Music And Racing Fuel Hampstead Man's Free Time


October 07, 1990|By Stanley C. Dillon

Dennis Meadowcroft of Hampstead enjoys racing for a hobby, and looks forward to turning professional.

But he doesn't want to become a professional driver -- he wants to be a professional musician.

The 26-year-old started driving midway through the 1990 season and competes in the four-cylinder class at the Trial-Way Speedway near Hanover, Pa., on Friday nights -- but only when it does not interfere with his music. He never had any racing experience until this year; the closest he had come was riding his dirt bike.

Earlier this year, Patrick Errol Meadowcroft talked his brother, Dennis, into going to the races at Trail-Way. Dennis liked what he saw and three weeks later they both had cars and were competing.

Racing became a place for Dennis to unwind. Since he is deeply involved in his music and his work, racing became his relaxation.

He chose the four-cylinder division because it is relatively cheap. The engines have to be stock, but internal modifications can be made.

Dennis Meadowcroft's car, a 1979 Ford Mustang, has a larger cam on it.

He also altered the suspension for dirt track, but it's basically stock.

"I feel the main thing to do is to finish," said Dennis. "I find that guys who have a little more in their car have their engines break more. I mill the heads a little to get an edge over the stocks, but that's about it."

Dennis is strictly a weekend racer. He races on Friday nights when it does not interfere with his band and the family business.

He enjoys racing, especially coming off the track and seeing the excited faces of his wife, Tracy, and son, Dominic, 2.

A devoted family man, Dennis does not let racing take all of his time.

He normally spends one night cleaning the car, changing oil and checking the spark plugs. If he wrecks, the time required to work on the car triples.

He has done well and was running 12th in points even though he did not start racing until midway through the season. He raced as often as he could, but missed nights whenever his band had an engagement.

Last week, he ended his racing season early when he hit a car that spun out in front of him. Meadowcroft will finish the season as a spectator and prepare for next year.

Dennis and his brother aren't the only Meadowcrofts that started racing this year. Dennis's wife Tracy had the opportunity to drive earlier this year.

"At first, it started as a joke, then it became a reality," said Tracy.

"I was worried a little, not as much about me as the cars around me.

"I was a little timid because I didn't want to wreck the car, so I went slower than I would have if it was mine. I didn't wreck, but I finished last."

Added Tracy, "I expected it to be more of a thrill. They told me I felt that way because I didn't drive on the edge. I told them I couldn't, because it wasn't my car."

Tracy hasn't driven since, but would like to do it or even have her own car. Right now, she is attending school two nights a week.

Dennis owns the Meadowcroft Chevron in Hereford, Baltimore County, with his brother. His father owned the station for 20 years before turning the business over to his sons.

It is a 24-hour service station that takes a lot of the family's time, but Dennis feels he is fortunate to have men working for him that allows him enough time to play music and race.

Still, Dennis never had any intention of driving a race car. His main hobby is music.

He started playing the guitar in the third grade and a year later he began to play the saxophone. He became good at it and about five years ago he formed a band.

The band, known as "The New Earth," has played at several local places in Carroll and the York County, Pa., area.

New Earth Band is a five-piece group that plays all original music.

Dennis writes most of the music for the band.

They enjoy playing benefits the most and are looking to doing more now that racing season is over.

Next to his family, the band is Dennis's priority.

"I love my racing, it is a way of getting away from stress," he said.

"But I am much more serious about my music."

The band had minimal success in its first three years. With growing family responsibilities, the band took a break for a year. Dennis and two of the members wanted to play again, so they found two new members and are back at it.

Although Dennis is not driven to play professionally, he admits he would like to if the opportunity presents itself. He said he expects to play music until it stops being fun.

In the meantime Dennis will be racing to "have a little fun when I have free time."

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