Just a quick 'thank you' to all the visitors of my site. It has been up now for a little over a year (53 weeks) and we hit 10,098 visitors last week! I appreciate everyone visiting the site and sorry for not having any incar footage yet this year, but the camera should be back next week! I am working on a nice gallery page and interview page. Right now, they can be accessed on the right hand side of this homepage. THANKS Again! -Brian
|First 1520 AM Vegas Radio Interview!|
Getting Back on Track
In the first feature, Tony and I started side by side and teamed up the whole race, it was great. I was GLUED to his back bumper. I started to take it three wide with 2 to go coming out of two, but I whoa'd it up and thought better of it. Fun race, I had a blast, but the car was getting tighter as the race...
Hagerstown Debut No Better for the #7 Shamrock Inn/ 1520 AM Vegas Radio Ford Thunderbird
It was just pretty miserable Friday night for me. I started 6th in the first heat and even before we went green, whoever was in about 9th, hit whoever was in 7th coming to the green flag. I had to check up as...
Disappointing debut for the #7 Shamrock
Inn/ 1520 AM Vegas Radio Ford Thunderbird
Electrical problems bit us tonight. In our rush to get the car ready, I didn't do a good job of routing ...
Why is this Kulwicki car called the
Alan Kulwicki drove the Hooters sponsored #008 car in the Atlanta "HOOTERS 500" 1992 season finale. This was the closest points battle in the history of NASCAR. Drivers Davey Allison, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki were separated by ...
Walrus Signs finishes "Dirt Underbird"
|A & C Ford Power Plant Ready to Scream
Alan and Craig of A & C Machine completed the motor ahead of schedule and on Sunday, an unidentified ...
|Dirt UNDERBIRD Painted by Ricky Edmunds
Like to say a big thanks to Ricky Edmunds who not only did an excellent ...
|Taylor Intimidates All at Valley Mall
Click on Bobby's car to see full image!
|Gearing up for 2007
The start of the 2007 is quickly approaching. Our first race will be at the Hagerstown Speedway...
Heat video is here (includes wreck):
Well this was my worst performance in a long time. Part of me is embarrassed and sorry I wasted the time of Don Sharkey and my Dad, but I at least know the on track performance wasn't because I wasn't up on the wheel. I through caution to the wind and tightened the belts down, but one small mistake and the weekend was wasted.
Don and I left work around noon on Friday. Paul Dornburg and I changed the center section earlier in the week and removed the extra weight from the car. So on Friday, Don and I took the car to the Late Model Sportsman drivers shop of BR Nalliey. The three of us along with my Dad scaled the car and guesstimated what we thought would work for qualifying Friday night. Don and I also installed a new radiator, installed the drum brakes, and loaded up Friday afternoon, so a ton of effort was made in a few short hours.
Nearly 70 cars had signed in for the VA Nationals. The purse was $2,000 to win. Only 24 cars would qualify for the race. I pulled spot number 64 to qualify and thought that was bad news because the track would go away by then. This was mistake number one of the night. During the week, it had not rained, it had been really sunny, and a dry cold front moved in on Thursday that brought heavy wind. From all of that and looking at the track, I thought surely the track would be dry slick.
Warm-ups saw the usually extremely tight racecar with the wet track. I thought the track would dry out really quickly during the 63 other qualifying runs and the our car would loosen up. Two weeks ago when it was tight in practice, I moved 30 lbs of lead from the RR to the LF. This week, not trying to go too far, I just removed 60 lbs of lead from the RR, but didn't move any to the LF. My theory of the track loosening up didn't happen and I didn't loosen the car up enough to compensate. My qualifying lap started good I thought- I dropped in nicely from Turn 4 in second gear and nailed the shift and felt my speed at the start finish line was quick. I entered turn one and the car turned nicely. I went a little slow into one, but was happy with it. Around mid corner, I was expecting the car to get a little loose and it didn't, it got a little tight. Coming off, I knew it was tight and it didn't turn, but still was in good shape. I enter three nicely, but the car didn't rotate (turn) and I got on the gas too early. The nose was pointing straight for the wall and I had to lift. It killed the lap and we ended up 10th in the second heat. Each heat was taking only 3 to qualify for the feature.
For the feature, we moved 30 lbs to the LF. It was exactly what the car wanted. During the first lap of the heat, I was able to pass two cars and the yellow came out. The car felt good. Then going back to green, I was passing the 7th place car on the outside going into three and the car seemed to buck a little to the right, I got in the loose stuff and the rear started to come around. I thought I had the car saved, but the momentum carried even higher and the the rear backed into the wall and that threw the front into the wall and broke the power steering rack. The front and rear bumpers were also destroyed as well.
28 going into the wall
28 in wall
So with the heavy damage, I thought surely there was no chance in racing Saturday night. Saturday morning I uploaded the in car video and posted on the local forum around noon that the 28 wouldn't be there Saturday night. Around 1pm, for whatever reason, I looked out at the car and said to myself, "You know, the car isn't too bad. If the frame isn't bent, I might be able to race."
So I called Steve of XLR8 Autosports and asked if he had a spare Ford power steering rack and he said he did, but it was in a wrecked Mustang. He said I could have it if I yanked it. So I threw on my dirty driver's suit and was at Steve's at 1:30. He had 3 or 4 convicts there it seemed and they all laughed (including Steve) when they saw the car and said "you ain't racing tonight." Well, I ripped the p/s rack of the Mustang in about an hour and was back to Brunswick by 3:30. Driving out, I got the idea to switch the broken rack with the new one at the track where I could grab some guys to help. I left Brunswick at 4 with a wrecked car- both bumpers and a p/s rack destroyed, but I was getting determined to at least get the car on the track- that would have been a victory in itself.
In traveling to Winchester, I got my sponsor's owner on the phone, the infamous Bobby Taylor, and told him I am bringing the car but I need your crew to work on the Ford. Just like a scene out of Days of Thunder, my arch rival driver's crew worked their tails off to get the Thunderbird fixed. Bobby's crew of Mark and Ferenth and myself changed a Ford power steering rack in record time.
(note: I called Don on my way to Steve's and told him I was gonna take a shot at fixing the car, but it was VERY VERY doubtful and no need to waste your time coming- but he was all for it and even told me Friday night that just find a rack and you can race. But after wrecking your car, you aren't in the clearest state of mind!)
The p/s rack of the Ford is a pain because the oil pan straddles it. The oil pan has a front and rear sump and the rack is in the middle. This means the engine must be lifted to remove the rack. Well, the three of us started at 5:15 on the car. Mark and I removed the rack as Ferenth was fixing the front and rear bumpers. Ferenth was the first to finish and then helped Mark and I. We had the car on the trailer and that made it easier to work on the car. We took off the outer tie rod joint on each steering knuckle and unthreaded them from the inner tie rod. We took the motor bolts off and used a jack on the oil pan to raise the motor. We undid the two bolts holding the rack to the chassis and undid the p/s lines and the busted rack was out. We repeated those steps for the new rack and by 6 PM, the car had fixed bumpers and a new power steering rack installed.
It was an amazing feat and again, I can't say thank you enough to Bobby's crew. We may not have won Saturday night, but this was one of my most memorable nights in racing and I am so proud that we had the 28 back on the track.
So practice was around 6:30 and even without aligning the front end (I just measured the inner tie rod ends of the busted rack for alignment), we were on the track. The car felt okay, no vibrations, but it would track dead straight if I let go of the wheel. It shouldn't do that, see my recap on when the steering wheel came off for those reasons! So the car should basically turn itself to the left and it wasn't. I knew something was wrong, so I took it very slow in practice.
