Jim Crocker always had wanted to race cars since the first time his father took him to the races at Lincoln and Dorsey speedways. After settling down and having a family, the 30-year-old Finksburg resident began to think about fulfilling his dreams.
About three years ago Crocker decided to get started by entering demolition derbies at Arcadia carnival grounds. After three events, he met the legendary "Dizzy" Dean Renfro, a former driver now an official at Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa.
Renfro learned about Crocker's interest in racing and told him that he should look into the junk-car races at Trail-Way.
After getting a set of rules, Crocker put an old car together and entered a couple of races. The junk-car race is a mixture of oval track racing and a demolition derby. It wasn't real racing, but was at least a step up. It took only a couple of races to convince Crocker that he wanted to race at the next level.
The next year, Crocker purchased a car for the street stock division at Trail-Way. He built the Ford LTD from the ground up with help from Bob Brown and Bob Hedrick, a school teacher from Nigeria.
The street stock division is like a hobby class. It is for racing enthusiasts like Crocker who want to race, but need to gain experience first without spending large sums of money. Then move on to faster divisions when they feel comfortable.
Crocker is in his second year in the street stock division and has done well considering he had no experience with building or setting up a car. Last year he finished 13th in points out of 42 drivers who competed at Trail-Way.
"Basically the opportunity was there," said Crocker. "It was something I always wanted to try. I felt this was something I could do, that I could step in the street stocks and work my way up."
This year Crocker is 13th in points despite mechanical problems.
He has been pleased with his progress, so much that he already has purchased a car for next year to race in the faster thundercar division.
"I brought a Ford Thunderbird from a drag racer in Westminster," said Crocker. "I am building two motors and will be spending the winter months getting the car ready. I have my plans all laid out. I want to have a game plan set before we go full tilt."
Crocker already is looking past the next division. He believes that after two years in the thundercar, he will be ready for the late models. That's his game plan. So far, everything is on schedule.
Cris Eash of Woodbine had a good weekend on the super sprint circuit. For the first 20 laps at Lincoln Speedway, Cris chased his brother, Darren, on the high-banked, three-eighths-mile oval before catching him for the lead. Once in front, Cris led the last five laps for his third win of the year in the Miller Bros Chevrolet/E&G Classics 17e. Darren finished second. The night before at Williams Grove Speedway, Cris placed second in the super-sprint feature and Darren was seventh.
In the semi-late feature at Lincoln, Don Zechman of Westminster was third and Howard Williams of Westminster was fifth. Kenny Mirfin of Union Bridge was sixth in the thundercar feature and Klair Stonesifer of Westminster was ninth.
Brad McClelland of Westminster continues to be the hottest driver in the northeast. At Trail-Way he placed second in the micro-sprint feature, then traveled to Challenger Speedway in Indiana, Pa., and won. Steve Owings of Westminster was runner-up to McClelland at Challenger and David Parrish of Westminster was third at Trail-Way.
In other action at Trail-Way, Mike Walls of Taneytown won the four-cylinder feature. Jeff Young of Westminster was sixth and Matt Barnes of Westminster was ninth. In the eight-cylinder feature, Mick Zechman of Westminster was second, John McDonogh of Finksburg was sixth and Mark Shorb of Westminster was eighth. Jason Smith of Westminster was third in the street stock feature. At Winchester Speedway, Rick Jones Westminster was third in the 72-lap late model feature.
At 75-80 Dragway last Friday night, Greg Bechtel of Manchester was semifinalist in Class I, Westminster's Jeff Davis, Steve Cavey and Cliff Peddicord all went four rounds in Class II. Last Saturday, Corey Hess of Taneytown was semifinalist in Class I. Marvin Ford of Westminster won the motorcycle division.
Last Sunday at Mason-Dixon Dragway, Gene Belt of Taneytown was the runner-up in the motorcycles and Marvin Ford of Westminster was a semifinalist. Keith Sexton of Monrovia won the Class I Jr. Dragster over Jarrod Spicer of Woodbine.