The Start

  I'm getting the questions, how did you pick the car, how did you decide to run, why, etc, etc, etc. So here goes...

Racing has always been a dream and fascination of mine. I can remember going to Atlanta Motor Speedway with my parents in the early 70's. I don't remember anything about the races, but I remember going. I also remember going to local tracks that were around middle Georgia back in that time. I've always enjoyed racing, but it was never such as an obsession with me as it has been since 1992. I was stationed overseas with the Air Force from 86-92, so I was out of touch with all types of racing. When I got back in 1992, NASCAR was huge and all other forms were really growing. I immediately got hooked into NASCAR again and have been obsessed with racing ever since. I always felt, deep down, it was something I could do and, one day, I was going to try it. Being a success at racing wasn't really the dream. The dream was just to race. PERIOD. If success came along with it, then, that would just be "icing on the cake."

In 1996, as I was getting ready to separate from the military after 11 years, I was stationed in Oklahoma City. I had been spending a lot of my Friday and Saturday nights at Oklahoma State Fair Grounds Speedway (dirt) watching the local folks run there. Dirt Trackin' didn't really do it for me, in terms of my dream, but it was fun to watch. I told everyone, I was getting out of the Military, moving back down South and starting me a race team. Well, I did move back down South, but that was as far as the dream got for awhile.

I had no idea what type of racing I was going get involved with, so I started looking around. One of the quickest growing forms back then was Legends Cars. 5/8 scale 1930's and 40's cars with Yamaha motorcycle engines. They were getting some good TV time and they were billed as very inexpensive. They are, compared to most forms of racing. But the cars are still 15 or $16,000 to start with and would cost about 25 thousand or so to run the entire schedule. Not too bad, but then, I ran across the (now defunct) Parts Pro Truck Series. The trucks cost the same as a Legends car, but are full sized trucks with V8 engines. Still, the cost to run for the year was going to be in the high 20's to 30's.. I just didn't have it.. I still did everything possible to come up with the money and start my racing program.

After wasting almost two years on ventures I could not afford, I was on the phone with a friend of mine, Joe Reymann. We had just been to East Alabama Motor Speedway a couple weeks earlier and said, "While you're sitting here wasting time trying to start up a program you obviously can't afford, why not scale down your dream and run what you can afford? Dirt Track." It was like a bell went off in my head. Seat time is Seat time. Get out there and race what you can afford and if you get the chance to move to asphalt later on, then do it, but don't sit around wasting anymore time than you have. Thanks, Joe. That was kick I needed.

I went out to East Alabama and started learning about the local classes. So many classes. What caught my eye was the Late Model Sportsman cars. They look like the Hav-A-Tampa (Now World of Outlaws Late Models) cars, but have a stock front clip and the engine scaled down a little. After finding a Late Model for sale and finding out what it was going to cost to clip the car for Sportsman and how much these guys spend on motors, I decided to find a lower class. I need to learn to race before I try to tackle something THAT competitive. As I said earlier, I had no idea what form of racing there was out there and how competitive these classes were.. I was put in contact with a guy that gave me some good advice and I had hired him to build a car for me. That entire "relationship" turned out to be a major fiasco.. He was and is still a HUGE crook!!! Just so you don't business with this crook, his name is Clint Walker at Pro-Motion Motorsports in Gray, GA.  During the year, I started going to the local tracks and helped with a couple of local guys here.. The first was Jamie Carr. I was put in touch with Jamie by a guy I worked with and started going to track with him. I learned a lot from Jamie and even got spoiled by visiting Victory Lane with him on a couple of occasions.. The other was Ed Johnson. I spent a few weeks with Ed getting ready for the National 100 and learned a lot from him also, such as car preparation, setup, and body fabrication. I enjoy every minute I spend with these guys and the information I still get from them is very valuable. At the end of the 2000 season, Jamie was given a chance to run asphalt and leave the dirt world behind. Jamie's nephew, Zach, called and told me Jamie was selling his entire dirt operation.. I called Jamie and three days later the car was in my garage.  Over the years, Jamie and Ed have kept giving me valuable information that I need to learn.  I call on them both many times during the year asking opinions and advice..  They have been my "Saviors" when it comes my racing..

Yes, there is a woman in my life. Heather. How does she deal with this? Well, let's just say that she has known this is a burning desire of mine since the day she met me and she would never try and stand between me and my dream. Does she like it? No. (With reasons) Does she support it? Yes. Is she worried about safety and finances? Yes.  In the beginning, we didn't even discuss it much.  The less she heard about it, the better.  But she became slightly more interested in it and started asking questions about the car and learning a little about the sport..  Heather is not a race fan at all, so this is just not her "cup of tea."  But, she knows I am "obsessed", and deals with it like we all deal with certain quirks our loved ones have. She goes to the track, she helps with the car, she acts as spotter on the radio.  She may not look forward to doing it, but she's there for me. Safety is her biggest issue with this, as it should be. We'll be as safe as possible and we'll get through it...