Came back in and checked it over. Everything seemed okay. I was in the second B main Saturday night. Starting 16th, I needed to get to 3rd in 15 laps to make the feature. We went green for 4 laps and the yellow came out. When we went back to green, something broke on the next lap and I spun in turn 2. I thought it was a tire or something. I had the officials check them and they were good. When I took my hands off the wheel now, it would take a 90 degree hard left, much more than it should if everything was okay. So it went from tracking dead straight, to turning dead left. I seemed to loose front brakes and I could barely turn to the right! So I went to the rear of the field, 24th or so and just rode around. Something definitely changed, but it seemed to still run, so I kept racing. I managed to miss 2 or 3 good wrecks and brought her home in 11th and for everything that happened, I was happy with that. Just to overcome everything that had happened and decide at 1 pm on Saturday to repair the car and to make the races, was a victory in itself.
I did get some needed seat time at Winchester and I really enjoy running there. It takes a lot of talent to get around that place and I think I learned a lot. We also learned more about the chassis and weight placement, so the weekend wasn't a total waste and we showed that the 28 team has a ton of heart.
Again, I just want to thank Don, my Dad, BR, Steve, Bobby, Ferenth, Mark, and Ed who all did a ton of work this weekend to let me race... one day, we are gonna have a great race and you guys will get all of the credit.
As of right now, next week is still up in the air. I was supposed to be going to Susky, but that is not looking good right now. I have a cousin who lives in Waldorf and there is a race there this weekend. The track is similar to Winchester and with Donnie Smith going, I may run there if I race. I had fun and leaned a lot at Winchester and it would be great to run at a similar track like Potomac. It is a 25 lap feature and the seat time would be great.
So again, sorry I stunk it up, but the effort and dedication by everyone really meant a lot to me and I can't say thanks enough.
Winchester VA Nationals
Bad night, got too high in 3 hit wall.
Heat video is here:
Shamrock Team & Co. has Rain, But No Rainbows or Pots of Gold
(Photos Courtesy of Travis Trussell)
Besides asking me over and over if
"Anyone get hurt in that wreck" Bobby Taylor's second most asked question
the last two weeks has been "You got that website updated yet?"
Well Shammy Rock, the answer to both questions is yes- the website is updated and lots of Chevy's feelings have been hurt by my wreck, also known as the Flying Ford.
Besides Bobby and I, the 6C Ford Granada of Tony Catlett and the 1$ of Donnie Smith made the trip to Winchester. Qualifying was Friday and the race was Saturday. With 31 pure stocks entered for the Winchester 200, it meant 7 cars would go home with hurt feelings and the 28 was almost one of them. A total of 3 heats were run, with Bobby, Donnie, and Tony being in heat 2 and I was in heat 3. The three Hagerstown cars held their own against the highly talented Winchester drivers. At one point, those three Htown cars were all running in the top 5 with Donnie Smith leading the way. Late in the heat, Taylor made a bold 3 wide pass between Donnie and another #3 car on his way to his first heat win at Winchester Speedway. Donnie made an aggressive move to capture the transfer spot on the last lap.
The Fords of Catlett and Swiger both finished one spot out of qualifying, running in 7th in their heats. Catlett was set to start 2nd in the Consi and Swiger was 3rd. Tony, who is a meteorologist during the week, knew the rains would come Saturday and didn't make the trip back to Winchester. Swiger, armed with the return of crew chief Don Sharkey ran second for most of the consi until contact with another car sent him back to 4th, but hung on to make the field for the 25 lapper.
With 4 Hagerstown cars in the field including the #11 of Mark Jones, the feature was shaping up with many story lines. Could the 1$ of Donnie Smith who led the most laps in heats pull off a major upset and get his first pure stock win? Would Bobby Taylor, who only had a 5.86 high gear be able to overcome his car's handicap and run upfront after winning his heat race? Or was Swiger going to charge from 22nd spot and silence his fiercest rival and buddy Bobby Taylor? How would the Hagerstown cars vs Winchester cars unfold? But there was to be no answers this night as after the rains came in, Mother Nature forced a vote on Winchester Speedway- and by close margin, the drivers elected to split the purse evenly, as opposed to trying to race thru the rain or postpone it to the VA Nationals.
In the previous week's action, Bobby Taylor and his ride Buford ran a strong second to race winner Mark Jones at the "Capital of Dirt Track Racing" Hagerstown Speedway. The #28 was piloted by veteran driver Steve Kent and the night ended for the Ford with a bent wheel and flat tire on lap 9. Kent was making his last start ever in the Thunderbird at Hagerstown. Taylor started 2nd and led a few laps after Dean Holmes driving a beautiful light blue #43 car had problems in turn 3 on lap 2. Mark Jones got past Taylor and pulled away for the victory. Kent, after ruffling some feathers in the heat race, drove more conservatively in the feature. The 28 rolled off 12th and made it to 4th before two cars got together and bent the left rear wheel of the Tbird. Two laps later, the tire lost air and Kent went for a spin in turn 3. Kent's final Hagerstown Pure Stock race in the 28 car ended in 16th place. Taylor's heroics in the Hagerstown heat race can be seen from the incar camera. The incar was running in the feature, but it wasn't recording.
Next up for the #28 Ford Thunderbird Shamrock Inn car will be Winchester Speedway again at the Virginia Nationals on October 13th and 14th. Our luck didn't get any better this week and the Shamrock Team took both the Chevy and Ford to Cumberland for testing, only to be rained out there. Hopefully we can find a four leaf clover at the Shamrock Inn this week and we will be lucky enough to have great weather next weekend for the VA Nationals and maybe one of the Shamrock cars can find the $2,000 pot of gold in victory lane.
|Shamrock Inn Ford Thunderbird looks to finish 2006 strong competing at high stake races that could net $10,000 through the final races of the year. The exciting schedule has been released!|
Shamrock Inn places two cars in top 10
It was fitting that the Shamrock Inn placed two cars in the
top ten in the competitive Pure Stock division on a night that the
Hagerstown racing was sponsored by the Shamrock Inn. Drivers Bobby Taylor
and Brian Swiger finished fourth and eight respectfully. The Chevy of
Taylor powered past Swiger's Ford with 4 to go on en route to his third
top five in his past four races. "Did you feel that Chevy push'n you down
those straight-aways? I was all over your ass in the turns" a jubilant
Taylor ranted at the Shamrock after the race. "Bobby had four fresh tires.
I was out of control going in the turns and out of control coming out of
the turns. Bobby was smooth in and out. I think these tires are used up on
the Ford. Some of the tires on the car are from April" Swiger explained to
Steve Kent belly'd up at the bar.
Warriors Taylor and Swiger and their impressive Shamrock cars were set to do battle twice Saturday night, as they found themselves in the same heat race. Swiger, 16th in points rolled off fourth in the heat and Taylor, 7th in points started eight. Swiger took his Ford to the front by lap one and held that spot when caution came out on lap 3. Swiger's many fans in the stands stood and applauded the 28 car during the caution laps. Swiger waved and was excited about winning his first heat race. Swiger was able to keep the lead until the white flag lap and then his hopes were dashed by the #50 of Hans Stamberg as he powered by on the outside. Swiger held on to second as Taylor's Chevy was able to charge to fourth. Taylor was full of confidence between race sessions "I was come'n for that Ford, I was come'n"
The feature had a Shamrock car upfront in Swiger, who qualified third and Taylor back in the field. The race went green for the first 8 laps as Swiger ran strong. The Shamrock Ford battled with eventual race winner Mark Jones and Steve Long for second and third until the first caution. Taylor used the caution free 8 laps to start his charge to the front. After the yellow on lap 8, Swiger maintained third until lap ten when the flood gates opened up. "I made one slip in turn two, a bad push coming out, and as one car got by, he pulled 4 others and I got freight trained... unfortunately, Bobby Taylor used that car to slide by me, I don't think that Chevy had the power to do it by itself- it needed that Chevy draft- they hung the Ford out." So that train of cars slid Long and Swiger back to 7th and 8th, and Taylor moved into the top 5. Taylor continued his charge, but could only get to fourth. "Hans and Darin were so loose, I was scared to pass' em. I didn't want to stick the nose in there while they were sideways. I played it safe and ran them clean and got fourth."
