By KEN BRUCE
Ryan Godown has always tried to keep himself busy during racing season by driving in as many races as he possibly can, but this year will be his busiest season to date providing Mother Nature doesn’t get in his way.
Starting off 2018 for Godown will be his first ever visit to Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals. Godown will be seeing the track for the first time ever when he arrives there early next week.
Godown will be competing at Volusia for long-time and legendary car owner Dieter Schmidt aboard the iconic Lincoln Auto Body No. 5. Godown and Schmidt hooked up late last season for a specials only format with the emphasis put on Super DIRT Week and Eastern States Weekend. Although SDW didn’t quite go as expected when Godown was involved in a very hard wreck the team did bounce back with a hard fought seventh place finish in the Eastern States 200 two weeks later.
The Godown/Schmidt team is back together this year with the same plan in place for this season in which the team will compete in selected special races and DIRT sanctioned races so Godown can get more comfortable racing with Hoosier Tires.
“The plan with Dieter is pretty much the same as last year. We will run both Oswego and Middletown at the end of the season and selected DIRT specials during the year. The more experience we get running Hoosier tires will only help us come October.”
Since Schmidt has always liked to compete in Florida in February it was a forgone conclusion that Godown would be making his debut at the DIRTcar Nationals in 2018. When the team unloads in Florida Godown will be back in familiar territory as the team will debut a new Troyer TD4 chassis. The Schmidt team competed in TEO chassis’s the past few years but when it was time to purchase a new chassis for 2018, Schmidt and Godown decided to go back to a chassis brand that although separately both owner and driver have had a lot of success with over the years.
“We are going down there with this new Troyer TD4 chassis. Billy (Colton) will be there to help us out and now that Peter Britten won’t be driving in Florida he will be there helping us out as well along with Rich Scagliotta. The new Troyer car will be set-up with everything Billy wants on it including shocks which will be Integra’s. Peter had a lot of success with his new Troyer car late last year, so he will be a big help when we unload in Florida to get us going in the right direction.”
The LAB #5 team will have their TEO from last year with them to serve as a backup plan if they don’t feel comfortable with the new Troyer chassis, but they are determined to get their new car to the front. Big-block power for both Modifieds comes from Morgantini Engines. Escape RV once again be the primary sponsor of the team along Lincoln Auto Body, Ellery’s Restaurant & Pub, TMI Trucking and numerous product sponsors. The Lincoln Auto Body team also has another TEO in their inventory outfitted with a spec 358 motor that the team ran at last years Gobbler for Godown to use if need be.
When Godown returns from Florida, the season will really start to pick up for the Ringoes, N.J., wheelman as he begins to prepare the Searock Fabrications No. 26 Modified for action on the Short Track Super Series in the both the South and the North regions along with his Friday night home track the Big Diamond Speedway.
The Searock/Godown team will have a fleet of Modifieds ready for action. The team will have one of their TEO chassis they used last year along with Godown’s tried and trusted old Troyer chassis that he calls his “Outlaw Car”. Godown and Searock Fabrications owner Steve Searock will also make a trip to Rochester, N.Y., in the near future to pick up two brand new Troyer TD4 chassis for use in 2018. This marks a change for the Searock team who have competed with TEO cars the past few years but with Godowns experience with Troyer Chassis and the support they expect to get from the Troyer camp and especially from owner Billy Colton the team is excited to get the season started.
“Steve and Diane (Searock) have really stepped it up this year and I can’t thank them enough for doing what they do for me. We have the two new Troyer TD4 cars coming and I still have my old outlaw Troyer that just keeps on going and we’ll still have one of our Teo’s leftover from last year. I think motor wise we are set to go. Searock has a spec 358 motor and I have a spec 358 motor plus I have my ERD outlaw motor that has served me well over the years and Steve and Diane have again stepped up and ordered another open small-block outlaw motor from ERD that will be built exactly like mine, so we should have the ability to have any motor combination package we need to compete at all the Deyo races.”
