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Tom Fecteau


September 19th, 2009
59th Race of Champions – Another Tough Challenge 

For the 2009 Race of Champions we decided our best strategy to try and repeat the good fortunes of last year was to only focus on our best equipment, the #5 SST Modified. We would arrive Thursday evening to set up our camping area and get ready for a long Friday that now combined the former practice day with a race day.  

Turns out we would have to work hard and use all of the practice sessions trying to find a fast set-up. To our frustration, the many changes failed to make any big improvements. Puzzled, but with purpose, we tested further in to the regular evening's event and began to have a car that was finally a top 10, possibly top 5 contender.  

An air pressure error caused a poor heat race performance and Terry would have to run the last chance consolation event. The good news, we would be starting from the pole position. In a good effort, Terry would finish second to Jeff Hammond with several fast cars right behind us. We were now qualified for the main event with 30 other teams, leaving 14 other drivers done for the evening. 

As we lined up near the back of the 31 car field we noticed many fast cars around us including last year's winner Tony Hanbury. It looked like there would be lots of racing up to the front because we scanned the field and noticed many mid-pack racers had qualified ahead of us. That meant that as the race wore on, several cars would slip towards the rear as faster cars fought to get up front. That proved to be true as on lap 20 there was a mid-pack multi car wreck affecting about 8 cars including the #5. 

Terry pitted the wounded car and the team worked frantically to get the front tires aligned reasonably close so he could continue. The front bumper was no longer effective and we knew there were other bent parts. Unfortunately, the sway bar was no longer connected and we knew that the #5 would be a monster for Terry to wrestle for 80 more green flag laps. Terry wanted to race and we agreed to continue the fight. With attrition mounting, Terry would gain positions at the expense of other's misfortune. When the checkered flag fell, Terry would role the remains in to our pit area with a 14th place finish, last car on the lead lap. A valiant effort had fallen short. Later at the camp site, several team members enjoyed "unwinding" from this long and frustrating day. 

For Saturday and Sunday our attention would be on teammate, Kris Hillegeer and his gorgeous #18 Super Stock. We helped Kris with both equipment and manpower so that he could seek a better finish from his rookie effort of two years ago in a friend's borrowed car. Saturday's practice looked promising as his speed increased throughout the day. However, we noticed that the competition this year was very fast and several had improved over prior years. In his heat race Kris concentrated on a safe finish as the car in front of him was all over the place and as everyone would qualify for the main event on Sunday, there would be no reward for bravery this day. 

Sunday suffered a long rain delay and was a harbinger of things to come. During the extra practice sessions, some problems appeared related to the motor loosing power. During the main event, this distributor related problems would cause Kris multiple pit stops and an early exit a few laps after a thunderous first lap crash between many of the front running cars. The carnage was extensive and several cars appeared to be nothing more than scrap heaps. Kris would be the first car out with out any body damage. 

As the old "Mighty Casey" poem states, "There was no joy in Mudville…," our team had basically struck out for this year's event. But that is not the same as saying "the game is over". The #5 has been gone through and we may have found the demon that has been frustrating us. 

We will be at Dunn Tire Raceway Park (Lancaster Speedway) for the US Open practice session this Friday and the SST race on Saturday. Our hopes are high even though we are going to the home track of 3 dominating competitors. There's nothing like the smell of a challenge. Come cheer us on and visit us in the campgrounds. We promise to give it everything we've got.

Sodus, NY  (315) 483-6519  

Newark, NY  - (315) 483-4329