage. I knew that there wouldn't be much time to get a car ready for this season so I bought a complete car, ready to go.
Although the motor ran, it had problems and it took a few races to realize that it needed a complete rebuild. After the rebuild and some new parts the motor ran well.
We missed some of the really distant shows and made a few of the distant shows which all added up to making 77% of the races. Considering the points we gave away when we didn't race, 12th in season points is a pretty good result. I've never raced for points but it's fun to see how we finished in the points race.
The finishes covered the range, from good (4 th) to poor (18 th) but on average we were a 10th place car. Not great but not bad considering the plan from the beginning was:
"To be competitive without spending a fortune."
During the season we passed and raced with cars that had more power, new tires, and current, lighter chassis so I think we met the challenge.
One of the best parts of the season was having a great pit crew!
The Moteyunas family has been with me from the beginning this season. We've known each other since we raced Karts as kids. This season Greg and his son Ryan and Rodney and his son Jeff went to the races and worked in the shop to get the car ready for each race. Their help was so reliable that I could just discuss what we needed to do with the car and they got it done. We never dropped out of a race with a mechanical problem.
I also want to thank "Pusher Dave" who is an official with the Patriot Sprints. He used his four wheeler to get us from the pits to the track at most of the races we went to. It sure made it easier on the crew.
Thanks for the help!
Stateline Speedway 5-3-03 13th
It was worth the four and a half hour tow to this 4/10 mile oval out in the country in the southwest corner of NYS. The pits were packed with 5 classes of cars.
I was impressed with the track. It was a true oval with medium banking , concrete walls all around and no wall on the inside. The place had good lighting. The surface was smooth and wide. You could run three wide if necessary. The top wasn't so much a cushion as it was just tacky.
In warm-ups the car was pretty good but the sun was right in your eyes down the back stretch so you couldn't see getting into three. It was still greasy and the tear offs loaded up pretty quick. You couldn't really tell what the track was going to be like for the heat.
We had brought a medium compound Hoosier for the RR and ran it in the heat. We were in the first heat and the track had already slicked up some. My draw for position put us 6th out of 10 in the heat. The car was just too loose and wouldn't come off the turns. I lost a spot or two in the 8 lap race.
I talked to the regular late model guys about the track and they said it would really glaze over for the feature. We tucked in the RR tire, reduced the stagger an inch, put on a softer RR shock, and stood the wing up to try to get some bite. It turned out that the track came back and had some bite on the bottom and was still good getting in on top.
We started inside of the 7th row behind Gordie Button. I thought I would follow Gordie to the front and see how it went. They drop the green and the car is pushy in one and comes off two with good bite. In the middle of four, Gordie tangles with someone and they spin in front of me. I'm up high and my line gets cut off so I locked it up and parked it. There was a hole between the two and I headed for it but we were all moving and I wasn't sure I could get through without hitting one of them so it was best just to get stopped.
They had started all cars that were there, in the feature so my restart was in 28th. The rest of the race went pretty well. There were several spins, a few right in front of me that I avoided. Those cars went behind me and I passed a bunch of cars during the race, getting up to 13th at the end. Moving the wing forward some loosened the car up and it handled pretty good. I ran the top and ran side by side with Brad Knab for half of the race, then he changed his line to the top and I went to the bottom and got by. At the end, the car was running out of fuel so now we know what the minimum amount is for that tank. The tire we had on was too hard for that track but now we have a better idea of what the car wants, for the next race.
It was a good first race for us. I got a good feel for this car and we covered expenses plus some.
Canandaugia 5/24 Rained out.
Ransomville 6/13 Rained out.
Can Am 6/19 Rained out.
Utica Rome 5/25 DNQ
Second time out this season was mostly a learning session.
The engine has been flat the first time out and I had made some adjustments.
It seems to load up on restarts and when cold. On this big track it really showed.
It takes several laps before it cleans out and runs right and even then
it doesn't sound smooth or pull like it should.
I installed a dial a jet to allow me to adjust the fuel while on the
track and it was helpful in giving clues on what could be going wrong.
Each time out I tried leaning a bit more, watching the water temp.
The temp had been running in the 130F range, very low. As I ran it
leaner it finally got up to 200F and was better but still didn't take
off. At that temp I richened it a bit and it did take off for a couple
So I am still trying to figure out what is going on with this engine.
It seems like a fuel problem but it could be plugs or mag. I had to
diagnose these problems on the track and a waste of a good race nite.
We're going through everything this week.
In the race, the car handled well and I was able to pass cars when the
engine was right, for a few laps, but the rest of the time I was getting
passed, even at the back of the pack.
Starting last (12th) in the heat with 6 to qualify was a difficult task
to start with, but with the soft motor I couldn't go anywhere.
With 36 cars on hand I started 11th in the Bmain and worked up to 9th,
(when the motor took off), but they only took 4 so we watched the feature.
Mike Lutz and Dan Kazubinski put on a show on this big half. Mike won.
Any nite you roll the car on the trailer is a good nite but it is
frustrating to have to diagnose engine problems and miss the show.
