After four years in the heavy eliminator division, Bobby Spielman ofTaneytown made the switch to the Super Pro Class with a new car lastyear.
It was a year of fine-tuning and working with his new car.
Now Spielman says he has the bugs worked out and is ready to takeon the tough competition.
"I wanted to find out whether I can deal with the guys or not, to see if I am as good as they are," Spielmansaid about his jump to the more competitive class. "The competition is stiffer in the Super Pro class -- they have more experience.
"Iwanted to see if I could do it."
It took about a month and a halfbefore Spielman became familiar with his new car and the faster speed. He was running the quarter-mile track 2.5 seconds and 30 mph faster than he had before.
"I thought I was crazy when I took my first run," Spielman recalled. "I asked myself, 'Why did I get rid of my old car for this?' I felt like I was in a rocket."
It didn't take long for him to adjust to the faster speed. As the season progressed, Spielman began to win.
He believes much of his success comes from how well he knows the car. He could tear his last car apart and put ittogether blindfolded. He does all of his work and goes over the car constantly. It won't be long before he will know his new car the sameway.
"If you aren't comfortable with the car, you aren't going towin much," Spielman said. "You have to do things for yourself. You can't try to impress anyone."
His new car is a 1978 Ford Pinto, which he purchased without a motor from another area racer, Donnie Hess.
For the power plant, Spielman assembled a 351-cubic-inch Ford Windsor engine with pop-up pistons, C-4 transmission and 4500 stall converter.
Of course having one of the top area engine builders for drag racing -- Charlie Spielman -- as a father doesn't hurt. At one time or another, most Carroll County drag racers have had machine work done by Charlie Spielman.
Bobby Spielman is able to save money on parts by working with his father.
Bobby Spielman also didn't make the jump to Super Pro all at once. Some drivers try to do too much, too fast, and get in over their head.
With a father and uncle who race, it was only a matter of time before Bobby Spielman would join thefun.
"I went to watch my father when I was 7," he recalled as if it was yesterday. "Ever since that time I dreamed of racing down the track."
When Bobby Spielman was 10, he already had taken a practice run with his uncle, Norman Spielman. If there was a doubt about wanting to race, that run erased it.
For Bobby Spielman, reaching age16 seemed like an eternity. As soon as he did, he started drag racing in the street eliminator class with ET's (elapsed time for a quarter-mile run) of 14 seconds and above.
Six years later, he moved up to the heavy eliminators with ET's of 12 to 13.99 seconds. He raced in that class for four years with a 1964 Falcon.
The first time on the track, Spielman covered the quarter-mile in 18 seconds. Now, he is ready to start his second year in the Super Pro class, turning the quarter mile in 10 seconds, or about 130 mph.
"It is one big happyfamily" is the cliche you hear about the competitors and fans at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia, Frederick County, but it's apparent Spielman feels that way when he explains why he enjoys drag racing so much.
"Everyone gets along with everyone." he said. "I'd sooner run a stranger than a buddy. I don't like beating up on friends. I don't like to lose them."
Spielman also is proud of his friends and the competitors at 75-80.
"We are known as one of the toughest tracks in theEast," he added. "We always do well when we run in the bracket finals."
Many drivers move up to another class because of speed. But for Spielman, speed wasn't the only reason. He wanted to make more money and could only do that by moving up.
Of course, it takes money to make money. The entrance fees, fuel, parts and equipment cost twiceas much.
But the winnings can amount to three to four times as much. And that is what Bobby Spielman has his eyes on.
He had been atop money winner in the heavy eliminator class and finished in the top four the last three years there. Near the end of last season, the 27-year-old Taneytown driver was beginning to show his old form.
"I know I can do it," he said. "I always set goals. I always go to thetrack to win."
Spielman, who works as a painter for Richard Stambaugh and Sons Painting Contractors, is eager for the new year to start.
"After the New Year, I start counting the days," he said. "Everybody gets anxious."