Greg Richardson of Sykesville and Shane Heimer of Finksburg are likebrothers. They spend all their spare time together working on their race car.
On Friday nights, Richardson drives in the eight-cylinder class at Trail-Way Speedway near Hanover, Pa. On Saturday nights, Heimer drives the same car at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover in the thundercar division.
Richardson and Heimer have been friends since elementary school and say they can't recall ever having a fight or disagreement. If one bangs up the car, the other pitches in and helps get the car running again.
Three years ago, the two were watching the races at Trail-Way and started talking about racing. Before they knew it, they had a car and were racing the next week.
Their first car was an old FordGranada. The next year the two Carroll County men raced an Oldsmobile. This year, they are racing a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro.
"This is the best car we have had," said Richardson, preferring to give credit for their improved performance to the car rather than their experience. "We built the car from the ground up, just like the other cars."
"We gutted the inside, redid the suspension, took all the weight outof the car we could and tied the unibody frame together. Then, we had the frame and roll cage put together by Jeff Shepard at Finksburg Fabricators."
(Shepard, by the way, is an area sprint car driver.)
Putting the car together takes time. From February to the first race in March, the two men worked on the car every night. The motor, a 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet, was the motor they used last year. They hadit machined before installing it in the Camaro. All together, the 22-year-old men have spent about $2,000 on their racing.
"We get better with each car," said Richardson. "This car handles and works a lot better than any car we had."
So far this year the team has done well. Richardson is in the top 10 in points at Trail-Way and has had a few second-place finishes.
Not all of their recent success can be attributed to the car, though. The drivers have been learning the tricks of the trade.
"We are learning how to set up the car and taking the time to learn how to drive," said Richardson. "And we are listening to the people who know what they are talking about."
The work on the car does not stop when racing season begins. To keep the car going two nights each week requires plenty of work.
This past week was one of the few times you could catch the twomen not working onthe car. The car was being repaired at Shepard's after Greg had a collision two weeks ago.
"I got caught up racing," said Richardson. "I went to the infield to avoid hitting cars stopped in front of me, but I got hit anyway."
He was able to finish the race, but the carneeded some work after the night was over.
Heimer said he was notupset about the accident, even though he knew he would not be able to race the next night at Lincoln.
"There's no competition between us," said Richardson. "He said nothing. We take it and continue on."
About the only time the two aren't together is when they work during the week.
Heimer is involved in racing of a different type during the day. He carries on a family trade as a blacksmith at the Laurel and Pimlico race tracks.
Richardson works for L & G Mullins in Sykesville installing underground telephone cable.
A good crew is abig plus in racing. Charles Easterday, Joe Bankard and Kassie Herronare helping during the long hours necessary to keep a car running.
And Heimer and Richardson are each other's crew chiefs when they aren't behind the wheel.
Sponsor support comes from Bankard Automotive of Finksburg, Northwest Radiator of Reisterstown and Sandy's Carry-Out in Gamber. In addition to his sponsorship, Joe Knight of Knight's Tree Service in Finksburg gives the team a garage to store and workon the car.
"We are having fun," Richardson said of racing. "We might try a late model or a sprint car later."
This has been a difficult year for Richardson. Even though the decision to race was entirely his own, Richardson's father was with the team at every race.
Richardson and his father talked about the two of them having their own car one day. Earlier this year, though, Richardson's father, Clifford, lost his battle with cancer.
"He enjoyed racing as much as I did," recalled Richardson. "I miss him a whole lot."
Richardson and Heimer have come a long way the hard way, doing everything themselves. They are a team that are regularly finishing in the top five.
That first win is not far away. It will be dedicated to Clifford Richardson. Actually, every run will be for him.