The schedule will be an aggressive one for Godown and the Searock team as Godown explains.
“Our plan with the Searock car is to be back at Big Diamond on a regular basis and most of the Deyo series with the Searock car. There will be some tracks on the Deyo series that it will better to use a big-block and on those tracks we’ll run the Petruska #66. We will also hit the Thunder on the Hill shows and other selected 358 specials like Freedom 76 with the Searock team”
Sponsorship for the Searock team comes from Searock Fabrications and Speed Supplies along with TMI Trucking and Strober-Wright Roofing Inc.
In 2018 the Petruska & Sons No. 66 will once again find Godown behind the wheel with their emphasis being put on winning the title at the New Egypt Speedway where Godown is a multi-time champion. It is no secret that the Atlas Paving Team and Godown did not have the year they expected to have at New Egypt last year and with that always comes speculation that the combination wouldn’t return in 2018. Both the team and Godown are back and are excited for the upcoming season. Both the driver and team are quite confident they have put all of the problems with the car they encountered last season behind them.
“We didn’t have what we would call a great year last year with the No. 66 car and we still finished second in points only 20 something points out. This year we will be ready right out of the box and I know we’ll be good. The Petruska’s, Mike Sr, Mike, Jared and Eric have been working hard over the winter to make sure we have what we need for New Egypt for this year. We all sat down after last season and addressed what our problems were, and I guarantee you we will be ready to go at New Egypt. The Petruska’s work very hard to give me what I need to win and it’s no secret we didn’t have good year last year, but you could see that we worked well together as a team and we stuck it out and this year will be different, I have no doubts about that.”
Godown and the Atlas Paving team will also compete in selected big-block races concentrating on the Bridgeport Poker Series and some of the STSS races where a big-block would be the preferred motor of choice. The team will have the equipment it needs to run up front and Godown is confident they will do just that.
“The No. 66 team will still be running a Bicknell chassis that we used at the end of last year. The big-block car only has like three races on it and the small-block car only has nine laps on it. It was brand new at New Egypt’s last race last season and we only ran a couple of warm-up laps and the heat race before we had an engine issue with it. As disappointing as that was, I am glad it happened last year and not in the first race of this year. The one thing we can’t afford to do is get behind in the points. The Petruska’s are very prepared and will have two new spec 358 motors for this season. One motor will be a Dodge and the other a Chevy plus the big-block. They have worked hard with the engine builders over the winter to make sure the engine issues are behind us and to make sure we have what we need to get us to the front.”
With so many specials and mid-week races available to race in along with his home-tracks. You would think that Godown would have a hard-enough time juggling schedules between not one, not two but three Modified teams. But no, the “Ringoes Rocket” has added more to his plate in 2018 as he will start to dabble into the world of USAC Sprint cars in the upcoming season.
Godown has dominated the wingless Sprint division at New Egypt Speedway the past two seasons but a new rule in place for 2018 will prevent Godown from competing in the class this year. So Godown, who has enjoyed running the Wingless Sprints, has got together with a couple of other people including Karl Freyer who owned the Wingless Sprint that Godown drove last year to purchase a 360 USAC Sprint that Godown will compete with in the new USAC Wingless Division that will compete in our area in 2018. Although conflicts with the Modified will stop Godown from competing in all of the scheduled races he thinks he should be able to compete in most of them and is very excited to pursue this new venture.
“I really enjoyed running the wingless Sprints the past year and a half at New Egypt and this year we are no longer allowed to run them. I still wanted to continue to drive them and they introduced this new USAC Wingless series, so we thought we would give it a try. It will be a little different for sure as this series will use a 360 motor instead of the crate motors we used at New Egypt, so I will have to get used to having more power, but I think we can be very competitive right out of the gate. It’s a shame we can’t make all the races on the series due to conflicts with the Modified, but we should be able to make most of them. Karl Freyer will maintain the car at his shop and it will numbered 4F and with Karl’s experience and passion for it we should be able to compete and have a lot of fun.”
