NORTH-SOUTH SHOOTOUT LEFTOVERS - PART 3 by Matthew Dillner & J Kaplan
TC, Hirschman, Lia's Lucky Charms, Myers' Quote and More
Jerry Marquis, in the famous Len Boehler #3, led a bunch of laps in the North-South Shootout. But a call not to take tires cost the New England driver a win at the Shootout. While all the other cars took tires, Marquis chose to only jack his car during the manditory stop and not take fresh rubber. The choice proved costly and resulted in a 11th-place finish.
“We made a call not to change tires and it bit us in the butt,” said a disappointed Marquis. “What are you going to do? We just wore out that right rear tire. Not much else you can say. We had a good car all night. We went for it. I started to get looser and looser. Everybody behind me put tires on and I was fighting for my life out there.”
CONSTRUCTION PAPER KEY TO SHOOTOUT WIN?
When you walked by the Lia Motorsports Transporter on Saturday you may have done a double take. Here is a professional race team, with two tough looking modified tour cars, tools and tires laying around... and flowery artwork?
For the second straight year Marquis had "Ol' Blue" in the front. (51Photo)
MARQUIS WAS A SITTING DUCK
Before the race on Saturday you may have seen eventual race-winner Donny Lia hanging up flowery kid art in his trailer. Crew chief Kevin Crowley's twin daughters drew the artwork for Donny out of construction paper and foam flower cutouts. And Donny admits the artwork may have been the magic behind his Shootout victory.
“I am very supersticious,” chuckled Donny. “The first time I hung them up was Riverhead. We went out that night and we won the race. They made me a bunch of them a while ago and I hadn't put them up. I've had them sitting in my truck. So I figured we hung them up and Riverhead and it worked why not hang them up again. Hey, it worked and we won again.”
“I saw two cars tangle with each other," said Hirschman. “One car was coming across the track in front of me and I thought maybe I was going to squeak through on the bottom. I think I got hit from behind, at the same time the car was spinning, and clipped my right side. I brought the car in and my guys tried to repair it. We just had too much damage”.
“Its is so frustrating to get tangled up in the big one on the second-lap because you never know the potential we could have had.
We came down here and the car was good in first couple of practices. We wrecked in one practice session, which
HIRSCHMAN NEVER HAD A CHANCE
Second generation star Matt Hirschman never had a chance to show what he was made of. In practice he wrecked in oil and had to work all day at repairing his car. After making the show, the young driver was one of many involved in the lap two 'big one'.
Lia hangs up his good luck charms. (51 Photo)
set us back. Our qualifying was still pretty respectable, eighth, but I think we would have qualified better if we didn’t wreck during practice. My car was ok during the heat race the night before. In the race day practice we made some changes and picked up a lot. I got a lot more comfortable with the car. I was really happy with the car and looking forward to the race but things just didn’t work out the way wanted them to.”
Hirschman ended up 22nd in the final tally.
VINTAGE RACERS RUNNIN HARD AND ON THEIR LID
One of the most unique aspects of the North vs. South Shootout is it's celebration of Modified history. Not many events in the Short Track world focus on promoting it's car's past and present as well as the Shootout.
“If they raced this event at the stadium a lot of these North guys would not be coming back,” said the younger of the Myers boys. “One thing I can say it don’t matter how much money you bring or how many tires you buy, it don’t matter at the stadium. Racing at the stadium is a totally different style of racing and I am not taking anything away from some one like LW Miller... but when he raced over at the stadium in an front running car, he ran last. These guys run spools and soft tires where we run 10 inch tires with true tracks. I mean it is a a true track, a bullring.”
In the Shootout Myers was caught up in the big one and finished a disappointing 23rd.
Bowman Gray brings the crowds and Jason Myers thinks it would send the northern boys packing.
Three seperate divisions of Vintage racers took to the track to bring back the glory days of old. And let me tell you something these guys were really racing. It wasn't a club event where people bring out show cars and putz around, these racers were getting at it!
You want proof in the pudding? How about the qualifying race on Friday night for the Flat Head division.
Rick Newsom got a push from behind coming out of turn four and went for a spectacular ride. His big red racer bobbled back and forth before finally flipping on its side, hitting the inside wall and then barrell-rolling down the front straightaway. Rick was alright, and actually fixed the car so it could race again on Saturday. But the ride gave Rick one heck of a story to talk about during the pit party.
“Coming out of four and I was going to take the white flag and someone pushed me and got me sideways. The thing got sideways and went back and forth. Ofcourse we've got all of our weight to one side and I was in the gas trying to get it to drive back out of it. But it was the end of it.
JASON MYERS SAYS BRING 'EM TO THE STADIUM
Some drivers say the Shootout belongs at Concord. Some others have suggested Caraway or Motor Mile Speedway. But Bowman Gray Stadium? Jason Myers thinks that if the North vs. South Shootout was at the ¼ flat bullring, the South would kick some northern tail.
Featherlite Mod Champ Tony Hirschman's son Matt was fast before becoming a victim of the "Big One". (51 Photo)
"It was pretty wild. It's a lot more excititment than you see in those in-car camera's on tv. I kept my eyes open the whole time. I was just glad I wasn't mashing the radio button and nobody could here what I was saying. Yeah, the sparks was a flyin' and it finally come to a stop and I was glad nobody hit me. I was in a hurry to get out and figured, ok..the show is over.”
FLEMKE JUST HANGS ON
Ed Flemke Jr is a threat wherever he goes. But this year the second generation driver, coming off his best Featherlite Mod season ever, was one of the favorites for the North vs. South title. But things didn't go as planned for the pilot of the #79.
“We started off and right away we lost a cylinder,” shrugged Flemke. “So we started off only rnning seven cylinders. Then with 25 to 30 laps to go the right rear wheel was falling off. So where the car was the strongest in the corners because of not having all cylinders I had to be easy because the wheel was falling off. I was just being careful and doing prayers and hail mary's, rosaries and the whole bit."
However, Flemke held on for a very impressive sixth place finish.
TC AND BRADY TEAM DOESN”T COME THROUGH
If you look at the scorecard at the end of the night, a huge surprise wasn't seeing Ted Christopher near the top of the sheet. And even bigger surpirise wasn't seeing TC running up front all night.
Ted Christopher teamed up with Joe Brady's famous #00 Team, but could only muster a 19th place finish.
“The axel broke,” said TC. “It's a shame because I think we could have been there at the end. Nevin and I made contact and he got up on my car and I think that started it. A few laps later I could feel it and we brought it in and they said 'yeah, the axel is broke.”
Some questioned his decision to not run his own stuff at the Shootout. But for TC, it all made perfect sense. Plus, the duo teamed up for a big win on the SMART Tour at Concord only a few weeks ago.
“We were done up there and everything was in one piece,” said Teddy about his #13 Featherlite Team. “You come down here and if you have a problem and ruin a car it puts you a month behind. Now the guys from my team can start rebuilding there stuff because we have like six cars between the tour cars and the SK's. Plus Joe's car raced really good down here the last time we brought it down here. I love racing with Joe and have done it for years. We have a lot of fun.”
MYERS SUMS IT ALL UP...
Burt Myers was upset that for the second year in a row, he feels he didn't get a shot at showing what he is made of. To add salt to the wound, it was the second year that the North took home most of the success.
When asked about the big wreck that took him out of contention and his second straight Shootout disappointment, Myers simply stated:
“It is the nature of the beast. You run with your tongue hanging out, and go balls to the wall and hope you don’t get in a wreck, but we did. One thing these buys know I will not give up and I will be back next year to kick some northern ass.”