  I've also been asked how I came up with the number to run. I don't know how other guys do it, but I wanted a number that meant something to me. While I was in the military, we were all issued "Operator Numbers" in the types of places I worked. Since we dealt with highly classified material, we had to check it and sign off that it was checked. They didn't want our names on it, so we were issued numbers. The first number I was issued was 7. I was able to keep that number at every assignment I was at. (Including Saudi Arabia and Haiti) Depending on who you asked, "Operator 7" was pretty well known. And being well known on some of those tours got me some good "face time" and seemed to help out my career at times. So, "7" was always a good number for me. Rumor has it they even "retired" 7 as an operator number at my last assignment, but I never saw anything official on that. But, the fact that it was even thought about was really cool to me. So, there was never a question on what number to run. Looking around, 7 is pretty popular number.  I don't want to be the same as everyone else, so, the next best thing was to double it.. Hence: 77.

  Since the time this was first written, we completed our first season, moved to a different area of the state and converted the car to run on asphalt.  So, my original dream of running asphalt came true quicker than I expected.
(Written Summer of 2002)

WHY Did I Quit?

  Heather told me, after all these years of giving ALL the details about everything that was going on with the car and the team, I was being pretty quiet about the decision to sell it all.  She said it was pretty "crappy" to send out an email saying check the news page, but with no explanation.

  So, here it is...

    I wanted to drive a race car.  I knew I could drive a race car.  I don't know how I knew,  it was just a feeling inside.. You know the feeling: You can just look at something and say to yourself, "I can do that."  It was just one of those things.  Well, over the last few years I've realized something else, I didn't want to JUST drive a race car.  I wanted to run with the "Big Dogs" on the track in whatever class I was running in.  I wanted to run with them and I wanted to BEAT them.. I didn't just want to drive laps.  I wanted to compete!! Of course, I was at a disadvantage from the start. I had no full time help on the car and I had NO expertise on how to set up, fix, or work on a car.  I can think back now on how much I have learned over the years and the amount I've learned is amazing, thanks to people like Jamie Carr, Ed Johnson and Jerry Barber.  Not only were they the  "experts" on the car itself, but they were my driving coaches and "racing buddies" as well.  Jamie gave me pointers on running my first track, were to hit the brake, where to get on the gas, how to take the corners to what to do when the car gets loose among many other things. He also re-clipped the rear when we got bashed at EAMS.  He also offered some MAJOR advice on setup and driving techniques when I moved to run asphalt.  Jerry would coach me from the turns during my early races and talked me through starting my first race on the pole along with being the only engine mechanic I ever trusted to work on my motor..  Ed put in countless hours (actually we did count them and it wasn't pretty) on making and hanging the bodies and noses on the car by hand along with helping me set it up for the dirt.  I learned more from those three guys about racing and cars than I will ever learn from anyone else.  And for that, I owe them a huge Thank You.  Although I had the help of those guys and a few others over the years, it was "part time" help or a phone call for info.  When it came to the hands-on workings (besides hanging the body or re-clipping the rear end) I was doing 90% the work by myself tucked away in my garage or shop. Every weekend was planned around me wanting to go to the track.   Every spare moment was spent in the garage, either fixing the car or working on it to make it better.  No weekend plans were ever made without checking to see if I was trying to make the track that weekend or not.  And, not knowing what I needed to do to the car to make it better or fix it, took the project twice (or three times) as long as it would take a normal guy.  So, all my free time was devoted the car.  Along with not having the knowledge and time to do what needed to be done to the car, I also could not pour the money into the project like others did in my class at Cordele.  Some of those guys have pumped 10-12 grand in their motors for a Hobby car.  Although I want to run with the Big Dogs and run competitive, I refuse to spend that kind of money to do it.  I have too many other things going on in my life to spend that kind of dough on a race car to run at a local level.  It just doesn't make smart financial sense to me.

  S0, basically, when I can't put in the time the car demanded, and I refused to put the money into it that we needed to run competitive, I had to ask myself a question:  Am I happy just running laps out on the track or not.  After a couple of months of thinking about it, I decided I'm not happy just turning laps..  I'm not a person that can "half-ass" any project I ever do.  I'm either going to do it right and to the best of my ability, or I'm not going to do it all.  Maybe that sounds selfish or narrow-minded to some.. But, to me, I just refuse to "settle" for second best.  (or 7th or 8th in this case)  As a racer, running in the back of the pack is not fun.  We race to win.  Now, I don't put unrealistic goals on myself.  I didn't expect to go out into asphalt my first year and win races.  But, knowing I can drive, I expected to run competitively.  But, when I see the equipment my competitors are running and I make the decision that I'm not going to spend that kind of cash to compete with them, then I know I'll never run competitively with the time and financial budget I've placed on myself.

  That, my dear friends, is my explanation as to why I have to back away from this sport as a car owner and driver.  Now, don't get me wrong.. I'm not bitter with auto racing because it didn't work out for me.  I'm still a HUGE fan of the sport and will always be a HUGE fan of it.. I'll still be going to the local tracks and watching and maybe, even helping out a few teams.  I just won't be in the driver's seat for now, and I surely won't be a car owner anytime in the near future.  If I'm lucky enough to find a car owner here in Cochran or in Cordele that's looking for a driver, I may strap back on the helmet, but for now, that would be the only way I can do it. Although, as you all know, that chance is about as often as winning the lottery.  But, hey, you never know..

  I hope I've answered your questions..  If not, feel free to email me and I'll let you know anything you ask..  Thanks for all your support over the last 3 years.. It's been great..

  Thanks again....



If you are interested in where "Wolfpack Racing" got it's name,

Click Here