Like they say in the overnight infomercials “But wait, there’s more!” For the first time ever Godown will strap himself into a wingless USAC 410 Sprint car and compete in the annual Eastern Storm in 2018. The car Godown will be driving is owned by Mick Wasitowski and although Godown lacks experience driving these beasts, he doesn’t lack confidence in himself and is super excited to get behind the wheel come June.
“I can’t wait for this deal, you here so much about the Eastern Storm when it comes around here and to be able to be a part of it for the first time is unbelievable. Mick Wasitowski has purchased a new car and motor and although I don’t expect to go out and clean their clocks I think we can be competitive and run with them. Just like with the 360 car we won’t be able to make all of the shows, but we should be at most of them including Grandview, Susquehanna, Bridgeport and Weedsport. I have always wanted to get behind the wheel of one these cars and this is an opportunity I just can’t pass up.”
All in all, Godown expects to race close to 100 times this season and he knows that also means a lot of travel up and down the highways. It will also mean a lot work for himself, his car owners and especially his crew but it’s not too often you have a chance to run this many races in one season especially in three different classes of race cars and Godown knows that it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for him and he hopes be able to take advantage of it and have a year to remember.
“I know it’s a lot of racing, but I think we have the teams to do it. I am really excited to go after the title on both the STSS North and South series and I think we have the right combinations of cars and motors to do. The Petruska’s have put together an aggressive schedule to run and most importantly all three teams are willing to work together to make it all work. I have surrounded myself with three good car owners who are all willing to put it on the line for me to do well. I knew last year was going to be a learning curve running with new teams and it showed, but we really started to come on later in the year so this year we should come out of gate swinging. The best thing about having three great car owners is that they all want to work together.”
Godown has had a lot of success over the years driving Troyer cars and is both happy and anxious to be able to get back to helping them get back to victory lane.
“I’ve had a lot of wins over the years driving Troyers and (Billy) Colton came up to me and gave me a good deal and both Dieter (Schmidt) and the Searocks stepped up to purchase them. You know that the Troyer cars have struggled down here the last few years and hopefully we can get them back on the map and that’s our goal. I think with my knowledge driving Troyer cars and with Billy’s (Colton) help I think we can do it. At the same time, we are still going to run the Bicknell’s for the 66 team and they are great cars and we still have some TEO cars with both Searock and Dieter and they have been great to work with as well. I might be the only driver to be driving cars from all three major chassis builders.
If confidence and enthusiasm were to be used as a barometer for Godown’s 2018 season, it could year the veteran driver won’t soon forget.
“I am super excited for this season to get underway and my confidence level is very high right now. With the season we had last year it would’ve been easy for the either one of my car owners to say let’s just change the driver, but they didn’t and decided to stick with me for this year and that has just raised my confidence to a new level. I think I matured over the years as a driver and have learned when to be aggressive and when to back off and hopefully at days end we can be standing in victory lane quite a bit this year with all three teams.”
In talking to Godown for over an hour at his shop in Ringoes, N.J., you could tell how excited he was for the upcoming season and in particular the opportunity to run the full Deyo series. Godown has run most of the tracks that makeup the North series at least once except for Thunder Mountain Speedway. He has had success at most of them and more importantly has a notebook to rely on when they unload for the night’s races.
“I can honestly tell you that we’ve been working hard non-stop since the Gobbler in November to prepare for this year. Myself and all these teams I am driving for are very hard workers. we don’t do this for a living and all of us have full-time jobs that we work very hard at to be able to put these race cars on the track. We all do this for fun and to have a good time but trust me we all want to win very badly. To do that we need to keep working hard in the shop and at the track. We might not win every race, but I can tell you what, there isn’t anyone out there who is going outwork us.”
As always, I can be reached for questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25