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 Columns & Editorials

February 11, 2002

One Day in the Life of a SpeedWeeks Racer

This year I did something that I have never done before, I actually stayed at the track overnight in a tent and saw for myself what these racers must endure when they want to race for nine straight nights. Some of the racers will never have to do this but as I saw last Saturday night, there are quite a few that do and they do it because they love SpeedWeeks and they love racing.

Although the pit gates do not open until noon, the pits start to stir at around 8 a.m. Trailers are opened, cars are taken out, engine hoists and engine stands become familiar. Tranny jacks appear and small and large tool boxes are opened. Parts are being searched for, front clips repaired or replaced with little thought of food or water.

It is strange to see how many racers bring so much with them but they do from the Super Lates down to the Mini Stocks. Spare engines, spare trannys, front clips, radiators, rims, wheels, you name it and they have it or they will get it. They work up until about noon when the pits are cleared and it is time to check in and pay your pit entry fee. At least at this time they get a break and hopefully some food and water. Then it is back to work on whatever needs to be done for the race that night and hopefully for practice laps to see what needs to be adjusted.

When you race nine straight nights, you get very dirty and very tired. Most stay at the track and if racing is done early enough, they may get to leave for awhile and have a nice dinner, other than hamburgers, hot dogs, and whatever cooked at the track. But if your night was bad, there is no leaving. It is not unusual at all to hear generators running and lights burning at 4 a.m. It is not unusual to survive on maybe three hours of sleep if your day has gone bad.

Why do these crews and drivers work themselves down to the bone for 20, 30, 50 or maybe 100 laps of racing?? Is it because it is SpeedWeeks and at no other time do you get to race that many nights in a row? What is it?? They are dirty, tired, hungry and yet they go on and on.

There is only one answer and that is that they LOVE racing. Racers dream of winning and winning at SpeedWeeks is the closest thing that a short track racer has to the Daytona 500. This is their Daytona 500 and their dream of being the Champion of SpeedWeeks. This is the time that drivers from all parts of the country get to share their knowledge and skill against each other and if that means no sleep, dirty clothes and stinky feet, they do it.

Jane Smith

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