Weedsport 6/29 18th
I looked at the Radar and saw the front move though. It poured in the
early afternoon at the shop and there were more rain cells right in line
with the track that looked like they would be coming through about race
time and later. It sure looked like another rain out to me but we
loaded up and drove to the track anyway. It is less than an hour away.
After all of the rainouts and the look of the radar, I was pessimistic but it
turned out to be a beautiful nite, and the sun even came out some.
However, the track was not beautiful. This place is a 1/3 mile, true
oval, with moderate banking. Like most places, they don't tear up the
track each week, they just grade the loose cushion down over the racing
grooves and water it. Usually the loose stuff doesn't stick and in
warm-ups or in the heats that cushion material grinds off and ends up
making a new cushion leaving the slick surface from the week before with
a bit of moisture that may have penetrated.
This nite, that loose stuff pealed off in large clumps like 4 ft loaves
of bread. The clumps just rolled over onto other clumps and it made for
a rough and choppy track. When you see 2500 lb DIRT modifieds bicycling
and bounding through the turns you can imagine how a sprint will handle
There was a lane at the bottom that was getting cleaned off and
smoothing out and still had some moisture, then the next lane was a
field of clumps. Above that was another area that was smooth and slick
getting in and then had some clumps and slick spots around the top.
This was a nasty track and very difficult to set up for and drive.
The car was fast in warm-ups and we set up for a sticky track. 3 heats
of 10, I started 6th in the second heat and moved to 5th on the start
and dodged a spinner during the race . It was hard to pass but 6
qualify and the top 4 redraw for feature starting spots. I finished 4th
and drew 12 th starting spot for the feature.
They graded the track before the feature but only knocked the tops off
the clumps and packed them back down so it looked like there would be a
tacky area off the bottom or possibly the middle and it would stay
rough. I guessed wrong. The track ended up all slick quickly and I was
loose. To compound matters, the throttle linkage connection on this new
set of injectors was very touchy. The slightest touch of the pedal and
the motor would come on big time. That made it really difficult in the
turns. It would make the car easily break loose and start to come
around when I need the motor to come on gently. It was like driving
with a switch instead of a throttle.
After a couple of laps, I got the track and the pedal figured out, but
I had dropped back to 20th. I got by a couple of cars back to 18th and
diced with Troutman (who I bought this car from) in the 44 for 17th but
couldn't complete the pass.
The race went flag to flag, which was good, I ended up 18th.
During the week we discussed what we should have done on setup and built
a new throttle linkage
Rolling Wheels 7-2 7th
Rolling Wheels is a 5/8 with moderate banking and long straights. Like most places
it gets slick, sometimes so icy that there is no traction anywhere.
In the heat there was a car width of moisture right around the bottom.
You had to get in slow enough that you didn't drift up into the slick.
In the groove coming out of the turns, the track was getting slicker. I started in the back and
made my way to 5th and qualified for the feature.
We discussed what to do and Greg, Rodney, Ryan and Jeff tightened the
car up, put on a soft compound RR while I took a look at the track and
watched the B-Main. Lauterborn and Ely ran out front and were in the
middle of the slick stuff. No one was on the little bit of cushion at
the top. My plan was to be patient on the bottom and try to pass way
low, inside coming off, from my 14th starting spot.
At the start of the feature I fell in line on the bottom and the guy in
front of me was running as low as you could get so that took care of
that plan. During a caution on the second lap or so, I was talking to
myself about how I was going to get past this guy. I checked out other
parts of the track under caution and when they dropped the green I drove
in just outside of him. Just above the slick groove coming off of two,
there was a choppy patch where I got enough bite to get by. I tried
that on both ends and sometimes made time and sometimes lost time.
About midway in the race George Ely came flying by on the outside up
high and made it stick so I went up there and found that the car hooked
up getting in but was loose in the middle. But, I could get a bite on
top coming off and pass in the back straight. With three to go I drove
into one on the outside of a couple of cars that were racing for
position. Then coming off two, way outside I found some bite and passed
both of them and picked up the cushion going into three and passed
another. A lap later as we came out of four for the white flag, I got a
good run on the car in front of me. As I came off the top, he slid
across the track on the slick. I crossed over to the inside in the
straight and with the car fish-tailing and tires spinning we bumped
wheels as I went by. I took the checker in 7th .
That was a good finish for us on a slick track. The new throttle
linkage was like stepping on a pillow and it made it much easier to keep
the car under me on the slick corners. I was also impressed with the
tire we chose for the RR. As the race went on I was getting better
bite. It felt like the tire was working better later in the race. the tire had
little wear and some heat.
Freedom 7-4 14th
This track had run sprints on a weekly basis for a couple of years but
this year dropped the class. From this action, The Patriot Sprint Group
was formed. So this race was a "we'll show 'em" matchup for the track
and the group. The group showed up with more and better cars than the
track had, had before at twice the purse and the track owner had tore up
the surface and watered the hell out of it all week to make the track
better than it had ever been before.
