Now it’s time for the dirt racing grind to begin


Hours are spent in race shops preparing cars for battle as in the Double Down Motorsports garage

With Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks now behind us and the last of the winter time special events for the dirt tracks in east Tennessee having been contested, it’s time for the real grind of the long racing season to begin. It’s this time of year when the equipment better be ready for week-to-week competition. The race cars themselves, all the parts and pieces, the transporters, and the crew members now have to be in place and ready to work and travel for the next several months, whether it be in support of a national touring series team or a weekly Modified Street racer at a local track.

The touring series teams have just completed a two or three week stint in Georgia and Florida where they raced multiple times but those racers took place in a relatively small area with there being anywhere from two to five consecutive nights spent in the same place. While that can certainly be grueling, the real work and travel for these racers is just beginning.

Whether they be racing on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series or the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, these campaigners are about to face a stretch of months in which they will be living out of haulers as they travel for hours and hours to reach locales in places such as Nebraska, the Dakotas, and even Canada. Often times they can be away from their shops and homes for weeks at time. And unlike the racing in Georgia and Florida, there aren’t many instances throughout the season in which they stay in the same place for more than a day or two. After each feature the rig has to be loaded back up and several more hours will be traversed before having to unload and do it all over again.

Weekly racers as well as touring stars such as Dennis Erb, Jr. have to work on their cars at the track as well

For those racers who may compete at one or two of the local tracks that contest weekly racing here in east Tennessee as well as all over the country, the grind is somewhat different. While there may not be hours spent on the road, there will be long days and nights spent in a shop that is probably not equipped as well as those used by the national touring guys. Blood, sweat, tears, and human ingenuity often times has to be relied on more than the latest piece of labor saving machinery in these garages.

And while weekly racers may not travel as much as the touring series teams, they have another dynamic that can be challenging. They typically go up against the same competitors week after week at the same venue in the same work space. If a rivalry develops because of a run-in that may have happened early in the season, those racers will likely never get very far away from each other all year long. And that can lead to a different kind of frustration.

And when the race is over, it all has to be loaded up and moved to the next event

While these drivers and team member may very well be living what some would consider a dream life, there are definitely challenges mixed in along the way. For the touring series racer there will be long time periods spent away from home and family with nights of very hard worked sandwiched by long hours spent on the highway. For the weekly racer, there will be the constant grind of working in a small, cramped shop until the wee hours of the morning after coming home from a regular 9-to-5 job to get ready for competition. And then they face another week of doing it all over again.

But as fans, we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor by watching our heroes show off extraordinary skills doing things we can only dream of.

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