By KEN BRUCE
Like any new race team, Duane Howard and car owner Butch Getz were looking to get off to a strong start when they began their partnership in 2021. Not lacking in equipment, the No. 15G Big Creek Concrete team was ready to go when the season got underway back in March at Georgetown. The team showed speed but was bit by some mechanical and engine gremlins that prevented them from getting that first win. At Selinsgrove and Port Royal the team started to see what they needed and were making the necessary adjustments to try and improve on their Bicknell chassis’.
Then, it was onto to Bridgeport Motorsports Park for the Kingdom of Speed race. Only having raced one other time on the new four-tenths mile configuration, Howard and the team were on their game on this Saturday. Starting on the front row for the 60-lap feature race, Howard took off and looked like the car to beat as he motored away from the field to open up a sizeable lead. Once again, an engine issue arose as the motor started to billow smoke while Howard was out front forcing him to pull off. Even though they left the track disappointed, the team knew they had a great car and victory was not too far away.
The next race scheduled for the team was Big Diamond Speedway on Friday, April 2. The track was forced to cancel due to the coldness of the night. The next night it was onto Grandview for the annual Bruce Rogers Memorial “Money Maker” race.
Howard started the 50-lap main event in the 12 spot and made quick work of the field in front of him to take the lead as the field completed lap 12. From there on Howard was able to pull out to a big lead until he came upon the tail end of the field allowing longtime rival and Oley, Pa., native Craig Von Dohren to pull up to the back of Howard. Howard was able to hold off Von Dohren and a fast-closing Brett Kressley to take the big win. It was a special win to Howard as he heard the whispers from the naysayers saying he didn’t have what it takes anymore to get to the front after a subpar season in 2020.
“To get that first win with a new team is always good and gets us some momentum going,” said Howard. “We have had good speed since we first came out with our spec motor at Georgetown and then we went the following weekend and we showed good speed at Selinsgrove and Port Royal. We had some good heat races and then we found something at Port Royal in the heat which kind of clicked for me driving these coils. We were then very good at Bridgeport until what happened there which was a downer for sure. I think we found the right direction to go with all of this new coil stuff and Saturday night everything finally worked out.”
As a long time competitor at Grandview with 93 total wins and six championships, Howard has known the Rogers family for a long time and winning this race for the Bruce Rogers was very meaningful.
“It was a race I really wanted to win,” explained Howard, “I’ve known the Rogers family for most of my life. Since I started racing there as a rookie. The Rogers family did so much for my personal life with what the payouts have been and the point championships. I have been able to do a lot of things because of Grandview Speedway and the Rogers family, and it was very special to win that race and honor Bruce. They do a great job year in and year out, you know what to expect when the open the gates year after year. They don’t change much, and you know what you got when you race there. It really was a true honor to win that race in memory of Bruce.”
By Duane Howard standards, 2020 was a bad year. The team did win twice at Grandview and finished second in the points, but overall it was a year that Howard struggled, especially away from Grandview. Getting a win early this season is what Howard needed to get himself going with his new Getz Racing Team.
“I have a resurgence going I think,” cited an obviously upbeat Howard. “When you have some down years, I don’t think I what I had was a down year, but maybe not up to other people’s expectations, it helps you to get motivated a little more. I am motivated to do well for this new team. Butch Getz and his entire family along with everybody that supports him along with his friends have put together a stellar race team and to be able to put them in victory lane in what is a spectacle race like it was Saturday night is something that kept me motivated to do well. This year we need to go out there and produce because Getz Motorsports is a premier on the PA circuit and I think we will continue to show that this year.”
Torsion bar cars have been the way to go at Grandview over the past seasons, but as the technology improves most teams have decided to go with the coils in the rear suspension now. Howard has been one of the reluctant drivers to change his mindset regarding the coils but this year they are determined to make them work.
“Butch has put together a good team here,” explained Howard. “We have good cars, good motors from Billy the Kid Performance and we all put our heads together over the winter to absorb as much information as we could to focus on these coils and make them work. I mean we made a lot of phone calls to the chassis builders, to shock people, to spring people. We tried to absorb in our sponge as much as we possibly could going into this year and it worked. We worked hard over the winter to make everything right and yeah, we had a couple issues in some early races that were kind of unfortunate, but I think we have a really good race team.”
He continued, “It’s all about confidence coming from the driver in knowing what you want and as many years as I have been doing this you get a good feel for Grandview and what you need to have for a winning car and what it should feel like. Well, Saturday night we had a good winning really fast car, but it felt nothing like my cars have felt the last years or even decades at Grandview, so it is very different. It causes you to change your driving style up some because of the feel and anybody who runs coils will tell you that. It is different, it is something you have to get used to. It feels like you are falling out the right side of the car and until you get used to that it is definitely a different feel. It does feel fast, and they bounce a lot more, I can tell you that for sure. Track conditions can be a coils worst nightmare or a blessing, depending on how the track feels that night. If the track is heavy, you will be in for a long night. If it is smooth and slick it will feel like a bar car but either way you better be ready.”
Getz Happy to Get the Team’s First Win
Saturday night was what Butch Getz had envisioned all winter long when he made a deal over the winter with Duane Howard to pilot his No. 15G modifieds. Getz knew he had the equipment to get the job done and he also knew that Howard was the driver he needed to make it all come together. The former driver from Kunkletown, Pa., got into team ownership last season when he helped Jeff Strunk out at Big Diamond. Strunk piloted Getz’s cars to three wins at Big Diamond in 2020 which fueled Getz even more as an owner.
Getz stepped up his game over the winter and started to assemble a top-notch Modified race team. Bicknell chassis’ and Billy the Kid Performance motors were acquired, and the final piece of the puzzle was to find a driver who could wheel the team to victory. Getz has seemed to have found his man in Duane Howard and Saturday’s night win at Grandview was a statement victory for the team.
“We had some bad luck here in the beginning,” mentioned Getz. “I think we probably could’ve won at Bridgeport last Sunday if we didn’t blow a motor and honestly, I didn’t think we were going to come out of the gate this good at Grandview. The car was a little too tight in the heat race and we made a few changes for the feature and I guess we made the right ones.
“I think it was a pretty good accomplishment for our team to get a win this quick right out of the box and the crews guys seem to think the same thing but man, I’ll tell you I was more excited about this win than I was when I won myself last year at Penn Can. I am more excited for Duane; he really needed that win and it felt good to come out of the box that strong at Grandview and we have to do the same thing next week at Big Diamond. When I decided to do this, I wanted to do this the right way and it took a lot of money and man hours to get it all done and it feels great to reap the rewards of everyone’s hard work.”
As always, I can be reached for any comments or questions via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25