Mann turns in strong first season for Barnes team


October 30, 1994|By STAN DILLON

Craig Mann feels he is fortunate. Not many are asked to join a racing team to drive the second car regardless of the level of competition.

Mann got that opportunity at the beginning of the 1994 season to team up with Matt Barnes and his Barnes Service Center racing team. Together, the two drivers have combined for a successful year.

"Matt asked me if I could help out, then I could drive one of the cars," said the 22-year-old Westminster resident. "It was a great opportunity to jump into racing. It all happened so fast, it came out of nowhere."

Mann had a great rookie season. He finished fifth in the points race behind Barnes.

"I surprised myself," said Mann. "It was a learning experience. I made some small stupid mistakes at first. It was just a learning experience every time I went out. Each time I improved though, I just kept going faster and faster."

Although Mann didn't win, something not many first-year drivers do, he had a second-place finish and several top 10 runs.

"It can be frustrating as well," said Mann. "Not every week did things go my way, I found that out. Still we had a good season."

Mann and Barnes race in the four-cylinder division at Trail-Way Speedway near Hanover, Pa. Mann also has driven at Potomac Speedway in southern Maryland and Hanover Speedway in Hanover.

The four-cylinder division is a class with stock rules that provides fairly inexpensive way to race on the oval tracks. Although most of the cars are Ford Pintos, other rear-drive four-cylinder cars like Toyotas, Datsuns and Dodge Colts also are used. Mann's Pinto is powered by a stock 2300-cc, four-cylinder Ford engine.

He raced in a couple enduro races at Lincoln, but they did not prepare him for the tough competition he had to face in the four-cylinder division.

Mann got involved in racing by helping Matt's brother Steve on his car three years ago. Mann worked at the time for Barnes Service Center and he and Matt had attended high school together.

Working on one car takes a lot of time. Working on two cars is almost a second job. Even after a good night at the races where little damage is done, Mann spends long hours during the week working on the car, adjusting the valves, replacing worn parts, changing oil and going over every nut and bolt. But he enjoys the challenge.

"It's been a lot of fun, a lot of fun," said Mann. "I have met some great people racing."

Racing schedule

Rain wiped out last weekend's racing. While the season has ended at most area tracks, there is still some racing left.

The Hagerstown Speedway will have its Hub-City National 150 for late models today. It will close the season with the Giant Fall Fest featuring late models and super sprints next Sunday.

Trail-Way Speedway will have its Junk-Yard Race Saturday.

In drag racing, 75-80 Dragway has racing scheduled today and the next two Sundays. Mason-Dixon Dragway races every Sunday through Nov. 20.

The Go-Karts are in action at Monrovia Raceway next Sunday and Nov. 20.

Shepard returns

It was good to see Jeff Shepard of Finksburg back in sprint car action on the World of Outlaw tour in Texas. Shepard was seriously injured in a crash at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, earlier in the year.

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