The last few years have been a busy mess that kept me from racing in 2017.
But I did get back to racing in
Teresa moved into the Hanover house in July 2016 but I stayed in NY to retire from my job and finish paint and fixup of our house in Brewerton, NY. Just as I completed that project, a house my mother owned and rented, unexpectedly became vacant and I spent two months of paint and fix up to get it ready for sale, with some help from Greg.
Finally able to move to PA in November, my shop was still occupied by it's tenant, with the race stuff all boxed and packed into one side. It took a year to get him fully moved into the other end of the building and I was able to piece the race shop together.
Meanwhile in December of 2016 my 88 year old mother had a small car accident that fractured some vertebrae and split her knee cap. Three days in hospital and then to a rehab facility. However, the poor care in rehab led to dehydration and a bladder infection and back to the hospital where she nearly died a few times over the next few months. Healing of the broken bones became a background issue as she had weakened from the dehydration, infection and now fluid on the lungs from the attempt at rehydration. My sister and I were now bedside 24/7 from New Years day to April 2017. The week in rehab left her with kidney failure and now dialysis three days per week all because of the very poor care at rehab.
By May 2017 my mother was back home and able to live on her own again but now needs some help with things, transportation and we go with her to every dialysis (leave at 2, get back at 7). My sister lives a mile away from mom and takes care of her most of the time. I take over for a few weeks every couple of months.
So things finally settled down by end of September 2017 and I finally spent some time in PA and set up shop. I purchased a really good 305 motor and stripped the 2010 Maxim to put a fresh car together over the winter. First outing would be Williams Grove (at the bottom of the page).
The Races - most recent first
(BAPS) 10/19/18 305
Jim brought a new LR tire that we needed to get the stagger that made the difference at last race. We used up that LR tire. Taking out stagger really made a difference at the last race and that was the plan tonite. I wanted to start out a little tight and adjust as the track got slicker. Kasey and Denny worked on mounting the new tire.
It was a typical fall race. Cool temps during the day lead to a chilly, windy nite with the early sunset. Jackets and hats covered the crew as they chased around the pit checking and changing things on the car during the long race nite with six classes of cars.
In hot laps the car was already somewhat loose on the still wet track. It would slick off during the night but how much was the question. Cold temps might not dry the track as much but there was a wind that might and aside from the sprints, the other classes were small cars that would use up the track. We talked it over and made some changes to tighten the car for the heat race.
A good draw put me on the pole of heat two. I rolled into turn four picking up the throttle and drove away on the start. The track was packed in and polishing smooth with a wide brim of loose, swept up dirt widening the turns. I could run the high middle and led most of the way until a car nosed up to the outside in two and I had to pinch lower. We dragged down the straight but he took over in three and four. I followed and finished second. The car ran good, but it was still a little skatey. In the pits the tach showed peaks that were lower RPM than we should have been despite the gear that should have been right. A lower gear may have made the difference in winning the heat. But not complaining about a strong second, just learning where to be better.
The heat finish put me in the redraw and I pulled a nine. I had confidence in a top ten finish if we could get the car dialed in. The new left rear that we were expecting to come out to 94 inches only came to 92 1/2 despite airing it up to 30 lbs. That would give us the same 12 inches of stagger that we had in the heat and I knew that would be too much for how the car was had felt and where the track was probably going.
We needed 10 inches and that was the point of the new tire. It was a 94 casing and was crayon marked at 98 ½ from the factory where they blow it to 30lbs and which usually means it will race four inches shorter. But not this tire, it was short and as big as we had to go with the 105 ¼ RR.
The 360 sprint spec RR tire had been running 102 and this would have been a good LR for that combination. Normally a RR target size is 104. But the tires have been all over the place and just when you think you see a pattern in marks and race sizes you mount up a mystery like this.
So with too much stagger, we start the feature inside of row five and two sets lower in gear and some other adjustments hoping for side bite and a good run.
The gear was right on, but the track and car wanted less stagger. It was just sideways middle and off and hairy getting in. Too far off target to be fast. I struggled to get the most out of what I had without spinning out. I lost spots thru the first half of the race and ran the last part with cars with similar ills, dropping to an 18th finish out of the 24 starters.
