Westminster's McClelland rewarded for super season

ON MOTOR SPORTS

January 18, 1998|By STAN DILLON | STAN DILLON,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Micro sprint driver Brad McClelland of Westminster capped a record-breaking season when he received the award for the most feature wins in 1997 of any driver in the Northeast Friday night at the Miller Motorsports '98 Show at the Fort Washington Expo Center in Pennsylvania.

Each year, World Travel and Area Auto Racing News of Trenton, N.J., keep records of feature wins of all drivers in the headline classes that compete throughout the Northeast. Normally, this award is presented to professional drivers that race two and three times a week in sprint cars or modifieds. But this year, McClelland put together an unbelievable streak, winning 31 times in only 56 races.

McClelland's closest competitor was Lance DeWease of Waynesboro, Pa., a full-time professional driver who finished with 28 wins in the super sprint division.

McClelland picked up wins at five tracks, Lincoln, Port Royal, Hill Valley, Shippensburg and Trail-Way Speedways.

He dominated Trail-Way Speedway, winning 18 of 27 races en route to his third consecutive championship. In most of the races, a handicapped system was used and McClelland had to start 12th or higher in a 24-car field. Still he only finished out of the top five twice.

Last month, McClelland received the first part of the award, a trip to the Bahamas.

Winning isn't new for the 30-year-old driver.

He has been the top micro-sprint driver the past three years, winning 21 races in 1995 and 14 wins in 1996. Since he started racing in 1988, McClelland has won more than 87 races.

"It was an unbelievable season. Nobody ever thought I would win this many races," McClelland said. "It took a lot of hard work. I couldn't have done it without my crew, Eric Garey and Darrin Rill of Hampstead. If you don't have a good crew, you're not going to do it."

In addition to his crew, McClelland gives a lot of credit to the new chassis he used this year.

"I had a good engine plan and my car was good," said McClelland. "But my engine builder, Eddie Sanders of Disalia, California, told me if I wanted to do better, that I should look into this chassis that was winning everything on the West Coast.

"I got the chassis from PMP Chassis of Fresno, Ca. It is a step ahead of everything else as Sanders said it would be. The way they mount things on the chassis is different and the car handles better than anything I ever had."

Winning big also has helped McClelland's business, B&M Racing Products. McClelland supplies everything you need to go micro-sprint racing. He is the only authorized PMP Chassis dealer in the East and has been busy building the new chassis since the season ended.

"I've sold five cars during the season and have another nine on order," said McClelland. "Business has really picked up. The other drivers wanted what I was racing."

McClelland is probably one of the nicest guys in racing. He is so unselfish that in the middle of a record breaking season, McClelland gave Steve Owings of Westminster a car to use after he wrecked his. Owings went on to win a few races, events in which McClelland finished second.

"I love helping people," added McClelland. "I want to treat everyone right. I don't hold back. I tell them everything I know. I know what it was like when I got started. I didn't have anyone helping me and I remember all the time and money I wasted getting the right set-up."

Brad comes from a racing family. His father, Bill McClelland, was one of the finest late-model drivers in the area in the late '70s and early '80s. He won track championships at Lincoln Speedway in 1978 and 1981 and the 1979 Keystone Auto Racing Series late-model championship while racing at Hagerstown and Williams Grove speedways.

Brad started racing motorcycles at Trail-Way when he was 14. Soon after he graduated from Westminster High, he was persuaded by two buddies, Owings and Mike Stull of Westminster to switch to micro-sprints. Now Owings is racing as a teammate for McClelland.

Due to the demands of his business, McClelland may not race as much in 1998. He realizes how fortunate he was last year and will never forget the accomplishments.

"It was something to be proud of," said McClelland. "I would like to race all the time, but I got to sell parts to go racing. I try to do it all on my own."

McClelland will still race next year, but he plans to have Owings race one of his cars while assisting other drivers with their new chassis. With extra racing dates for the micro-sprints, McClelland will still be racing and winning more than the competition would like.

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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