By T.J. Buffenbarger, images courtesy of James MacDonald
Six and a half hours separates Joe Bares from his latest sprint car racing endeavor. Last Friday Bares began in hew racing adventure traveling from his home in Traverse City, Michigan, where Bares is a traffic investigator for the Grand Traverse County Sheriff Department, to complete the weekly sprint car program at Gas City I-69 Speedway. Every Friday night during the 2010 season Bares will make the long trip south to Gas City.
Over the past two seasons Bares has grown fond of the sideways excitement of racing without a wing on his sprint car. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons Bares made several non-wing sprint car starts including making the feature in his first attempt racing at Gas City and winning the final Michigan Traditional Sprints feature of the season at Crystal Motor Speedway. Late last season Bares decided it was time to take his non-wing racing up a notch and take on some of Indiana’s best.
“Gas City actually worked out the best with my work schedule of having Thursday and Friday’s off,” said Bares. “Ultimately wanted to take a step up and make myself a better driver. Last year I talked to guys like Tom Bayless and Josh Spencer, and all of them had good things Gas City because of the way they treat people and take care of the racers.”
Bares’ car is kept with Don Daggett near Lansing, Michigan. Every Thursday Bares travels to Daggett’s shop to work on the car while his father Joe, Sr. and long time supporter Roger Holzinger, both from the west side of the state, help do maintenance. To save the drive home Joe stays with a friend that is a fellow police officer. The next day the group is joined by Roger’s wife Pat and anyone else that tags along to help head on the crew before departing to Gas City.
During the off season Bares and his team acquired a 410 cubic inch sprint car engine to help make this dream come to fruition. On opening night Bares and his team learned the setup they used setting up the car with their steel block 360 cubic inch engine would not work with the lighter, more powerful 410.
“(The 410 engine) lot different than I expected,” said Bares. “I thought what we did with the 360 would get us in the ballpark, but we were not even close. It will be a learning experience, and I know we have a mountain to climb, but we learned a lot on Friday.”
The challenge for Bares has just begun. While Bares has some vacation time to help alleviate the travel on Saturday he was switched to working days, there are occasions where he will race at Gas City on Friday night and have to work at 6:00 a.m. in Traverse City. In addition to his Gas City exploits the team is keeping a busy schedule several MTS and Engine Pro ASCS Sprints on Dirt presented by ARP with a car they are keeping for Michigan races. Later in the year Bares might do a multiple day stint in Indiana or one of Eldora’s non-sanctioned wingless programs to continue learning the discipline.
“I’m going to keep close tabs on the schedule because I don’t want to burn out my volunteer crew. I have a lot of great people helping me, and I don’t want to exhaust them mentally or financially”
News and Notes…
– April means Michigan test and tunes were in full swing. I-96 Speedway had their first race on their new infield 3/8-mile track that will host one ASCS SOD event in September. “Captain” Kirk Chaney returned from his ice motorcycle racing exploits (as seen often on MAV TV) to try the new layout on Saturday while Marques Huffer tested on Sunday. Gavin Hunyady and two MTS cars test and tuned at Crystal Motor Speedway on Sunday. Robert Huisken also turned laps at Crystal Saturday.
– After a rookie season spent at the Butler Motor Speedway look for second generation driver Trey Smith to venture out with the ASCS SOD Series. Smith will miss the opening ASCS SOD race at Crystal to shake down his car at Butler, but should be present at the series second event at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
– The latest improvement at the Crystal Motor Speedway is completed, a new multi storied scoring tower replaced was a much needed upgrade from the box size tower with soft spots in the floor that had aged significantly the past several years. The new tower is first class, and the view is supposed to be impressive.
– Merritt Speedway has named their two day MTS show the “Sprint Tic Weekend”. The two-day non-wing sprint car show is a new event this season at Merritt.
– Look for several ASCS SOD teams tuning up at Limaland Motorsports Park on Friday joined by part time ASCS SOD team and full time Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Series driver Darren Long.