Westminster's Zechman is making up for late entry into sport He prefers to build his own equipment

MOTOR SPORTS

January 10, 1993|By STAN DILLON

Randy Zechman is busy preparing his car for the season opener on March 6. The Westminster driver races in the semi-late division at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, Pa.

Unlike most competitors, who have been around racing all their lives, the 37-year-old did not start racing until seven years ago.

"I got married first and I knew how hard it was to start a family and go racing at the same time. So I stayed away from it until I felt that I could afford to race," said Zechman.

Since that first race, he has been making steady progress every year in equipment that he builds with Frank Moser of Hanover.

"You cut expenses a lot doing it yourself," said Zechman. "It makes you feel real good when you pass somebody that has brought all of his equipment from a builder."

The semi-late division is a popular class that competes at the majority of clay ovals in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. The division was established to give the drivers an affordable division to race in, a division where drivers could move in after gaining some track experience in the street stock class.

But like other motor sports, a move up means faster speeds and more expense. The rules help to keep the cost down and the driver still can build the car himself. But more and more competitors are spending more, purchasing their chassis and motors from builders and manufacturers.

In addition to expense, Zechman believes there are other advantages in building your own car.

"When you buy a chassis, you have to call the builder or someone else when you need help," he said. "If you build your own, you know what to do to the chassis to get it working."

Zechman also calls on his father for help. Having someone like Don Zechman by your side is like having another driver in the car. Randy's father has had a successful career on the area dirt tracks, and his knowledge has been both beneficial and welcome.

"Whenever I need help I go right to Dad," said Randy. "He helps me to select the right tires, the correct weight distribution and offers me help on the chassis."

If anyone knows how to get around Lincoln's three-eighths-mile banked oval, it is Don Zechman. The veteran driver has more than 65 career wins and was the 1990 semi-late track champion at Lincoln. He also won the track championship at Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa., in 1976.

Many times it is difficult for a son to follow in his father's footsteps, especially in ones as big as Don Zechman's. But Randy is well on his way to getting the job done.

In the past three years he has finished in the top 10 in points. He finished ninth in 1990 when his dad won the title and sixth the next year. Last year he finished 10th even though he sat out a month from a broken elbow he suffered in a job-related accident.

Now Zechman is busy preparing for the 1993 season. He has stripped the car down to the chassis and is going over all the parts, replacing worn ones where needed. He is in the second year with his car, a Camaro chassis with a Berretta G.T. body.

The car is powered by a 355-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine. Marv Martin of Glen Rock, Pa., does all of his machine work. Zechman's racing efforts are sponsored by South Carroll Automatic Transmissions of Winfield, Ralley Used Auto Parts of Gettysburg, Pa., Miller Fabrication of Littlestown, Pa., and Northwest Radiator of Glyndon.

The younger Zechman would like to move up to late models, where his father races, if he can obtain a major sponsor. For now, he wants to add his name to the record books alongside his father's as Lincoln semi-late track champion.

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