Car is in one piece and getting the stagger right is now more reinforced than ever.
The next race was scheduled for the next day at Port Royal but rainy weather forced cancellation and the end of the 305 season.
Over the winter, we'll get things ready for next season. The 305 is fun to race on the central PA tracks.
Valley 9/29/2018 305
Greg's passing, Hodnett's funeral, the past month out of the car, and the poor runs last time out made it very hard to want to race. My inner saboteur was conjuring every reason to just park the car for the season and crawl in a hole. I texted Jim to see if he would be available to crew, actually hoping he'd have another commitment. He didn't and was actually enthusiastic about going racing with me and so was Robbie.
Still forcing myself to get ready to go, I battled the constant negative thoughts going through my head. I knew that once the car started moving that my race brain would take over and I would feel better but the negative feelingscontinued and remained even as I sat in the car ready to get pushed off for hot laps.
Once on the track, my attention was focused on the car and the surface. The track was packed-in clumpy, tight... the car bouncing over the small, hard clay lumps. The track was like this last time I was here but smoothed out somewhat as the night went on.
Twenty one cars meant everyone would run the feature. Starting forth in the heat gave a shot at a good starting spot. We had tightened the car some after hot laps where the car just skated across the already slick surface. The changes helped some but not enough. I lost two spots during the race and ended sixth.
Jim and I talked about what more we could do. We were starting in the back so there was nothing to lose and we took a big swing at setup. We took out a lot of gear, changed tire offsets, ride height and shocks, hoping we hadn't gone too far and would be too tight.
Starting sixteenth put me on the outside of the short, high banked third mile. At the drop of the green the pack headed into one and it was rows of three wide ahead of me. I was still on the outside with no where to go and it was not working. I lost a couple spots before things got strung out enough to open a hole to the bottom.
A couple laps on the bottom and I could feel RR bite. I could drive the car in hard and it stuck and came off straight. I could get a hold of low forward bite, coming out on the bottom and was catching the car in front of me.
Lap after lap I was moving forward, able to beat cars into the corner and pass coming off. With only a couple of laps left I got to a point where I was equal to the car in front and not able to pass.
At the end I had moved from a low of eighteenth to a finish of twelfth. That was the best finish I've had all year and the best the car ran in years. I felt really good in the car and really felt the driving was really good. It's the best I've felt racing in a long time and just what I needed.
couldn't wait to tell Greg... then I remembered...
“Hi this is Kevin Moteyunas (Greg's brother). I'm using Greg's phone. I wanted to let you know that Greg died last nite.”
“Holly Shit ….......................... what happened?”
“Looks like a heart attack. His daughter found him sitting on the sofa............”
Greg and I have been racing together for nearly 20 years. He was my best friend and excellent crew. He loved sprint cars and stayed with me through good and bad. He would struggle through anything to go racing with me.
This is a big loss. I didn't realize it much, until he was gone, that he was the only one that I could really talk to about anything and everything. We understood each other, had similar experiences, knew the same local racing history, and had similar likes and humor. We spent many, many hours on the road talking and you really get to know somebody after hearing and telling hundreds of stories.
Racing and everything will not be
the same for me.
I finished my month in NY to care
for my mom and the night I got back to PA, several weeks later,
another Greg died.
I was just starting to deal with my
friends death and now I'm back to the beginning.
Susquehanna (BAPS) 8/10/2018
It's been hot, really hot, all summer hot with lots and lots of rain but the tracks are still dry slick for the most part. Tonite the track stayed tacky longer despite the 35 cars on hand. A mid pack draw offered a chance at qualifying in the heat but everyone had bite and it was tough for me to get an edge on anyone.
I missed the cut by one putting me on the front row of the Bmain. With a good start I led the first lap but soon realized that the track changed more than we guessed and we had too much stagger. Little by little I was backing up and nothing I could do to keep pace. One car came flying into three trying to pass on the inside and we slammed wheels as he hammered by. That got me out of shape a tad and I lost momentum to the next turn where I got passed again and ended up one spot short of making the Amain.
Bummer but the car was in one piece and I had fun racing.
