By Bill Foland
07/22/02 ...Hello once again from Mountain View, California. I will be writing this column about my first trip to the racetrack as a driver this year. I have gone to over 30 races this year and watched other people enjoy the rush of strapping into a sprint car. I have to admit that was have been jealous on occasions that I have not been able to get out and race yet this year. Well, last weekend changed all that with a trip to Carson City, Nevada for an unsanctioned sprint car race, but to me it was the beginning of another year behind the wheel of a pavement sprint car.
I have run a total of eight races over the past two seasons, they included two at Madera, two at Carson City, one at Stockton (ouch!!!!!!!!!), one at Tucson, and two (maybe 1 ˝ because I didn't make it through qualifying) at Irwindale. So here was my adventure to Carson City….
We left Friday evening from Mountain View and ventured over a few big mountains for the 5+-hour drive and settled into the Carson City Motel in the early A.M. hours of Saturday. With the pit gate not opening until 3:00 we decided to take a nap, shower etc. and get ready for the big evening ahead of us. After having some lunch we headed for the track and arrived around 3:15. We signed in and started to unload the racecar for the hot lap action. The first time I was able to get on the track was after 5:30 and I was kind of nervous because it has been over 8 months since I have driven a racecar and the last time ended in the turn one wall at Irwindale.
After getting into the ten-race old Beast chassis that was formerly driven by Ryan Flynn, I was very excited to finally be able to get on the track and hot lap. As I entered the track for the first time and fired the car, it all came back to me; it is all about footwork, hand-eye coordination and using your head. As the green flag flew for the first time I made sure there was heat in the motor and squeezed the throttle and took the green flag. The car felt pretty good but I couldn't tell if I was going good or not as we went about 10 laps and pulled in. The car was handling very good, it was very neutral as there was no push and it wasn't loose.
Using the set-up from Matt Britt and Flynn racing, we were going ok and headed to the next session. The 2nd session was very uneventful as I think we might have gone 2 laps before a car went off the bank and they decided to end the session. The final session went very well as we hadn't changed anything yet and they let the session go on for at least 20 laps on the tight 13 second bullring. It was a good indicator of what was going to happen next as I felt very comfortable in the new car.
Qualifying was next as I headed out to take my two timed laps, the first thing on my mind was to make sure to get the dirt from the pit area off the tires and the excess rubber buildup as soon as possible. Not an easy task sometimes as I might compare it to trying to get dog crap off your shoes. Sometimes you get it all off and sometimes your don't and it just might ruin your day. I made a decent first lap with a 13.30 but I knew there was more in the car, so I pushed harder the 2nd and timed in 2nd fast time with a 13.14, which I was very happy with and we went on to the Trophy Dash.
As we lined up for the Dash I had all kinds of things going through my mind, the least of which was trying to win this race. I just wanted to be smooth and I took some advice from my dad and used it as the green flag came out. With the previous Carson City A-Main winner Glenn Hopper on the pole and Tony Iacobitti on the outside I knew I had my work cut out for myself. As we headed into turn one I got a good run and headed for the very bottom of the track, with Hopper pushing up the track slightly I was able to get a nose under him and YAK and headed for the back chute. I was able to nose ahead getting into turn three and held off the challenges for the next 4 laps. To say I was a little happy would be an understatement. I have NEVER won anything driving a racecar and this first Trophy Dash win will always be special to me. If I never win anything ever again, I can always look back at this and smile.
I haven't had a euphoric feeling like that since I hit my first home run in little league baseball. As I exited the car you would have thought I just won the Knoxville Nationals, but it was to me as that will always be a great memory. As I waited for my turn to take picture with the very pretty trophy girl (didn't catch her name but I wish I would have), I wished that my Grandma, Alice Costa (who lives in Fresno) and my Grandpa John, Grandma Delores and Grandpa Al (who have all passed away) could have seen me in victory lane. I was able to call my Grandma Alice later, which was great, and tell her about it.
As the pretty trophy girl approached I felt like a kid going out on his first date, but it wasn't that bad as the photos were taken, I thanked the trophy girl and headed back to the pit area. I was greeted by my friends and parents with open arms and my mother was fighting back tears as I gave her a hug and kiss. Then I looked over at my dad and I saw a look that I haven't seen since baseball a very long time ago. The look from him was pride and I haven't given him much reason to look at me like that lately but it was worth the wait as he put his hand out to shake. I said "put that hand away" I am getting a hug and thanked him for everything he and my mother have done and sacrificed for me over the past few years.
Now it was on to the heat race as I ran around and just tried not to tear anything up before the A-Main and I finished 4th. As we lined up for the A-Main, I was trying to think of something calming as we circled the track, but it didn't work as the yellow light went out and we headed for the green. As we took the green flag I headed down the straightaway from my staring position and found myself in 2nd going down the back chute behind Glenn Hopper. I knew Glenn was going to be strong and I tried to stay near him.
As the laps went on, I started to get a little loose, but I couldn't tell if it was the way I was driving the car or the way it was set-up. I started to slow down and started to lost track of the leader. I tried to keep my line straight and smooth and I hadn't seen a nose or heard a motor next to me yet. As we entered lap 14 I entered turn one as I had nearly every lap and accelerated out of the corner when I was punted from behind and sent into the infield. The ensuing spin into the dirt caved in my belly pan and sent me to the pits for repairs.
As my dad, Dick Barshow and a whole bunch of other guys tried to fix it the yellow light went out and they went green without me. As I saw the field go by once, then twice I decided to get out of the car and head back to my trailer and I was very disappointed. The thing that I didn't like was not being able to finish a main event again, after such a strong beginning the ending was quite the same as it has been numerous times before. But as they say "That's Racin" and I will not let this disappointment sway my feelings on what was a great night of racing for me. I have to thank a whole bunch of people for helping me along the way to get this Beast out on the track.
Thanks to Lee Bandettini for all the welding you did on the car, Darren Powers for the great fabrication and belly pans (I might need a six pack of those), Dick and April Barshow for the hours you have taken out of your lives to help me, Matt Britt for the advice on set-up and help with the painting of the frame, Terry Poznoff with Terry's Auto Detailing for the great paint job on the race car and my helmet, Yak and Brad Scadden for the awesome lettering job, Brent Kaeding and Brian Matherly for your advice and willingness to help me with anything I needed at ANY time, Brian Sperry for helping with numerous things on this new car, but most of all I have to thank my parents Burt and Barbara Foland for sticking with me and putting me in a car that I have confidence in, and is very fast!!!!!!!
I am going to have to be selfish and cut this off right here without any notes from the past couple of weeks, I will make up for it in the near future. Thank you for reading a race day in the life of "BF" Bill Foland. I hope to see you all very soon at the races…. BF
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