The reputation of this track was that it was icy slick, all around the
bottom with no way to pass unless the car in front of you went in too
deep and slid up. It was gouge and route your way to pass. This big
quarter or short third had decent banking but didn't get a cushion. The
stands probably held a thousand fans, shoulder to shoulder. He had them
This was a "squirt of throttle and throw 'er in" kind of place like I
hadn't run in a long time and hadn't run much at all. Half the guys
there, this nite, had run the place weekly for a couple of years.
In the heat I finished 4th and made the re-draw for feature starting position
(top 4 in the heat re draw for starting spots in the feature).
The track had good bite and I tried the bottom, middle, top, deliberately
tried outside the cushion in the loose stuff but that didn't have
The car wasn't bad, it just wasn't fast? at least not any faster than
what was in front of us. So we tightened the car up for what everyone
expected to be an icy slick track.
I started 12th in the feature and just played follow the leader. Some
guys were trying the top and some could get position on me on the bottom
but it was hard to pass. There were a few spins in front of me and
that's about the only improvement I could make. Just past halfway, as I
was getting on it coming out of two, I got bumped from behind and it
turned me around right in the bottom groove. I stood on it and got the
car almost all the way around when I got hit by another car and ended up
with my front end sitting on top of his RF tire. I was perpendicular to the
track with the front end in the air and he was facing back wards. The
wrecker lifted me off of the other car and we were both able to
Some cars dropped out or broke and others spun and went to
the back so that by the end we were 14th. Considering the
circumstances, it was acceptable.
The track fooled everyone. The work that the track owner had done
really paid off. The surface had bite right to the end of the feature!
Although there was no cushion, there was a high line and the track never
got slick. You could really stand on it coming off.
In the end, the Patriots put on a good show and the track owner showed
everyone that he had a good track (if he decided to put some effort into
it). We headed out to the next track for tomorrow nite's race.
Canadaigua 7-5 5th
Greg had been towing the race car and I was with my father in Dad's little motor
home. We pulled into the parking lot at 1:30am and hit the sleeping
bags. Rodney and Jeff on one bed and Dad and I in the loft. Greg and
Ryan were on the seats of the pickup, although Greg ended up outside,
sleeping on the ground, on this balmy 77 degree 4th of July nite.
It was like old times for me, going from one race to another, driving at
nite, sleeping in the truck and working on the car in the parking lot in
When everyone got up, we headed for a car wash and breakfast and then
came back to change gears and do some other repairs and adjustments. We
hung out during the afternoon waiting for the gates to open. It's the
life of a racer on the road, at least for us for this weekend.
I've run this track some before. My first time with URC, many years ago
wasn't much fun and I always had a bad opinion of the place. When I
drove the 90 car we came to an ESS show and started last, ran good in
the B main and did well in the feature. I had found the cushion then
and actually liked the place. So I was looking forward to running here
again. I had a good feeling.
We drew good and started 4th in the heat and qualified for the feature
draw. I was running the bottom and middle mostly but there was a
cushion, way out there around the edge. This place doesn't have much
banking and in the middle of the bank it kind of flattens off so you
have to watch that you don't get over that break.
It was getting slicker so after discussing what we had for stagger and
RR tires and offsets we made our choices and the crew began the setup
and prep for the feature. I was 4th in the feature draw. There were a
lot of good cars there in the 31 total. Most were behind me but Kyle
Drum started on the front row, right in front of me.
Kyle is young, aggressive and fast. He has good equipment and
experience in the pits to give him a good setup every nite. He had led
at the Wheels until someone spun in front of him and took him out. I
knew he liked to run the top and I thought I would follow him on the
Outside of the second row with a slick middle of the turn meant that the
cushion was my best bet. I didn't know if we had enough steam to stay
ahead of the hot dogs but I felt we were a good top 10 car. When they
dropped the green Kyle went for the cushion and I went out there too and
hooked the car up high with the pedal down. Coming out of two I was
even with second. He beat me into three and a car stuck his nose inside
so I went for the bottom. Out of four, therewas a red flag for a mess in turn
two with 5 cars and a couple that got over.
The restart was the same and I dropped into third. I was getting good
bite on the cushion and Zimbardi was running the bottom. We ran like
that for the whole race. I'd pass him going in and pull ahead in the
corner and he'd come off the bottom and beat me coming out. It was
slick off the top and I searched around for different ways to run a fast
line. In three I could run in on the cushion with out lifting but in
the middle of the turn I'd back pedal a bit as the car would start to
turn in a bit. On some laps I could drive off the top of one or three
and down across the corner and pick up a rough tacky patch coming out.
Other laps I'd run the rim all the way around but I had to be careful
not to slide out into the wall at the turn exit.
There were several cautions that bunched the field and at the end of the race, the
cushion line was going away and getting real slick. I missed my mark on one lap
and two cars dove into the fight with Zimbardi and I and got by. We ran
second, and third most of the race but ended up 5th at the finish. We
were really happy to be competitive and run up front all nite. The best
part was the race long side by side duel with the other cars. The track
raced like Port Royal and it felt good.
