Spring '96 -
I'm a complete racing junkie, Indy (IRL not CART), NASCAR, Sprints, and Midgets.
I've been involved in many types of racing over the years. I started racing slot cars in the 6th Grade. Then in Jr. High I raced motorcycles, that went as far as Dads sponsorship allowed (thanks Dad). In the middle 70's I worked for Marine Development for 3 seasons, building Drag racing Hydroplanes, we managed to set a national record in the sportsman class. During that period my cousin Dan introduced me to USAC Midgets, I wound up crewing for Bill Lloyd for two seasons, we ran at Ascot and Manzanita Raceways. This started my love for open wheel racing.
Since then I have raced with a number of teams, Late Model Stocks, Calif. Dirt Cars, NASCAR Sprints, USAC and BCRA Midgets, even helped out a few Hobby Stock guys. Now I'm actively involved in Quarter Midget racing, a member of Q/M America and Baylands Q/M Assn. Working with B and L Racing we are campaigning 3 cars in the Sr. Super Stock, Light Mod., and Light "B" classes.
Last year I built a Q/M chassis for Kelly Larimore, it utilized some suspension technology pioneered by Gary Stanton. Cantilevered coil sprung rear suspension, to increase the spring base, and take advantage of coil springs. She won many races and set a few track records with the car. <Rick pats himself on the back and says, "Thanks for the idea, Gary"
These days I'm working with Larry at B and L Racing, we are trying to figure out how to win a QM race. Last year we did very well, won many races. This year we haven't won a thing! We've gone back to the basics and started over on the dyno and with chassis set-ups. Things will come our way soon, running three cars, and the new fuel (here in Calif.) have given us fits.
We are also up-dating Larry's USAC Midget, after a layoff last year, (boycotting shitty USAC rules) we are laying the motor over and adding some reliability features to the motor. I'm looking forward to getting it back on the track. We finally got the Q Midget dialed in and Larry's son JR Mertl almost won the national event hosted in Vancouver BC (he actually won it, but a part was knocked off the car because of a tangle with a fierce competitor and was DQ'd for that)
Winter 97 -
Recollections are vague but I do remember JR winning the Q Midget nationals in Las Vegas. it was freezing ass cold, and very late due to delays in the program. We were fighting track conditions and I remember taking off my jacket so I could wrap it around the RR tire and keep heat in it between hot laps and the main. During the main, I do vividly remember standing next to Larry and pounding on his back congratulating Larry and yelling encouragement to JR who was putting a great whipping on the Mod class!!! Winning is good!!!
Didn't do much big car racing in the '96 & '97 season. Larry's Midget is still parked due to lack of interest. Helped out Greg Yanazo #76 360 Sprint for a few races, with John Giffin from RPM Machine as crew chief. John has proved himself as a great chassis setup guy, beyond my expectations. Together we had hoped to run a 360 in the 97 season, but a late start and lack of funds has delayed that until this year. Spent most of the 97 season in the stands at San Jose watching the 360's race. It was somewhat of a relief to just sit in the stands and watch, not have to thrash in the pits, I enjoyed it. It also gave me a different perspective of the track, to see how much it changed during the course of a race. And how it varied from race to race, something you can not see as well from the pit fence. The '98 season will have me back in the pits. John has 2 chassis, a strong 360 motor, and lots of spares, he is motivated to get the car on the track. The '98 season at San Jose has 22 races scheduled and starts early in March, with practice dates in Feb. Hope to see you there!
We finally got John's car on the track, the 1999 Trophy Cup was our 5th outing. After a lesson in motor tuning on our third outing at the Hanford track that ruined the motor, (first motor loss in 2.5 years). We have gotten an idea of what the car wants, and getting John up to speed and setting up the car the to suit his driving style has taken till now. We had a good showing at the Trophy Cup and did make it into the program. Photo's here
Ran the Schnee chassis till the end of the '00 season with no major mishaps and seemed to reach a plateau. John felt the chassis did not suit the tracks and his driving style. We lost the San Jose Speedway to the money grubbing hogs otherwise known as the "Fair Board". Ran mostly at the Hanford track. Winter of '00 John found a buyer for the Schnee and all the spares, he then made a deal with Randy Hannigan for an Eagle roller with only a few races on it.
The '01 season saw us back at Hanford mostly, John is happy with the new chassis and much more confident with what kind of setup he wants. He has improved and is able to move his position forward. The down side is we are a part time team with limited resources and time to invest. The thrash to get ready, traveling so far to race has taken it's toll and interest has waned. John has decided to try his hand at a closer track so the '02 year he plans to run at Petaluma. This will present a new set of challenges as the Petaluma track can get rough as the cars dig up the track and sometimes create rollers that cause the cars to lunge in the corners, also it is a tight track with no runoff areas. It will be a lot nicer temperature wise downright cool in the evenings and since the track is very near sea level it will rarely dry out. Greg Y. is making noises that he has a possible sponsor for us (ah, getting the first one is the hardest) this will be a good break giving the financial outlook a boost. During the winter John has developed a new style air valve to use on the fuel injectors, he is currently working on getting it patented and installing a working prototype on the 360 motor. He also picked up a 410 Gaerte motor left over from Lindsy Castro's stable, so there will be some 410 shows in the future for us as well. We have been able to run with the 410's using the 360 motor without the restrictors but that only works on dry slick tracks or on short tracks. I am looking forward to seeing how the weight difference of the aluminum block on the 410 improves the cars handling.