Next week I have to head home to NY to care for mom so my sister can work her horse shows. Been thinking that I might leave the 360 here as Brewerton and Utica Rome are the races available and I have nothing new to try there. Maybe I'll bring Greg down to PA for a few weeks and we'll race the 305 some.
Port Royal 8/4/2018 305
Mike Ely built a new set of shocks for me that were a little different from what I used last time and I was expecting a more hooked up car. But instead, the car pitched into the corners in a twitchy way and made the car a bit spooky.
The brakes were really soft during the race so the great crew of Mike, Jim, Robby worked on bleeding a bubble out of the front line. It made the brake better but not totally right yet.
We made some changes after the heat but our B main (there were two with 15 cars each, taking 2) was only going to be a test session and joy ride for the fun of racing.
It was a struggle to pass any cars
and once things got strung out it was just a run in place race.
ESS Speedweek 360 7/4/18
Vacation time from work is used by many teams to travel in and run the series and that creates large car counts. Each nite found 40 cars or more in the pits. The only fortunate thing was that PA speedweek for the 410s was running at the same time so it kept those teams, that have 360 cars, occupied... all but Mark Smith.
I had avoided this series when living in NY because of the difficulty to qualify and other races that were available. But this year I was going to be in NY from PA for a few weeks to help out with my Mom while my sister was busy training and managing her clients at horse shows. It lined up perfectly with the ESS series and allowed me to hit a few shows.
My plan was to run Can Am, a sweeping half, Brewerton, a D shaped third, and Utica Rome, a paperclip five/eighths.
When Wednesday rolled around, the temp was 94 with high humidity and a chance of rain and I knew it would wipe out Greg, my only crew and so we decided to pass.
Brewerton ran on friday and temps were now comfortable. I have never done well at this track but I thought I'd give it another try with another setup some momentum from feeling good in the car in PA. 40 cars were in the pits. The ESS contingent has good equipment, top to bottom and the qualifying procedure leaves no room for a bad lap.
ESS times hot laps in heat groups and then sets the heat lineup with the fastest six at the front (with a drawn inversion pill) and then seventh on back start behind them. So if you are out of the top six fastest cars in hot laps, you start behind those faster cars in the heat and you have to get to fifth to make the show, third or better to make the top twelve redraw.
You have to setup for and win hotlaps if you are to have any shot of making the race out of the heat. It's a tall order and if you miss the cut in hot laps, you're probably heading for one of the two Bmains where they take two each.
Like all NY tracks, the wet dirt from track prep is only a wet blanket lying on top of last weeks hard pan ice rink. It gets blown off by the Dirt Modifieds in their hot lap session. I was in group two and found the track skatey already and despite our tight setup and driving my ass off, we would start tenth in our heat.
The heat went no better. I could barely keep up with the car ahead so I tried different lines and different methods to get through the right angle first turn. I've never figured that turn out. Staying tight on the bottom is slow and driving in harder puts the car over the cushion. My best lap was mid race but my finish would put me at the back of a ten car B taking two so we loaded up.
Utica Rome on sunday was no different. The track was dry and dusty in hot laps and we were tenth time of eleven cars in our second heat group. The fine dust was so bad at the start of the heat that I couldn't see the cars ahead or the backstretch wall as we drove into the setting sun. Couldn't see to pass in the back on this ice rink. I couldn't get a hold of enough to do much more than follow. No point in running the B so Greg and I loaded up.
There were many cars that ran the whole series and never made a show. Without an open draw, if you are not at the top, you are given no chance. The tracks are all ice and the glacier clay in NY is a challenge unlike anywhere else. The sprints are well paid and more and more show up, all with good equipment. Racing is very tough in NY. In some ways, harder than in PA.
I'm heading back to PA in a week and will deal with the destroyed 305 then. Maybe I'll give URC or Selinsgrove a try just to see where I stand.
(BAPS) Speedway 305 6/24/18
I unloaded at the track and got the car ready in the pits while looking at the radar and this big splotch of red and yellow headed right for us. It rained hard for 20 minutes but early enough that they were able to run the track in and put cars out for hot laps about an hour late.