Some interesting things happened in the feature. Kyle led the whole
thing and on the last lap slapped the wall and crashed out. I came
across the line in 5th with the checkered and yellow waving and slowed
down in one. Some guys pulled off to the pits and others made another
lap around. I usually make another lap to cool the motor and let the
pit lane clear but I noticed that other cars weren't leaving the track
and then someone else was being pushed off. The flagmen were all waving
yellow but weren't motioning me to the pits. I thought "Is this a 25
lap race instead of 20?" Then I noticed the lap counter at 19 and
realized that we were going to run the last lap over. The guys that
went to the pits and came back out were told to go to the rear and as
you can imagine it was a mess.
They did restart the race and ran the last lap though. I started 4th
and drove deep into one passing third and getting beside second. Coming
out of two, we were even. I drove into three without lifting and picked
up the cushion. I was half a car length back coming out of four and
ended up third.
There was a crowd at the Patriot trailer after the race and eventually
they decided that the race had been properly finished the first time and
paid it that way. I would have liked third place money but I knew that
the only fair finish was the first one.
But the strangest happening for the night was that my mother showed up
in the pits. Now Mom is a race fan but not a fan of me racing. She
mostly just watches races on TV with Dad now but she used to trek all
over chasing races with Dad, before I was born or on the way. When I
got into racing Karts she didn't like it but when I bought the midget
she blew a gasket and never watched me race. For several years she
didn't even want to have me talk about my racing and wouldn't watch
taped TV races that I was in. I don't know why but Saturday morning she
called Teresa (who has also not been going to the races with me this
year) and said "Lets go to Canandaguia and watch Dave race". Just like
that! Out of the blue and a two hour drive. So it was great that she
came and I was really pleased that we could race hard and the car worked
good and we had a good finish. That really made the nite great! And she
enjoyed it too.
At the beginning of this page I told you that you'd get the good the bad and the ugly. This one was ugly.
I had been looking forward to racing at Afton after reading the PR this spring about how they had rebuilt the track and done a lot of improvements. It's a 4/10 mile true oval with medium banking and wide corners and straights. The old covered grandstand at this fairgrounds track, sits back some from the front straight to allow for a cinder horse track that goes around the outside of the oval. Kind of a weird setup.
The track surface was bad. Rumor was that the dirt (it wasn't clay) came from a nearby creek bottom. The stuff would pack but it would grind off into a powder that had rooster tails coming off the tires and dust hanging in the air. I could have lived with the dirt but the ruts and humps made the track tough to race on and they never brought a grader to the track all night (if they owned one).
Once the racing got going it was mostly one groove and no passing.
I arrived early so that we could get a pit spot close to the track entrance (we don't have an ATV to push the car around), instead they stuck us way out in back so that there would be room for the semi rigs in front. I wasn't happy about that but I went along with their plan.
I drew #1 for starting position in the heat, which was a good thing.
Pole, 1st heat. As I picked up the pace in three and headed for the cone in the straight (not supposed to pass until you are past the cone) the guy outside of me jumps and is a car length ahead as we round four and they let it go. The jump was so bad that the 4th place starter went by at the start too so I finish 3rd. It pissed me off that they let this huge jump go unpunished but in the big picture it didn't matter because the first 4 in each heat redraw for starting spots in the feature. I drew 8th.
The car wasn't bad but it wasn't fast and it didn't feel comfortable in the rough stuff and even bottomed out in the straightaway. For the feature we ran the dry setup that we used in the heat, with more wing angle and a little more RR weight. The gear was about right and there really wasn't much more we could think of to get the car through the corners better.
On the start I ran in on the bottom and came off two with good bite. 3 and 4 were smooth on the bottom but the radius was so tight that it was hard to keep up your speed. On the top it was loose and the car didn't seem to work up there but there was good bite coming off the top. I ran the bottom mostly and tried the top some. I could diamond the corner and that would work pretty good but on the bottom, I couldn't get on it early enough and the others could.
Getting into 1 was a bitch. If I ran in on the bottom it was tough to get back on it in the middle, although there was good bite coming out low. In the center of the track it was rough from the flag stand on in so you had to go above that and although others were doing well there, and a few passed me, I couldn't make the top work.
So I ran as hard as I could went backwards some and kept out of trouble. There were a couple of cautions but the ugly part came on the last lap. As the leaders came out of 2, a couple of them got together and spun. The yellow came out as I came out of 4 to take the white flag and I slowed. I was 10th and the lap counter said lap 19 so I expected a restart to run the last lap. As I slowed into one, so as not to run over other slowed cars that were getting around the spun cars, the guy that had been running behind me went past. I followed around expecting several laps to right the spun cars and line us up but as we crossed the line, they threw the checkered and yellow. The guy that passed me under yellow had stayed in front of me and crossed the line ahead of me when they ended the race under the yellow.
They have told us in the drivers meetings to stay where you are when the yellow comes out and they will go back to the last lap and correct the line up. I expected that they would revert back to the last lap of racing for the finish results but they didn't do that either, instead placing the car that passed me under the yellow ahead of me. This really pissed me off. I'm trying to play safe under the caution and rely on their speeches in the drivers meetings that on a caution they will put everyone back where they belong and that jumping won't be allowed. I'm not upset about the difference in the money but I am upset at being placed 11th when I was 10th AND after discussing it with the officials, they confirm in the scoring that I was 10th when the yellow came out and yet decided to do nothing about it.