Both Shamrock cars will be in action this Friday, September 22 in the Hub City 150. Driver Steve Kent will pilot the Shamrock Ford to see how he can do. "Bri-no, you are pulling the pill (Swiger seems to have good luck at pill pulling). If we are upfront, they will have to knock me out of the way to get around me... Brian, there might be some dents on the Tbird Friday night." Taylor looks forward to the rematch with Kent. In Taylor's only outside the top 5 finish in the last four races, he finished 11th to Kent's 7th two weeks ago. "That track won't be as slippery as it was last time I battled him, we really couldn't race."
Unfortunately, there is no Shamrock Inn-Car camera against his week. Driver Brian Swiger was crew-less and with an oil change, spark plug change, air cleaner clean up, carb fuel leak, etc, etc at the track, it took everything he had to just get the car ready to make it on the track. Swiger would like to say a big thank you to the crews of the 1$ of Donnie Smith and 6C of Tony Catlett for lending a hand on the 28 car. Steve Kent was dressed too pretty to work on the car and Mike Croche seemed to be chasing tail all night, so prepping the car takes higher priority over installing the Shamrock Inn-Car camera. The camera should return next week as the driver duties will be filled by Kent and Swiger should have time to do the multimedia work on the car.
Finally, I would like to say congratulations to BR Nailey and his team. After tough luck all year, BR ran the #N3 LMS Chevy to it's first heat win and won the pole for the feature. BR ran strong all race, leading 19 of the 20 laps. A tough break with a lapped car on the final lap let the #85 of Walls sneak by, or Nailey would have had his first career LMS win. BR was impressive all night, leading the race by 10 car lengths at times. BR and his dad Sam Nailey have helped me a ton over the past two years and I was so happy to see them upfront and wish them continued success. Hopefully BR and I can bring a couple wins home to Knoxville real soon.
Kent Out Finishes Swiger...
(photos courtesy of JW at http://wrtphotos.com)
(No Shamrock Inn-Car camera this week)
Steve wins this time...
The #28 Shamrock Inn Ford Thunderbird powered by a powerful A & C Machine Ford motor, ran strong all night with both drivers. Steve Kent piloted the Tbird to a hard earned 7th place finish. Steve rolled off 10th in the field. Steve's run was complicated by a very tight racecar and sloppy track conditions. Steve did not have tear offs for his helmet (different brand helmet than mine) and his shield was caked with mud. Notice in some of the photos from Saturday night the noses of cars in the first feature, that is how bad Steve's shield was and he didn't have the ability to clear the shield. You also can't wipe the shield because the smear makes it even worse. So Steve ran pretty good, he finally got to drive a tight racecar and we were able to learn and adjust the chassis for the second race.
For my return to driving the Shamrock Inn Thunderbird, it did take some laps to get back up to speed, and then to get comfortable with Steve's new setup. After a month layoff, I took the car out in practice and it was a waste because the track was just way too wet and we basically ran the track in like the mudders (and I think Steve did too in his feature). With 40 cars signed up for this feature, the cars were divided into 4 heats with 10 cars in each with 5 to qualify. I started 3rd in the heat, dropped back a bit, then got back to third. 'Hollywood' Danny Beavers was running second and had some problems coming out of turn 4 coming to the checkers and with my Shamrock luck, I snucked into a second place finish. I never really ran the car hard in the heat, just drove defensive to maintain my spot, and really didn't know how the car was handling.
For my feature, I qualified 5th from the second place finish in the heat... and I dropped like a rock! Went from 5th to 16th in about 2 laps. I was bad. I just was shaking the rust off and with all those fast cars, they put a hurtin on the Ford. Also, Steve had made some pretty major changes to the car- he added nearly 4% of rear weight, added right side weight, changed stagger, stiffened the right front spring and so on. So it took me a few laps to get my bearings. Then I started making a decent charge to the front. I managed to get back up to the top 10 and I think I had a few more spots before the checkers. But some good hard racing for 10th with the W & W/ Fridinger-Ritchie Plumbing & Heating #34 Chevy of Bill Reitober found the Ford dead last. After the front to back to front to the back night, I lost my cool.
First, I would like to apologize to the 34 driver Bill Reitober, his team and family. Racing is a pretty emotional roller coaster and I learned a lot what not to do in the heat of the moment. It is best just to cool off, calm down and then work things out. So I want to apologize for pulling along side the 34 under caution and instigating some words in the pits. Bill and I ended up working things out like gentlemen and look forward to racing him clean in the future. And Bill, as you requested, this is for you...
The Ford didn't beat any Chevys tonight, and I put it in my website.
The reason for my disqualification was because again, I lost my cool and didn't even cross the scales. Cost myself my purse money and double points and a top 15th place finish in the point standings. So I am chalking this night up to a tough learning experience and this week's race can't get here soon enough.
I would like to thank Donnie Smith and his father Dale Smith for applying the new Shamrock Inn decals. XLR8 Auto Sports owner Steve Kent and Mike Croche applied the leprechaun on the hood and the Thunderbird looks sharp. Also, Bobby Taylor, owner of the Shamrock Inn let me keep the Thunderbucket at his shop this week and we have plans to get both Shamrock cars ready to race Friday night at his place. Also, thanks to Bobby and Maureen for taking care of me Sunday after a cruel night with Jamie and something called "Yager."
So Steve, give me a rain check to next week. I think I figured out the setup you put on the car and if the track and car are like that next week, I'll see if I can match your finish. I would like to one up you this Saturday, then you do the same to me the following week at the Hub City 150, in which Steve will legally be racing the #28 Shamrock Inn Pure Stock.
Kent pilots the #28 Shamrock Inn Ford Thunderbird to an impressive 5th place finish at our inaugural visit to Potomac Speedway in Budd's Creek, MD.
We had a pretty cool night at Potomac on Sunday, September 2. Steve was in the car and got the complete Thunderbird experience. It was great and he finally got to see first hand...<more>
Potomac Speedway, September 3
Kent pilots the #28 Shamrock Inn Ford Thunderbird to an impressive 5th place finish at our inaugural visit to Potomac Speedway in Budd's Creek, MD.
We had a pretty cool night at Potomac on Sunday, September 2. Steve was in the car and got the complete Thunderbird experience. It was great and he finally got to see first hand what I have been talking about for the past year or so that I have been racing it. So Sunday had its ups and downs last night, but overall, it was a good night.
Steve was racing the car instead of me because it was a non-points race at another track and he has done a lot of favors for me and this is a way I can pay him back. He has had some tough luck this year in his Late Model and Steve will probably get to run my Thunderbird two more times this year. Steve built this car and it is great to see him get some races in it. He is scheduled to drive it at Potomac again in early November and on Friday, September 22 at Hagerstown Speedway during the "Open" Hub City 150. Steve apparently puts fear in some people at Hagerstown and we are looking forward to him returning for a complete night of Pure Stock racing without any issues this time. We have a open slot on our team for a crew member for that race. If you want to be a part of a team that runs up front, you are more than welcome to come help Wrench Turner. On a side note, a bit of history was made as Steve raced at Potomac Sunday night. He is one of only a handful of talented racers who have competed at the Dirt track, MIR (1/4 Drag strip) and the Motorcross track. Steve has raced Mustangs and ATVs at Budd's Creek and now completed it with racing the Street Stock.
Potomac is a pretty wild track. I'd say it is banked darn near 20 degrees... you basically drive it in, nail the gas to get it to turn and away you go. This track was a mix between Martinsville and Bristol with it's high banked, very tight turns.
Practice was uneventful, except that Steve felt we had the motor fixed. We changed spark plugs (one was cracked) and cleaned the air cleaner. The motor also ran at a good temp all night and Steve thinks the gauge may be bad.
So we drew pills, but it didn't help. 22 cars and we were six out of 7th in heat three. Steve got to third by lap two and pulled a "me"... the car spun in turns 1 and 2. He experienced what I have said with that short wheel base on the Tbird, if you hang that Ford out a hair too much, you are along for the ride. It happens real quick and it is a fine line. Steve said afterwards that he felt when the rear stepped out, he got the right rear tire in the loose stuff and around she went. The short wheel base is great entering the turns, but it can be mean exiting. We only had one wheel spacer in the RR to free it up so the rear end was narrow and like I told him before, with a tighter rear end, she will spin without notice and she did. It has been my experience that the wider you make the rear end, the more happy she is to "dirt track" around the turns.
