Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 Season Recap

We had such a great opportunity this season to race with many different series. Although this kept us out of the points chase, Justin and his dad were able to gain valuable experience racing against some of the world’s greatest sprinters. From the Rocky Mountain & Northwest ASCS series to the NCRA guys in Kansas, to the Big Sky Sprint car tour in Montana…we have been everywhere this summer! Each race has taught us something new, which has added to our successful season.
The different tracks, series, and groups of drivers have offered incredible learning experiences. Each series brought new challenges of unknown tracks, being the outsider and learning to adapt to changes. This pushed Justin to race harder and faster, which has developed his driving skills and confidence in his car.
The communication between Justin and his crew chief (dad) has also improved this season. They understand one another better and continue to work on driver/crew chief communication.
To God be the Glory for his protection and blessings over the entire season and thanks to our powerful race angels. This season is absolute proof that with God, all things are possible!
Mom and Dad, we know this would never have happened without you guys in the pits with us. Thank you for spending many weekends with us along with your financial support and commitment.
Special thanks to all of our sponsors out there. We could not have run this season without your support and faith in our team. Huge thanks to our families and prayer warriors… we value your prayers, love and encouragement. You are our shield! And Justin is ever thankful for his smokin’ hot wife for all of the late nights, dusty tracks, support and encouragement she gives me. I couldn’t do it without you.
And we can’t forget our wonderful Tazzer. He makes us smile and it would not be the same traveling without our beloved dog. And race friends…we look forward to another season racing next to you.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
Don’t look back!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aztec, NM

Friday on the way to the track, Justin’s parent’s Yukon/team push vehicle broke down outside of Aztec. They had it towed to a shop so we picked them up to go with us to the track. Luckily the shop was able to fix the minor transmission problems before the drive home on Sunday.
We arrived in Aztec along with 36 other cars to contend for Friday’s race. It was a packed pit area and we were excited to be there after a few weeks of no racing. We started second row outside in the second heat. When the race started, the car felt good for the first lap and then the car quickly went away. We butchered the setup which made the car very difficult to handle. It felt like a boxing match inside a metal cage. It took all Justin had to keep the car on the track. We’ll be uploading the video of the heat soon.
With the poor finish in the heat race, we started in the second B, second to last place. This race was better than our heat after some improvements but we finished 9th. They were only taking the top 2 of each B into the A so we were done for the night.
We have been amazed and thankful for the input and wisdom of follow drivers and teams. Many have been willing to share their knowledge and give us some important information about what we have been doing wrong and how to improve our setups.
Some friends from our Bible study group came out for the Saturday race to hang with us in the pits. They were amazed at Justin’s improvements from the past season. They helped us out and were treated to a crazy night of racing. April also got to meet up with an internet friend that she has known online for years now. It was great to meet her family and let them check out the racecar. She took many of the amazing photos in this week’s blog post!
The heats before Justin's heat involved some pretty outrageous wrecks. It all started with a pit official on an ATV getting hit by a tow-truck. Then we witnessed one of the craziest wrecks we’ve seen. Two cars collides and one of them became completely airborne, sending his front wing flying OVER the fence, landing just a few yards from where our crew and friends were standing. Thankfully the safety fence did its job and kept the car from going over so he ended up hanging off the ground, caught in the fence. There were several other wrecks before the night finished but thankfully we managed to avoid them.

Our friends were sitting in the stands and got these tumbling action shots. You can actually see the car flying through the air. Amazing!!

You can see just how close our Yukon was sitting next to the wreck in this photo. Our pit stall was just down the hill so we saw all the live action right there. Crazy!