Fulton 7-26 14th
Fulton was built as a 1/2 mile paved banked track and was converted to
dirt 30 yrs ago. It races like a short half but the banking is very
wide and the cushion can go way up to the wall.
This track is near home and one that I grew up watching races at and I've run there on occasion. I was looking forward to this track all year because I knew it was smooth and would get slick and I felt that I could set up t o go fast there.
There was a threat of rain but only a couple of light sprinkles
occurred. In hot laps the track was wet and fast but I knew that would go away. We changed to the dry setup for the heat.
After I was pushed off for the heat I came around and saw Howard Singer 26 (who was pitted beside me) getting pushed off, when he and the push truck jack-knifed and the truck drove over his RR. They got him straightened out and everything looked OK so he got going and started 4th.
From the draw, I ended up starting 8th in the heat, they would take 6. I got one position at the start. On the second lap I went into one on the cushion pretty hard. The cushion was deep and heavy with clumps of clay and I loaded the RR. A clump pushed the foam plug in and its weight threw the RR out of balance. I felt it in the back stretch as the tire bounded and shook the car really hard. I went through 3 and 4 and it was just as bad in the front straight so I had a few choices. I could go to the pits and not qualify, or stop on the track and ask the push truck driver to clear out the wheel (sometimes they will disqualify you for this for having work done on the car on the track) or try to spin the car and in the process knock the clump out (which I've done
So I spun the car and it stalled at the bottom of turn 4. However, just as I did that, apparently Howard's tire had gone flat as a result of his earlier incident with the push truck and the yellow came out. While they were getting Howard hooked up to tow in, a push truck came up to me and I asked him to check the RR wheel for mud. He said it was clear.
The corner worker came over and said you start ahead of the 21 and they pushed me off.
I figured that the 21 had stopped too and I would start next to last but? The 21 was 4th, right behind the car I was chasing before this yellow. So I slid up to 4th in line and restarted there, apparently with a wink from the officials. I said to myself, this must be the gimme for last nite's screw job at Afton. I wasn't able to hold on to 4th but finished 5th and qualified. If I had restarted last, 10th, I probably wouldn't have been able to get to 6th and I would have had to run the B-main.
Howard ran the B-main and wasn't able to make the show. By then the track had really slicked up and there was very little passing. It wasonly by Howard getting run over by the push truck that I was able to make the feature after loading the RR with mud. Funny how seemingly unrelated things can have an effect.
The crew went over the car and changed tires and gears and shocks and added fuel for the feature. We were starting 13th and I thought that the cushion would be the fast way around if the bottom got really slick and slow.
On the start the pack went into the dusty first turn 3 wide and sideways and somehow we all got through there. I started on the inside and ran there the first lap or so and then ventured to the middle and the cushion. I was no better than the car in front of me and sometimes would make up ground and sometimes fall back some as each of us would find a good line. I couldn't make any headway so I tried the top and could get in fast and run around the top on the throttle but it was a long way around. The middle was ok but I had to wait on the throttle and when I got to the bite off the turns, so did they guy I was chasing. I ran the bottom some but the low groove was slick and icy coming off.
I dropped back a few spots.
Late in the race, a car spun right in front of me in two and I braked to see which way he was going and when I did, a car went by on both sides and split me and the spinning car. The yellow came out and in the drivers meetings they have told us that they will revert to the last lap so I scooted back up where I had been and these two cars did too. This is the same crap that happened the night before! Must be that word had gotten around that the officials let cars get away with passing under
On the restart we were three wide in the back straight but I did come past the cone ahead of them.
On the last lap I was side by side with a car from behind and he went into 3 on the top and I drove in hard and very low. It turned out that there was some moisture waaay low and it was hooked up the car and made it cut in even lower.
Between the turns I stood on it to float the car out around the giant tires on the inside but just clipped the tire as the chassis was lifting with engine torque. It flew the front end into a wheelie and I had to wait for it to come down and then stand on it again. I was 4 ft short at the line and lost the spot. We ended up 14th.
It's always good to roll the car on the trailer but we were disappointed that we weren't faster.
Five Mile Point 8-9 8th
Going to Five Mile is like taking a trip in a time machine back to the 1950's. The place hasn't changed since it was built. The quarter mile track has had good racing since the '50s and the routine has continued week to week. The seats are planks on stair risers on the side of a hill (they mow under the seats). It's a good viewing angle and enough height to easily see everything. There's a little banking in the corners and no walls except in the straights. The pits are rocky with stones the size of shoes, all over. A stream of water from leaking water trucks went through the center of the pits (and our pit) to a point where it made a muddy swamp at the lower end of the pits.
One nice thing was that they let us bring our rigs into the pits and park and then go back out to get our pit passes. It takes trust on their part but it worked out well. They had put the sprints in the infield in the past and although it worked well as a pit, it blocked the back straight view for the fans so they tried to keep everything in the 4 th turn pit area.