The track already had several sessions on it before I pushed off. It was wet but packed with a cushion growing a few lanes up. I gave myself space but quickly ran down the car ahead and decided to pass on the outside going into three. At mid corner I was blinded by the setting sun and at the same time got plastered with wet mud as the car ahead hit the throttle.
I was sure I was mid track as I
exited four and ready to grab the tearoff, but...
With the sun in my face, the wall in full shadow and a face full of mud, I just couldn't see. I should have just backed off but then the front end would have pushed. Bad judgement really came at corner entry where I should have backed off or gone low. Head up my ass driving cost most of a car.
Tank torn loose, rear snout broken
off of rear, driveline and rear axle probably bent, front axle
wiped out, wings junked, frame has parts ripped out...
PA is a great place to race. Denny and Casey and another new helper whose name escapes me, were already stripping junk off the car along with about six or eight others from nearby crews, when I returned from the ambulance ride.
We strapped enough together to get it into the trailer as 10 people lifted and pulled.
With the stupidity of this episode continually spinning in my mind, I didn't sleep well and next day backed the trailer up to the shop and dragged the remains out onto the floor. I had to be in NY tonite to help out with my mom and give my sister a break and had planned to take the 360 with me and run some ESS speedweek shows. Last night I thought “screw it. I'll just go to NY and not race” but as I was unloading, my race brain kept saying “that's behind you now, next race things will go better”.
Race brain wins. I scramble another wing onto the 360, change over the tires, gears and needed items into the trailer and head to NY ready to race.
Speedway 305 6-16-2018
So when I saw the 305 PA Sprint
Series had a race booked there, I was ready to go. It's a nice
half mile with sufficient banking to allow side by side racing,
top and bottom with room in the middle. The symmetrical corners
are connected with just the right length straights to make a great
The downside to this race is that the 305s were the main attraction and it was a combined effort with the PA series and the Virginia series and 52 cars showed up. But that wasn't the bad news. The bad news came at the draw when I reached in and pulled out 190. That was the highest number drawn (out of 200) and so I would start 13th in the last heat. Four heats with 5 to qualify had everyone thinking that they had to really race hard to qualify in 8 laps.
Jim and Robbie made their way to help in the pits. They are great crew.
Hot laps went well. The track was still wet in the 4th session with some scrape off in the middle. I ran the low cushion flat out and the car felt good and a bit tight. We left it alone for the heat and just dropped air pressures a tad.
The heat went well also, I picked off one car in the first lap on the bottom but then went to the top and gained on the next car. I was able to get beside him a couple of times but didn't have the bite or momentum to pass. A couple of spinners moved me up to 10th at the end. Car ran great and I felt the driving was good. On to the B main.
We were pitted in the front
straight halfway between the turn and flag stand with a pit road
and three high armco between us and the track. I wasn't the only
one thinking about racing hard to qualify. The early heats had
already put cars on the hook. Now the two Bmains were the last
The leader got turned into the outside wall and came back across the track near the start line and the rest of the pack ran over each other to avoid what they saw ahead. Somehow one car got into the air, and flipped over the inside four foot+ fence and landed upright, directly behind me, 10 ft back.
They floated three or four cars in by the cage. Three were pitted just to my left.
My B Main went well for me. I started 10th of 13. In the first lap I passed two cars battling side by side in the middle as I got bite on the bottom. I went to the cushion and reeled in the next car and then got him on the bottom of three. I passed the next car down the front straight and ran the cushion in one to clear him.
We had a restart for a spun car and as we came out of four, full pedal, a car up ahead got sideways and the cars behind him hammered the brakes. By the time it got back to me I only had 10 ft to react and plowed the car ahead, square on the rear bumper. I thought I was going over the top but the double front bumper helped keep things under control. Instantly after impact, everyone was racing off the bottom of four and no yellow.
I really creamed the car ahead of me. His rear bumper was so flat that it elbowed out by the tires on both sides. His tank was flat. He ran ahead of me and I reeled him in and did a last corner pass on the cushion for the spot.
Finishing 5th from 10th didn't get me into the show but the way the car felt and how I was able to drive and pass cars was a win for me. It was good to feel racy again. More laps gets me more confidence and faster. The clay at these tracks helps. It actually has some bite, even when dry, and that makes the setups and adjustments actually work.