Justin was in the 4th heat, third inside row. Justin finished fifth and started second row outside in the first B event. He had a bad start due to a slow car in front of him but after a red flag wreck they started again. He restarted 7th and this time Justin took off and finished in 4th place. The car was amazing and he thinks he could have gained more positions if he had a few more laps. It was a great end to the Rocky Mountain season.
A special thanks to those out there who made this weekend possible. You know who you are!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wyoming Race Weekend

We knew it was going to be a dry weekend just by the fact that our allergies were acting up. April couldn’t stop sneezing thanks to the fine dirt in the air. We arrived at Casper Speedway and set up the rig. It was so great to be racing with the Rocky Mountain region again. The last time was back in June so it was nice to see familiar faces and race cars.

Justin took 3rd in his heat after some crazy placements. By the time the sprints took the track for the A, it was so dry and dusty out there. Everyone was sliding everywhere, cars backfiring, drivers spinning out and pure chaos. While we were watching, we couldn’t see any of the cars on the back side of the track due to the major dust cloud. J said it was like driving with your eyes closed but we knew his angels were flying along side his car in that mess. All we cared about was J finishing safely so many prayers were said and protection received. We took 14th out of 26 cars.

Our friends Karla and Brandon were in the stands in Casper that night and they followed us to Rock Springs the next day. These are true friends to brave the road trips, hot weather, dirt and late nights with us. Their little girl is a true race fan and loved playing in the dirt with Tazzer.
It ended up being a super late night at Sweetwater because of the other divisions having wrecks and upsets. Justin took 4th in his heat but didn’t get any passing points so he had to run the B feature. He did incredible and took 3rd place which put him at the back of the pack for the A feature.

He started at the very back of the pack in the A feature with 28 other cars. It soon became obvious that his car was hooked up and he was driving it like we had never seen. In one corner, a pack of five cars could not stick so all of them slid to the outside while in a matter of seconds, Justin sped inside and passed them all. He was on fire, passing many other cars like they were sitting still! He was gaining on 9th place when all of the sudden his car got all squirrely and he slid up almost slamming the wall. He was able to get things under control but was loosing ground quickly.

Little did we know, he had blown his right rear tire! Thankfully he was able to get off the track without running into someone else or the wall. When he got back to the rig, we were shocked at the size of the hole in the tire. Turns out he had run over a piece of metal debris from an earlier wreck. God was definitely watching out for him that night! Justin was a little bummed knowing that we might have finished in the top 5 but he was high on adrenaline and completely thrilled from how well the car handled and how great he did out there.
Come to find out, when Justin and his dad were working on the car the following Monday, they found out that 7 of the 16 rocker arms inside the engine…were cracked!! If he would have stayed out on the track for the last 10 laps, the engine could have been destroyed. After the amazement sunk in, I told Justin…”God totally popped your tire!” :o)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Calhan- Bummer

We never made it out on to the track in Calhan.

So bummed because many sponsors, friends and family were coming out to see us. When Justin’s dad pushed him to do a practice start back in the pits, the car locked up and spun in a 360. He almost slammed into other cars but managed to hold it together. They found out something was wrong with the power steering so Justin and I raced back to the shop in town to pick up the backup car’s part. But when we got back, they decided that the parts didn’t match.

By this time, J’s dad also found a high pressure power steering line connection that was stripped and very unsafe so they decided it wasn’t worth the risk. We’ve seen people get burned if linkage is not tight. Huge let down but we'll make it up this weekend in WY.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Montana Race Weekend

This was a really long weekend for us traveling 1700 miles round trip to race on some new tracks. The first night we were in Belgrade, Montana at Gallatin Speedway. It is a tight 3/8th mile, medium banked track. We started 2nd outside row with 7 guys in our heat race. It was tough because the setting sun was right in the eyes of the drivers coming out of turn 2 through the straight-away. It was like driving down the highway with your eyes closed. We still managed to place 5th in the heat as the locals knew the track better than us outsiders.

We started the Main event 2nd to last row. The car really handled well on the bottom side of the track. There was only one wreck during the event so Justin got to run 21 straight laps. He learned a lot about running the low line and finished 13th.

