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gary tomkins

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Everything posted by gary tomkins

  1. gary tomkins

    Spec Modifieds

    Glen Donnelly had a few of them built. Would take them to different tracks, usually during a SDS race and have some of the stars race them. There were some entertaining races! They also had a deal where on Tuesday nights a group could rent them and drive them at Weedsport. They always had a regular modified show up and be the "pace car". One night we were there to do it and while we were driving around the track one of the "drivers" messed up getting into turn one and smacked the wall hard! Everything came to a quick halt while he was checked out, turns out he was ok, and the car wasn't hurt bad. While everything was quiet we suddenly heard a shriek from the grandstands, it was the drivers girlfriend who had replayed the incident over on her camcorder. She shrieked when she realized she had gotten the whole thing on tape! lol
  2. Bill Trout died last night. Other than my family, he probably was the biggest help to my racing career. He got me a job working for John Birosh and I also worked on his race cars that John drove. He later put me in his race car which allowed me to make a big step up in my driving career. He had many drivers over the years including John Birosh, and Alan and Danny Johnson. Bill owned the car that Danny drove from last to first at Rolling Wheels in the SDS race. Matt Sheppard got his Sportsman career started in a Bill Trout car, and also took his first laps in a big block in one of his cars. Godspeed Bill
  3. No we didn't go to ESW that year. We did finish 3rd in 2004 to wrap up the Mr. DIRT title.
  4. Not really a particular race, but when I was a kid, opening day at Weedsport. They usually opened on a Sunday afternoon and it was before any other tracks opened so it was everybody's first chance to see all the new cars. Cars from all over New York and sometimes other states converging in the ( sometimes) bright early spring sun! I can still recall the smell of fresh paint (yes paint!!), race fuel, and hot dogs! And the sound of the unmuffled big block and late model engines! A race that I wasn't involved in for me would have to be either Jack Johnson's first SDW win or Alan Johnson's first SDW win. For me it would be two, 2002 SDS at Hagerstown, my first SDS win, or 2004 at Hagerstown in my first race for the Beachy team when we won the SDS race.
  5. gary tomkins

    Big Block Pride

    I will second Rob's assessment about fans that don't normally see the big blocks run. Almost every time we've raced at Charlotte I've had somebody come up to me after the Friday night feature or before racing starts on Saturday and say that they were blown away by the sound that the mods make when they all hit the throttle at the start of the feature. And they always seemed to be impressed with the racing the mods put on too. It's funny how a perception of something never changes when in reality it's either not as bad as it seems for the most part or, in this case New York, the only place that sees that "problem". Case in point, ONLY New York tracks get slick. All Tech (in Florida) just had some modified racing there and just judging by the video, it seemed like it got slick. BUT the racing seemed like it was pretty good was it not?? The last SDS race at Weedsport, the track had bite all night, even Matt Sheppard, who usually favors the bottom, was running the cushion. I know we had to loosen our car up for the feature because the track had so much bite. There have been times that the surface hasn't been the greatest, but I know they've been working hard on different things to get a handle on that surface.
  6. I appreciate the compliment! That being said, every time I drove for a team that wanted to try something "different", I would say to them, do you have a budget to do testing or a lot of racing? Are you willing to spend many nights not getting good results because what you thought might work didn't, at least on that particular night. Do you have time to be in the shop changing stuff along with the usual maintenance that's required with a modified? Very rarely has anyone ever come up with something over night and immediately were fast. It takes a lot of time, money and patience. I've been a part of some teams that have tried different stuff. We were trying coils on the rear on that famous night that Danny ran our other car (it wasn't a back up car) at Rolling Wheels and won. We actually did win with that coil car, but decided it wasn't worth the time and effort then to try and develop it further because our other car was running really good. We also had the first rubber floor car, that one turned out pretty good though.
  7. How long do you think it would take, if somebody in Central New York came up with something better, to have it available to everyone?? It took about three years total from the time the latest craze started by some guys in Delaware until everybody could buy the parts and go faster. And now teams have to spend a bunch of money if they want to keep up. And like I said, pretty much all of the modified teams are running some version of it, so what has been gained, other than money in the parts manufacturers pockets?? What good what it be to turn the modifieds into a "late model lite" anyway?? Spending a lot of money the change the rear suspension AGAIN would only be advantages to the big teams and the gap between the haves and have nots would only grow bigger.
  8. I think DIRT did the right thing with these rules. With the latest trend towards rear coils, left side rear panard rods, and short radius rods, teams had to spend 1,000's of dollars to keep up. And in the end most modified pit areas are filled with cars that have basically the same rear suspension again, but the teams have less money in their pockets. DIRT actually had the foresight to see what was coming next and decided to put an end to it.
  9. Still arguing about a race held in 2015? Anyway when you sign a Platinum contract, you agree to follow the terms of the contract. you get certain benefits for doing so. Brett made it known he was not going to Weedsport. Time trails were held on Friday night, no Brett Hearn. Gates opened for the race Saturday, no Brett Hearn. DIRTcar couldn't use him for promotion of the race, because he wasn't going to be there. They couldn't use him for autograph sessions, because he wasn't there. (both part of the contract that he signed btw) I don't remember if there was still a consi to be run, but all other qualifying was completed, no Brett Hearn. Yes ultimately the race was cancelled, but there was an attempt to run it and DIrtcar decided that he didn't follow the terms of the agreement so he was "punished". Pretty simple. It worked out for him though. And you know what, if I was in his shoes I would've done the same thing. He wasn't in a position to win Mr. DIRT and had a really good chance of winning ESW so might as well go after the money!!
  10. gary tomkins