Then to continue down a similar path that I usually face, they went green while he was still catching up to the field and he was a half of lap back. It was nice to see this happen to someone else other than me! From the spin and then the unfair restart, I had a grin ear to ear (sorry Steve, but I did)! I have caught so much crap and it was so nice to see this happen to someone else!
Then it started to get a little impressive. Even though he started half a lap down, he caught the field in 2 laps and even passed a car. From our buddy Country Prince dropping out (Country, we have your blue tarp) and Steve's pass, he finished 5th and that put him 15th in the field for the feature.
The feature was a mess in this bull ring. Couldn't get 2 laps in without a yellow. Steve passed about 5 cars and about 5 cars dropped out and he wheeled it home in 5th. He seemed to pass each car a few times each, but due to the cautions coming out, the passed car would get their position back. I think Steve had at least a 3rd place finish as he passed the 4th place car a couple of times, only to be sent behind him because of a yellow. It also appears in the video Steve was faster than the 3rd place car, but the yellows never let that play out and we hit the time limit and they ended the race 2 laps early.
But it was a lot of fun, Steve says the Shamrock Inn Ford is running great and I look forward to wheeling it next week. The Shamrock Inn-Car camera video turned out great and you can ride with Steve as he works his way from 15th to 5th in the feature.
I would like to say a couple of thank you's real quick.
I had about a dozen people introduce themselves to me Sunday night and that was great, I appreciated meeting everyone. This website and that darn Dirt Lover's forum has really got the Thunderbird out there. We are really proud of this car, Steve, Jim Boyer, Roy Anderson, Gregg Campbell, and myself worked pretty hard building it.
Bobby Taylor (Shamrock owner) and his buddy made the long trip down from Hagerstown to help pit, as well as Donnie Smith, his dad and his cousin helped pit as well and were helpful to guide us through the procedures at Potomac. Donnie is local to Potomac and has raced there before and it was great having him there. He also helped with chassis setup and bleeding the brakes. Everyone who helped pit also did their best to keep me calm. I was a nervous wreck being the car owner. It is much easier racing the car, than watching it dart through all the wrecks! But with the Shamrock Inn on board, we must have a 4 leaf clover because the car came home without a scratch, aside from Steve using the bumper a little bit!
Hagerstown, August 12
28 Team Takes a "Turn" for the Worse…But We Will be Back.
Well, the steering wheel came off in my hands and that is never a good thing. I guess Don Sharkey put everything in perspective when he said, “Hey, your okay, the damage is less than $200 dollars, $hit happens.” But the 28 team may be down for a while.
Before beginning the recap, I need to thank
everyone who helped get the car ready for Saturday. With breaking
another clutch, a lot of effort was made by guys to get the car running
again and I really need to say thanks to Paul Dornburg, Steve Kent, and
Don Sharkey. Sharkey again made the 600 mile trip from SC to help
out and we didn't even get to complete one lap in the heat race.
Paul Dornburg, on business travel in Columbia, MD, came out to Frederick
Tuesday night at 8:30 and Paul, Clayton and I started pulling the
motor around 9 pm and it was out by 11. I put the motor and new
clutch back in on Thursday, but the transmission would not go in and
something was wrong. Don volunteered to work on the car all day
Friday while I was at work. By the time I got home, it was
apparent the motor and transmission needed to come back out. So at
6 pm Friday night, Don and I yanked the motor again, fixed the
transmission spline problem and had the motor in by 9 pm. It was a
pretty cruel result Saturday when the wheel came off and we hit the wall
and it wasted a lot of effort. A small apology to the tow truck
driver who began laughing when he heard what happen and I quickly
shouted out some four letter words to him, but you can see what we went
through this week, not to mention the dangers of hitting a wall at
racing speed and I just didn't think laughing was too appropriate and I
lost my cool.
So anyway, I started third in the first heat race and my friend Tony Catlett (#6C) started on the pole. We made plans before the heat that he would leave the bottom open and allow me to have the low line going into turn 1. Well I passed Tony for the lead as expected, but the thrust of going green threw me back in the seat and the unlatched steering wheel came with me. Around the start/ finish line, the car made a sharp left hand turn and we impacted the wall pretty hard. To answer a couple questions on why the car turned hard left and why the steering wheel came off…here you go.
With circle track racing, our only concern is having the most traction turning left. To achieve this, we do things such as:
-position the weight so that the left side weight equals around 53%. With the weight on the left side, the car happily turns left.
-camber on each front wheel dictates the car turning left. We have negative 6 degrees of camber on the right front. This means the top of tire is leaning toward the motor 6 degrees. With the tire lying over like that, when I am in the turn that is banked, it allows for the greatest surface area of the tire patch to be on the track. This gives the most traction. Even more info, with the McPherson front end, with the strut that rotates with the steering knuckle, the roll of the car over to the right side induces positive camber. To compensate for the positive camber, we exaggerate the static negative camber.
-caster is the angle of which each tire lays on the ground. Caster is difficult. Basically, changing the forward/ backward angle of each wheel with respect to the ground, changes the wheelbase on each side of the car. With reducing the left side wheelbase and increasing the right side wheelbase, the right side of the car is longer than the left side which makes the car again happily turn left.
-springs are weighted in pounds per inch, meaning if a spring is rated at 1000 pounds, it will take a thousand pounds to move a spring one inch. In my car, I run 1000 pounds on the left front and 1250 pounds on the right front. Entering a turn the car’s g-forces from braking and turning are throwing the weight to the right front and we compensate for that by running a stiffer spring on the RF. With this stiffer spring on the RF and a softer spring on the LF, the car again wants to turn left.
-toe out means that the front wheels are NOT pointing straight. They are not in alignment. For me, I like an 1/8th inch of toe out. This gives me pretty good control down the straight-aways (compared to a ¼”), as well as help in the turns. Because of the toe out, as I turn the wheel, the inside LF tire actually turns more that the RF tire. This compensates for the tighter radius the left side tires turn compared to the right. As I corner, the distance is greater for the RF to travel than the LF. To compensate for this, we set the car up for toe out.
-Stagger is the difference in tire diameter from the left side to the right side. We always run more rear wheel stagger than front. My front tires have about a 1” stagger and my rear tires have about 3” stagger. Again, with only turning left, the right side tires travel more than the left side tires. Stagger helps to keep this battle even. With the right side tires traveling more than the left and the rear end gears locked, the increased diameter evens this out.
So you can see what I feel. Going into a turn, I can almost let go of the wheel and the car will turn itself through the turn. Then going down the straights, I almost have to turn right to keep the car straight. I hope this makes sense to everyone. I know it seems like we are just rednecks out there going around in circles, but there is a ton of physics that we calculate to get us to go around the track fast. These physics are probably only half of what we do to get the car to handle. I did not touch on shocks, bushings, gears, rear steer, fuel management, height placement of lead, wheel offset, wheel base length, etc, etc.
So to sum up the steering wheel incident, when the wheel came off, the car immediately jacked left. I had about a half of second to decide what to do. I dropped the wheel and grabbed the steering shaft and wastefully tried to turn it right to avoid the wall. Needless to say with no “leaverage” as Captain Jack Sparrow would say, the car and I had a hard lick into the front stretch wall. On Sunday, I had the great idea to turn into Ricky Bobby and rip my driver’s suit off and re-enact his scene from Talladega Nights on the front stretch…surely the fans in the stands would have loved it. But after the effort of Paul on Tuesday and Sharkey on Friday and Saturday, my feeling was complete anger for wasting everyone's effort. Still, being nearly naked on the front stretch would have been priceless…
So now everyone understands how quickly things can go wrong and why the car took such a sharp turn left when the steering wheel came off, the next question is why did the wheel come off?
