A Shy Racer Is Making Loud Statement On Oval


October 27, 1991|By Stanley C. Dillon

Charlie Schaffer is a quiet man.

He doesn't have too much to say,but the shy, red-headed driver has been making a lot of noise lately.

He's been making many visits to victory lane and is fast becomingone of the top late model drivers in the tri-state area of Maryland,Pennsylvania and Virginia.

For two years, Schaffer was always finishing in the top 10. Several times he was leading the race, only to have mechanical problems put him on the sidelines.

Everyone knew that Schaffer was going to win one at Hagerstown, but didn't know when.

That first win at Hagerstown finally came one year ago on an October afternoon when the racing surface was slick.

That win was what Schaffer needed to break the jinx. Less than two weeks later, Schaffer finished second in the 150-lap Hub-City National.

He may have won it if he hadn't been hit from behind while leading through two-thirds of the race.

The contact caused Schaffer to go high enough tolet another driver slip underneath for the lead.

Still Schaffer was able to recover to finish second.

When this season opened, Schaffer didn't waste any time picking up where he left off. Before the season was 2 months old, he earned two more feature wins at Hagerstownand for half the year led in the point standings at the Washington County oval.

By the time the regular season ended, Schaffer had wontwo features at Winchester (Va,) Speedway and one at Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Charles County.

Schaffer seems to excel on the day surface at Hagerstown, while most drivers seem to prefer the tackyclay that comes with night-time racing.

The day surface separatesthe men from the boys. Many racing observers feel many drivers can win on a night surface, but it takes more skill to win during the day.

In addition to driving skill, it requires a crew that knows how to set up the car to win in the afternoon.

Schaffer's crew is a family affair. His cousin Bruce Sickles, uncles Pat and John Sickles andbrother Eddie Crowl helped build the car and develop the motor. Charlie's wife, Diane, is his biggest fan and helps as much as she can.

While many drivers buy new chassis every year, Schaffer has been winning in one that's 4 years old.

In September, Schaffer's brakes gave out while he was running in the top five in a race and he hit thefirst turn wall.

Since Schaffer races on a tight budget, he did not have a new mount ready for seven weeks. Until he was able to purchase another chassis, he picked up rides in other cars. Two weeks ago,Schaffer finally had his new chassis ready.

"It's got a few bugs in it," he said. "But we'll get it straightened out. I want to race at Pennsboro (W.Va., which was last week) and the Giant Fall Classic (today) at Hagerstown before the Hub-City."

By then, Schaffer should have the car ready to chase that win that evaded him last year.

Schaffer's racing career started eight years ago when he was 22 yearsold. In 1983, Schaffer and his cousin brought a used street stock and raced at the Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa. The following year,Schaffer gained his first win.

In 1985, Schaffer moved up to the limited late model class and won the track championship at Susquehanna Speedway in Newberrytown, Pa. He also finished second in points at Lincoln Speedway with four feature wins.

At the end of the season,he bought a late model car and took it to the season-ending race at Delaware International Speedway, where he faced the best drivers fromthe mid-Atlantic areas. He brushed away the competition with his first late model win. Next to his first win at Hagerstown, it was the most memorable of his career.

Like so many other top drivers, racingis a family tradition for Schaffer. His father Larry was a longtime top driver at the old Dorsey Speedway in Howard County. His brother, Paul Crowl, also drives late models.

The most difficult part of racing for a driver at Charlie's level is sponsorship. His major support comes from Schaffer Bus Service and Schaffer Mulch, operated by hisparents.

Other sponsors include Hampstead Liquors, Morris Automotive, Big A Auto Parts of Hampstead and the Christian Maier Co.

Schaffer is looking forward to the 1992 season. He has come into his ownand will be a driver to watch next year.

His smooth, steady driving should take him to his best year yet, and many race fans will be pulling for him this popular young driver.

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