The track surface was smooth and had good bite all night, though it has been really slick in the past. It wasn't watered very deep, possibly because of a threat of rain and was dusty all night. They watered it several times during the racing but that went away quickly. Usually there is a cushion but nothing developed this night. The top was loose and dry and you could run the bottom as fast, so it ended up being a one lane on the bottom night unless you were really hooked up. Lots of rocks in the surface.
This was a KARS vs Patriot challenge race. The KARS group in PA has been around for over 20 years as a traveling 360 organization. Duval Dressler (my crewchief of old) has been business manager and race director for years. Half a dozen of their best teams came to the Point for the annual challenge against two dozen Patriots.
The KARS cars were formulated at the beginning of the 360 sprint movement and they have some different specs from what evolved in the rest of the country. They have a 4x4 wing (instead of 5x5) with 6 ft long side panels like the larger wings. The motors are 360 cid, with 10:1 compression and cast chevy heads. Everything else is basic sprint car with the motor and
wing appearing to be a disadvantage against larger wings and unlimited compression with aluminum ASCS heads of the Patriot group. But they make up for it with talent and experience and are equals on the track.
The draw is critical when it's tough to pass and my draw put us on the pole of the first heat. I set up for a dry track. On the start the car had a push going into one and I had to throw it to get it to turn.
That broke the back loose and with cold tires there just wasn't any side bite so the car slid up to the top and I got passed on the bottom, coming out of two. We ran third in the third heat and that put us ninth in the heads up start for the feature.
There are usually a bunch of cautions here because of the slick nature of the track and the commitment that you have to make getting into the corners. If the guy in front of you goes in a bit slower or slips and lifts, you are right into him and you both spin. Then it collects a bunch more behind that can't stop or turn away. You've got to be on your toes but you still might get caught up.
First lap of the feature and several cars stacked up between 3 and 4. It took a lot of slow laps to get them apart. On the restart I was beat coming out of two by the car to my outside. I had to really walk through the first corner on the start to keep from slipping up into the cars on the outside and wait for the front end to bite. Once thingsfell in line the car got faster and faster as the tires started to work.
Each lap I could get in harder and come off harder but so did everyone else. Early on, I picked up a couple of spots coming out of two. Down low, the car would get a terrific bite and lift the front wheels to where I couldn't really steer. I got up inside of the car in front of me in the straight and beat him into three. There were several restarts. I chased George Suprick for the rest of the race and could beat him coming out but he would beat me getting in. He was doing the same with Kyle Drum ahead of him. The front cars were all nose to tail.
It was a fun race but tough to pass. Rick Wilson came around the outside and made his way to the front. He came from the back after he had trouble in his heat. He wasn't a ton faster but he really worked the car to wiggle his way past. I tried to follow but couldn't. He was one of the few that could pass on the outside or inside. We ended up 8 th. That was a good run. If we'd started closer to the front or rear we'd finished there probably. I don't know what it would take to get faster but it will probably take a stronger motor, lighter car and fresh rubber. However, the plan was to be competitive without spending a fortune. You have to accept your limitations on a budget.
Can Am 8-16 4th
Canandaigua 8-23 8th
Last time we were here the car worked good and we had a good finish. We were planning to set the car up the same as before with a few improvements to cover some shortcomings from last time.
The script for the whole night pivots on one selection? the number I pick at the draw for starting position. It was 29 out of 40 or so.
That put me 9 th in the third heat, 6 to qualify.
At this place, once the first lap is completed the field is so strung
out that it is hard to catch and pass anyone. The track had only alittle stick in hot laps so we figured that by the third heat it would be dried out. I watched the modified heats to see if anyone was making any headway and where they were running. Some of the hot dogs were passing but tonight there was no cushion so it was as quick around the bottom as the top.
By the time I got on the track, you could get in on the bottom but the exit of the turns was like ice. There was no forward bite and the car was loose at the beginning of the straight. We had setup the car for dry, but not slick, so we were lacking bite coming out. I got to 6th but got passed on the last lap as the track got slicker and I ended up 7th. I knew going into the heat that it was critical to qualify in the heat because the track was only going to get worse later and the B-Main would be an even bigger challenge.
Although we're supposed to be doing this for fun, it is not fun to not qualify and I put a lot of pressure on myself to get into the show.
This is not voluntary pressure either so it makes it that much more difficult.
The B-Main was 12 laps, 12 cars, 6 to qualify and we start 3 rd. The car wasn't hooked up in the heat and I didn't really have a lot more to throw at it. We changed tire compounds and didn't really have the stagger I wanted. We were either an inch + more or an inch + less than what I thought would work and decided to go with the more stagger setup and hope to compensate with wing position. Sitting at the line I was running the start through my mind: I'll be on the bottom getting into one, cold tires and I don't know if the changes were right or enough.
I can really feel my own pressure, heart rate up and deep breaths
filling my chest against the belts. Waiting is the worst.
On the start, coming out of four there was not much to get a hold of and I went into one in third. During the race the car was not fast. Tireswere spinning and not much side bite. I got passed by two cars and ended up 5 th but that was good enough to make the feature.
