With All Due Respect to Dale Jarrett, I'm Going to Race The Truck!
Instead, I’ll be racing the Speed51.com/51 Designs entry in the Sport Truck class during Oxford’s popular Summer Racing Series. I’ll bet that you can guess what my truck number will be.
I planned on doing the same thing last season, but my team’s season only lasted two races. I drove the truck to a fifth-place finish in what was planned to only be a “shake-down” race and then Bob Dillner hopped into the #51 the Wednesday after the July NASCAR races at New Hampshire International Speedway. The good news was that Bob started at the tail of the field and advanced into the top five with only a few laps to go. The bad news was that while Bob was racy, my engine was not. It blew up prematurely and that ended his race and my season our little early than planned.
So the smart thing to do this off season would be to rebuild my engine….right? Well, that is actually a work in progress, but I came up with something that seemed to be an even better idea – I bought another racetruck that was running, driving and even winning races with a different pilot behind the wheel.
It all started with reading a popular New England want-ad publication called Uncle Henry’s. It’s a publication where you can find everything a pot belly stove (good shape, only $50!) to a $189,000 excavator to Boxer puppies to racecars.
The first step, after getting the truck home, was to make a few changes to get the truck to conform to Oxford’s rules. The classes at both tracks are similar, but like everywhere else have their minor differences. We had to cut a few bars out of the front of the truck since Oxford does not allow the rollcage to pass through the front firewall. We’ll also have to relocate the battery, build a larger dashboard and tweak a few other things to be race-ready.
I also removed all of the decals and will have a fresh look going to Oxford this season. The original plan was to repaint the truck yellow, just like last year’s model, but I kind of fell in love with the Lime Sherbet paint scheme that is on there now. It would also be nice not to have to
That is where I found the former #37 truck that teenage driver Ben Lynch drove at White Mountain Motorsports Park. After three seasons in a class designed for young racers, Lynch is moving up to the #7 Strictly Stock at WMMP in 2006 and his family was selling off their race truck.
So I bought the truck and a lot of spare parts from the Lynch family. After seeing the quality of the work that they put into it, that decision was a no-brainer. I’ll keep my other truck as well and after I get it running again, it will serve as a combination of a back-up truck or something for a teammate to drive.
Interestingly, I’ve gotten three different professional drivers from New England offer up their services for the ride, but Oxford only allows amateur drivers to compete on Wednesday nights, so that won’t happen. Actually, I do have a potential teammate in mind if I go the Jack Roush route of ownership. Which is a real possibility considering how proud I was last season when I saw Bob Dillner passing trucks as I watched from the sidelines.
Now, back to the former driver. Lynch, who got started racing karts at Sugar Hill Speedway (NH), gave the truck a good run when it was in his hands. There is no shortage of photos with the young man doing victory laps on the WMMP website. I might be double his age and not even close to fitting in his driver’s seat, but he has left me some big shoes to fill.
There were plenty of spares that came with this year's truck. The way that my luck is, that's a very good thing.
15-year-old Ben Lynch drove what is now my truck to victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park. I might be twice his age, but I've got some big shoes to fill. (WMMP Photo)
When we got the truck home, there was snow on the ground...Now there's no snow and no decals! (51)
sand and spray a truck with a perfectly good finish on it already, so that is going to stay as is.
I’ve also replaced the too-small-for-me seat that was in the truck with a Saturday Night Special from The Joie of Seating. I want to be prepared for the worst case scenario and nothing can save my rear end better than what these guys put together in Concord, North Carolina. An added bonus is that it is also the most comfortable seat that I’ve ever sat in. If I retire from racing, it just might find its way into my den at home.
For better or worse, racing is one thing that you just can’t get out of your blood.
I guess that is why Darrell Waltrip keeps retiring and un-retiring on an seemingly annual basis, why guys who have won everything in short track racing, like Mike Rowe or Gary St. Amant, keep going after checkered flags every season and why I’m going to be spending my Wednesday nights this summer at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway instead of enjoying quiet evenings at home with my wife and our two dogs.
Racing at Oxford on Wednesday nights is a perfect fit for me. I grew up as a fan of the TD Banknorth 250 and even though I’ve been on a team in the Daytona 500, which is still the biggest race in my world. Nothing compares to it. To be able to take to the same track that great names like Dick McCabe, Junior Hanley, Dave Dion, Mike Rowe, Butch Lindley and Bobby Allison have raced on really humbles me.
The Wednesday night program is very popular as well and comes close to filling the stands each week. Having a show that moves along quickly and costs only five dollars to watch from the stands helps too. Who knows? Many of the fans that get hooked on racing
I love my new Joie of Seating seat!
during these events might grow to become fans of the PASS Pro Stocks, Busch East Series and ACT Late Models later on. Short track racing needs all of the new blood that it can get.
There is still plenty of work to do before I hit the track in May, but I’m looking forward to it. I don’t expect to win every week…and to be honest, I really don’t expect to win any week. But, I do plan on having a lot of fun and a few adventures. All throughout the season, I’ll bring you all along for the ride as well.