It was announced last week that driver Donald McIntosh has decided to leave the Blount Motorsports team he has raced for since 2014 to seek other opportunities. The Dawsonville, GA pilot won numerous feature races and earned regional series championships during his time with the Maryville, Tenn. based organization but hopes to race nationally at some point in the near future, which is not a part of the plan BMS owner Larry Garner has for his operation.
As a result, Garner and his team are now searching for a driver of the highly successful ride that competes largely in east Tennessee and neighboring areas. Maryville’s Tommy Kerr once served as the full-time driver for BMS but decided to scale back his racing efforts to spend more time with his family several years ago. Knoxville’s Billy Ogle, Jr. then took the reins for BMS until they parted ways at the end of the 2014 campaign. McIntosh has driven the car since with Kerr running a second effort on a limited basis.
So after having veteran drivers such as Kerr and Ogle then handing the steering wheel to the much younger McIntosh, what sort of pilot is Garner looking for in this driver search? He points out that there has been no shortage of interest from all sorts of potential wheelmen in the short amount of time the ride has been open.
“We’re taking applications and auditions,” Garner told InsideDirtRacing.com. “We’ve already had about twenty people to call, everywhere from Sportsman drivers to two national touring drivers. We’re probably not going to step back. We’re going to go with someone like we have now or step up. I was really surprised that two national guys are interested.”
Garner doesn’t have a definite timetable in mind for making the hire. After all, there’s no need to be in a hurry as the plans for the remainder of the season are already set. Instead of being in a rush, the BMS boss is more interested in finding a driver that provides the right chemistry for his already successful team.
“We’re going to finish the season with Donald,” Garner explained. “We are already interviewing. We’ve got an interview Tuesday night with a driver. We will probably test with a couple or three drivers after we narrow it down.”
Garner hopes to find a driver who can not only hold the steering wheel but who can also provide the feedback that will help crew chief David Bryant make the adjustments that will provide success in feature races.
“Yeah, we’re looking for a driver who is capable of pulling in and saying the car is doing this and we need to do that,” Garner stated. “We’re not going back to where David has to figure it all out from the sidelines. We’re going to have a driver who can do that and I’m excited. I was really surprised and didn’t think we would have this much interest.”
Just because there is about to be a change in the driver’s seat doesn’t mean there will be a drop off in performance. As a matter of fact, Garner believes his team has the ability to improve in 2018.
“I think we’ll probably step up a notch,” he insisted, “I think you’ll find that Blount Motorsports will be a strong competitor next year.”
But while Garner expects his team’s performance to get even better, he does see a need to cut back on the number of races they will run in the future. Their busy schedule has taken its toll this past season.
“We’re going to scale back,” the founder of Blount Excavating, Inc. said. “We’re going to end up running about seventy races this year and that’s a little more than we need to run. We’re going to scale back to maybe 50 or 55. We’re going to run regional and when the big boys come close enough that we can go, we’ll do that. I’m not going to Pennsylvania or New York or Nebraska. I don’t get to go to enough of them as it is. David likes to be home, he has a 15-year-old son. There’s more to life than racing seven days a week.”
Aside from the driver, don’t expect many changes on the Blount Motorsports machine next season. The team plans to stick with their Rocket Chassis and Vic Hill Race Engines combination.
“We’re not changing anything. It doesn’t matter who the driver is, he’s coming to us. We’re not going to him.”