02/22/00 (Mountain View, CA.)

(editor's note: Bill Foland, or "BF" as we know him, will compete this year on the USAC Western States Sprint Car tour. BF is the son of California pavement racing legend, Burt Foland Sr. BF is also a crew-member on Brent Kaeding's sprint car team.)

(BF has also been moonlighting as a contributor to HammerDownUSA.com. Here is his fourth entry...)

Hello again from Mountain View, California on Presidents Day 2000. I have had a very eventful last week or so. I will try to recap as best I can. The weather has been strange at best with cold temperatures turning to warming, then rain, then clear. It has been hard to figure out especially with racing season coming up.

I had a chance to go and get some laps in with my dad's pavement sprint car last weekend and the weather was the only thing that was going to stand in our way. Originally it didn't look good as rain went all the way through Wednesday. With a few things left to do on the car we decided to try and get it done no matter what the weather was like. First and foremost, I have to thank my mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to drive (something that I have looked forward to doing since I was a little boy). A HUGE thanks goes out to Darren Powers and Jonathan Foster for their efforts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday because without them I would have not been able to get to the races (or home for that matter). Also thanks to Ted from Techcraft Racing Engines for coming over on Friday night and finishing up with the motor maintenance. Yak Graphics (Tony Iacobitti) certainly gets a thank-you, along with Brad Scadden and Mr. T. for all your help with the stickers on my car. They look great! My uniform came from Jason Statler. I needed that until my own uni arrives. Thanks, Jason. ...And a special thank to Steve Turnross from Steve-O Photo and Video for going to the track with us to document everything on tape and film.

Now onto the race track.... With the help of Darren and Jonathan, my dad and myself had the car loaded on Friday night to go to Stockton for a 12-4pm practice session. We shared the track with USAC Western States regular Tony Hunt who was testing the Ken Pierson #14. I also want to thank those guys for some helpful hints along with USAC's Tommy Hunt who also gave me some great advice. We left for Stockton at 9:30 a.m. and were in the race track parking lot a little after 11:00 a.m. We were greeted with open arms by Stockton 99 Speedway 's Duane Borovec who was very gracious and helpful from the minute we got there. After going into the infield and unloading, we put the desired springs on the car and before you know it we were ready for action (whether I was or not I didn't know yet). Everybody kept asking me if I was nervous because I hadn't driven anything. Honestly I never really thought about it until I was inside the car and sitting on the front straight. As they gave the call for the track to be open whenever we were ready I went in and got suited up and came out to climb into the car for the first time. When I got into the car, the hardest part was the confinement. ...Then came the arm restraints, - making sure the belts were tight enough, putting on the head sock, neck roll and helmet restraint, and the helmet. As I sat there for the first time all buckled up and ready to go, it finally hit me. After 32 years I was finally going to take my first laps in a race car. There are many things that go into driving one of these cars and anybody that thinks this is easy should give it a try sometime. I was reminded to make sure there was oil pressure, then turn the fuel on, then hit the mag switch and "then it will light off". The first time I was pushed-off, the car didn't start for a complete lap because the fuel hadn't gotten through the system yet. On the next attempt to fire, the car lit off within 20 feet and I was on my way.

In the pavement cars there is a brake bias adjustment from front to rear that you have to make sure is on. I have to admit the first time I hit the throttle it sent chills down my back then I was OK for the rest of the afternoon. After making about 10 laps, my dad pulled me in and we let Tony go out for some laps. The second time I went out, everything was fine and I was getting up to speed when I discovered the car didn't handle the same as it did the first time out. I went into the first turn after about 10 laps and spun sideways to a stop. As I was sitting there I looked over to see that I hadn't turned on the rear brakes so I got brain fade #1 out of the way. I went back to the pits and told the guys what I had done.

The third time I went out, I was more comfortable and was able to carry the car farther into the corner than I had before. I wasn't breaking any speed records but I was going faster than you go when you get off the off-ramp. When you are inside the car there are so many things going on it is hard to explain. The only way I can describe is that you are using all your senses and reflexes at once. You are looking for the right groove, you can hear the motor roaring and the brakes screeching, you can smell the methanol being burned and you are using your arms to steer and your legs on the throttle and brakes at once. It was a very eye opening experience, one that I will never forget.