We have quick release steering wheels, just like NASCAR. This is of course to allow us to exit the car quickly in case of a bad accident or a fire. Yuns know that we don’t have doors that open and we climb thru the window. Well, having the wheel right there obstructs this and we have quick release mechanisms that allow us to remove the wheel and enter/ exit the racecar. As simple as it sounds, the release mechanism got gummed up with dirt and when I went to attach the wheel, it never released (locked down on shaft) and when we went green and that A & C Ford power threw me back in the seat, my hands went back as well and since they were attached to the wheel, the unlocked steering wheel came off the shaft and I was along for the ride. I went thru all the things a driver is supposed to do during our pace laps. I warmed and cleaned my tires by yanking left and right on the wheel… and the wheel was good. My fault was mistakenly not pulling back on it I guess. As Don can vouch for me, I spent time on Saturday at my shop fixing the release mechanism… I drenched it with Liquid Wrench and it started working fine. Apparently not. So if everyone is still here, you can see why the car turned sharply left and why the wheel came off. As the driver, it was my responsibility to check the wheel and I made a mistake and it cost us dearly.
Racing has to be one of the most toughest things out there. It continues to humble me to no end. I had no less than a half dozen people come up to me after the wreck and say “That happen to me ONCE.” It is something that I will never let happen again.
So to the car. It is bad, but repairable. We called our friend Roy Anderson of Winchester, VA and he said “$200 Max” For any racers out there, you have to become friends with Roy. His rates and really affordable and his guys do excellent work. However, even with the small quote from Roy, my real estate investments aren’t doing well and I have had some bad luck there as well. and that has really pinched my racing. So the car is going to sit for a little bit, maybe 2 weeks to a month. The 28 team isn’t a NASCAR team and this is just how grass root racing is. But I really wanted to get this update out. I am averaging over 300 visitors per week on the website and I thank each of you so much. I know I haven’t posted the feature in car video from last week, but with the inverted colors, you really aren’t missing much, but again I wanted to get the status of the 28 team after the hard wreck Saturday night. Since we didn't make the feature, there is no video this week either. I have received emails from a lot of people and I can’t say how much that encourages me to get the 28 car back out. It will be a few weeks, but I promise we will be back stronger than ever. I really thought we had a good car on Saturday and I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see that play out. We were able to free the car up coming out, at the expense of being WAY too loose going in during practice. Don and I talked it over, made some adjustments and I thought we had a shot for a very strong finish, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be on Saturday.
In closing, even after the bad night, I had a wonderful experience while Don and I were in the grandstands. A little girl about my son’s age (8) ran up to me. I thought she was trying to get by to another seat, but she then started talking...
“What car do you drive?”
“28, only a pure stock though, I wrecked tonight.”
“The steering wheel came off and I hit the wall”
“That’s okay, you did a really good job tonight before that happened.”
She then went running down to her mom by the Funnel Cake stand and her mom waved to thank us and even though it was a terribly bad night for our team, the little girl and her mom made our night and made a bad night, not so bad.
Saturday July 22nd, Hagerstown Speedway
Sunday July 23rd, The Rock Speedway
10 2 -Tbird Flies to a Pair of Top Ten Finishes During Weekend
Just a real quick recap of Saturday, July 22 at Hagerstown and Sunday July 23 at The Rock in Cumberland.
It was a good weekend, with two top 10 finishes, a lot learned, and the Thunderbird in one piece. 10th at Htown on Saturday, 7th at The Rock on Sunday. I was really excited for Htown on Saturday because I had installed the new rear gear and thought it could be magic. My lone crew member, Don, made the trip from SC to MD on Friday so he could go racing with me Saturday. Don showed up at my house at noon on Saturday and I threw a curve ball at him. We had a brake job to do. On my truck! So we changed pads and a rotor and went on a test drive. Got back and started wrenching on the Thunderbird. Don got to drive the Thunderbird finally around my house and that was great, I am sorry it took so long for that to happen. I really want the pure stocks to work in the track soon so he can drive it on the track.
I guess as usual I under estimated the effort needed on the 'bird. I wanted another wire screen in front of the radiator, change the radiator fan, and adjust the drum brakes. Well, Don did the screen and fan and that is just not fun work with the sharpness of the radiator and the wire screen turns into a million little daggers once it is cut. I lost time by answering phone calls, installing some shock mounts for the in car camera, and finally doing the brakes. I thought we would be at the track early... we ended up pulling in around 5:30!
So anyway, I guess I concentrated on the gear change all week and forgot about chassis setup! The car was pretty quick in the heat race. I started 3rd and finished 3rd. I really thought we were faster than the 93b of Steve Lowery, but I never pushed the issue and all of a sudden Hans sneaks up on the outside of me. The three of us battle pretty good and being the heat race, you don't want to tear anything up, so I just was happy with the third. I knew that would put us on the outside pole, with Steve on the pole and we could just continue this race in the feature. However, in not running the car too hard, I never got a great feel of the chassis and paid for it in the feature.
So the feature comes and it is an amazing race. Just very competitive, cars everywhere. We go green and I leave a small door for Hawbaker who starts behind me and we go three wide into one, and he leads out of two. Steve and I battle side by side and I finally get by him on lap 2. Hawbaker and I run one - two for the first third of the race. I wasn't pushing the car too hard either, just thought him and I could check out and there was no business in racing each other and slowing each other down.
Caution comes out on lap 8 for <name removed to protect the innocent>. I think I may have dropped back to 5th, Kenny "Crazy High Line" Dillon, Darrin and Dean used the high line that was working unusually well and go by us on the outside. I was tucked up under Hawbaker drafting and we we worked the low line as the other three worked the high line. Only one other time have I seen that high line work like that before and I was just scared if I went out there, the inside line would move, so I stayed behind Hawbaker and we went backwards. So after the restart on lap 8, I got a little hello from I think Warrenfeltz going into three. He was pretty kind and let me correct it. But it wasn't much longer after that when the Thunderbird turned into the Thunder Dump Truck and picked up and terrible push on exit of turns 2 and 4 (remember I said I didn't run the car hard in the heat? this is where it burnt me). I dropped like a rock. In one turn, I pushed to the wall, had to lift, and Warrenfeltz, Mark Jones, and Joey Carter all got by (can you say competitive?). Over the next laps, the car worsened and Lowery got under me too. But we hung on to 10th and the car was in one piece and learned a lot. The gear change was great and perhaps that extra power coming out, exaggerated the push. Congrats to Hans on a fine win, you beat some awesome cars and drivers man.
So we took our normal stop by Shamrock's and had a few drinks and watched the incar. Bobby probably wasn't in a great mood either, finishing 12th, and he wasn't at Shamrocks and that was disappointing. But it is getting super tough in our class. Mark Jones, who won 9 of 10 and like 7 in a row, finished 6th, yes SIXTH! With Warrenfeltz and Carter joining us, as well as the rest of us try to catch up to Mark, it is tough out there!
I had no intentions of racing at the Rock on Sunday for their fair day. Honestly, I needed to get my butt into work and make up some time from the previous week, so I didn't have to work 12 hour days during this week, but I woke up around 10 and took a shower and a switch went off in the shower and I said, "I'm Racing!" The car was still on the trailer along with all the tools and tires, my buddy BR Nalley was going and I was upset with the 10th place finish and even more so the chassis problems from Saturday night and my F-150 and trailer were headed to Cumberland at 2:30! I wanted to test the Thunderbird up there and try some things with the chassis, as well as the idea of not racing for two weeks (motorcycles at Htown this weekend) was weighing on me... so off to The Rock.
Beautiful drive out, a pretty quick drive to boot.. left Brunswick right around 2:30 and was in Cumberland by 4. The round trip there and back did drink about 3/4 of a tank in my truck...actually less than I thought. Pulling in, it was pretty hopping with the Fair there and a ton of cars, it definitely had the big event feel to it, it was cool. I talked with my chassis guy Jim Boyer, told him what the car was doing, what I wanted it to do, what I wanted it not to do, and he came up with some chassis adjustments. His suggestions were minor and I thought they would have been a bit more radical. He suggested I lower the right front ride height and raise the tire pressure in the right rear.
