I saw my first auto race on June 9, 1976. At the age of seven, I instantly fell in love with the sport and my life has been deeply rooted in racing ever since.
My father took me to the Danbury Racearena in Connecticut for Saturday night stock car races. It was a one-third mile paved oval at a fairgrounds that featured modifieds sanctioned by the Southern New York Racing Association. This group was a private club that held a strong connection to the local community. A common grandstand crowd was in the six-to-seven thousand range.
The first NASCAR race I attended was in September of that same year. The Thompson 300 for modifieds was becoming very prestigious and also held in Connecticut. The five-eighths of a mile high-banked oval looked massive to me when I first saw it. The event also gave me a good idea of auto racing’s competition level. Big winners and track champions from the Racearena often gridded in the non-qualifier’s race just to make the back of the 300’s field. Geoff Bodine dominated and won that day driving for Dick Armstrong.
Occasional trips to other New England and New York short tracks ensued, but Danbury remained my home track. The Racearena sadly closed in 1981 to make way for a shopping mall. A mall I boycotted for obvious reasons.
Trips to Stafford Springs, Riverside Park, Lebanon Valley and other area speedways for my racing fix now increased. I witnessed some of the best drivers from the Northeast. Richie Evans, Brett Hearn, Dave Dion, Bentley Warren, Maynard Troyer, Billy Pauch, Dick McCabe and so many others that I could fill several pages here.
My first NASCAR Grand National (now Cup) race in person was in July of 1984 at Pocono, Pennsylvania. Harry Gant won a late-race battle with Cale Yarborough and Bill Elliott to win on this day. I witnessed quite a few of stock car racing’s best, which were in the field.
State law allowed me into the Stafford pit area when I turned 16. My racing mechanic apprenticeship began with helping drivers Jimmy Broderick and Ed Flemke Jr. in the late 1980s. My dedication stretched to the point where I never attended any of my high school proms. They were held on race nights. And I did not miss race nights.
I went dirt racing in 1989 on Bobby Knipe’s crew with a sportsman car at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York. I like asphalt racing just fine but his shop was very convenient to my home.
I drove my own street stock at the Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, NY during the 1990 and 1991 seasons before returning to Knipe’s crew. My own wallet could only support so much racing, but working on someone else’s equipment was affordable.
I took a crack at pavement late model racing in the late 1990s and my bank account met the same fate as my dirt racing experience.
In 2001, I packed everything I owned into a moving truck and relocated to “Race City U.S.A.” Mooresville, North Carolina. My plan was to use my racing experience to launch a professional NASCAR career.
Over the next seven seasons I worked for multiple NASCAR teams. Mechanic, fabricator, tire specialist and over-the-wall pit crew member became new job titles.
Drivers I worked with included Michael Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, Brian Vickers, and A.J. Allmendinger, among others.
Germain Racing and their Nationwide Series program with Mike Wallace in 2008 were the last race team job. The country’s economic recession set in and so many of my fellow Charlotte-area NASCAR professionals were downsized right out of their careers. This is what led me here.
The broadcasting and writing world of motorsports was always something I thought about for the future. Similar to when an ex-football player steps behind a microphone during a telecast. My timetable was suddenly sped up.
I began freelance writing for websites that covered auto racing. My radio career began with networking my way to a motorsports talk show on a local radio station.
One step led to another and Motorweek LIVE! is now my home. The program airs Mondays at 7pm ET on www.racersreunionradio.com for the Zeus Radio Network. The show and this site aim to keep you informed of the latest racing news while remembering and respecting the wonderful history of our sport.
I embrace my new home and place in the auto racing world. I enjoy relaying my experiences from nearly my entire lifetime of observations on both sides of the fence.
Gone are crew chief and sponsorship politics that bounce personnel from team to team. Now I take it upon myself to express and discuss opinions, instead of hiding them for the sake of keeping a paycheck. My family’s stress from NASCAR team instability is not missed.
So, welcome to Motorweek LIVE! The written or spoken word about anything in the motorsports world has a place here. Tune in to the weekly broadcasts, listen to the archives and read the articles. This is a place for my thoughts and yours.
I am glad you are along for the ride!