Family steers Snouffer toward success on track

MOTOR SPORTS

May 15, 1994|By STAN DILLON

Like so many competitors at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia, Ben Snouffer has been around drag racing his entire life. His father raced in Class I until a few years ago when he took some time off.

Even though his father was inactive when he turned 16, Snouffer already had the sport in his blood. He was determined to race.

When Snouffer started racing three years ago, his father's influence showed right away. In a sport where Fords and Chevrolets seem to dominate, Snouffer races a Chrysler product, the same his dad had always raced.

Snouffer started racing in a Dodge Challenger, the same car he )) used for daily transportation. At the same time he was looking for a lighter car to race.

With the help of Charlie Spielman of Taneytown, he found a 1974 Dodge Dart Sport. He and Spielman traveled to Waynesboro, Pa., for the car and immediately began to prepare it for racing.

They removed the stock six-cylinder engine and changed the front end around so that they could install a larger, more powerful motor. They dropped the K frame and strengthened the suspension. Then they installed a 360-cubic-inch Dodge V-8 that Snouffer's father used.

At first, Snouffer drove the car to the track and raced it. Last year he bought a pick-up truck and trailer; now the car is used only for racing.

Snouffer, 21, receives help from a lot of his relatives who race weekly. One of his relatives is Joe Mayne, one of the hottest drivers in the area. Last year, he was the top driver in Class I at 75-80 and already has won several races at 75-80 this year and one at Capitol Dragway in Crofton.

"Joey and Larry Mayne are my cousins," said Snouffer. "We park together and Joey helps me all the time. He put the roll bar in the car and helps me with things I don't know."

With Joe Mayne as a tutor, Snouffer has made great strides in his performance. He races his 2,900-pound Dart in Class II, for cars with elapsed time of 12 seconds or more. The car runs in the low 12 seconds and reaches 110 mph in the quarter-mile.

"I used the first two years for practice," Snouffer said. "Even though I was around racing, it wasn't as easy as I thought. I didn't start out too good. It just took me a while to get used to it."

By the second year, Snouffer had won several events. Now he feels that he's ready to join the points program. He wants to finish in the top 16 and be part of the team that represents 75-80 in the bracket finals at Maple Grove in September.

Early arrivals at the track are allowed one to three timing runs to dial in their car before the eliminations begin. While some of the experienced drivers do not rely on the timing or practice runs that much, Snouffer is one of the drivers who likes to make a couple of runs.

"The car runs pretty consistent," he said. "But it still helps me to have a couple of runs. That way I pretty much can tell what the car is going to do."

Once eliminations begin, the drivers dial in the elapsed time that they believe their car will complete the quarter-mile. The elapsed times that they get in their quarter-mile time runs go a long way toward determining the time that the driver selects.

Snouffer has been preparing for his first season racing for points since he started behind the wheel. During the off-season he went over the entire car, including the motor. He also worked with the practice tree -- a set of lights that simulates the lights on the starting grid -- every week to improve his reflexes.

?3 Someday Snouffer plans on moving up to Class I.

Weekend results

In racing action last weekend at 75-80 Dragway, Ray Lewis of Woodbine did what not many have been able to do lately. Lewis won Class I by defeating Joe Mayne of Mount Airy in the final round. Tom Higgs of Sykesville went to the semifinals, Reuben Standifer of Mount Airy went four rounds and Nathan Etzler went three rounds.

In Class II, George Hoff of Westminster defeated Scott Lowman of Woodbine in the final round. Steve Hoff of Sykesville went five rounds, and Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge went four rounds.

Marion Ford of Hampstead won the motorcycles, and Matt Stambaugh of Union Bridge won the ETK (Trophy) Class. In Jr. Dragster competition, Ashly Pickett of Hampstead was the winner, and Josh Wagner of Westminster was a semifinalist.

In oval track action, Mike Stull of Westminster won the micro-sprint feature at Trail-Way Speedway. Brad McClelland of Westminster was fourth, and David Parris of Westminster was fifth. John McDonogh of Finksburg placed fifth in the thundercar feature, and Mark Shorb of Westminster was sixth. Brad Green )) of Westminster placed third in the four-cylinder feature, and Jeff Young of Westminster finished eighth.

In late-model action, Gary Stuhler of Westminster was seventh at Hagerstown Speedway last Friday and second at Williams Grove Speedway Sunday. Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead finished 10th Hagerstown.

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