Rising Tolley can now say he wins at home track

On Motor Sports

September 15, 1996|By Stan Dillon | Stan Dillon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Dave Tolley has won drag races at other area tracks, but until Labor Day weekend, the Mount Airy driver had never been able to win on his home track, 75-80 Dragway.

"It is just very, very competitive," said Tolley, who noted he had won gamblers' races there, but never a bracket contest. "The competition is the toughest at 75-80. That's why [local racers] always do good at the Bracket Finals at Maple Grove Raceway every year."

By the third round on Aug. 31, Tolley had a feeling it was going to be a good night.

"I was getting pretty good lights," said Tolley. "They were all good competitive rounds, because they were all coming within a second and a half of my lights. I red-lighted on the first round the night before, so I set my mind that I was going to do better.

"In the semifinals, I came up against a driver who beat me once before in the same round. This time, I had a 5.03 light and gave him the finish line to win."

Tolley is in his third year of racing on a weekly basis. He has climbed into challenging position in points and is looking forward to being part of the Class II team that will represent 75-80 at the Bracket Finals in Reading, Pa., later this month.

"I installed a new motor the first week of June," said Tolley. "It took me three to four weeks to get the car working right. I dropped to ninth, and now I'm working my way back up. The car is working good now."

Changing engines is not something drivers do during a points battle unless they have to.

"I wanted to go faster," said Tolley. "I was working the little 302-cubic-inch engine with a stock bottom pretty hard. I was running it out to 7,400 RPM. So I put a bigger 302 motor in with Cleveland cams and a stroker kit on the bottom end to take it to 347 cubic inches. The car will now turn the quarter-mile in 10.74 seconds, or 126 mph."

Like many drag-racing drivers, Tolley became interested in the sport through a friend. Tolley started drag racing with a 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback that he purchased when he was a teen-ager in 1978.

"I drove the car every day for seven years. I guess you can say I terrorized the streets in it," said Tolley. "Then I took it off the street and just raced it once a year at the Ford show. The car is about 95 percent restored.

"I wanted to get into racing more, but wasn't ready. Three years ago, I ran into Kevin Fornier of Mount Airy, a friend I went to school with. He kept trying to get me to come to the track. We always had a Ford-Chevy rivalry. After I watched him race three to four times, it was eating me up, because I knew there was no way his Chevy was faster than a Ford.

"I didn't want to race my Mustang," Tolley continued. "It was too valuable. So I found a 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint, less motor, that was race-ready."

Tolley wanted to race so badly that he borrowed a motor from his brother-in-law and was in the low 12 seconds the first year. Ignition problems hindered him the first year, but Tolley built another motor and ran well enough last year to make the bracket finals team despite transmission problems.

Now, he is on his way to the finals for the second time in only his third year of racing.

Tolley's company, Tolley Enterprises, and Big Dog Custom Body and Paint in Sykesville, are his main supporters. Advanced Valve Service of Hyattstown does his machine work.

While Tolley would like to go faster, he plans to stay in Class II because he prefers racing without the electronic equipment needed to be competitive in Class I.

It looks like Tolley, who is 35, is going to be a regular for years to come.

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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