I had the opportunity to spot for a friend of mine at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweek
During the course of last year, there were many times where my spotter, whether it was my father or someone else, heard me complain about something that happened on the track. It is a fact that drivers are going to complain to someone about what is happening around us. That's not to say that I ever "chewed out" my spotter, but there were times where I was upset about the situation that was happening around me, and I felt the need to complain.
With all that being said, I now have a new perspective on the role of a spotter, because I finally had the opportunity to climb on top of a spotters' stand and spot for an old friend of mine.
It all started when I was preparing to leave for Speedweeks at Daytona in mid-February. My cell phone rang and I discovered it was Steve Law, a good friend of my father. My father's friends don't always call me, but it turns out Steve's son, Les, was racing at New Smyrna Speedway in his truck, and Steve was calling to see if I would spot for Les.
After a few minutes of discussion, I decided this would be a great chance for me to see what it is really like from a spotters' stand and I agreed to do it. I had to warn him, though, that I had never spotted for anyone during a real race. I had done it for practice, but I had never had the chance to do so during a race. he was fine with it, which made me even more nervous.
Before I can go any further I have to give you a little background on our friendship with Steve and his wife, Linda. Steve and my dad were nearly inseparable before I was born. Steve ran a Dirt Late Model and my dad would crew chief for him at the races. They would also work together on Kenny essary's Dirt Late Model (Kenny was inducted in to the Dirt Late Model hall of Fame in 2006).
When I arrived at New Smyrna I was not only excited about getting the chance to spot, but also because I had a chance to validate all the stories my dad had always told me. one of those was when my father punched a Late Model after the driver had spun out Kenny in the a-main. hearing Steve tell it made me realize my dad wasn't exaggerating the story in the least bit. Steve remembers moving out of the way on the pit road so that the drivers could get back to the trailers when the race was over. Then he looked over to see my dad standing right in the middle of pit road. he said he actually yelled at him "you're on your own this time, Chuck! I'm not fighting a d_ _ _ car."
New Smyrna is a half-mile oval that produces some great racing.
My father waited for the driver to come by and proceeded to punch through the car's shroud and ductwork, in hopes of actually reaching the radiator. he failed to puncture it, but I know the driver had to be thinking, "I'm not messing with this guy if he's going to punch my car. I'm not even going to think what he could do to me."
The Laws and gibsons have kept in touch over the years and Les started racing about the same time I did. he started out in Bandoleros, eventually graduated into Late Models, and has run a few hooters Pro Cup races as well. But Steve will tell you that the Pro Truck they are racing right now is the most fun of all.
"We built this truck from the ground up," says Steve. "Les's girlfriend's father built the chassis and we put a lot of hard work into getting it (to New Smyrna)."
Going Right To WorkFrom the moment I arrived, I assumed would have the chance to spot for him during practice or during a heat race to familiarize myself with the track and how Les likes his spotters to talk to him. however, I arrived late because of the Gatorade Duels at Daytona. The thing about the trucks is on this day they were not running a heat race. Instead, they were drawing for positions. I prayed he would start up front. They had a large field of 25 trucks there that night, and I expected a wreck-fest on the half-mile oval. Luckily, Les started up front, drawing the fifth starting position.