TRUCKIN' WITH TWISTER - PART THREE, RAINING AND RACING by Mike Twist
Two States - One Race and One Rainout
After about 10 minutes of my 75-minute drive to the track, it started raining. But the race had not been called off, so I trucked on. For most of the ride, things didn’t promising at all, but amazingly enough the rain stopped just about three miles down Route 26 from the track. Light rain came overhead as I signed in and bought my pit pass, but the skies to the west looked promising. I thought that we had actually dodged a bullet on this one.
The first stop that I made once into the track was the tech shed. That did not go so well.
The inspectors were very personable and helpful, but they also gave me a list of five things to correct on the truck along with the advice that I really shouldn’t finish in the top five that night or I would be disqualified. Two items were corrected fairly easily. The others involved cutting bars out of the rollcage, making some new ones, replacing the rear springs and changing how they were mounted.
After a few dozen laps to help dry the track, I ran into an overheating problem. Without a crew at the track on this given night, I went under the hood still dressed in firesuit and helmet to make a quick fix. It worked and I didn’t miss a lap of practice, which went well. I was happy with what I had under me. At that point, I couldn’t wait to race.
All of the 51 boys – Bob and Matt Dillner, Jeremy Troiano, Matt Kentfield, Dale Averill and Bob Bachner all thought that I put up a good fight. I just wish that I could have rewarded them with a better finish.
But most important of all, I had fun – lots of fun. I really appreciate the opportunity.
When I got back to Maine, there was work to be completed on the #51 truck to make it legal. It would have been nice not to even have to unload the truck off the trailer after the rainout, but instead it took about a day and a half of labor for it to be legal.
Unfortunately, I would have to. While we were lined up in the pit area for our feature, it started to rain again. Track management pointed us, and cars from all of the other classes, on to the track to dry it again. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, it wouldn’t happen. The track surface was lost and the races were postponed a week.
The night was fun while it lasted though. I got a brief chance to visit some friends – Super Late Model car owner Jay Cushman came by, as well as photographers Jamie Williams and Trudy Marshall, along with Oxford PR guru Kalle Oakes. I also didn’t wreck anything in practice. I’ve been there and done that and it wasn’t much fun.
Six days later, I found myself having graduated from the Wednesday night program at Oxford to the garage area at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with another ride lined up. It was my big chance as a driver – but not in a NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch Series or Craftsman Truck machine. It was in a LMS CRASHCar.
And when all was said and done, I made sure that I lived
up to the name of the division. More on that later. First, I need to brag a little bit about my short-lived feature race glory.
My boss, Bob Dillner, has built up a nice little stable of racecars over the past 18 months or so. He’s got 13-year-old whiz kid Zach Stroupe in the #51 Pro Challenge car, he runs a Bandolero for his daughter Meghan, he’s ready to put a quarter midget on track for his son Blaise and he also has two CRASHCars/Redneck Racing Series machines - one of which he has offered to me for the week. Dillner himself gets to drive the cars on occasion. Last weekend, he drove the #51 to a third-place finish in the Redneck Racing Series at Orange County Speedway.
The #51 “Area 51” machine was to be my mount for Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout on Tuesday night. I would compete on the flat quarter-mile oval on the frontstretch at the track. However, there is a very tight racing program with hundreds of cars in the pits for the Shootout every week. There would be no practice or heat races for me. My first lap at speed on the track would be lap one in the 15-lap feature.
To make things worse, Drye is a quasi-teammate of Dillner’s who helps out all of the time and is a super-nice guy to boot. I couldn’t have picked a worse racer to take out, but Drye understood. He didn’t blame me for the chain of events, but I knew that it was an avoidable wreck.
That's me spinning in the center of the photo. I was in the top five at the time though. (Harold Hinson Photo)
The #51 sits ready for battle...unfortunately, it rained before its feature race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Your author gets ready to go out and practice the #51 truck. (Top - Trudy Marshall / Jarracing Photography Photo, Bottom - Jamie Williams Photo)
So, I’ll be racing the #51 Sport Truck again this Wednesday night at Oxford – weather permitting of course. At least now in the unlikely event of a top-five finish, I’ll be able to stay there!
The Summer Racing Series at Oxford continues every Wednesday night through August 23. Racing starts at 6:30pm sharp and grandstand admission is only $5 for adults.
Well, I finally got a race in without rain, but it took going from Maine to North Carolina to do it.
Precipitation has been the story for much of the past few months, as New England has seen rain, drizzle, downpours and/or thunderstorms at any given point. Last Wednesday, I was hoping for a bit of a reprieve from the nasty weather to be able to race my #51 Speed51.com/51 Designs Sport Truck at Oxford Plains Speedway. But that wasn’t going to happen.
And I sure made that first lap count. I started 15th in the field, with about a half dozen cars behind me, and took an immediate liking to the track. I never quite got the hang of entry into turn one, but the car was good enough that it didn’t matter. With just a handful of laps remaining, I was fourth and gaining on the top three. I probably should have stayed where I was.
LMS uses a pick car called “The Enforcer” to prevent runaway wins. It basically blocks the leaders and helps to tighten the field. Well, went I was going to make my move for third, “The Enforcer” bunched the guys in front of me up. I dove into turn three with a good head of steam at the same time Rusty Drye was whoa’ing his “Vigilante” Mopar down to avoid hitting the “Enforcer”.
I couldn’t stop in time and just hammered his left side bodywork. We spun in tandem and my Area 51 ride rolled to the infield and shut off. It wouldn’t refire, but Drye had it worse. A driver who had been running a half lap behind turned colorblind when the yellow came out and drilled Drye’s car sitting in the middle of turn three. I’m not sure if the race was red flagged, I was too busy trying to get the car to refire, but it was a lengthy clean-up period. I think that a battery cable might have come loose in the incident and I was out of the race with a 17th-place finish.
The next week, it' was off to Lowe's Motor Speedway and a ride in the Area 51 CRASHCar. (51 Photos)