This winter I discovered a form of racing I had never paid any attention to, one that also fits my budget. http://www.speedring-kartracing.com/ Don't laugh, no one I have taken there has beaten my lap times, including John. You would not believe how much work it is to pilot one of these karts. My first back to back practice session left me out of breath soaking wet with sweat and barely able to lift a jug of Gator Aid I got to cool of with. These karts have quite a bit of caster and the front wheels are spaced well out from the kingpin, this causes the steering to be very heavy. I have since built up my grip and upper body strength and have a little left at the end of a long session. I have closed to about 2 seconds off the track record, (a low 29 second lap). My driving style is too aggressive and I am working on finding a balance between finesse and speed in order to improve my lap times. The secret it seems is to keep the corner speed up so as to not bog down the motor, I think I am entering the corners too fast and sliding too deep into the corners. I have found if I start my slide earlier where I just clear the apex of the corner, I pick up some by being able to let the car drift to the outside, instead of having to use a lot of steering input late in the corner. But this is risky and quite often counter productive because if your timing is off you either have to correct to miss the inside barrier at the apex, or the opposite where you bog the motor by having to steer hard during acceleration out of the corner. So I think that if I slow down my entry I can actually exit the corner faster by not bogging the motor in a slide.
Time flys.... A move to Oregon has not restricted my motorsports jones in the least. Turns out the there is a small dirt track 15 min from the new house. Sunset Speedway I looked into racing a Ledgend car there, the track promoter steered me towards his son's last years Late Model car, I looked in my wallet and realized there was just no way. Then I noticed another indoor kart track. Sykart Indoor Kart Racing I found this track to be much more driver friendly, they took into consideration the drivers weight and abilities. This was what kept me from getting serious at SpeedRing. I got involved in the winter series and had a blast! While looking at the bulletin board at Sykart I found a kart for sale that ran in an affordable class. TAG Kart Racing An American made Invader chassis with an Italian Electric start 125cc 2 stroke. I have been running lots of practice laps at Pat's Acres I am still getting the Kart sorted out. Since the rains have come I don't get much chance to get out and run it. (I'm not much for running in the wet) More exploration in the karting community here in Portland found me at Phil Pfau's World of Karting, where I was drawn to their version of fun in a kart. I went with them to a race at the Oakwood Arena where they finished with a 1st, (2) 2nd's, and a 3rd place finish. I had such a great time I am planning to attend the next race at the Salem Fairgrounds. Sadly my kart is not suited for Dirt Oval Racing. On the plus side I have made a deal with Phil and I have a new chassis on the way! I will be running in the 100cc Yamaha Pipe Class.
Nov 2008 -
Silly me bought 75 Karts for dirt oval racing, but my deal with my distributor fell through and I find myself left with 50 dirt oval kart kits to sell. Meanwhile I gave up on Sprint Kart racing as I was giving up too much weight and getting beat badly, sold the Invader in Fall 2006. Focusing on Dirt Oval racing I have worked for 2 seasons to get some satisfying results. I have been able to finish with the fast guys, but no wins to date. With the closure of the close track for summer racing and the seriously cold conditions in the winter, I started looking elsewhere for my racing fix. I have spent quite a bit of time at the (2) local 1/4 mile dirt tracks and feel that I can get it done in the 4 cylinder class. The rules changed for the teen racers and they are now allowed to drive V8 cars, this freed up a bunch of 4 cyl cars. After some research I found that the Dodge Neon is very popular for this class. I also found that the Teen Racer track champ at the River City Track was selling a Neon. It seemed to be well enough prepared and came with a spare car for parts and he could deliver it. More money than brains and a serious racing jones compelled me to purchase the car.
Dec 2009 -
I spent the 08 winter going over the Neon to prepare it for battle. I found that the stock fuel system was not suited for circle racing and the rules allowed a fuel cell. Rather than run a full (12 gallon plastic) tank of fuel I opted for a small fuel cell that would allow me to carry only 4 gallons of fuel and be able to run it down to a quart or so from empty with steady fuel pressure and no air bubbles. I sorted out many electrical problems and was able to restore the Fuel injection to proper operation. I installed a recorder to monitor the fuel system and provide me with data to keep it running at optimum. I found some cooling system problems and converted the fan control back to the computer so I would not have to worry about it over heating (I found later the car had a history of overheating). Due to the class rules we are not able to make significant changes to the chassis so I gathered up a good selection of tires and wheels of different sizes to help me tune the handling and tweak the gearing.
I raced the closest track Sunset Speedway as it is convenient and more friendly that River City. I found I have a knack for staying out of trouble and I have been able to set up my car so I can drive where the other cars cannot thus giving me a pretty clear track to race on. Combined with a healthy dose of good luck my worst finish was 4th place! Two main event wins and when it came down to the end of the season with 786 points I was awarded the track champion, winning by only 29 points! In addition this was my rookie year racing a passenger car so I was also awarded the Rookie Of The Year trophy!!!! Towards the middle of the 09 season I realized I had a chance at the championship and I adopted a very conservative and protective strategy. With such a close margin at the end of the season I was very worried that a DNF would take me out of the championship.