Having dad in racing accelerates young Hess' progress


January 31, 1993|By STAN DILLON

Corey Hess was 14 when his father, Donnie, returned to drag racing in 1986. For the next two years Corey counted the days to the time when he could join him on the track at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia.

For Corey Hess, reaching 16 meant more than being able to drive. It also meant that he could go drag racing.

"When I turned 16, he turned his car over to me," said Corey. "I went and got my license the very first day I could."

The experience the Taneytown youth gained helping his father paid off. He has been racing three years and has qualified for the Northeast Division Bracket Finals at Maple Grove Raceway every year.

In his second year, Hess finished second in points. Quite an accomplishment for a 17-year-old.

Last year, Hess dropped to 14th in points, and his earnings suffered as well.

"I missed a couple of races and some weeks I didn't do well," said Hess. "Also, the competition was tough."

Hess races a 1977 Ford Mustang in Class II competition. Maintained by Hess and his father, the car is powered by a Ford 351-cubic-inch Windsor engine. Three years ago, the car ran the quarter-mile in 13 seconds. Now it can run in the 11.80-second range with speeds around 113 mph.

Since Hess competes in Class II for cars 12 seconds or slower, he has to keep his car from going too fast to keep from being disqualified.

"I put on larger tires and change the carburetor when I run in Class II," Hess said. "The tires are four to five inches more in circumference. They can slow you down from a tenth to three-tenths of a second. We adjust the fuel that flows to the carburetor by shutting off the vacuum secondary. We use this instead of a throttle stop, which costs more. It's just a different way of doing it."

When the points battle is over and the regular season is winding down, Hess races in Class I to gain experience. He would like to move up, but is not in any hurry.

"I raced my dad's 1991 Ford Probe one time last summer," Hess said. "It's very fast. Everything happens so quick. It has elapsed time of 10.20 seconds. Someday I would like to have a Class I car or build a dragster. But I am young yet and feel that I need more experience."

Hess also has thought about racing professionally.

"It would be nice, but you know how it is," he said. "You need a sponsor, money and time to do it."

Racing in Class II is an inexpensive way to go drag racing. Hess estimates that he has spent between $5,000 and $7,000 over the three years, which is not very expensive considering that he has won half that much in prize money the past two years of racing.

"I have a light budget operation," Hess said. "I could easily spend $18,000 to $20,000 in Class I. It is all in what you want to run and how fancy you want to get. It costs more to go faster."

Drag racing is a family sport, and it is evident with Corey and his father.

"We park next to each other. He helps me out with just about everything," said Corey. "He gives me little hints about how this would work better and things like that."

Hess helps his father work on other cars as well as their own. He can weld chassis, do sheet metal work, windshields, just about everything. With his experience, he wouldn't mind building his own chassis some day.

Hess is busy preparing for his fourth year of competition. He has removed the motor and transmission. He has completed his overhaul of the transmission and is replacing the bearings in the motor. He expects to be ready for the season opener in March.

Although Hess has no sponsor, he receives help from Chuck Taylor Racing, Charlie and Bobby Spealman and his father. Most of all, Hess appreciates Tom Barnhouse's help at every race.

Hess, who works as a painter for Richard Stambaugh Painting Contractors, wants to gain more experience over the next three years, and by 1995 he feels he will be ready to move up to Class II.

When that happens, the competitors in Class I will breathe easier, but the next class had better look out.

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