Westminster's Owings makes micro-sprint division his stomping ground

MOTOR SPORTS

September 26, 1993|By STAN DILLON

Steve Owings of Westminster is on a roll. The 26-year-old has won four of the past six races in the micro-sprint division at the Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa.

He gives all the credit to his sponsors, who helped him purchase a new chassis.

Owings did not get out on the track until late June and has run in only nine races. But in those nine races he has won four and finished second twice.

He has won every qualifying heat he has competed in, so he is enjoying his best year since he began micro-sprint racing four years ago.

"This is the first year I ever had a brand-new car. The car was fast right out of the box," said Owings. "Believe me, it makes a big difference."

"If it wasn't for my sponsors, I wouldn't have been able to afford a new car. Their support has made me more competitive. If you don't have sponsors, you can't do it. It means a lot."

Owings sponsors include Kay-Lyn's Party Rentals, Bullock's Airport Inn, Westminster Transmission, B&M Racing and Tackett Contractors, all of Westminster, plus Jim Walker's Auto Sales of Littlestown, Pa., and Premier Auto Works of New Oxford, Pa.

Owings purchased his new Probe chassis from Barry Livelsberger, and the car was competitive as soon as it hit the track.

"Everything is brand new," said Owings. "Before, something would break during the race, now I know I will finish."

Micro-sprint racing has come a long way in the past 10 years. But it also has become more expensive. Like the large super sprints, new chassis designs are introduced every year. To stay competitive, drivers have to buy the latest equipment.

The new chassis, which weighs approximately 400 pounds, is powered by a Honda 250-cubic-centimeter motor. The engine is identical to the motor used in a CR-250 Honda dirt bike.

Good equipment and sponsors aren't the only things needed to be competitive, you need manual support as well.

"Todd Devilbiss helps me on the car," Owings said. "He hahelped on the car since I started racing. Without someone helping you, it's hard to win. We spend two nights a week going over the car, tearing it apart and putting it back together plus time at the track."

After every four races, the two tear down the motor and replace worn parts before rebuilding.

Moral support comes from his father, Wayne, and uncle, Jack Stoner, who attend every race.

Owings got his start in racing in motor-cross competition. He raced every Saturday night at Trail-Way.

"I raced 125-cc motorcycles for four years and one night I saw the micros race," said Owings. "I decided I would like to try it and figured it would be cheaper, but it wasn't."

Although the switch to micro-sprint racing was a big move, Owings adapted right away. It was a move he hasn't regretted.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "Once you get in the car and sit behind the wheel, it's great."

"It is safer than motorcycles. It is more the driver than equipment in motor-cross racing. Money plays a big part in micro-sprints, but it doesn't get you all the way there. It is definitely more expensive. I have $10,000 just in my little car."

Owings wasn't the only bike rider to move up. His two closest friends, Brad McClelland and Mike Stull, followed, and the three have become outstanding drivers in the micro-sprint division.

Owings would like to move up to super-sprint racing someday, but right now he hopes to end the year on a winning note and race a full season next year.

Weekend results

Despite rain early last weekend, there was still a lot of action. Several Carroll countians competed in the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

In the Super Comp class, Todd Harris of Westminster went five rounds, Dave McCarthy of Westminster went four rounds and Westminster's Len Davis went three rounds.

Larry Mayne of Mount Airy went to the final round in Class I competition at 75-80 Dragway before weather postponed the last round until today. Mayne will race against Vince Fourcade of Rockville. In other Class I competition, Joe Mayne and Reuben Standifer of Mount Airy and Ray Lewis of Woodbine all went four rounds.

In Class II, Rick Waxter of Westminster went five rounds and Jamie Talbert of Taneytown went four rounds.

The Ford brothers kept it all in the family in the motorcycle division. Marvin Ford of Westminster beat brother Marion, of Hampstead, who was runner-up. Their brother, Malcolm, of Westminster, was a semifinalist.

In late-model racing, Gary Stuhler traveled to Pittsburgh Motor Speedway for the Pittsburgher 100. The Westminster driver finished 24th in the 34-car field.

Winchester Speedway track champion Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead finished fourth in its feature last Saturday.

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