We left the track at midnight and drove 2 hours to a race friend’s house and stayed on his property with other team rigs. Very late night! The next day the yard looked like a sprint car heaven with teams cleaning and working on their cars for the next race there in Billings. It was great to hang out, bbq and get to know some of the teams outside of the tracks. We all caravanned to BMP Speedway in Bozemen, MT and pit together for the next race that night.

This was our second flat track and it was super dry slick conditions. Justin pulled inside front row and led half the heat race but the car got really loose and lost traction. He felt like he was driving on ice! So he started 9th row in 18th position of his main event and half way through the race his car got hooked up and he started passing people and looked awesome out there! He ended up taking 14th and would have gained more if he had just a few more laps. Justin says this is the most fun he has even had in the car. He flat footed the track and the handling was so smooth. This race was such a confidence booster and will blaze a trail for the rest of the season. We can almost taste our first win!
Special thanks to all of the teams who helped us this weekend. Your knowledge and friendship means more than you know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dodge City, Kansas

We’ve decided to branch out of our ASCS circuit and compete with the Kansas NCRA series. We raced just one Saturday night and enjoyed the fact that these cities are closer to home. It also opened up the opportunity to get some seat time and run against a different group of drivers. Justin started his heat race outside pole and was doing good but had problems holding the third position due to issues with the helmet’s tear-offs and being off on the gearing. Justin ran the B, starting second row outside but again had problems with the tear offs which made him not be able to see. He finished 10th in the B which started him at very back of the pack for the A main against 22 cars.

Getting Justin ready...

It ended up being a crazy race due to rough mud and aggressive drivers. Within the first 5 laps there were several spinouts and a red-flag due to a big crash. This became the norm for the evening as about every three laps there were major wrecks which Justin avoided beautifully. As crazy cars took themselves out and Justin stayed cool, he climbed and finished 13th for the night.
This race taught him how to maneuver quickly thanks to insane pit drivers. He almost collided with the pace truck that was not watching when he was pushed onto the track. He also had trouble with his throttle getting stuck and while zipping back to the rig, he annoyed a guy on his atv who wanted to start a fight because he thought Justin should slow down his car that was out of control. Considering all the track mishaps, wrecks and issues we are thrilled with our finish and end results.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nebraska Weekend

A little late but an update from us both.

From Justin:
Well, what a weekend! We arrived in Greenwood, Nebraska on Thursday night to race on the fastest track I've ever seen or raced on. The term "crazy fast,"…this was that place. We unloaded the car and tried to start it and it wouldn't start. The fuel shut off valve came apart in my hand. We rebuilt the valve and then it fired up as I went out on the track for mud packing. My pill draw for the race was inside front row for my heat race. I got an amazing start and was leading the first two laps, then a caution. Restarted and I was entering into turn one and through turn two, my right front tire jumped the cushion and I went rolling down the back stretch. My car rolled twice in the air and came down on the top wing. They scraped my car up off the track and brought it into my pit stall. Our night was over, but we rebuilt the entire car suspension that night at the track. We headed out for the next track and got rained out. From there we headed to Calhan, Colorado to get rained out as well.
From April:
Three days of racing has wiped us out! Justin’s first night out in Nebraska had some highs and lows. This speedway is massive and the teams actually pit INSIDE of the track. The photo at the top shows how the rigs sit inside the raceways. Crazy cool! We had to stand on top of the rigs to see the events. Justin was doing amazing but ended up rolling. The top wing was crushed and several bars broken. He was ok and his angels kept him safe. It didn’t even really shake him up too bad which shows that this is his calling. :o) This is the kind of wreck that every driver needs to face to see if they truly have what it takes. We had a good friend of Justin’s find a new wing for us for at a good price and helped us put the car back together again.
The next night we were ready to race at a different track but it got totally rained out. So much rain that the rigs had to be towed out of the pits. We drove back home to make our first race at a local track in Calhan, CO. But that one also got rained out. Lots of mud, drenched clothes and soggy shoes this weekend. Bummer!
Special thanks to our good friend Tim O'Neil who took these amazing photos of Justin at Greenwood. You can check out more of his photos at his website.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rock Springs- First Race weekend of 2009

Friday night
We had a great trip out and are thrilled that the rig is completly self-contained. We now have a refrigerator, which allows us to bring all sorts of great healthy food. It felt good to get back into the rhythm of racing. Hank, Pat and April soon stepped back into their crew shoes and acted as if winter was never there. What a great team!

