Mt. Airy's Zsoldos loves cars, whether he is at work or play

Motor Sports

March 31, 1996|By Stanley Dillon | Stanley Dillon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jeff Zsoldos is a newcomer to the Carroll County area, but not to drag racing. A native of Yorktown, Va.,Zsoldos has been drag racing since he was 18 and was glad to settle into an area with two tracks close by.

"My dad and I bought my first car when I was 15," said Zsoldos, 29, who lives in Mount Airy. "We fixed it up and got it on the road by the time I got my license. It was a 1967 Chevy Camaro 396-cubic-inch big block. It was a fast car to start with, and I got the racing bug right away. It is the same car I have today.

"I started racing on the street, but quickly switched to the drag strip when I realized how dangerous it was and before I got a ticket."

The Chevy Camaro has been an ongoing project for Zsoldos. He is always adding new things to make it faster, seeing what works and what doesn't.

The car can race in Class I or Class II. It is equipped with a roll bar, but still is street legal. Even though he doesn't have all the electronics that are found on most cars in Class I, Zsoldos has found that he does best in the faster division.

"I race in the high 10s, low 11s [elapsed time in seconds for the quarter-mile]," said Zsoldos. "I have just done better in Class I. I get a head start on the faster cars and it allows me to run my own race. The only disadvantage I feel I have leaving early is if I red-light [leaving the starting line before the green light flashes on the tree]."

In bracket racing, the faster car is handicapped and leaves the starting line a couple of seconds after the slower car. In a perfect situation, although the two cars leave at different times, they would cross the finish line at the same time.

After finishing high school, Zsoldos spent the next six years attending Virginia Tech, earning an undergraduate and advanced degree in aeronautical engineering. While in college, he continued racing. In the summer he was able to race every week, but when school was in session studies limited his racing activities.

Just about the time that Zsoldos graduated, the bottom fell out of the aerospace industry. While many graduates with technical degrees spent the next few years waiting for the job market to rebound, Zsoldos landed a job with Mack Trucks in Hagerstown as a project manager. Even though Zsoldos did not have any diesel experience, it was his hands-on racing experience, along with his engineering degree, that got him the job. Now he is getting paid to do what he loves to do, play with engines.

Zsoldos works with new diesel engines for Mack, where he designs and tests different engine parts. Now, he is designing and testing parts for an engine with a fuel system that will meet new EPA requirements. The engine will go into production in 1998.

As soon as Mason-Dixon opened its gates last week, Zsoldos was there, anxious to get back on the track.

"I never was able to race as much as I liked because I was in school," said Zsoldos. "Although I will be racing every week now, I doubt if I will run for points. I am a tuner and engineer and I like to experiment with the car. My biggest thrill is launching off the starting line and going faster.

"I'll probably race both tracks," added Zsoldos. "75-80 is closer to me, but Mason-Dixon is a nicer track. The starting line is better and the car is a 10th of a second faster.

"I am going to try to race at least once a week, slowly do some improvements to the car," Zsoldos said of the 1996 season. "I can afford to get parts now, where in the past I was in school. Now I would like to go faster and make my car a nine-second, street-legal car, that's what I am looking for."

Now settled down in Carroll County with a job he likes, it looks like Zsoldos has a lot of racing ahead of him.

Weekend results

Mark Shorb of Westminster started his season on a winning note by taking the 8-cylinder stock feature at the Trail-Way Speedway last weekend. Bill Brown of Westminster was seventh and Allen Cullum of Hampstead was ninth. Brad McClelland of Westminster was second in the micro-sprint feature. Mike Stull of Westminster was fifth. Jeff Young of Westminster was fifth in the 4-cylinder stock feature. Mike Walls of Taneytown was eighth. Jason Smith of Westminster was third in the street stock feature.

Jesse Wentz of Manchester set a 10-lap track record in the super-sprint qualifying event at Lincoln Speedway. He finished second to Fred Rahmer in the feature. Cris Eash of Woodbine was 12th. Don Zechman was second in the semi-late feature. In the thundercar feature, Bill Brown of Westminster was 10th and Fred Cullum of Hampstead was 11th.

At Hagerstown Speedway, Gary Stuhler of Westminster finished ninth in the second late-model feature and second in the Winter Bash 20-lap main event.

In World of Outlaw racing, Jeff Shepard of Upperco won the B feature and finished 10th in the preliminary feature in the first night of action at the Spring Nationals at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas.

In drag racing, Joe Mayne of Mount Airy went to the semifinals in Class I at Mason-Dixon Dragway.

Pub Date: 3/31/96

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