    Gary Tomkins

    Only when it's you big guy!!!!!
  11. gary tomkins

    Gary Tomkins

    No because I'm a nice guy!!!!
  12. gary tomkins

    Gary Tomkins

    Now picture this scenario, the mods are out packing the track at Charlotte. As I come down the back stretch I see Bob Miller standing at the opening just before turn 3 waiting to cross. Now would any of the DTDer's be mad at me if I just happened to gas my car a little, throw it sideways and cover him in clay???? I know a lot of people that witnessed that first hand thought it was quite funny!!!! And isn't racing entertainment?? Who wouldn't be entertained by that?????
  13. gary tomkins

    Coil Car

    I think the feeling at the moment is that the left side panard rod is the hot setup for pretty much everywhere, but the spring and shock package have to work for the conditions. Basically a left side panard rod creates more bite on the left rear tire. Yes mods are aero imbalanced towards the rear which is a reason why changes to the rear suspension are being made, too take advantage of that rear downforce. The thought is to try and get rear steer into the cars similar to what the late models are doing. The "drive harder" comment meant that as a driver you have to try and keep the car "up on the bars" so to speak to keep the left rear in the air so that the rear "steers" around the corner. One way of doing that is to be on the brake pedal before letting off the gas (which is how I usually drive anyway) and to get back on the gas harder once in the corner. One thing I noticed in Charlotte was that even though there was a lot of brown dirt around the inside of the track during the features, it seemed like the cars worked better just to the outside of that (except for Pat Ward, who was still running torsion bars, he drove to the front running right around the bottom Friday night) which is similar to the way late models behave. I think that's going to be a good thing at other tracks because it will open up more area for our cars to run and not just be in the brown on the bottom or on the cushion. Time will tell. Every sheetmetal piece on theses cars is there because of rules saying it has to be there or because of aero. Late models are basically a wedge from the right front corner to the left rear corner because they spend a majority of their time on a race track at that attitude. Mod rules don't allow for the bodies to be like that, but they still spend a majority of their time leaned over to the right. That little flap on the nose helps seal it to the track mostly when the cars are in the corner and the nose is closer to the ground. When the cars are on the straights the nose is higher in the air and that flap has less of an effect which is wanted because rear down force is more important to help plant the rear tires.
  14. gary tomkins

    Coil Car

    Got home at 7:30 this morning. If independent front suspension were allowed, the northeast mods would soon begin to look like UMP mods because you would need more front end downforce to balance the car.
  15. gary tomkins

    Coil Car

    I've heard that from other people, but by making only a straight front axle legal it keeps the cost down considerably. Opening up the rules to allow A frame front ends would immediately obsolete every straight car out there in any division it would be allowed in. You're right about a lot of this stuff being tried before though, it's just different combinations trying to find the most speed. I was talking to Pat Ward Friday and we were wondering when the left side W link was going to be tried again lol.
  16. gary tomkins

    Coil Car

    There's a lot more to it than just coil springs, though the technology on them is more advanced than what it was when they were last "the hot setup". (FYI the night of Danny Johnson's come from last victory at Rolling Wheels in our other car can be partially attributed to the fact that we wanted to try coil overs on the back of a car, but didn't want to change the car we had been running because of how good it ran). So anyway, along with coil overs, the panard rod has been moved to the left side and the rear radius rods have been shortened. Things are a little complicated right now, but basically they're trying to build rear roll steer into the cars similar to what the late models are doing. Right now there's a lot of experimentation going on to try and find out what the "hot setups" are with this style of rear suspension, but I think it will get simplified once things get sorted out more. The cars actually drive a little differently, it doesn't sound right to say you have to drive them "harder", but I guess that's the best way to explain it.
  17. gary tomkins

