- I got interested in cars about the time any young man does, when
he gets his driver's license. I liked figuring out how they worked,
when they broke and eventually how to make them perform better. But I
got hooked on car racing when I went to the drag strip. Take a look at
car page, these pages contain photos of the cars we modified
in high school.
- I helped a very good friend of mine, a fellow gear head, Chris,
race a car. He built a purely for racing 67-68 Chevy Camaro for the
strip. It was a 350 cubic inch small block bracket racer, running in
10.8-sec. range for the quarter (1/4) mile. A real neat car.
- I helped another very good friend of mine, another gear head,
a Pontiac Firebird with a big block Chevy motor in bracket racing also.
The stories of the weekends racing, the people we met, the distances
the food quality at each track could fill volumes. This was certainly a
great time in my life.
- I found the type of racing I wanted to do after attending a
1975 at Pocono Raceway when International Motor Sports Association
was road racing. I camped out with a bunch of friends in the infield
we had access to the garages. We got to see just about everything close
up. I looked at the cars racing in IMSA's Racing Stock class, and
there and then that 1) It was something I wanted to do and 2) It was
that I could do. The cars were 'slightly' modified compacts, racing on
street radial tires. As close to affordable professional racing that I
was ever going to get.
- I actually got a paying job as a racecar mechanic! In 1978, I
a job posting I found on the college rec center's bulletin board. It
for Chapel Hill Racing, in
Rich and Tim were the principles of the company. They built and
Formula Fords for customers who raced nationally with the Sport
Car Club of America (SCCA). They needed a gofer and broom pusher
the pay was two (2) dollars an hour. After awhile, I showed them my
ability, and I was allowed to work on the racecars. The pay jumped up
four (4) dollars an hour. In retrospect, it was probably the best job I
- I started building the Ford
in 1977. I was living at home and going to college locally at the time.
Never had any real money to spend on it. The whole car was put together
with second hand parts. Good parts, though, racing stuff where it
mattered and stock parts every where else. I raced that Pinto from 1981
to 1984 in IMSA's Racing Stock Class, along with other Pintos,
Vegas and a host of others.
- As I indicated previously, I enjoyed going to races as a
spectator as well. One year, 1980, I got to talking to my friend John
Buser about going to 'The Glen'. There was an F1 race sheduled for
October of that year. So I asked him if he would like to go and camp
out. John was a rocket launching buddy, and a computer geek too. We
entered the working world about the same time as 'computer
programmers'. We were both in the defense industry, but different lines
of work. John was at "The Glen" in 1974 when the Greyhound bus was
stolen and burned in "The Bog". He warned me that there could be some
trouble. I knew "The Glen" was a big track and we could just avoid the
trouble spots. So we went, here
are some of the pictures.
- In 1985 IMSA's Racing Stock Class evolved into International
small two (2) door, four (4) cylinder, front wheel drive sedans. The
was sold and a built-from-scratch Dodge
was developed. It took us, Don and I, two years to put the car
We started from an in-white, bare metal unit-body tub, pulled right off
Chrysler's Belvidere Ill. assembly line. Raceweld, in NJ, put a full
roll cage in for us. We did the rest, the engine, the transmission,
fuel cell, etc. When we finally reached the track, we found that the
for getting into this racing game had risen. IMSA was getting a lot of
TV network time and sponsorship was up. There were guys in our division
who were fielding two (2) of the same car and coming to the track with
an 18-wheel tractor/trailer! We thought we were something with a double
axle car carrier and a truck that we didn't have to rent for the
Times, they were a-changing.
- In 1989 IMSA's International Sedan Proformance Class had evolved
and the Dodge was now too old. We ran the car several times in EMRA,
a great grass roots racing organization. They have a run-what-you-brung
attitude. There is a class for every type of car, the road-racing
of your local drag strip. We highly recommend this organization if you
want to race on the cheap.
- For a combination birthday & christmas present, my wife
bought me 'The Experience of a Lifetime", 30 laps at the Richard
Driving Experience. So in the summer of 2008 at Walt Disney
World Speedway, Orlando Fl, I sat in and drove a racecar again. It had
been several years since I drove any car that was race track only.
These cars were, by my estimation, 2005 or so 'old' NASCAR Cup cars.
The engines were 'warmed over' small block Chevy's, built to run all
day, with an advertised 600 hp. They had a broad torque curve, with
pulling power from about 2.5k through 6k rpm. I looked under the body
work and found a full blooded real racecar. The racing slicks seemed
huge to me, as I had only ever raced with shaved / race prepped street
radial tires. The cars were setup with a bunch of push, easy to drive
and the alignment helped by scrubbing off speed 'naturally', no tail
happiness felt at all. The car had a serious pull to the left when
driving straight, but REALLY turned great in the corners. After two
laps, I had no fear or intimidation; 'trust the car' the instructor
said. I warn my friends who no longer race, "If you don't want that
feeling to go racing again, DO NOT go to the Richard Petty Driving
Experience". IMHO, this experience is very addicting to any ex-racer.
This page last updated 07/24/2010.