Friday, May 6, 2016

The End of an Era

My mom just posted on the facebook page for my dad's racing operation, something I have known was inevitable for some time.  Dad has sold the Pro Mod car that he has had since it was built by Tommy Mauney Race Cars in 1998.  Dad got into the Classic Gear Jammer racing not too long after that time and has enjoyed that quite a lot more than he had with Pro Mod there toward the end.
Dad had been in the Pro Modified class since its inception in 1990, and is considered one of the founding fathers of that class, having been at the forefront of the late 80s doorslammer racing scene in North Carolina.  He won multiple championships locally, and was always a threat to put the "big names" on the trailer at any National Event that he attended.
Operating on with a limited budget and time, due to owning his own business, and the racing operation being self-funded, the time for him in the Pro Modified class was coming to an inevitable conclusion.  The high cost of maintaining the car and the grueling schedule caused him to cut back over the last few years.
The gear jammers (the one he is running is shown above) require much less maintenance, time and money, so Dad has enjoyed going back to his roots.  He has been able to run the same local tracks that I grew up at, and is even promoting a race himself, the Stick Shift Nationals at Farmington Dragway on May 28.  If you are in the Farmington, NC area that weekend, I highly recommend you come and check it out!
Since this is primarily a "card blog" I now leave you with a card from Dad's first season in the Pro Mod class.  Yes, these actually exist, and some can be found on Ebay from time to time.  I believe someone even sent one to him to sign TTM (although I had NOTHING to do with that, it was just a happy coincidence!).

So, I feel like I have lost a member of the family, somewhat.  He has had that car since 1998, and there are a lot of fond memories of it, but in reality, the time had come for Dad to scale things back.  With the recent horrific wrecks of Ronnie Davis (who later succumbed to his injuries) and Sidnei Frigo (who escaped luckily with only a broken arm), maybe it was a good time for Dad to hang it up, as far as that class goes.  I can't say I don't blame him at all.

I used to be really good with his stats, but as years have gone by, things have gotten fuzzy.  I'm sure he will read this and correct me, but I will at least give it a shot.  Dad leaves Pro Modified with:

  • Approximately 5 local championships (I believe 3 in the local Quick 8 Racers Association and two more at a track in Virginia)
  • He once had the track record at every track on the local circuit and still holds the records at the now defunct Shuffletown \(Charlotte, NC) and Princeton Dragways (Princeton, WV).
  • He won 11 races in a row in 1992 and the only reason the streak stopped that year was because Dad was sick with the flu at a race.
  • Nationally, he was tied for the World Speed Record in Pro Modified (with Michael Martin) at 214.24 miles an hour and once held the elapsed time record at Richmond Dragway in Dinwiddie Virginia.
  • Has held the car designation number "1963" since the inception of Pro Modified.  At the time the class was initiated, all competition numbers for the class were four digit numbers, starting with a 1.  With his car being a 1963 Corvette, that number designation was fitting (even though none of us kids could guess the number when he asked us which one he picked),.  When the explosion of 1963 Corvettes entered the class in 1996, folks were clamoring for that number, but it was and has always been Dad's.  If IHRA were smart, they would retire the number... Just saying...
  • YouTube videos exist of ESPN broadcasts showing Dad putting some of the top racers in the country on the trailer.  One of my all-time favorites is the 1992 Spring Nationals where he took on the blown Lamborghini of Randy Moore and outran him the entire quarter mile.  Look it up.
When you are at a race and folks refer to your dad as a legend in the sport, it really is an eye-opening experience.  I never really realized it as it was happening, since I kind of saw it all transpire.  Now, having been removed from it, myself since I went off to college, it is really cool to go to a race and see all of the people come up and take pictures with my dad and ask for his autograph.  I can't wait to go to the Stick Shift race in May.  It will be a lot of fun.

Dad isn't retiring, he is just scaling back to something he can enjoy much more.

Thanks for reading and allowing me to reminisce.

No comments: