Gradual road into driver's seat


August 28, 1994|By STAN DILLON

Jerry Parrish of Westminster didn't care much about racing until one of his employees convinced him to watch him one night.

It wasn't long after that first encounter with the sport that Parrish became involved -- first as a pit crew member, then a sponsor and now as a driver.

Parrish is in his rookie year in the micro-sprint division at Trail-Way Speedway near Hanover, Pa. He started going to the )) track when one of his employees and a top area micro-sprint driver, Steve Owings of Westminster, invited him to the track to watch him four years ago.

Parrish enjoyed racing so much that he began to help Owings on his car. Parrish thought about racing, but put it out of his mind because he felt he didn't have the time to race and maintain his own car. Besides, he was enjoying helping on Owings' car.

A year later, Jerry's younger brother, Dave, purchased one of Owings' micro-sprints and began his racing career. Parrish helped both drivers, both in the pits and as a sponsor.

Toward the end of last year, Jerry began to think seriously about racing himself. He had gained valuable knowledge helping his brother and Owings and wanted to experience the thrill of driving himself.

"At first I didn't think that I had the time to race," said Parrish. "But I figured it would only take about three to four more hours than what I was already spending helping them.

"So I decided to race. Besides, I was only planning to race one night and figured I had time for that."

Parrish started the way his brother did. He purchased a car from Owings that was ready to race.

The micro-sprint is an open cockpit racer similar to a super sprint, only a third the size. The class originally started as an inexpensive way to race, a class between go-karts and super sprints. It was a class for drivers to gain more experience before making the big jump to super-sprint racing.

As owner of Premier Auto Works in Hanover, a body shop and used-car lot, Parrish only has time to race once a week, while his brother and Owings race as much as they can. He does a lot of work on his car at his shop on Saturdays.

"It's a lot of work, honestly," said Parrish. "I could spend 10 more hours a week to work on the car easily. That's why I only race once a week. It is very time-consuming."

Parrish is having a good rookie season. There is a lot to learn and the competition in the micro-sprint division at Trail-Way is demanding.

"It's been right decent," said Parrish. "I had motor problems at the beginning of the season. The motors are very temperamental. We are doing things with them they are not designed for. But things are coming around."

The micro-sprint is powered by a 250-cc two-cycle motorcycle motor. Alcohol is used for fuel with a additive to lubricate the engine.

Parrish feels that his time working with his brother and Owings was time well-spent.

"It would take at least two years to have a car capable of doing well if you start with no experience," said Parrish. "Things like stagger, chassis set-up, gearing, motor, it all takes time."

Because this is his first year, Parrish hasn't thought about any other racing except improving in what he is doing now.

"I want to run more consistent laps," said Parrish. "The cars are so evenly matched, one mistake and you get a little loose, three to four cars get by you."

Weekend results

Cris Eash of Woodbine won the first 20-lap super-sprint feature at Williams Grove Speedway and finished third in the second 20-lapper. Eash started eighth and took the lead on the ninth lap. Jesse Wentz of Manchester had a ninth and sixth in the twin 20-lap features.

Last Saturday, Wentz finished second in the super-sprint feature at Lincoln Speedway. In other action at Lincoln, Randy Zechman Westminster nosed out Donnie Mertz to win the semi-late feature. Kenny Mirfin placed seventh in the thundercar feature.

At Trail-Way Speedway, Mike Stull of Westminster was second in the micro-sprint feature. John McDonogh of Finksburg was third in the thundercar feature. In the four-cylinder feature, Matt Barnes of Westminster was second, Mike Walls of Taneytown was fifth and Steve Barnes of Westminster was 10th.

Brad McClelland of Westminster placed fourth in the micro-sprint feature at Challenger Speedway in Jacksonville, Pa.

At Hagerstown Speedway, Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead placed fifth in the late-model feature and Gary Stuhler of Westminster was seventh. Luke Dempsey of Westminster was third in the Junior Stock Division in quarter-midget action at Hagerstown.

In drag racing at 75-80 Dragway, Brian Niedomanski of Mount Airy went to the final round in Class I competition. Ray Lewis of Woodbine went to the semifinals, J. R. Gonyea of Mount Airy and Jim Peddicord of Westminster both won three rounds and Earl Bitzel of Finksburg won two rounds. In Class II, Charlie Spielman of Taneytown won three rounds. Westminster's Larry Hoff, Steve Cavey and Roger Jorss and Scott Lowman of Woodbine all won two rounds.

In Class I competition last Saturday, Reuben Standifer of Mount Airy and Dan Householder of Sykesville both made it to the semifinals. Dave Peters of Westminster, Sev Tingle and Joe Mayne of Mount Airy all won three rounds. Kenny Queen of Mount Airy and Tom Higgs of Sykesville both won two rounds. In Class II, Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge, Tom Humm of Taneytown, Scott Lowman of Woodbine, Steve Hoff of Sykesville and Erv Hare of Mount Airy all made it to the semifinals.

Marion Ford of Hampstead, his brother Marvin Ford of Westminster and Tim Lippy of New Windsor all made it to the semifinals in the motorcycle competition. Ashley Pickett of Hampstead went three rounds in her junior dragster.

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