One of the real nice guys in motor sports is Charlie Enos of Finksburg. He is beginning his second full year of micro-sprint racing at Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa.
His racing season so far has been like the weather -- lousy. And when the weather is good, he's still trying to shake his string of bad luck.
Last week at Trail-Way, Enos brushed the wall and knocked the drive chain off his car in the first feature. In the qualifying events for the second feature, he burned a piston and ruined a cylinder.
"I am back trying to put it back together," said the 33-year-old driver. "I am trying to get it ready to race next week. It is pretty tough with no sponsors."
Micro-sprints have become a popular alternative to the more expensive sprint cars. It also serves as a way to gain experience for the bigger and much faster sprints. Although micro-sprints are less expensive to race than sprints, they aren't cheap.
Before Enos can get his car back together, he will spend more than $400 for a new cylinder and piston for his Suzuki two-cycle engine.
"That's the cost for stock parts," said Enos. "It would cost at least another $200 to port and polish the parts, but I can't afford that."
Enos started attending races while in high school. It was not unusual for him to go three or four times every weekend. He liked racing so much that his high school yearbook quoted him as saying that he wanted to be a race car driver.
He did not fulfill his dream until the mid-1980s, when he began racing the limited late models at Potomac Speedway in Charles County and Hagerstown Speedway in Washington County.
After a couple of years, the division became too expensive.
A little over two years ago, Enos made the mistake of going to Trail-Way.
"I went up there to watch the races and saw these cars and had to have one of them," said Enos.
It has been a long, hard road for Enos. He is learning micro-sprint racing the hard way, through trial and error. Most of the experience he gained from the full-bodied late model is not applicable to the smaller micro-sprints.
"It was a big difference," said Enos about the cars. "It didn't seem to have much security around me after driving the enclosed late model. The speed isn't as fast as the late model, but it feels like you are going faster. Micro-sprint racing is also more challenging."
Setting up the chassis and tuning the carburetor have been Enos' biggest problems.
"It's complicated. Just when you think you got it, you gone over the edge too far. Having the wrong fuel mixture can burn a piston," said Enos. "The other drivers have helped, but they only tell you so much."
He purchased his car from Mike Stull and has received a lot of help from Carroll micro-sprint drivers Brad McClelland and Steve Owings.
Despite the frustration, Enos is learning and improving.
"I enjoy it," he said. "If I could get through [the learning process], I'll enjoy it more. I guess everybody goes through these periods."
Enos is doing all of his own work, including the motor work. His 13-year-old daughter Jessica and crew chief Robert Parker help in the pits on race night.
Enos works for the state as a steamfitter at Springfield Hospital ,, Center in Sykesville during the week.
He plans on staying in the micro-sprint division.
"I want to fool with this class," said Enos. "I'll hope for the best. It's a hobby to me. I like to win, but I realize I have a one in a thousand chance of winning without sponsor support."
Enos is working hard at his hobby. He is a budget racer who doesn't have lots of money. But soon, his work may pay off.