Bloomquist is easily one of...
Bloomquist is easily one of the most popular drivers anytime he pulls up at a racetrack. Critics may dismiss that to the innovative T-shirt designs he sells on his souvenir rig, but Bloomquist says it all comes back to winning.
So what's different about a Bloomquist chassis? The answer, according to Bloomquist, isn't any one thing. Instead, it's many small, detailed things that overall make the car easier to race.
"I think my cars are just well built," Bloomquist says. "For example, the car that I [used to win] the Dirt Track World Championship last year at Knoxville is 5 years old. We can add updates when we need to, and it's still capable of winning. The frames are built so well that you don't have cracking problems. A lot of other chassis that you can buy, after 8 or 10 races you have to get a welder because they are cracking out. My chassis will hold up and won't start falling apart after racing on a particularly rough track.
"The other thing we try to do is make the chassis as user-friendly as possible. I came up with a Panhard bar adjustment that you adjust along a radius. That way, when you make a height change, you don't necessarily have to change the length. When you have to make changes in a hurry, it's easier to make a mistake that can cost you. So we try to build the chassis so you can make a change without affecting anything else."
Bloomquist also requires anyone who buys into his program to purchase a complete car built to his specs because he knows what works and wants to know that any Bloomquist chassis racing out there is capable of winning. Part of the credit for his incredible winning record comes from a complete understanding of how a race car works when it is on the racetrack.
"My dad was an airline pilot, and people he worked with told me that he was one of the best. He always aced his simulator tests, and I once asked him how he did it. 'What makes you different from all the other guys?' He told me that he didn't just know when he flipped a switch that the trim tabs moved. He knew every wire, every relay, every mechanism involved from the switch to the trim tab. He knew how every part on that airplane worked, and that helped him become a better pilot.
"I've thought about that a lot, and I think it applies to racing. If I have something that's not working, I don't just take it out and send it back to the manufacturer. I want to take it down and figure out why it doesn't work. And a lot of times I've been able to figure out why it doesn't work for them. That's helped me build a pretty good relationship with a lot of parts manufacturers, and the back-and-forth flow of information has helped our racing program."
As he has matured as a driver,...
As he has matured as a driver, Bloomquist says he no longer drives every lap like it's the last. That, he says, is a good way to wear out your equipment or wind up in a wreck. "You only drive as fast as you need to win," he says.
The Most Popular Man in Dirt Racing
Before The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway's Colossal 100, it was interesting to see just how many of the fans in attendance were wearing something from his souvenir truck. His souvenirs and his cars-festooned with his trademark skull and crossbones and even a yin/yang symbol-certainly stand out from the crowd, but one has to wonder if this really is his signature style or just a clever marketing gimmick to sell more shirts.
"All that stuff has come naturally," he explains. "I've always considered myself a bit of an artist. Back when I was running the 18 with Barry Wright, I did my own flames. I designed the flames myself and then had my decal guy cut them for me. But after a while I noticed that every car started looking like mine. I saw myself all over the racetrack. It got to where I didn't stand out.
"When Barry and I split, I took all my stuff back home to work on it, and I decided it was time to regroup and start over. I knew I wanted to make a change, and that included my number and the way my car looked.
"I'll never forget. [Chassis builder] Joe Garrison came up to me somewhere and said, 'You can't change your number!' I said, 'What do you mean? I can do whatever I want.' And he said, 'But you are number 18. Everybody knows that.' I said, 'No, I'm Scott Bloomquist, and if they haven't figured that out yet, that's an even better reason to change my number.'"
So, in 1997, Bloomquist changed to his now-iconic Zero and adopted the black, green, and sometimes white color scheme he has used in different variations over the years. The "No Weak Links" motto you often see came from conversations about strengthening his team. Bloomquist remembers saying that the team was only as strong as its weakest member, and somewhere along the way he threw out the line that the team could afford no weak links. The message stuck, and it eventually became his mantra.
"I already had in my head that I wanted to use a skull," he says. "So I was already working on a skull and crossbones design. When the phrase 'No Weak Links' came up I added a chain and shackles to the bottom bones, and it all came together. It all just kind of happened that way.
After claiming the $50,000...
After claiming the $50,000 winner's share in the Colossal 100, Bloomquist was all smiles. In his world, if you aren't racing to win, there is no reason to go racing.
"It's funny," he continues. "I'll see grandmothers wearing a T-shirt with the skull and crossbones on it, and you will see a guy wearing a shirt with the yin/yang symbol. I've met a man in a biker gang who has 'No Weak Links' in a tattoo. I don't think I draw any single type of fan. They are all types. But you have to remember, you can have all that stuff with cool shirts and everything, but it doesn't do any good unless you are winning. You can't have 'No Weak Links' on your race car and be the weakest guy there."
In Bloomquist's world, winning is the bottom line. Winning is what he lives for, and it is what pays the bills. It's the reason he tries to control the track when he drives, controls how his cars are built, even controls how his customer's cars are built. He says it has taken him years, but he has a team in place that he believes is the strongest he's ever had. He has a trusted crew chief, a trusted fabricator building his chassis to his specifications, and an engine builder building engines the way he likes them (lots of power but with super-smooth delivery). At just 42 years of age, he appears set to keep winning big races for many years to come.
"That's what keeps me going, the competition at the big events," Bloomquist says. "Man, it takes everything falling into place to win [a big-money event]. The first time I went to the World 100 in 1988, I won it. I went back and won it again in 1990. But then I didn't win it again for the next 10 years. I was this close 10 times but couldn't win it. The level of competition and intensity in those races is fantastic-I'll always love that rush. When I finally won it again after missing out for 10 years, it felt just as good as the first win. You can never take winning for granted. That's what keeps me going."