So I went up there on my own, BR's crew helped a little and right before practice three stooges walked up to my pit- Steve, Mike K, and Don. What a surprise! Steve said he might go and I talked to him like 2 hours before and I said how'd you get here so fast? He said, oh, we did a 100 the whole way. Knowing Stevie, it was probably more like 120. So that was cool, but added some pressure.
Practice was useless to a point. So much to go thru in my head. Remember, I had that 6.00 gear which one would think is way too much for The Rock (5/8 mile). So I wanted to see if I was going to run the motor too hard (RPMs). Then to be honest, I only have about 20 laps on this track and I needed to get oriented with it again. At the same time, the bumps and dust were so bad, it was hard to see and even feel what the car was doing because it wasn't smooth yet. With all this, I still intentionally lined up behind Warrenfeltz and beside Mark. Unfortunately, some bucket got in between us and they left us during practice. Needless to say, Steve wasn't thrilled with my practice.
For the heat, we drew pills. I ended up starting 5th in the heat. I was planning on using the heat as an extended practice. The heat was pretty uneventful, but I did have a car spin right in front of me. He actually spun twice in the heat and they pulled him off the track. We ended up 5th in the heat, but I knew I would race good. The chassis changes made the car a rocket. Steve, still very unimpressed, gave me some grief and I told him don't worry, we will be fast in the feature.
Starting 10th, on the outside (I always have bad luck starting outside), that lane didn't go at the start. So we drop back to 13th. I still used about 5 laps to get comfy, then went to work.
The car was on a rail and I was learning more about the track each lap. Some of the guys we had to pass, kinda ran some inconsistent lines and I finally made Steve proud in moving a few cars with the chrome horn. Nothing too rough, but when your race only consists of 16 laps, you can't take 5 laps to pass someone, there just isn't enough time. So to the guys I rubbed, sorry, but it was just good hard, dirt track racing...I'll buy you a beer at Shooters if you are still upset. I wasn't out to wreck anyone, just working my way up to the front. Lord knows I have been moved out of the way plenty of times. So after lap 5, I just picked off about a car every lap or two. The car just got stronger and stronger and I just ran out of laps in the end. We had some nice, timely cautions, but it wasn't enough to get into the top 5. Mark Jones won it, Warrenfeltz was 4th and I was 7th, so I would say that is pretty cool Hagerstown cars all finishing in the top 10- we represented H-Town pretty well.
The Rock is just a blast to drive. It is a very fun track and it is very raceable. I think the long, wide, broad turns are what make it fun. You are in the turns forever, just working the throttle and the wheel and it is just fun. I really wish they would do away with those new jersey barriers and go to 3 or 4 guard rails or better yet, some type of SAFER barriers, but the track configuration is unique and fun. So much so, things have worked out, and I will be back at the Rock Saturday night! I have a camping trip with my #1 fan, and fan club president, Karen Huggins at her lovely property in Berkeley Springs, WV on Friday night, so I am going to take the Tbird camping and then Saturday head over to Cumberland which is only a half hour a way! I want to say thanks to my step Mom Brenda for watching Clayton Friday and allowing me to camp, and then on taking Clayton to his mom's on Saturday so I can race- that really means a lot. Also I want to say thanks to Clayton's mom Hope for having him Saturday night. The last thank you goes to Clayton who knew I was going to be away Friday night and I asked him if he minded if I raced Saturday and he said "I don't mind Dad, GO RACE!" So that was super cool and I swear I have the greatest son in the world.
So I have some minor chassis changes to make for Saturday's race at the Rock, I still want to free her up a little coming off the turns and use this last race to get ready for Hagerstown on 8/5 when the WOO guys will be there. I am really becoming a dirt track fan as well, and the WOO (World of Outlaws) guys are our "Nextel Cup" drivers and I want to run good while they are there as well as all the other added fans, media and more coverage. I will again throw everything I got at that race on the 5th, and would love to get my first win and have that Thunderbird along side the winner of the WOO race- Bloomquist, Francis, Macreadie, Rick Eckert, any of them top dogs on the homepage of Hagerstown Speedway! It would be so cool to see T-Mac's picture as the winner of the LM race and the ole Tbird in victory lane right underneath it. Again, I promise to give it everything I have, and rumor has is that Crew Chief Sharkey will be making the race too, so with me wheeling it and Sharkey calling the shots, it could be a lethal combination! Also, rumor has it one of my online racers, Bill Watson, might be down as well and I can leave the car to them guys and I can go off and talk with the WOO drivers, sign some autographs, and mingle with the ladies (by the way, I can usually be found at Shamrocks after the race)!!!
(man, and this was gonna be a 'real quick' write up!)
Saturday July 8th, Hagerstown Speedway
Another Rough Night
I guess in racing there is only one happy driver at the end of the night. I was bad early, but rebounded a little in the feature and finished 12th. This was the first race that I went at it alone, although Jim Boyer made it and helped out a ton at the track along with Tony Catlett and Donnie Smith, and their fathers. But getting the car ready and loading up everything was a lot for one person and it really made me appreciate all the help I have had in the past from Don to Jamie to Steve. I was pretty wore out even before I unloaded at Hagerstown.
None the less, I made it and got to the track around 5, surprisingly pretty early. I pulled a late night Friday working on the car from about 7 to 2, and then from 10 until 4 on Saturday and then headed to the track. Briefly, the things I did to the car this week included: scuff plates on hood, new decals, new water sender (it works!), moved lead, oil change, inspected seat belts, double checked all bolts, fixed throttle rub, remounted camera, increased the jets (81's were PERFECT, YA!), cleaned oil breathers and old K & N air cleaner, fixed oil leak in busted rubber on oil breather, and installed a new air cleaner (and some other adjustments I am not allowed to mention!),
Unloaded at the track, got some food, made the driver's meeting and talked with Jim. Went out for practice and the car was bad. It was incredibly loose in, like almost wrecking every turn. So Jim and I talked and made changes. We added a rubber to the right rear and a spacer in the left rear and moved some lead before the heat race.
The heat race went pretty bad. In the field was Hans, Warrenfeltz, Bobby Taylor, Kevin Keffer- a pretty strong field. I started 4th behind the outside pole sitter and Tony was on the pole. Tony had a good start and the inside line moved. I went to take a peak low, and Hans was already there, pulling the entire back of the field with him. I got shuffled back to 9th or 10th. The car was still out of control going into the turns. I had to go so slow in entering the corner just to not loop it. Thankfully, it was getting better coming off. So I finished 7th in the heat and that meant the dreaded consi race.
I was on the pole for the consi and thought we would win it. Nope. I saw Ryan and Gary in the stands while we were pacing and I guess I got a little pumped up seeing my old buddies there and the officials nailed me for jumping the start. Not sure how the pole sitter can jump the start, but I learned my lesson. They threw the yellow and moved me from 1st to 5th. Being in 5th, I couldn't take any chances in missing the feature (I had to finish 6th to make it or I was on the trailer) so I just rode around and finished 4th. But the car was still awful.
So Jim and I made some drastic changes for the feature. We took the 40 lb lead out of the driver's area and moved a 60 lb piece over the right rear. We started 22nd in the feature and the last 4 races had some bad wrecks on lap 1. With a 20 lap feature, I backed off at the start. Good thing. Another huge pile up on the back stretch. Mark Jones, Bobby Taylor, Kenny Dillon, Wayne Hawbaker among others were collected. They dropped the red flag and we sat waiting for the carnage to get cleaned up.
So I still was cautious after the restart seeing that big pile up. I don't have the money nor the time to fix my car if I tear it up, so that is just how it is. Plus, I am not wrecking my car on lap 1 of a 20 lap feature. But with that, we went green for the next 15 laps and it burnt me. I picked off guys here and there, but my gamble on the cautions hurt me. Even though I played it safe, the video is pretty good with a lot of action. The chassis changes Jim made were perfect and the car was very race-able and enjoyable to drive. When the checkers came out, I wanted to race another 80 laps the car was so good. So even though we finished 12th, we learned a lot, brought the car home in one piece, and picked up 4 positions in the points.
