Although the 1992 racing season has ended, drivers are preparing for next year.
Mike Harrison of Mount Airy is one of many Carroll County residents whowill be busy in the next three months.
Having just completed another successful season in the limited late-model division at Hagerstown Speedway, Harrison is building a new car to compete in the faster late-model division.
"I have raced in the limiteds long enough," said Harrison. "It is time to move up to something new. It almost costs as much to run in the limiteds as it does in the late models, so I might as well move up."
Late-model racing is one of the premier divisions in dirt track racing. They reach speeds in excess of 100 mph on the short half-mile clay ovals.
"I feel I can learn more racing with the late models," said Harrison. "It is something I always wanted to do. I can improve more racing with better-caliber drivers and cars."
Moving up in motor sports means advancing to a faster division. And faster means more expensive.
Harrison has the experience to race with the late models. To run consistently with the top drivers, he knows he will need a good motor program.
"I noticed that all the top runners at Hagerstown have store-brought motors [motors that are built by engine builders specifically for racing]," said Harrison. "The motors run about $25,000 to $27,000."
Harrison plans on making a major effort to land a major sponsor so he can get the motor he needs. His sponsors include Barnard Contractors, a custom home builder in Mount Airy, and his own business, Harrison's Siding Contractors.
Harrison became a top competitor shortly after he started racing 12 years ago. He began his career in the street stock division at the old Dorsey Speedway in Howard County. Two years later, he moved up to the limited late-model division at Hagerstown. Since then, he has won races at Potomac and Hagerstown speedways.
Harrison is preparing for the new season with first-class equipment. He has a new chassis with new components and expects to have a new engine before the season opener at Hagerstown on Feb. 28.
Harrison won't be starting in the late-model division without any experience. In the past two years he has raced competitively with the late models in special shows at Hagerstown. Two years ago he often raced with the late models at the Cumberland Raceway in Western Maryland and Winchester (Va.) Speedway.
"I feel very comfortable racing a late model," said Harrison. "Actually I feel more comfortable with the extra power. The limited car is more bulky and weighs more. I found it hard to get out of trouble in the limiteds, where in a late model I found that the extra power is an advantage in similar situations."
Harrison loves racing and plans to continue several more years.
"Racing is nice and relaxing to me," Harrison said. "Because of the type of work I do, racing really relaxes me. It will be hard to give it up."
Harrison finished fourth in points at Hagerstown this year. Roger Brown of Hagerstown has been his crew chief the past two years. Mike's wife, Cheryl, also helps out each week.
Harrison hopes his 15-year-old son, Keith, will some day race so that he will be part of his crew. Until then, Harrison will continue to make his mark on the local racing scene.