I cut a tire down during that session so I came in and we changed it and waited for our turn to go out again. The next time out I was getting used to the car and my dad told me to enter higher in turn three, which I did, but a couple of times I got into the marbles and had to slow down. If I was able to hit the spot right, the car felt great, like it was on rails. I don't know yet how to tell if the car is working or not but I got a good feeling on how to drive on a loose race track because the track was very green and greasy and had a lot of marbles so you had to tip-toe around the track to go better. The next time out was my next to last time on the track and they let me go for what I thought was 50 laps but it turned out to be 23 as I got a rhythm going that carried me to my best laps yet. The crew was very excited when I came in and told me that was the best I had done yet. With a little bit of confidence I went out for the last time (even though I didn't know it was going to be my last time). As I took off for the 6th and final time, my dad signaled me to check the brakes (which I already did), then the next time around I was on the button and clicked off my best laps yet. I had about 5 to 6 laps before my brake leg would get tired. (The brake pedal was too high, something we will fix before we go again) I would catch myself riding the brakes even on the straight-away. I would find a spot down the back chute to let off the gas then try to go father the next lap then father until I got in too hot, where I found myself slipping up the track in turn 3. In turn one, you had to be hard on the brakes going into the corner and dead on the bottom. Turn three, ...you could let the car slip up the track as the banking would hold you up more. After about 15 laps I got a cramp in my brake leg and I slowed down trying to get the cramp out. After seeing me slow down my dad motioned me in, then I took two final laps to see how far I could go into the corner. The first lap, I made my best lap yet and the second lap was probably my worst as I entered way too low in turn one and felt the tail end come around. I decided to let it go and spin to a stop rather than try to save it and maybe spin worse. I spun to a stop in turn two and they pushed me back to my pit area.

After I got out of the car for the last time I talked to my dad and crew and they told me the last session was my best and they were very happy with my progression throughout the day. After going to the motorhome to change it was back outside to ready the car for the trip home and load it up. After 6 sessions and over 100 laps I was very satisfied with my first taste of driving. I went down to say good-bye to the Hunt's and the Pierson team, then went back to the motorhome for the ride home.

I hope this sheds some light on how difficult it is to not only drive but to prepare a car to get to the race track then get home afterward. I am hoping to go test at least one more time before the first race at Madera on March 25, then Stockton the next day. Thanks for letting me tell you my story on one of the greatest day's I have ever been able to enjoy during the first 32 years of life on earth.....

NEWS AND NOTES: Danny Lasoski continued his dominance of the Florida All-Star Speedweeks in East Bay winning 3 out of 4 races there this week. That makes it 7 for 8 in the potent Verne Massey/ Tony Stewart Home Depot #20. This car ruffled some feathers while it was down there but even after making repairs to the body work to conform to the rules, Lasoski still went out and was dominant. Although I guess Terry McCarl looked to have Saturday wrapped up until a wayward lapped car ended his bid.... Joey Saldana came home 2nd the final night in Denny Ashworth's car before heading west to drive his dad's car on the WoO tour starting at Hanford.... 3rd on Saturday night was Greg Hodnett in the Zemco 1Z before vacating that car to head west for the Guy Forbrook V12. Skip Jackson will now take over the reigns of the Zemco car.... Rodney Duncan had an excellent Florida outing, with 4 top five finishes.... Gary Wright was the only driver to break into the winner circle other than Lasoski with a win on Friday.

It should be a very interesting weekend coming up with the WoO heading to Hanford, then Perris for the openers.... The following weekend, it's onto Las Vegas before heading back to the midwest to start their grueling schedule.... Look for Lasoski to be back in the Beef Packer 83 car this weekend....Good to see that former sprint car driver John Golobic is enjoying a booming business building 1/4 midgets for alot of teams on the west coast. John's cars are called GT American and he has both of his sons along with Adam Kaeding (Brent's nephew) in his stable of cars. Good Luck John!!!....I will be at Hanford and Perris this weekend with Brent and the entire M&M Racing Team before heading to Las Vegas the week following....See ya next time...BF

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