Again, I really appreciated all the help from Jim and others at the track, I can hardly get my belts on without help (HANS device) much less do everything else. I was kinda bummed from running in the top 5 the two previous weeks to running 12th, but it was a pretty competitive 12th. If you watch in the incar video, you will see us racing the black 3 of Bobby Taylor all night (even though his wife said "how'd you let a Chevy blow by you like that, you embarrassed the Ford fans!"). I thought we were just as fast as his bow tie, but he ended up 7th and we were 12th. I just need to "get up on the wheel" a little bit more. I am still learning to get thru traffic better, plus being cautious in not wrecking the car. Everyone says just go for it, but they aren't the ones writing the check to get the car fixed and they aren't at my house at 2 am on a work night repairing it! So we lived to race another day and the chassis is getting better as well as the jetting and carburetion seem to be finally resolved.
With moving up 4 spots in the points, we cracked the top 15 for the first time this year in the point championship. I really feel with a little luck, we can still get to 10th by the series end and that would get us invited to the banquet (and trophy?) at the end of the year and for missing 2 double point races (600 points) I am pretty proud of that, so I ain't all too bad, he he.
We are off next week on the 15th, but we are back at it on the 22nd. Hope to see you all there and if anyone wants to do some heavy lifting and get muddy, you are more than welcome to help out!
Saturday July 1st, Hagerstown Speedway
Headline should say it all. I was terrible all night. I felt we had a great chance to win the heat and I was so anxious I spun the tires coming to the green flag, car got squirrelly and I went from my 3rd starting spot to 5th. Managed to get back to 4th. The chassis changes I made to help the loose in/ tight off seemed to make the problems worse, and also bring back the tire slip/ forward bite issue, although the track was so bumpy, that could have had a lot to do with the wheel slip as well.
We made more changes for the feature, and I think I messed that up too. I think Don had a good suggestion on where to move our ballast and I went with my idea and I should have listened to Don. Don drove up from South Carolina for the weekend to enjoy the 4 day weekend and I think he is leaving with a headache after I blew the race. I also had Jim Boyer, Steve Kent, and his buddy Kenny and my buddy Jamie in the pits (running top 5 brings everyone out!) and they all helped out a ton and I really appreciated that.
For the feature, some how they started the Ford Thunderbird on the outside pole, even with my terrible finish in the heat. I had a good start on the initial green flag drop, but they waved it off for some reason. The second restart wasn't bad, I got to the lead, but I got out of shape off 4 and down the front stretch and Hans led lap 1. We battled Hans and Mark for many laps as Hans and Mark changed the lead a couple of times. Those guys are fast... Hans especially- that was the fastest I have seen him all year. Darren and I then battled and I was no match for him. Bobby Taylor then came up to challenge the Ford in his #3 machine, and we changed positions a couple of times and ran side by side. Hopefully the fans enjoyed some nostalgic Nascar schemes battling door to door once again. Trust me, I knew Bobby was there and the thought went into my mind that the fans must be loving this. I feel a lot of pride in the Davey Allison car and I know Bobby feels the same in his black #3.
But anyway, I did get Bobby, his car had the same problem mine did all night and that was just terrible grip, from way loose to way tight. Not very fun as a racecar driver to have cars that aren't really race-able. So I ran top 4 or 5 (not sure if when/ if Dean Holmes past me) until lap 12. I was really trying to see what she had all night and I went a little too far. Went in turn 1 a little to hot, and I did all I could do to save her, but the rear end beat the front end to turn 2 and that isn't good. The only thing I did good all night was when there was no saving her, I just mashed the gas did a 360 and prayed for about 5 seconds that everyone would miss me. After what seemed like an eternity, the track official came on the radio and said "Good driving everyone, all clear" and they were the greatest words I have ever heard.
So because off the hot motor, high compression, she didn't start happily. Time I got her fired up and going again, I was way back and even though I was going race speed to catch back up to the field, they dropped the green while I was in turn 2 and I had no shot off advancing too far with only 3 laps to go and nearly a half of lap down.
I know my Dad and co-worker Rick came out to watch, then they stopped by the Shamrock after the race. It was nice having a few beers with them and Rick got to meet Bobby. That was great because Rick was a big Dale Earnhardt fan and got to meet Bobby and see his car (that is a long story I won't get into, but Bobby unloaded the car at Shamrocks and it was great to see his car). But again, Maureen and Bobby (owners of the Shamrock Inn) really took care of us and it was an enjoyable end to an otherwise embarrassing evening.
Cliff Dove and Chuck Shearin took some amazing photos of the 28 car and I will update the site tomorrow with those pictures. Please come back to view them, those guys are great photographers. The one on my main page with the sun reflecting off the car is really impressive and if you click on it, it will blow up.
I promise to work my rear off on the car this week. This pure stock field keeps getting tougher and tougher with Ronnie Dennis racing Saturday night and then next week Mike Warrenfeltz will be piloting that car. So with guys like Darren, Hans, Mark Jones, Warrenfeltz, Dean Holmes, Bobby Taylor, etc etc, it is very hard to sleep during the week trying to think of ways to beat them. These are really great cars and drivers, with great resources behind them, but we won't quit, we will learn from the mistakes from Saturday night and we will be ready for the 20 lap feature next week.
Saturday June 24th, Hagerstown Speedway
Fifth On Race Day as Swiger Hangs on to 5th
Hagerstown, MD (Swiger Press) Driver Brian Swiger and crew chief Don Sharkey scored their first top five on Saturday night at the Capital of Dirt Track Racing, Hagerstown Speedway. The Ford Thunderbird was solid all night, helping Swiger win his first ever career pole and leading 6 of the 15 laps in the feature event.
#28 Brian Swiger leading heat (photo by Chuck Shearin)
Mark Jones won for the 7th time in eight races. Swiger was runner up to Jones in the heat race after leading two of the five laps. Swiger was the top finishing Ford, followed by the #6C Tony Catlett in 14th. Chevy's made up 15th through 28th.
#11 Mark Jones 7th win (photo by Clifford Dove)
Practice was terrible for the 28 team. After struggling all year with carburetor issues, SRT (Swiger Racing Team) purchased a new carburetor from XLR8 Auto-Sports in Woodsboro, MD this week. Speed shop owner and one of the sponsors of the 28 car, 'Motorblower' Steve Kent Jr. commented, "I am telling you, there is something wrong with your carb, let me hook you up and buy another one from me- you really need to have two anyways." So in practice, with the suggestion from Holley Carburetors, we left the default 73 jets in the carb and the Thunderbird ran like a Thunder-turd. It was way too lean. After practice, crew chief Sharkey crunched some numbers and decided to go with 79 jets based on humidity, barometric pressures, and temperatures. The team didn't know what to expect for the qualifying heat race.
Swiger started 3rd in the heat race and went right to work as Sharkey solved the carburetion problem. The #02 car of Nikki Oberholzer was on the outside pole and didn't have a good start. Swiger went high on pole sitter Catlett, and was out in front by turn one. Caution flew on the first lap and that led to a complete restart. On the ensuing restart, Swiger powered low this time by Catlett and stayed out front until lap three when Jones' #11 Chevy passed Swiger low coming out of two. Swiger maintained the second position, securing the pole for the feature.
#28 Brian Swiger entering turn 3 with nice body roll (photo by Chuck Shearin)
"Hey, we didn't beat Mark, I was still figuring out the track because our practice session was useless because of the jet issue. But I watched Mark and I learned a ton. Right away he knew the track was bad and he went up top to find the smooth, tacky stuff. But that was a loaded field... 15, 11, 6, 1$, 94, and the 6C."
#6C Tony Catlett in the other Ford giving the Chevys of Jones and Younker all they could handle in turn 2 (photo by Clifford Dove)
During the heat race, the Thunderbird was loose in/ tight off. Sharkey went right to work pulling out our chassis sheets. He decided to add a spring rubber in the right rear and change tire pressures. As Swiger talked with reporters, other drivers, and some of his female groupies, Sharkey went to work.