    Gary Tomkins

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the compliments! I would love to be back at LOLR next year full time, but it comes down to money, as it always does. I've been very fortunate to be able to race all of these years because of the generosity of others, and hopefully we can continue that next year!
  18. Any race car that has body panels that help the performance of the car is affected by being behind another car. Northeast style modifieds have had to deal with this for a long time. Fortunately when racing on dirt, you can move your car around a little to try to get air on the nose and other panels so the effect isn't that great, but it still can be noticeable and affect performance. I know that if I'm following a car into turn 3 on the cushion at LOLR that I need to try and get the nose of my car to their inside a little or else my car will be tight entering the corner. At Syracuse it was really noticeable all around the track. You could feel the draft on the straights (though never enough to allow a sling shot) , especially the backstretch for some reason, and if you were behind a car in the corner your car wouldn't feel as stable as it would if it was alone.
  19. I can't see SDW going to any other venue at this time. Oswego has room (barely) for approximately 800 campsites, over 300 pit spots and still have some room for parking plus the large amount of seating capacity, I don't know of any other facility in the area where modifieds are run that can handle that many people and equipment, at least one where there isn't already a major event for modifieds. The community loves the event, and the Oswego mayor this year has said he'll do what it takes to keep the event there long term. From what I've been told by the WRG officials, they like having the race there also. It's an iconic race track, and no one has any home track advantage. Yes there are still issues that need to be addressed, but there has been a noticeable positive difference in the facility and how the event is run since the first SDW event there. Personally I think the next change that needs to be made is to schedule as much as possible at night. They need to get away from the Syracuse mindset and truly embrace this race for what it now is, a classic short track dirt race, which are all run at night! If they still want to run the satellite shows, run them Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday and leave the rest of the week for racing at Oswego.
  20. It is explained in every driver's meeting on the SDS tour that if you stop and cause a caution and go in the pits and change a tire that was not flat, you will lose a lap and not be eligible for an EZ Pass.
  21. The rules for the 200 lap race at SDW state that you can't go a lap down under caution. Track conditions this year were not ideal for passing like they were in the past in the 200, it's great for everyone when it's sunny and relatively warm, but it's not good for the track when a majority of the racing takes place during the day. BTW the track crew did a great job for the amount of laps on the track and the weather conditions. Live pit stops present a challenge to teams that gets everyone involved on the team. Deciding strategy, being on the crew that goes over the wall, and talking to the driver on the radio all help determine how well the team does. I believe crew members like having that responsibility. I have never run a lap in a race at Oswego that I was just biding my time or trying to save something. It's generally not hard on tires and you will need fuel regardless, plus you usually can pass there. so there's really no reason to conserve. I like the way the race is, my only suggestion would be to move the racing to night time.
  22. Ok again just to clarify, the car Danny drove was actually the car I had been running that season and had some wins with, we were actually trying out a BRP rear coilover car for that race, but the car he ran was as good as anything there in my mind. Still a great feat though!! Yes March of 2004. That was an awesome race, we ran basically side by side for 75 laps. I still haven't seen a video of it though. My other nomination would be the 1979 SDW where Jack Johnson won!
  23. 41 cars start the race. It is only fair that when the caution comes out that the cars are in the correct position before the pits are open. Because the race is now run on a 1/2 mile instead of a mile track it will sometimes take more laps to get the line up correct. Believe me it sucks just as much for us drivers and teams as it does for the fans. At least now only 4 laps per caution are counted so there are still a lot of racing laps. This year was the first year that every day from Wednesday to Sunday there was racing because the weather cooperated except during the day on Saturday. There were 312 cars this year. That's a LOT of laps on a dirt track in a short amount of time. The fact that except for Saturday there was sunshine and a slight breeze also was bad for the track. I know it was after midnight Saturday when racing ended, that doesn't give the track prep crew a lot of time to do a lot to the track. At the end of it all this was probably the worst year for passing cars on Sunday. That made the racing a little cut throat. There were a lot of junk wheels and tires after that race because of guys trying to make something happen. It definitely wasn't our finest hour for sure. It's dirt racing which means conditions aren't always perfect. But if that caution hadn't had come out at the end it might have still been one hell of a finish, as it was Mat Williamson ended up driving away at the green. There was a lot of talk of switching things up and doing more racing at night, which only seems logical as that's when dirt tracks typically run races. I for one think it's time to get away from the mile mindset and fully embrace the 1/2 short track experience!
  24. Joe Beyea owns the car. It's the third time we've had it out this year, the other 2 times were at Utica Rome where we got third and the Weedsport SDS race where we had brake issues during the feature. It's got a big block in it now, but Matt Sheppard has raced it with a small block in it. We seem to have a pretty good setup for when the track has some bite, but once that went away we obviously struggled. Still has a lot of potential though!