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Tom Fecteau


January 31st, 2011
Season Wrap-up Part 3 of 3 

The 60th Sunoco Race of Champions 200 at Oswego Speedway

If you have not followed our year, here is a quick recap: Hard crash in qualifier at Albany-Saratoga, Terry hurt. Running in 10th place, gaining spots at Ritchie Evans Memorial at Oswego Speedway, car gets in to a little oil, rides the back stretch wall, Terry qualifies for the 2010 “Smash and Crash” video but is hurt again. Spencer June ROC race resulted in a 7th place, we count our blessings. Spencer Fall ROC race, Terry taken out on lap 2, Jody has fun in his first modified ride. US Open, front row start spot, car performs badly, gets parked. Team morale: ever hear the saying that someone felt so low they were able to enter a room through the crack below the door? Let’s just say we showed up talking upbeat but frankly, we really needed to do well.  

Practice Day: We ran the first couple practice sessions running faster than we had ever before but the #50 was beginning to react like the #18 did the prior week. The other mod teams were running fast as well and we knew we had to be a lot faster than we were running to be a competitive force. The day ended with still more questions than answers. Back at the campgrounds, most of the team shook it off, kicked back, and played hard. Team owner, Tom Fecteau spent the early part of the evening pouring over notes and ideas with chassis engineer Bill Dostman and driver Terry Cheetham. Terry and Bill were sent to join the camp-side fun while Tom double and triple checked a new game plan. 

Victory!: Team member Jody London couldn’t shake the itch to compete and brought one of his great looking Go-Karts to the run-what-ya-brung style “Downhill Race” using only gravity for power. Over the years this event has been worth lots of laughs, a few skinned knees and elbows and several “wows” as speeds continually increase. The brief race (run quickly while the police were temporarily distracted) gave the Epic Ventures family one of their more unique wins. Jody London and his well prepared kart spanked the competition. It felt great to have the insanely tall trophy and customary giant winner’s check (for “No dollars and 00 cents”) at our campsite. The rest of the evening was spent keeping some of our friendly competitors from “borrowing” the winnings. It was good to hear laughter and bravado around the campfire the rest of the evening (in to the early morning). 

Day 2: No racing was planned for our team so we relaxed for most of the unusually hot fall day, enjoying the simple pleasure of being fans for a change.  When we headed over to the speedway, we checked in with a few friends that were running in other classes that day and with no need for extra hands, we headed up to the grandstands to observe and take notes as the top modified drivers ran a special event. It was helpful to watch car profiles, driver styles and grab some lap times for comparison. Having a day to step away from the pressure and reconnect as a team of friends was great medicine. We settled in for the night, looking ahead to our big day. 

Day 3: Our first step was to talk with some veterans we respected and they validated our game plan. Changes were made and Terry got in some fast and more stable practice laps. Yes! Things had improved, but with little time to find the limits of our ideas, we had to now focus on time trials. We had only time trialed once before, 2 years ago, and were still learning the tricks. With helpful ideas from another veteran friend and with a late draw, we sent Terry out and he recorded his first ever sub 18 second lap time. We were comfortably qualified yet surprised how many cars were in front of us by only 2 tenths of a second. In regular race trim it looked like we would be competitive after all. 

We did have to prepare the car to run a qualifier event and baring any trouble, we should be safely in the main show. If things were only that simple; on the very start, two cars in front of Terry touched and darted up in to the wall. Most times, cars would slowly spin and collect the next row of cars. This time the crash moved up and away from Terry. Finally we got some good luck to fall our way. Terry finished the event in a very competitive 3rd place which confirmed our optimism for the 200.  

The rest of the race day dragged on as the companion classes had many crashes and spins delaying the start of the race for over an hour and now put us clearly at risk with weather issues (yesterday was sunburn day, this day became parka and mittens by evening). Terry lined up near the back of the field and our team went over the game plan, pit stop strategies, back-up and safety plans. We were as ready as we could be.  

Running in the cold makes for more horsepower but it takes longer for tires to get warm and turn sticky. Drivers needed to show patience or risk slipping and sliding in to one another. Shortly after the drop of the green flag we learned that patience was not going to be the strategy of too many teams as spins and crashes repeated with frequency. This allowed Terry to gain a few positions but most of the action was happening around him so dodging competitors was worrisome and sometimes just plain lucky. The pit crew stayed vigilant as the car was frequently checked for incidental damage while under caution with no major damage recorded.  

Eventually our luck turned a little south when cars ahead of us began crashing and spinning, blocking any safe path through turn one. Terry got tapped in the rear while slowing and found himself turned around and backed in to one of the stalled cars. Terry pitted to have us look closer at the damage and determining all damage was superficial, the #50 rejoined near the back of the field. 

Next, Mother Nature got involved. While a cold mist descended on the speedway, the race continued with more spins and restarts. The race had to be stopped after one restart went terribly wrong. Front row starter Eric Beers’ shifter broke and as he moved out of the way, cars behind him stacked up and eventually a multi-car crash almost blocked the front stretch. Because Terry had restarted near the back, he was able to stop just in time. Restart Wreck Video And under the race stoppage, the rain turned steady and heavier. The cars were called pitside and after a hour and half wait, the decision was made to continue the race the following day, Sunday. The crew stayed up late to repair the bumpers and realign the front end in the cold wet conditions as we anticipated more bumping and banging lay ahead. 

Day 4: Because of the many cars that had stalled or dropped out the night before and a couple teams that returned home due to other commitments, Terry would restart in 10th place. The ROC 200 requires a mandatory pitstop so now our attention turned to our strategy to give Terry a fresh set of tires for the last 1/3rd of the race. As several teams had also repaired their damaged cars over night, they would be starting behind us and intent on making up for their misfortune.  

The hard part of timing a late race pit stop is guessing the rhythm of cautions vs. long green flag runs. We hoped that with nicer weather, the carnage would subside, we were wrong. With over 130 laps left to run, patience remained elusive for our competitors. After several more cautions and approaching 75 laps to go, we brought Terry in for new tires and added fuel. On this new day all the on track excitement was either happening far in front of or well behind Terry so his need to play racers dodge ball had finally subsided.  

Terry ran a smart race taking advantage of other’s continued misfortune. He ran a very fast pace and several teams that had appeared faster early in the race were now just following Terry to the end. After our pit stop, only two cars passed Terry at speed. However, as we neared the end, the tires were not cooperating and Terry was left to manhandle a very greasy handling car to the checker flag and a proud but exhausted 8th place. The demons of 2010 were now put to bed.  

We took many lessons away from this long weekend: lessons on teamwork and trust, more lessons on perseverance, and more knowledge on what is needed to be more competitive in 2011. We hope you continue to visit our site for the articles, pictures and sponsor offerings that are coming. We also suggest you watch for our quick announcements on FaceBook. We thank you for your support through our tough times as your faith in us and encouragement is valued by every one of us.  

Hoping you have a great off-season, all of us at Epic Ventures wish you all the best in life. Spring will be here sooner than we think and the Family of Epic Venture Racers will be all around New York reengaged in a sport we all love.

Sodus, NY  (315) 483-6519  

Newark, NY  - (315) 483-4329