GARY TOMKINS LOOKS FOR SUCCESS AMONG CHANGES by Mike Twist
DIRT Changed Last Year, Now His Team Will Probably Be Changing As Well
Gary Tomkins isn’t on hand for the Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series Florida Supernationals. But there is no doubt that when the DIRT Modifieds return up North this spring to race at familiar tracks such as Rolling Wheels Raceway (NY) or Cayuga County Speedway (NY), he’ll be right there.
In fact, it’s not even clear yet what exactly what fans should be looking for Tomkins to be driving yet. In 2005, he raced for two different teams between the DIRT schedule and weekly racing card at Canandaigua Speedway (NY). Those two teams are likely to merge in 2006 with the final details still being ironed out.
Tomkins might have a different look than this for 2006. (DIRT Photos)
“We’re going racing, we’re just not sure what color or number that the car is going to be yet,” said Tomkins recently. “Pillsbury might not be back [as a sponsor]. We’re not sure about of all the details for this year yet.”
One thing is for certain though - the driver who won four times on the way to a third-place finish in the 2005 Mr. DIRT point standings will be a threat to win no matter what color his car is or what number is on the door.
“Fortunately, I drive for a team that is capable of winning every race that we enter.”
39-year-old Tomkins is a throw-back to the good old days of racing. He doesn’t race full-time. He doesn’t even work around racecars full-time. He makes his living as a UAW Member in the Delphi Plant in Rochester, New York and straps into a racecar on the weekends.
“Not many guys in DIRT race for a living,” said Tomkins. “A lot of things need to happen for that to occur. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we have a regional series.”
In 2005, major changes were made to the DIRT Series when the sanctioning body was purchased by an entity then known as Boundless Motorsports. The entire organization was named DIRT Motorsports and now includes World of Outlaw Sprint Cars and WoO Late Models. Followers of the traditionally New York-based DIRT Modified Series were a little slow to adapt to the new arrangement. But one year later, Tomkins sees a lot of positive progress.
“Revolution, not evolution is what we heard last year and that didn’t sit well with all of the competitors,” said Tomkins. “This year, they’ve got the right people in place and hopefully that will bring the Modifieds up to where they should be. I think that we can put on a show that compares with anything out there.”
The DIRT Modifieds gained national attention this winter when a guy who Tomkins has gone wheel-to-wheel with many times, Tim McCreadie, won the presitgous Chili Bowl midget race in Oklahoma City. Tomkins learned from McCreadie that running a midget indoors on a tight track is a lot like DIRT Modified racing.
“I’ve talked to Timmy about that,” said Tomkins. “He said that the car is similar to a DIRT Modified. The set-ups are similar, but the steering is a little quicker and there is not as much downforce.”
Tomkins would love to get a shot at driving a midget in next year’s Chili Bowl, but because of the economics of the sport, fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for that to actually happen.
“You have to buy a ride and I don’t want to spend the money to do that,” said Tomkins. “But if someone asked me, I would sure love to drive one.”
The Northern swing of the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT Series kicks off with the North vs. South Challenge at Hagerstown Speedway (MD) on March 25th.