June 15, 2012
If you were hoping for a wild victory celebration in this column, well… so was I. But the Pack Motorsports/Boschett Timepieces/McGunegill Engines Special had a lousy night at Motordrome Speedway in Pennsylvania this past weekend despite the best efforts of my fantastic crew. We’ll get to that in a minute.
I have a quick story for you first.
Did you ever wonder why so many racecars were called “Specials?” Louis Meyer, for instance, drove the Bowes Seal Fast Special. Mauri Rose won the Indy 500 in the Blue Crown Spark Plug Special. The term “special” is an earmark for many classic American racecars.
Here’s how the term originated:
In the early 20th century, racecars were simply passenger cars. Manufacturers frequently raced their products with no alterations whatsoever.
As time went on, manufacturers and race teams would outfit these passenger cars with bigger engines and high performance gear to make them go faster. In doing so, the products that race fans saw on the track became less and less like the passenger cars they could actually buy off the showroom floor.
Eventually, it became apparent that some sort of notation was necessary to distinguish the common passenger cars from the racing hot rods that bore the same company name. So manufacturers adopted the “special” moniker.
The public accepted that the Marmon “Special” or the Delage “Special” was not expected to be generally available for purchase. It was, after all, a “special” edition of the company’s car.
Over time, the name “special” was applied to virtually any racecar and company names were replaced by sponsor names. Hence, the “Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special” that won Indianapolis in 1941.
I love cars that are named “Specials.” It’s classy. It’s old fashioned.
Since the paint scheme on my car this season is specifically designed as a tribute to the great racecars of the late 60’s and early 70’s, I thought it only proper to name it the “Pack Motorsports/Boschett Timepieces/McGunegill Engines Special.”
I think Roger Ward would be proud.
But I don’t think he would have liked my performance last weekend at Motordrome Speedway. I’ve got the best team in the Super Cup Stock Car Series and we expect to be at or near the front every night.
The car was quick off the trailer. We thought we were in the top five throughout practice but we knew we weren’t quite fast enough to win. So my crew chief, J. J. Pack, engineered several changes.
The shocks were swapped, the right rear spring was changed, and the crew hustled to put a new gear in just before qualifications all to no avail. The crew put in a magnificent effort but we just couldn’t find any more speed.
I went out for my two-lap qualifying run with my usual mindset – log an average lap on my first try, and then hang everything out on the second lap and go for broke. I usually qualify reasonably well, but on the second lap I tried a little too hard.
The car got loose between Turns 1 and 2. Instead of gathering it up and accepting a slight improvement over my first lap’s time, I decided to ride the car sideways out of the corner and try for a super hot lap.
It backfired. The car nearly slid out and I barely saved it.
Oops. Now we had to race from 12th position, my worst qualifying effort of the season.
I moved up a few positions in the race but never had anything for the leaders at all. Kevin Kromer, Jimmie Crabtree and Jody Harrison showed why they’re short track stars. They just smoked me.
My car was tight in the center of the turns and we simply didn’t have the speed to catch anyone. We ended up in 9th place at the end of the night and our championship hopes took a real blow.
However, I guess I should look on the bright side… even on our worst nights we’re still a top ten team.
We have a few weeks off before racing at Virginia’s Old Dominion Speedway on July 14th. In the meantime I’m looking forward to meeting up with some good friends at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next week for the SVRA’s Vintage Grand Prix. Maybe that will help me stop thinking about my dismal performance on the oval last weekend.
Hope to see you there.
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auctions
#21 Pack Motorsports/Boschett Timepieces/McGunegill Engines Special