Interrogation by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa
Swimming With "The Shark" Sean Becker
Sean, thanks for taking the time to let the fans get to know you better......
Sean: Thank you for giving me the opportunity.
How did your nickname "The Shark" come about?
Sean: Ever since I was a kid I ve always been fascinated with sharks, but "The Shark" never seemed to make much sense as a nickname for a race car driver. Then in 95 or 96, my Dad and I went to a World of Outlaw race at Calistoga, and the track shirt for sale there had a shark on it, and it said "Attack The Track". From then on I had a nickname and a motto to race by. I'm no Tim Kaeding, but I m getting there.
Tim is awesome, but you're no slouch. You're a helluva shoe! Your Father Delno raced Sprint Cars for a few years......
Sean: Yep, from 89 to 91 at Silver Dollar Speedway. He was third in points and Rookie of the Year in 89, third in points again in 90 and finished second in 91. Pretty impressive if you ask me. He was easily my hero.
Any special memories of when your Father was racing?
Sean: Before he raced Sprint Cars, he won three track Championships in a row at Chico in the Limited Sportsman Division. He was amazing to watch. I learned so much watching how he maneuvered around traffic and how he handled and appreciated his fans. Every race I would get an empty large soda cup and use it as a steering wheel, and pretend I was racing along side him from up in the stands. So even from the age of 5, I knew I wanted to be a race car driver, and I wanted to be just like him.
I know he's gotta be a proud Father. He has a lot of reasons to be...... Your sister Jaime and brother Daniel race too.......
Sean: Buckwheat and I raced motocross for a couple years before getting into the go-karts. Then Jaime joined in on the fun a few years later and we ve all been racing together for over ten years now. I'm very fortunate to have such a close family and both Jaime and Buckwheat have had a lot of success with me in both the go-karts and Dirt Modified and I couldn t be more proud of them for what they have done both on and off the track.
Your achievements in The Winged Outlaw Go-Kart division is outstanding......
Sean: Thanks. I've won seven championships in the highly competitive Open Division with a few wins here and there. With all the success and awards I ve received in my racing career so far, and any ones to come, I will always be just as proud of those achievements than any other.
Can you explain what a Winged Outlaw Go-Kart is to the fans......
Sean: You take a winged Sprint Car, take off the shocks and front wing, scale it down about 60% and you have yourself a go-kart the "Mini Me" of Sprint Cars. The speed to weight ratio is honestly about the same and it's the best learning ground for both open wheel racing and stock cars, that I've ever seen with the same amount of excitement to watch. Putting a 500cc motorcycle motor on a frame that weighs around 400 pounds with driver, and sitting 1 inch from the ground is just insanity to me. Most importantly though, it s the greatest family sport around.
How did the jump to the Sprint Cars come about?
Sean: I ve always known I wanted to race a Sprint Car. We tried the Dirt Modified for a couple of years, but it just wasn t my bag. Then an old family friend, Gary Perkins, joined up with us and gave us the backing support we needed to race Sprint Cars and be competitive. If it wasn t for him, I couldn t have accomplished what I have or be in a position to still do more. To have somebody like him believing in me is truly an honor and inspiring.
Besides the horsepower increase, what was the biggest adjustment you had to make as a driver with the Sprint Car?
Sean: Not much actually. The go-karts have prepared me very well. You really learn about throttle control and finesse, and that definitely transfers over. Getting used to the shocks and understanding how the car should feel, is probably the hardest to get used to. That and knowing you have to stand on the gas if the car is pushing off the track still sounds retarded to me.
It seems as though it didn't take you too long. You were the 2002 410 Silver Dollar Speedway Rookie Of The Year with 1 main event win!
Sean: 2002 was a great learning year for all of us, and to have those accomplishments felt very rewarding. In all the years I raced go-karts I never received the Rookie of the Year honor, so accepting that meant a lot to me. Winning that first main was huge for all of us. We had to hold off a former champion Jason York for the win and it just gave us the confidence that we could run with the best.
You were also the first driver ever to be nominated for National Sprint Car Rookie poll award for the 360 and 410 division.....
Sean: To be recognized on a National level to this day still puts me in awe. How could you not feel honored by something like that? Hopefully racing on the West Coast will someday be as big as it is in the East and people will start realizing how fierce the competition is out here and open up opportunities to drivers just as deserving.
I couldn't agree with you more Sean! Your stats since your rookie season to present are very impressive.......
Sean: Thanks Hammerdown. It s important to me that I never stop learning something every week. It keeps me excited and motivates me to push for more every time I m out there. The success comes from the knowledge you obtain.
In 2004 for example, you finished 5th in Golden State Challenge points.....
Sean: Just to be able to run on a weekly basis with the best winged Sprint Car drivers on the entire West Coast was a privilege. Then to be competitive with them is a truly proud feeling. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. That's way I'm chasing them.
Now that the 2004 season is in the books, what would you say was your biggest highlight and something you would care to forget?
Sean: Highlight: On the first night of Golden State s last two day point show in Hanford we started sixth and worked our way into the lead. During one of the yellow flag laps I looked up at the score board to see who was behind me. The board read No. 33. It took me two more pace laps to realize some lights were burnt out and it really meant No. 83 Tim Kaeding. Then after running scared on the first green flag lap, I settled down and actually pulled away from Tim. We ended up running out of fuel with six laps to go, but proving to myself I'm not a scared little Rookie anymore meant more to me then anything. Regret: On the night we won the Golden State event at Placerville, I was still hung up on our poor performance the night before at Watsonville, and the fact that we needed a lot of luck to get that first Golden State win of the year. With me being occupied with those thoughts, I don't think I was able to let my crew fully enjoy our victory, which was well deserved after the rough year we had been having. Me being disappointed in my behavior was probably the hardest thing I had to deal with all year long.
Thank's for being so honest..... Scenario; You're waiting to be pushed off for your heat, you're starting 6th. 4 transfer, what are some of the things that you would be thinking about?
Sean: "Damn when's the last time I qualified this good? Alright, who s starting where? Where am I going to go if I get a good start, where am I going to go if I get a bad start? Did I forget to TiVo Family Guy? Where is the best place to pass? What would it sound like if Tool and Simon and Garfunkle did a collaboration?" Stuff like that in between me singing whatever song is stuck in my head that night.
Do you prefer bullrings or the high speed joints?
Sean: Being in California, you re really only running bullrings, and I love running close with people. But there's something about having room to race three wide into a corner standing wide open that really keeps me anxious to go back.
Where do you hope you are with your racing career in 5 years?
Sean: Running with the World of Outlaws. Period.
With your talent, I can see that happening...... Is their anything else you would like to share?
Sean: Just that I' m really excited for this upcoming season. We ve been working really hard and it's going to be a lot of fun. I really want to show people what I can do.
Who would you like to thank?
Sean: Obviously my family for everything they have done for me and their continuing support in my life. Gary Perkins with GP Development for believing in me as well as L&W Stone. Duke & Scotty McMillen along with Tom Rolfe Trucking for giving me a great opportunity and letting me be a part of a great team and a great family. And a big thank you to all the fans who help keep auto racing alive.
Sean, I thank you and the fans thank you!
Sean: The pleasure was all mine. See you soon.
To catch the latest news regarding Sean, catch him at www.SeanBecker.net
To contact The Hammer firstname.lastname@example.org