Starting in the last row in the feature on a slick track is a good
opportunity for disaster. If anything happens, it will be in front of
you. We had made all the changes we could including mounting our best RR tire on a different wheel to get the width and offset we wanted. We put on the least amount of stagger we had and cranked in some changes to the chassis that I had wanted to try for a while. Nothing to lose on setup. Nights like this are a matter of survival.
Inside of the last row, going into three the leaders take off out of
four. As I get to four it is nothing but dust. I drive out of the
corner and see glints of wings pointed in wrong ways. It looks clear out by the wall and as I get to the hole, a car is sideways in the middle of the track sliding toward the pile of cars I that become visible to the left. The sliding car crowds toward the wall and I slip past and hear the loud bang of metal hitting metal as I go by.
They red flag the race and I sit in the fourth turn and watch as they tow in the car that started in front of me and the car that started beside me. A half dozen cars are moved to the pits and a few others are moved to the rear. I restart 13th.
I'm able to pick up a couple of spots on the start and try different
grooves on the track to find one that works. After about 5 laps the car starts to hook up better. Either the tire is getting some heat or the track is getting tighter. I found that the car worked pretty good at the top and so I ran the rim. Somewhere past halfway a couple of cars from the first lap wreck came by and then the leaders came by. A lap or two latter the yellow came out with 3 laps to go. As we circled under yellow, the two cars that passed me and then had been lapped decided to unlap themselves. They took off and went around to the back of the
Now this has worked for me at times and not at times. If the scoring goes back to the last lap and you were not lapped then, then going to the back of the line is a big advantage. Everyone is bunched up and you get a chance to race with the guys on the lead lap that were ahead of you. Otherwise if you stay in line at the front, mixed in with the leaders, you are a lap down and have no chance to improve your position. On the other hand, if you were lapped on the last completed lap and you zoom around to the back, the next lap on the score sheet shows you at the tail end of the lapped cars, as if they all passed you
on the next raced lap (18) and you get screwed big time. If you un a track every week and you have a sharp scorer that watches for these things, you will get put back on the lead lap or back in your correct spot during the caution.
But as I suspected they didn't notice and the two guys that scooted ahead were scored at the back (now behind me).
I thought about going with them and then I though about all of the above and decided to stay fourth in line, the first car a lap down. I didn't know if it would work out or not. I'd hoped that if I did belong at the back of the pack, unlapped that they would motion me there but then too, I had my doubts.
The race restarted and I ran with the leaders to the end and finished 8th.
Black Rock 9-5 DNQ
Black Rock is one of the nicer facilities that we go to. The place is clean, well maintained and up to date with some improvements every year. The large pit area is down hill from where the cars are staged to enter the track but they put us near the entrance. We are grateful to Dave the pusher who has gotten us to the track at many races this season, with his four
Sometimes things just go bad from the start and this was one of those races.
The draw is probably as critical as any part of the race night. Even the top runners can have trouble qualifying if they start at the back.
For the rest of us, a bad draw leaves you swimming up stream all night.
I drew 100.
Last to time trial at a race with 60 cars means that there won't be much track left when I go out. If we are real good we might end up mid pack.
Warmups were broke into 4 groups of 15 cars and my group was last to go out. For some reason the tires couldn't get enough grip when the push truck took off and we went half way around the track and couldn't get a bite to turn over the engine. Finally the car turned sideways in front of the push truck and
fortunately he stopped quick and didn't run over me. I don't know why the thing wouldn't catch but maybe the tires were loaded with loose mud or maybe the engine started out right against compression. I had already warmed up the motor in the pits before. I had the track crew back off the car and then it started ok.
The track was sort of rough in the middle and the top was smooth. They dropped the green and the car didn't hook up well at all. I should have been able to run this track flat out but it was loose going in and had no side bite.
We discussed what to do for qualifying and decided that the track would be dry and probably get a little cushion around the top. I watched some of the early qualifiers and they were able to run flat out around the top. Some tried the middle but the holes would upset the car and they had to lift.
They had me wait in the pit while they sent the other cars to the line so I didn't get much chance to see the track until I was pushed off to qualify. I took off through three and four and took the green. I drove into one but had to lift as the car slid up the track. I thought that if I picked up the cushion going into three that I could keep my speed up through the turn. I decided to go for it and set the car in against the dark rim of dirt right at the top of the banking. When I set the car in, I could feel it slide so I lifted a bit and as the car continued around the turn it kept sliding up on the loose dirt of the cushion to the top of the banking. I kept back pedaling but tried to keep my speed but the RR finally stepped over the top of the bank and the car spun around backwards. This track doesn't have walls in the turns but it
does have a steep slope on the outside of three and four. I've seencars get upside down there when this happens but the car just spun and I steered it backwards down the hill, on the brakes and stopped it before I hit anything. Thanks for no walls.
A four wheeler picked me up and brought me back out to the back stretch.
They pushed me off for my second lap and I tried to run the middle but the car was way off and there was no way I was going to get the car around quickly.