Down in the #15 pits, Kevin Keffer shouted as Swiger walked by with his gas jug "Going to get more alcohol for that Ford?" "No, I work on missiles during the week... the TBird runs on solid rocket fuel from NASA, this jug is just for mine and Don's beer."
For the feature, #28 was out front on the pole. The packed grandstands gave the Ford a standing ovation as the #28 thundered by during the pace laps.
"It felt really special to have the Ford on the pole. Usually the only Ford leading the field is the pace car driven by Ed Neff."
As the green flag dropped, Swiger used his first career pole to take an early lead. "I am telling ya, this is where all my years of online racing pays off. I have never led a lap in a real race car before, and certainly never led the field in a start, and I just used my online experiences racing in HAL and against drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Donny Lia and I think I snookered the field on each of those restarts. I have a lot of EX's because of my online racing Wednesday nights, but it paid off tonight."
Swiger led lap one, but a big crash involving 8 cars brought out the red flag. "During the red flag, I checked all of my gauges and the only problem was the in-car camera reached the end of the tape. As we are sitting in the backstretch, I had to rewind the damn camera! That is why the first couple laps are missing on the website."
Swiger led the next five laps, which included two or three more restarts for yellows. "Again, out of everything on this great night, I am most proud of my restarts, each time I did something a little different and kept them rust-bucket chevys off my bumper and we had clean sailing into turn one."
But the night wasn't perfect as Swiger found the track too tough to tame.
"I made about four mistakes all night- and I lost four spots- running up here with the likes of Mark, Hans, Darren, Kenny, Wayne, and Bobby Taylor, you can't make a mistake... they made me pay the price. It was a great learning experience. Most of these guys have been up here for years and know how to get around this place and I am trying to learn from these veterans."
"Each one of my mistakes was the same thing, over drive it in, and she would get in the bumps in 2 and 4, then she would push high and I had to literally get on the binders to keep her out of the wall... I have smacked the wall twice in the past two races and I have finally learned that the wall wins every time, even when I General Lee'd it on two wheels at Williams Grove- she ended up breaking the clutch in the feature because of that two wheel adventure. The only one disappointed in me learning my lessons is Steve Kent at XLR8- he eats real good some weeks because of this Stroker."
Lap 8 through 15 saw Swiger get passed low by Dean Holmes, Darrin Younker, Kenny Dillion, and Russ Mosely. Younkers Chevy heard that Ford charging back and decided to call it a night, and that led to Swiger's first career top 5.
"I battled those last 5 laps with Russ and Kenny in the #21. They were two wide the entire time and I had no where to go. I couldn't move Russ out of the way, because he would've slid up into Kenny, so I just rode behind the 89 of Russ and settled for 5th and brought the 'Bird home with all of her feathers."
At our post race inspection at the scales, Eddie Cornett, with a big rosy smile on his face, commented on a Ford being in the top 5 at Hagerstown "It's been a long time!" Pulling into the pits, everyone was in a pumped up mood and Sharkey pulled the rookie drivers chain, "If you would have stayed out front, we wouldn't have all this mud on the car!"
"Ah, Don, we didn't wash it from last race!" Swiger griped.
So with a top 5 secured and the two top finishers Jones and Holmes having their motors pumped and found legal, Swiger and Sharkey met up with Bobby Taylor, owner/ driver of the #3 Shamrock Inn Chevrolet in the pits and he invited them out to the Shamrock.
Hauling the Thunderbird through the speedway parking lot, the team ran into driver of the #62 car.
Hollywood Danny Beavers was over heard talking to Swiger, "Hey good job tonight, top 5, way to make that Ford run, I got to get back to the cooler and get some more beers, we'll see you next week."
Once at the Shamrock Inn, pace car driver Ed Neff showed up. While enjoying a cold Miller Light on the muggy night, he commented, "You had the second best car out there today, but you kept push'n high. Even though I am a Chevy man, I've worked for GM for years, but when your Ford is screaming down those straight-aways, man it sounds good. When you showed up last year and spun her twice the first night, I didn't know about you. You have come a long way."
Taylor, who owns the Shamrock Inn, gets out of his racecar hauler, heads into the bar, and promptly goes to work behind the bar. Sweat riddled shirt and all, he serves up a couple rounds on the house and was ready to tell the 28 team how his night went.
"Yeah, one of the <expletive> <color of car removed> cars just turned me coming out of two and it started the big one. There was nothing I could do. I thought we were alright and just cut the tire, but we changed the tire, got back out there and cut it again... that left rear quarter was damaged and the metal cut into the tires... it was a tough night"
#3 Bobby Taylor pointing the wrong way after contact (photo by Clifford Dove)
The "Big One" at H-Town, #27 Mike Sanders got it the worst, thank goodness he was ok (photos by Clifford Dove)
Driver Brian Swiger wanted Swiger Press to put in a plug for the Shamrock Inn.
"A quick shout out to Bobby Taylor. He drives the #3 Shamrock car that is amazing in looks and speed. He had Don and I at his bar, the Shamrock Inn right by the track, and gave us drinks on the house. So that was awesome of him and after the races, stop in his bar, a lot of the drivers and officials meet there and it is a nice cozy bar with Nascar stuff everywhere. You have to meet Bobby Taylor too... he honest to God looks like Dale Earnhardt's twin brother. I need to talk with him next week and get the 28 and 3 in a picture together, I think that would be really cool, the Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt cars. Bobby also needs to shoot me an email, so I can have his email address- send me a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Bobby."
Upon arriving home in Brunswick, MD, Clayton Swiger, the driver's 8 year old son had a lot to say about his young old man's performance.
"Well you finally finished in the top 5 Dad"
"That's a very good job by the way... you led 6 laps, that's a lot"
"Ya, I am sorry it wasn't more, but that Mark Jones is tough"
"He is a pretty good car... I think your power is better than his though"
"Ya buddy, that is A & C Machine Ford Power, not a melted Hershey or bow Legged motor. Any suggestions on beating him Clayton?"
"Don't let him pass ya"
"Do you think Jeff Gordon could beat Mark?"
"Even on dirt?"
"No way, but if Mark raced on pavement, Jeff would win"
In Sundays debrief with newly hired driver coach 'Motorblower' Steve Kent, he was a little positive, but still very hard on his promising pupil.
"You're a decent driver, don't get me wrong"
"(but) you got to lose that fear of really driving it in there sideways. That Thunderbird has a short wheel base and it wants to corner like a late model, let that <expletive> rear end float!"
"If you can eat on raceday, then you <expletive> ain't driving that car hard enough because you should be <expletive> scared as <expletive> when you get in that car. You shouldn't have to take a <expletive> on race night"
Steve Kent's Hero Card designed by Swiger Racing
Steve commented on Swiger's thoughts on a gear change "You don't need to add <expletive> gear, you need to get up on the wheel... Let me get in that <expletive>, I'll get that <expletive> to turn 7 grand."
Swiger wanted to say good job to Tony Catlett on his 14th place finish. Rumor has it, he soon will be leasing a motor from Swiger Racing.
"Let's face it, his motor program from A & C is turning out big power, we look forward to teaming with Swiger and running in the top 10 week in and week out. It would be great to have two Fords in the top 10 or top 5."
The big rumor of the weekend is that #5 Mike Warrenfeltz is coming out of retirement and throwing some mud at Hagerstown again. "No one out there is giving Mark a challenge, I am going to give him a chrome horn." It is going to be exciting with Mike back at the track. I guess a win wouldn't be a win if Warrenfeltz wasn't in the field.
EVERYONE is invited out next week. Fireworks for the 4th, my year anniversary of racing, and maybe another top 5 finish is all in store. If we can get enough people to come out, we are planning to tailgate before the race in the parking lot.
Mark Jones in Victory Lane holding the "The Ford is Coming" sign (photo Clifford Dove)