It’s Not Just Another Race Track, This Is Talladega!

Josh White

(photo courtesy front stretch photography)

For the die hard race fan the thought of being able to drive a race car in a race around the fastest, scariest, and biggest race track in the USA is a distant dream.  So we subsitute that thought with watching NASCAR race twice a year at Talladega, and just try to image what it would be like, if given the opportunity.

For Josh White that dream was fulfilled on Friday May 1st as he competed in his very first ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Working On My Redneck caught up with White and discussed with him just what it was like to turn that dream into reality.  I think that you might find the inner thoughts of this young racer to be quite interesting, unique, and insightful.  The question that was posed to the West Virginia young gun was; “Could you sum up your anxieties, your thoughts, and your expectations when you knew that you were going to get to race at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Here is what this young man had to say about his very first experience climbing into a race car at Talladega, baby!

JOSH WHITE:

I was kind of disappointed at first, mainly because we did not have much money for this season’s sponsorship package.  I had spent all the time previous to the race helping the crew to get the race car prepared for racing at Talladega.

Initially, I thought that I was only going to get some laps during practice, my qualifying attempt, and just run a few laps at the start of the race.  My car owner had gotten the team a couple of sponsors so that he could, at least, break even on the expenses of hauling the car down and back, plus all the associated expenses that we occur during the time at the race track.  So I knew going into this that I would not have the money necessary to race the whole race.

Once I arrived at the race track, and crosssed over the track and into the area that was the ARCA garage at Talladega for the first time, it was the same feeling that I had when I  arrived at Daytona and tested there for the first time.  It was the feeling of the hairs on the back of my neck standing straight up and tingling, my heart was filled with excitement, and racing at about 9000 RPM’s!

After getting to our assigned garage area, and after unloading the race car, my spotter told me that my car owner had secured enough finances to race half of the race, maybe more!  That was all dependent on how well I did in the race.

I was thinking “man this would be one heck of a birthday present”!  My 24th birthday was going to be about six days after the race, May 7th!

When I strapped into the race car for my first practice I was so happy!  I had a smile from ear to ear that even the mortician could not have wiped off!  However, it was now business time.

Upon firing up the engine, pulling out of the garage onto pit raod, and then out onto the race track, I had the feeling of finally being free.  It was the first time in a long time that I felt like we were making progress in my career, and man let me tell you that felt good!

Then after the first hour of practice we pulled the race car in, started making adjustments on the car, and then come up with ideas for qualifying.  But most importantly, we were really trying to get the most speed out of the car that we could.

Our team was running the old SB2 motor instead of the new 396 Illmor motor that ARCA is now allowing.  So for that reason alone that already made us slower that those teams with the new Illmor 396.

Qualifying was really different than at other ARCA races.  At Talladega we qualified in groups, and for the first time in my life I was in the draft!  I felt that I really did well.  I definitely felt how the car was affected by the turbulent air coming off of the other cars around me on the race track.  While in the draft with the other cars I could maintain their speed and still have some accelerator left to mash when I needed it!

During qualifying I was trying different things.  At first I tried taking the lead to see what that was like in this car.  But I soon found out that there were faster cars in my pack, I let them pass me, sucked up on their bumpers in the turns, and drafted with them.  Going down the back straight, on my last lap of qualifying, I finally got the gas to the floor.  Going through turns 3 and 4 I got a great run and was able to grab the 29th starting position!  I was able to qualify two spots better than we really had the race car for!  Both my team owner and spotter was very happy, considering we are an under-funded team right now.

When it was “showtime”, man what a feeling swirling around inside!  This track has so much history to it, and it felt really great to be one of the lucky ones to be able to race at that monster.  However, I must say that it was disappointing because I really could not keep up with the pack at the dropping of the green flag.  I just didn’t have the horsepower of the other race cars.  I had it floored, I mashed the  pedal as hard as I could!  In fact when I got out of the race car, I thought that I had hurt my right foot!

After 21 laps the team decided to bring the car in, we had just about run out all of the fuel from the tank, we didn’t have another set of tires, and we didn’t have the crew or the equipment to do a pit stop.

In the end, my final thoughts were that I just really wanted to finish the race!  But I sure had a lot of fun, and maybe next year we will have the necessary funding to race the entire race!

WOMR:

And as the now deceased syndicated radio persoanlity Paul Harvey would say ” Now you know the rest of the story!  Good Day!”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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