A spur of the moment invitation this last Friday put Dave Byrd of Central California on an instant road trip all the way to Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City Utah for the "ITT 125" presented by the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series.
Owner and regular driver of the #12 Wulfenstein Construction Chevrolet, Jim Wulfenstein, had other obligations, which led to Car Chief and team mate to Jim, Thane Alderman of Las Vegas, making a last minute call to Dave Byrd Racing seeking a qualified stand in driver. There was no time for hesitation in a decision as it would take every bit of Friday night and Saturday morning to drive to Salt Lake City just in time to jump in the car and head out for the first "shake down" practice session.
"Thane and his team competed against our team back in the days of the Ultra Wheels Super Truck Series", explained Dave. "There was some great racing back in that series and we have always kept a common appreciation of each other's abilities. I feel very honored to be called upon to fill in for Jim"
The challenges began immediately as the series ran out of tires for the event before the team could get any new tires for the #12 car. With some "decent" used tires mounted on the car and after a quick nap, Dave headed out to practice session number two. A couple of minor adjustments and the car was very drivable. Dave fit in the normal mandatory drivers meeting, then another quick nap and qualifying was up. A smooth lap, but as qualifying ended Dave's time was 12th out of the 16 cars present. More used rubber was found for the heat race, but in the end without much stagger in the tires Dave finished sixth out of the eight cars in his heat race.
Progress was made though, as the team has been fighting what was thought to be a power steering issue, but turned out to be a bound up steering shaft. After the repair job and a couple of minor adjustments that would help the car turn, the team was left with another decision, use the set of tires they had on the car from the heat race, with less wear on them or use another used set that had more wear but also had more stagger. Dave ultimately chose making the car turn with the stagger and forfeiting the grip. The decision appeared to be a good one throughout much of the race as Dave was one of the fastest cars in the early going, working his way to second and holding the position against some very fast race cars for about 20 laps, fading breaks would let a few of the cars get by on a restart, but Dave fought back a couple of positions and would spend most of the balance of the race in the fourth position. The last ten laps of the 125 lap race saw the car get very hard to drive and as a slow leak in the right rear tire became evident, Dave was forced to give up a few positions, nursing the car home in seventh position.
"That was a blast", Dave exclaimed upon exiting the car. "Those guys up front were fierce! All in all, I think we had a good night, we may have helped find an issue with the car, we helped keep Jim in the top ten in points and I got to look at a track that I will be racing at in a couple of weeks when the Spears SRL Southwest Tour swings through town. Of course, now comes the hard part." Dave continued. "I have to drive back though the night, since I have a commitment to be in Monterey, California by tomorrow afternoon for some shifter cart racing. So much for the glamour of being a race car driver!", laughed Byrd.
Dave and the team #78 Rod Qualls Western Late Model team will return this Saturday, July 16th, to Stockton 99 Speedway for an event that is very special to Dave, as it is a night of tribute to the man who originally inspired Dave to take a life long interest in fighting it out in these asphalt bullrings, Dave's very own "Uncle" Johnny Brazil!
This isn't the first time Dave has been able to have the honor to show the respect he has for the uncle that he spent his summers with as a boy, riding to tracks throughout Central California. During Dave's 2006 racing endeavors, Dave was able to best a star studded field of drivers and win a special tribute race that netted Dave his favorite trophy. It is a trophy that was made by using a trophy Johnny had won during his stellar career, driving his Supermodified. The trophy makers added to Johnny's original trophy a commemoration of the 2006 event. The new trophy continues to stand front and center in Dave own massive collection of trophies.
Next Event for Dave Byrd Racing in 2011
Saturday July 16th 2011
Whelen All American Western Late Models
"Tribute to Johnny Brazil Twin 50's"
presented by Performance Electrical.
Stockton 99 Speedway, Stockton, California