I hope I can translate some of this to the 360 in NY.
Path Valley 6-2-2018
The car, rebuilt from last week's misjudgement, had a rebuilt rear, new front axle and the wing from the 360. With the setup slightly adjusted for the quarter, I showed up not knowing what to expect. Jim and Robbie came along to help in the pits.
A couple laps around the place on the ATV were rough as hell and the clay looked stiff enough that it wouldn't roll in very smooth. The steep banking and very tight turns were nearly the same to me as Woodhull except that the straights were about half as long. Everyone around here had told me that this was a really tight bull ring. They were all used to the big halfs.
A few times around in hotlaps and I felt pretty comfortable. A change to the secondary bypass made a big difference in low speed take off. The car turned in and there was lots of bite. We had 15 ½ inches of stagger but there would be a 305 makeup feature before the heats so we took a couple inches out for the heat.
My draw was 30 out of 30 which put me last in the first heat. With 32 cars in the pits they were taking 5 from each heat.
The heat race went well as I was getting to know the track. I dodged a spin in front of me and finished 7th challenging for 6th.
We made some changes for the B, starting 8th. The car was better and I was more confident and felt fastest on the bottom. I got to 5th but they took four.
The dirt is different in PA. Setups and adjustments work like they are supposed to and the car feels much more hooked up. It's entirely different from the NY tracks. The more laps I'm getting , the better I feel in the car.
Grove 305 5-29-2018
The motor still had a low speed stumble that really hurt starts and flattened the motor in the corners. I couldn't get a good start and ran down the center of the straight to the bottom of one. It stumbled coming off.
The car was a bit tight coming off and I tried to compensate. I passed one car getting into one. A few laps in and a car got under me coming out of two. We ran side by side down the back straight. I was going to run the outside of three and four hoping to stay even or pass but when he turned in it put me on top of the cushion. The chunky wet lumps and tight car wouldn't turn. I got it around but it was just sliding up to the outside rail.
I ran out of race track and put the RR into the fence. The the front end pivoted in and as it spun in, the LR dug in and it went over and landed upright.
Top wing, front axle and right side wheels were done. They lifted the car and brought it back to the pits. We fixed enough to load up.
the shop I checked the rear axle and found it had some runout so I
took it to DMI and they replaced the axle and lower shaft, faced
the snout and the torque tube flange.
I just misjudged the corner and thought the car would hook up going in. I'll know better next time.
I drew a 3 and started pole of the
It was a humiliating run. I had hopes that I was getting things figured out but the car was completely unhooked. We ran the B to see if any changes helped but we were still just on top of the the track with no bite.
This track was like racing on ice compared to a dry slick PA track.
Port Royal 305 4-21-18
Another nice day in PA. One of those sunny warm spring days that let you feel comfortable while scrambling around to get the car ready.
This race at Port was like a class reunion. I pulled into a pit spot that was next to Bill and Bob Landis, both of whom I'd raced with here in the 80's. They were sponsoring a car and it carried their number 88. Duval, my friend, and crew from the 80's was there with the 1W car with one of his motors in. Numerous racers, friends and fans stopped by to talk and see if it was the same guy still racing the Parts Peddler 80.
Jody and George stopped by and said they were fans from way back and wanted to sponsor me then but never did. "How much to get our name on your car?" they asked. I was speechless and said that anything would be helpful. They said they were going to the ATM and would be back with enough for a new RR tire. And 15 minutes later they showed up with a handful of ATM cash. It was a great feeling to be remembered and still have some fans. I ordered the lettering during the week and will have it on the car, next race.
Two friends of Denny Gross have stepped in to help crew the car. Jim Miller and his son Robbie live only a few miles away in Hanover. Jim has been in racing his whole life and knows what to do. Mike McConnell and his son have a 305 that is being finished. They have showed up at each race and have been great help. PA racers are a friendly and helpful bunch. It has been a huge relief to have such great help and great new friends in my second PA adventure.
This would be the third race of my newcomer status so I would start last all night. At the next event I will be considered a fully initiated member and can draw a pill for starting position (however if I race the 360 anywhere, I start last in my heat at my next 305 event. It's more clubby than I like but... ). In the last two events there were less than 24 cars so I got to run the features but this night brought 40 cars and although the promoter would start 26, it still meant that 14 would watch.
