By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Bob Tucker has it made.
On weekends he travels around the Midwest from dirt track to dirt track, wife Erica and baby son Charlie at his side.
His race car of choice: a bright, red and black, Winged Sprint car.
“Look at it. It’s awesome!” the 27-year-old Chillicothe, Ohio, driver said Friday night as he waited for the rain to stop at Beckley Motorsports Park. “It’s the most exciting car you can race.”
We’re talking true love here.
“It’s 800-plus horsepower, and 1,375 pounds,” Tucker said. “You do the math. They’re very, very, wicked cars.”
He grew up in a Winged Sprint family. His father, Glenn Tucker, raced one for 20 years.
When Bob, a former motocross driver, decided to give it a try, Glenn had some sage advice.
“He told me to, ‘Run it into the corner until you think you are going to die, count to two, and then let off!’” Bob recalled. “When the cars are on, they’ll do amazing things. Things you don’t think they can do. They’ll stick to the ground.”
Winged Sprints are famed for their high speeds, and they more than lived up to their reputation the last time they were in Beckley, in 2010.
A Sprint made it around the high-banked, 3/8th-mile oval in 11.6 seconds, a new track record. Previously, the mark was 12.96 seconds, set by the usual kings of the track at BMP, a Late Model.
“We’ll set a new record again if we get to run tonight,” Tucker said.
Not that Tucker himself would set a record. He’s still learning.
But give him time.
“We’ve won a few heat races, but we’re racing against guys who have been doing this 25, 35 years,” he said. “We’re a rookie, and to come out and run against those guys is pretty cool. They’re the guys I looked up to. They’ve got a lot more seat time than I’ve got.”
Tucker, a forklift and heavy equipment mechanic in his day, races two or three times each weekend. He was making his Beckley debut Friday.
“It looks like it will be real fun,” he said. “We’ll be able to run through the corners real hard on the gas.”
The cars are loud, even for a sport that piles on the decibels. But they’re hardly pushing their motors.
“A lot of guys sound like they’re wide open, but they’re probably half-throttle around the track,” Tucker said. “There’s not any place on the track you can actually hold it wide open.
“That gives you an idea how much horsepower these things have. We’re running track records at half throttle.”
The track was in excellent shape, despite the rain (the track did not get a downpour, unlike other places in the Beckley area). Fans continued to pour in, hoping that, as Tucker predicted, another track record would be set.
Results of the Winged Sprint and other races were not available at press time.
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