This Drag Racer Likes To Limit Car's Speed


June 30, 1991|By Stanley Dillon

UNION BRIDGE — Most competitors in motorsports, especially drag racing, want to go faster .

That's why Mike Stambaugh is satisfied traveling at a slower speed. In fact, he sold his last car at the end of the 1990 season because it was going too fast.

Mike now races a 1978 Ford Fairmont, going slower and wining at the same time. He leads in points at the Mason-Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown and is fifth in points at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia.

Stambaugh runs in the Heavy Eliminator Class or Class II, a class for cars that run the quarter-mile strip in 12 to 19.99 seconds. Many of thedrivers that he races against look forward to advancing to Class I, but not Stambaugh.

"I wouldn't do it," said Mike about moving up aclass. "It takes a lot of time and money.

"I race my car, come home and my car sits on the trailer during the week. All I do is put gas in it and charge the battery and it is ready to go for next week."

Stambaugh, who lives in the west Carroll community, enjoys drag racing as a hobby. He races on weekends, sometimes two to three times, but not much time or money is required to keep his car running.

"It has a very basic motor, a 351 (cubic inch) Windsor," explained Stambaugh.

"All that is different is a hydraulic cam and flat-type pistons. There's nothing fancy, that's for sure."

Stambaugh does the normal maintenance, such as changing the oil. Unless he breaks something, the car never leaves the trailer until the next race, and with the basic stock motor, his chances of breaking something are minimal.

What Stambaugh has is consistency, and that's what wins in bracketracing. Handicapping is based on the car's performance from previouspractice runs.

It places the emphasis on car preparation and driver skill rather than expensive hi-tech motors and parts. Bracket racing is for racing enthusiasts like Stambaugh who race for fun.

He started racing in 1985 because of Charlie Spielman.

"He's the one that talked me into getting a car," recalled Stambaugh.

"So I went out and brought a 1964 Ford Falcon for $50. I put a new front end under it and went racing."

He's been racing ever since.

Stambaugh was successful with the Falcon, but after four years with the car he wanted to move on to another vehicle.

"I wanted to go a little faster than I did," he said. "I was running a 12.80 to 12.90. I wanted to get in the 12.10s and stay in the same class."

So two years ago,Stambaugh purchased a lighter 1979 Ford Pinto, yet continued to use the motor from the Falcon. But the Pinto turned out to be faster thanhe wanted.

"I wanted to go faster, but not as fast as the Pinto went," he said.

"Instead of running in the 12.10s, I was breaking-out and running below 12 ET's (elapsed time from the start)."

Aftertwo frustrating years, Stambaugh sold the Pinto and purchased the Fairmont last winter.

"I am tickled to death with it," he said. "Charlie Spielman did the motor work and Chuck's Welding of Mayberry helped with the framework.

"We put a new frame on the back end and installed a nine-inch Ford rear. We put bigger tires on it too."

Withthe Fairmont, he doesn't have to worry about going too fast. He dials in the time he hopes to run, then runs the car all out. And most ofthe time he runs close to his dial in.

Stambaugh not only has done well in bracket racing, but he has been successful in Wild Card Shootouts -- match races for money.

He has made it to the finals fourtimes and has earned enough money to bring him to the break-even point.

If things keep going well for him, he hopes to come out ahead,a boast most area drivers can't make.

Stambaugh said he is looking forward to representing 75-80 in the bracket finals this fall at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

He attributes a lot of his success to being lucky, but bracket racing places a lot of emphasis on driver skill.

Stambaugh is a self-employed painter for Richard Stambaugh & Sons. His wife Debra and their son are often at the races.

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