Needless to say my time sucked and I started last a consi that would take three of the 6 of us to the back of the heats. We made some changes but the car was no better.
We have run pretty good all season but this night we were out to lunch, big time. I don't know what was wrong. The combination I had on the car was just wrong for this track. Whether I went out last to qualify or not, we should have been able to get around as good as most of the rest but this time I missed the setup by a mile. We loaded up and watched the rest of the show.
BTW this was a $43,000 purse with a $50 entry fee and $30 pit passes and they paid us nothing! No tow money, nothing for the few cars that had trouble and didn't make the features.
Getting started 2003
It's been a couple of years since I drove the 90 car for Rick Dumigan but the passion to race is still there.
In October I bought a complete car and parts and have been getting ready for the 2003 season. A new race shop is being built next to the house this month and in February I'll move everything in.
The car is a J&J chassis with a 360 engine, with the ASCS injector gaskets, and will be a white with red #80 carrying The National Parts Peddler name as my cars have in the past. There is always room to advertise your business at an agreeable price or trade.
I don't have a picture to put here yet but suffice it to say that it looks like every other winged sprint car but will have different paint.
Where to Race.
When I purchased the car, there was a lot speculation on where I was going to race. I knew for sure that I could run with ESS, Empire Super Sprints, but I also knew that I wasn't going to make the friday shows and many of the sunday shows because of work and the travel distance. That's a problem with ESS because if you miss a show you are handicapped to the back for the next three races. Starting in the back of the heat and even winning it would put me 18th in the feature lineup. More likely it would be a lot B-main races. It looked like the only race I had a chance to start up front would be the first one. But ESS is there and I have signed up and will certainly run some of their shows.
There were two other options that I was watching.
One was NSA, the old ELS. NSA (Northeast Sprintcar Assoc) was created last year when two racers decided to take the reigns of ELS. ELS (Eastern Limited Sprints) had been around for a number of years and had a decent 20 race schedule, sufficient cars and good racing. They ran around Central NY but at the end of 2000, the leader of the group got fed up with being the brunt of all complaints and quit after the last race. No one had realized how important his leadership was until it was gone. Rick Dumigan ended up with the club dropped in his lap when he offered to help find someone to run it, but couldn't find anyone. Rick ran the club for the next year and then NSA took it over last year. NSA had 4 or 5 races and cancelled as many more. The 2003 schedule was promised but was slow to develop and as of now, NSA has ceased operations.
The other option was Freedom Speedway. This track was the only place in NYS that ran sprints on a weekly basis. They ran friday nites. There was a possiblitiy that I could get out of work and make it to the track about when warmups would start. Last fall the track was sold and they announced that they will not race sprints there. Just as well, it is a small flat track with no cushion and no passing, just route and gouge around the bottom.
With all of this uncertainty, I still bought a sprint car. I'd looked at other stuff. Brewerton Speedway is 1 mile away and runs DIRT modifieds, IMCA, Dwarf cars and a 4 cyl class, but owning one of them doesn't really excite me. There are 6 of the top DIRT Modified teams racing there and those cars have so much tin, it's got to be a pain to work on them. I've always loved sprints and despite the added difficulty of travel, getting crew to travel and what not, thats where my heart is.
So out of the ashes of this disaster of racing organizations rises the Patriot Sprint Group. The sprints promotor from Freedom Speedway, Bill Rogers, has put together a new group aimed at guys like me and the rest of the ESS excess cars. He already has 15 races with more to come, a staff and an organization of people to run the show and a following of cars ready to race. The program is a draw for start in the heat and top 12 from the heats draw for starting spots in the feature. This is the ELS format and it works for me. The schedule has a few long tows but most of the races are only a couple of hours tow or less.
Between the Patriot Group and ESS there will be plenty of races for me for 2003.
Dinner for Crew - Dinner for two? ...it may be the same thing :-)
A number of people will be sharing the pit crew chores, as their time permits:
Greg Moteyunas Kart racer and experienced Modified crewman.
Whip McNish Worked with me on midgets and sprints in the past.
Alan Tatish Has owned, designed, built and driven Modifieds.
Armond Wickham Dad runs errands for parts and helps at the shop and track.
Teresa Strawser Keeps things clean.
You... Can show up at the shop or track and help out.
Funding and Sponsors
This operation is wealthy with experience and know how but not a lot of money. However, I will prove that you don't need to spend a fortune to run a competitive sprint car.
I will carry The National Parts Peddler name on the car this season. I don't know if they will be sponsoring me or if I will be sponsoring them but we've had a long relationship and I'll continue to promote the cause.
Advertising space on the car is available at a very low cost. The car will be identified by the sponsor names on the car and with the announcer and in race programs, newspapers, pictures, web and other media.
Sponsor associates can provide any one or many, of these materials in trade for their name on the car:
-Oil and filters,
-travel gas and tolls,
- crew passes,
-parts and pieces.
Or fund the team with a fixed fee:
$250, $400, $1000, $2500.
Visitors always welcome.
Email me to say hi or stop by at the track or shop... plenty of gearlube to go around.
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