Leading into the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race at East Alabama Motor Speedway just about this time last year things were going well in the life of Randy Weaver. The Crossville, Tenn. driver was winning races while at the same selling racing chassis to a number of customers. It seemed as if life couldn’t be much better.
Then on lap 26 of the race at EAMS, things went terribly wrong for the veteran racer. After his car went over the berm and off the racing surface, Weaver’s No. 116 machine rolled over multiple times and was virtually destroyed. Even with that, the driver was able to walk away and seemingly had come out of the horrific looking accident unscathed. However, that soon proved to not be the case.
About one month later Weaver began to experience severe headaches, dizziness and sickness that would ultimately be diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome. Essentially, this once active man was completely sidelined, unable to even drive his personal vehicle much less a race car.
Last summer, InsideDirtRacing.com published a story in which Weaver declared that his greatest hope was merely to return to living a normal life with racing only as a secondary concern.
“I’m a lot closer than what I was, for sure,” Weaver said in an interview conducted this past Saturday at Smoky Mountain Speedway. “But last week I had a pretty bad spell like I hadn’t had in about four months so it still lingers in there. But yeah, we’re definitely better than we were and now I’m enjoying the other role of overseeing the team and helping Brandon when I can. I’m just trying to enjoy each day. I’m definitely not out of the woods, but I’m way better than I was.”
Weaver hasn’t driven a race car since that accident with the exception of a brief test session at Crossville Raceway about a month after his crash. Now, he serves as the leader of the team co-owned by himself and businessman Chip Stone that employs Brandon Overton as its driver.
The No. 116 team has experienced success since Overton’s arrival, having won the $10,000 Gobbler event last fall at Boyd’s Speedway and the 2017 season opening race for the Lucas Oil Series at Golden Isles Speedway in Georgia.
Weaver believes he has adjusted to his new role well.
“It’s been good,” the 47-year-old Weaver insisted. “When all that happens, it’s all for a reason. I prayed a lot to take that desire from me of wanting to be in the race car and it’s worked out good. Brandon reminds me a lot of myself and it’s put a different look on all of it for me. I’m glad to see him have good equipment and a good chance to really go somewhere. He’s just 25, so hopefully we’ll be together for a lot of years. I’m pretty excited to see how far he can go.”
And though he does feel considerably better than he did a few months ago, Weaver does not foresee a return to the driver’s seat in his future.
“It’s pretty set forward that I’m definitely not going to get back in so I’ve kind of just got that in my mind and I try to block out the other stuff,” he said. “I do catch myself thinking ‘Here’s what I would do’ and we have team meetings and we talk about a lot of things and we incorporate everybody into the final decision. It’s worked really well.”
Aside from not driving anymore, another thing has changed for Weaver and his team. With an eye toward racing more often than in previous years, they have decided to spend less time building race cars. Instead, they focus mostly on their own efforts.
“We’re actually taking a little bit of this year off from building stuff just because we want to go out and race,” the racer known as ‘The Dream’ pointed out. “Of course, when we prove our product more, it makes the demand greater so we’ve turned down a lot of new cars lately because it’s not a good timing deal for us.”
And the future may very hold some interesting things for the Outlaw Racing Southeast organization.
“We’ve got some big things in the works that hopefully we’ll get announced at the first of the year,” Weaver proclaimed. “We’re going to try to change it up a little bit in our area. We’ve got some different outlooks business wise for team owners and things that we think will make racing better in general. Hopefully it will all come together but the shop’s as busy as we want it to be. I’m very fortunate. The Lord has been good to me because I’m getting to do that right there in my hometown so I thought some stuff was bad but it’s not that bad at all.”
But there are more important things than racing in life.
“I tell everybody now that I’m probably 95% and I remember when I was only 10% to the good so it’s definitely gotten way better. I can’t wait for the day when I’m back to 100%. It’s been tough but we’re gaining on it.”