The track was already dry and glass smooth in hot laps and a loose cushion was way up the track. It is where everyone ran as hot laps worked the track in.
Starting 10th in the 4th heat with 5 to qualify was a tall order. As we entered the first turn, other's lifted and I felt hooked up and drove between cars and passed two going in. The middle was dry and lacked bite but the car drove through but was spinning the tires coming off. As the pack strung out it was a challenge to get any edge on the car in front. In the end, I passed two cars and finished 8th.
Starting 12th in the Bmain, taking 6, I thought there might be a chance. Again heading to the first turn I was able to pass going in and pedal the second turn to keep the line and get the most forward bite. I had checked out the cushion on pace laps. It was three feet off the wall, both ends and I was not yet confident enough to take that challenge so I found the tacky spots on the bottom and worked them.
The car in front ran the cushion or high middle some laps and dove for the bottom on others. I stuck my nose in and kept him off the tacky strip and for the rest of the race we ran side by side, each gaining or losing some ground each lap. Last lap I got a good run out of two and we entered three even. He went to the top and I got a great line on the bottom. The drag race down the front straight put him ahead by a bumper. We were both out of a qualifying spot but, it was the most fun racing you could have.
I am impressed with the 305 package. We are the last class to run each night so we see the slickest tracks. That fits will with the car and I like the challenge of the slick. Of course PA slick is different than NY slick. PA clay has bite where NY clay is like ice. I was going to run the 360 in PA some, but I think I'll stick with the 305 in PA and just take the 360 to NY when I go there to help out with caring for my mother and working on the properties there.
Susquehanna Speedway (BAPS) 4-14-2018
I didn't get home from The Grove until 2AM but was up at 8AM to wash the car and make some changes. I installed a dial-a-jet and, after talking to the motor builder, added a restrictor to the water pump inlet in hopes of solving the heating problem.
I ran this track every Sunday back when. It had gone through lots of ups and downs and deteriorated over the years until it was bought by a local business man/ car owner, several years ago and improvements make. This nicely banked paperclip now hosts the weekly classes that ran at Silver Spring Speedway in Mechanicsburg PA. The Sportsman class is a 2x4 box framed winged sprint car look alike with starters. The fans and competitors of this class are a long storied and dedicated bunch. It's good that they have found a solid home.
It felt good to race on this track again. Denny had set me up with a great guy to crew the car. Mike McConnell has a 305 that his son races but had the night free to help me. We got a long great and got things set up to race.
on rookie status, I would start last in all races but with 23 cars
in the pits all would qualify.
We changed air pressures, wing location (fixed) and shocks for the feature and started last. By the time I got to the the fourth turn on the start, the pack had lifted so much dust that I couldn't see the car in front of me or the wall. I was cautious for a couple laps until I could see. Passed a car on the opening lap and chased the rest of the race gaining ground and losing it.
After several cautions, the race ended and I was seventeenth by attrition. I had fun and learned some things. The water temp still got to 230 so I will have to spring for the $350 triple pass radiator to solve the problem.
I didn't race in 2017. I was in NY for the first 6 months helping care for my mother while she was recovering from an accident that led to kidney problems. Then I had some property work to do before I got back to PA in October.
Now I was in a fresh car and it only took a lap to feel reasonably comfortable on track but the car was a bit darty at times at the end of the straight and so I was cautious.
Running with the PA Sprint Series (PASS), everyone is a rookie for the first 3 races and has to start last in all races. With 22 cars in the pits, everyone will qualify so this is my test and debugging race.
We took out some stagger for the heat but the car still changed lanes unexpectedly. At entry the back end would step out and make the corner slower. Then the loaded motor wouldn't clear until I hit the straight. I could run with the car ahead but in order to pass, the car needs to roll in and stay straight.
In the feature, I passed a couple cars early on and traded places a few times. The car was better with less stagger and the wing back. In PASS there is no onboard wing adjustment, it has to be set in the pits and you live with it for the rest of the race. About half way in the feature the motor was hot and so I decided to pull in.
It felt good to run The Grove again.