Justin pulled outside pole of the third heat. Whoa, let’s start this off with a bang, eh? He soon fell into the racing flow but this year is letting the others know he will not be pushed around. A few times, he was checked up and pushed right back, not to be taken lightly this season. He took 5th in his heat, which made us believe that he was going to be in the B main so we began setting up the car for a stickier track. We soon found out that we were in the A main because one of the guys in our heat jumped the start. So we scrambled to put the car back together and struggled through the main event with a very loose car. Justin finished 16th out of 30 drivers which is pretty darn good for having one of the worst set ups he’s ever driven.

Saturday Night
We stayed the night at the track and woke up to a gorgeous morning but dark clouds soon turned things very cold with windy, rainy weather. After waiting around for several cold hours, they finally decided to get the racing going. Justin again pulled outside pole, 1st heat. Again his car was hooked up for his heat and he took 4th for his qualifying position. Good stuff considering last season we were always stuck in B events.

One of our sponsors invested in a GoPro onboard camera, which we put on the car for this event. We got some great footage of the race!

This first video shows him avoiding a wreck on the very first lap. Whoa! There was also a red flag, which allowed Hank and April on the track so you can see April waving at the camera.
Click here for the first video.

This video shows what it looks like from Justin’s view when you accidentally spin out. Just as he was gaining some ground, he overcompensated and sent himself into a 360. You can see the other drivers avoiding him, the walls and then hear the crowd going crazy. He was able to pull it off, jump back in and only lost a few positions. They loved it but Pat and April about had a heart attack! He would have finished in the top ten but the 360 got him a 13th place finish.

Click here for the 360 video.
A great start for Shadow Racing Team's 2009!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Off Season Update

It’s been nice to calm down after a season of none-stop action and learning. We’ve had an enjoyable break with family and friends. We also were able to catch up on house projects including our new railing for the front of the house.

At the end of the 2008 race season we completely disassembled the race car. We shipped the engine off to have it freshened up. The car now has a new paint job! We wanted a brighter paint scheme so we went with a bright lime green and wrx blue. It looks sweet!

During this off season we have been blessed with some new sponsors. One of them is includes AMP Graphics who is supplying the vinyls for the car and rig. God also brought us an amazing sponsor that offered to buy us a backup car. These guys are thrilled about our story and want to be a part of our journey. They are part of the catalysts to this season and we are very thankful for their enthusiasm and support. Special thanks to the After God’s own Heart Group who has contributed to 2009 racing fund and has been faithful in prayer and support.

We also put on a car show for Dale’s Paint who is one of our most loyal sponsors. This year they have supplyed the paint for the cars as well as covering the vinyl costs. The business owner’s benefit greatly from these shows because of the amount of people it draws in. The sprint car attracts a lot of attention sitting out front of business locations. The go-kart in this picture is where my career started when I was 12 years old.

My dad and I attended a sprint car racing seminar and gained a great amount of knowledge. We look forward to applying it this season. I also have been studying up on my marketing program and have started to apply the knowledge that I have gained from our IronWolf advertising.

This winter we also spent a good amount of time upgrading the racing rig. Much to April’s delight, the bathroom is now complete with a shower, sink and toilet. No more porta-potties! We also added a fold-down kitchen table and bench seats in the living quarters. We are now completely self contained and no longer will need to travel to a rv park after a long night of racing. In the back workshop area we’ve reorganized and have place for spare parts that we’ve been stockpiling. This came in handy after the swap meets that we attended. We built a tire-rack for the top of the travel which will give us more room inside.