THREE CARROLL RESIDENTS — John McIntyre of New Windsor, Butch Coleman of Mount Airy and BrendaDaniels of Eldersburg -- recently competed in their first auto racing competitions in the Ag-Expo Enduro 150 at the Hagerstown Speedway in Washington County.
Two things distinguished this race from most others in the Maryland-Pennsylvania-Virginia area: the number of carsthat started the race and its length.
Enduro -- short for endurance -- racing isn't new. Racers have been testing their cars for durability about as long as they've been testing them for speed. But the modern enduro format -- large fields (90 raced at Hagerstown) of stock cars running non-stop for more than 100 laps -- has been around just 10 years or so.
The enduro was theright opportunity for three Carroll County drivers to try their handat racing. Every Sunday, they had been part of the pit crew for Allen Daniels Sr. and Al Daniels Jr. and their daredevil cars.
The enduro turned the tables, as the Daniels team became the pit crew this time around.
Brenda Daniels, one of four women in the Hagerstown field of 90 drivers, loves racing and enjoys watching her son and husband race every week. She couldn't wait to race.
Brenda Daniels arrived late with a green 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix and instead of starting33rd, started near the rear of the field.
She didn't stay there long. She showed the men she could go -- after all, she drives one of the tow trucks for A&D Towing during the week -- and handled the car like a pro.
Thirty laps into the race, smoke was pouring out of her car. She pulled into the infield, where her husband and son checkedunder the hood.
The radiator cap blew out of Al Daniels' hand as the car erupted like Old Faithful. They managed to remove the thermostat, refill the radiator and put Daniels back on the track minutes later. But the car overheated again, ending her debut after about 40 laps.
"It was fabulous," said Daniels with a big smile. "I really enjoyed it. It felt good going out there and driving with others. I'm ready for the next one."
Even though it was her first race, she didn't drive like a rookie.
"I was a little apprehensive at first," she said. "I realized I was against people who had done it before. These guys pushed me around a little, but I pushed them right back."
It was also the first time for the 28-year-old McIntyre. He raced
a 1969 Plymouth Fury but blew his motor in the early going.
"I like it," he said. "I'm going to change the motor and start over again."
The 25-year-old Coleman enjoyed himself as much as the others.
"I have been up here watching, so I thought I'd take them on," he said.
Coleman lost his brakes on the first lap and pulled in withoutexperiencing much time in the fast lane.
All three emphasized they will be ready for the next enduro at Hagerstown Oct. 6. The next time, the Daniels' daughter, Dana, will have a car entered.
Enduro racing is fun. It's a good way to experience the feeling of driving a race car without investing a large sum of money.
Started in the early 1980s, enduro racing has exploded. It has replaced the demolitionderbies among novelty events and put new life in auto racing. It is the hottest specialty attraction in racing.
In brief, the enduro formula is to restrict the race to stock cars and amateur drivers, andstart about 100 cars. Pay a decent purse, normally about a $1,000-to-win, but don't overdo it. Run the event non-stop for at least 100 laps.
And to keep everyone honest, put in a claim rule that prohibits drivers from building real race cars.
The cars race around the oval at approximately 60 miles an hour. There are no caution flags when an enduro car spins out. If the car becomes disabled, it is left sitting, sometimes in the middle of the track, creating an obstacle course for the cars still running.
Cars are run on the same oval usedfor regular weekly races, but instead of limiting the field to 30 orless, the limit is 200.
Over the years, the enduros have become aentry-level type of race and a promotional tool. About a dozen now racing weekly at Hagerstown and other area tracks have graduated from enduro racing. Men and women of all ages can get their feet wet in oval track racing with a small investment.
Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, Pa., will hold its next enduro on Labor Day, Sept. 2.