Some Background About My Family and Dirt Track Racing
It is no secret that I grew up in dirt track racing. Although I have never race an actual dirt car race, I have spent more time in the pits of racetracks than I have on the couch at home. I do not come from a family who raced, announced or worked the pits or flag stand. Being a dirt track racing fan was in my blood and is being passed down to my kids. My grandfather Wayne was great family man. He took his family (even Grandma) to Bel-Clair Fairgrounds Speedway including my mom when she was just a very little girl. This was back when drivers were making their own chassis out of junk yard cars and old 57 Chevy’s which Grandpa referred to as “tanks” with nearly no rules. My mom continued to pass her love for racing down to me later after Grandpa passed away. I wish I had the chance to meet him and talk racing with him. The earliest race I can remember going to was when I was four. It was somewhere near Effingham and very well might have been Fayette County Speedway or Brownstown as most of the drivers refer to it, but I really do not know for sure. For years, my mom took me to Belleville and Pevely. Each night I would enter my name for junior fan club and pray my name would get pulled that night so I could meet my hero, Mike Hammerlee in the #16 Modified. These days he runs a Super Late Model and is the 16H, he is still one of my racing hero’s and always will be.
When I Got Hooked on Dirt Track Racing
I was about 9 or 10 and on a hot summer Saturday night my mom decided we were going to go watch some racing at I-55 Speedway in Pevely, Mo. I was ready, it had been several weeks since we had been racing because money was as tight as a tire on a wheel. I did the same old thing, stopped by the merchandise stand, entered my name, driver request and crossed my fingers all night. Okay let us back up a few weeks. My mom had been dating this guy named Gary for a while, he had a friend named Rick. Rick happened to crew chief for Bobby Bittle. Somehow, we all ended up at his shop one night and I got to meet Bobby and who I still call “the old man Bob” Bob Bittle Sr. Now fast forward back to I-55 racing a few weeks later.
Wouldn’t you know that after a long as dirty night of racing my name would get called during intermission. Dude I was ecstatic!!! I knew exactly what to do, where to go and how to act. I was 100% ready for this. Mike Hammerle’s name was called as my requested driver but I knew he had some car problems earlier in the night, he was not going to be able to make it and came over and apologized in person for breaking an axle earlier in the heat race against Donny Klein and Eddie Dixon, that night the track was rough, and racing was hard on all the cars. Both Klein and Dixon had gotten taken out in the race too! I had to make a last-minute decision on a backup driver to none other than “The Talker Guy” Michael Meurer. The only other driver I had ever met in person was Bobby Bittle so I called out his name just like Meurer would have done, “Bobby Bittle in the #89 Belleville Auto Body Sportsman”… I heard Bobby’s car fire up and here he came out of the pits. My heart was pounding even as my momma held my hand. Bobby pulled his car on the front stretch, shut it down and helped me climb onto the rear deck and showed me where to hold on to the bars. He waited until I was settled before he fired up that thunder machine. We must of drove about 5 laps around Pevely that night and for some reason there happened to be a dip in the track in turn 3 and I busted my face on the roof, it did not stop me from enjoying every moment of my experience. I no longer have my picture of that night, but I remember my shirt full of blood and so was the back of the car. I held that big junior fan club trophy as high as I could with Bobby’s help for my picture. That same night we all went back to the shop in Belleville, I started pushing a broom to “work” for another chance to sit in the driver seat of the car. I have been hooked ever since.
Why I Choose to Sponsor Dirt Track Racing
I am telling you this story, so you understand I am not just a sponsor who likes to watch racing, I am a sponsor who LOVES racing and this is my number 1 reason for sponsoring dirt track racing. I am no A-One Towing, Hooker Harness, SCP or Fast Shafts, these guys do a hell of a lot for the racing teams with products and services but that is not my business model. I do not sell racing products or services, I do not own any of the cars I sponsor, although I feel like I do sometimes with the amount of money I spend on them. I like to be in it, learn from it, meet new people and support the great folks that made my childhood and career what it is today. I do not have a specific way of choosing drivers to sponsor. I do not always choose the ones who win the most or have big fancy haulers or fresh built cars, I choose drivers who support their other sponsors and help others in the pits. Racing is like being in a family, it does not really matter where you are or what type of race it is, we are all there for the same reason, and that is to get the cars on the track and make some laps and hope for the best outcome and that is what I am sponsoring them for. The trade off is I get to help people do what they enjoy and get to enjoy it myself.
What Does TDT Do Beside Sponsor Dirt Track Racing?
Besides from spending a fortune on dirt track racing and sponsorships, my company provides pre-purchase vehicle inspections and appraisal services. This means I go out and inspect vehicles before people buy them to give them a solid opinion of the vehicle’s condition and value. I also appraise classic and collector cars for those who already own them so they can insure their collector car for the proper amount with their insurance company. You can find out more about what I do and my mechanical background on my website as this blog happens to be about why I sponsor dirt track racing…
I Am Still Very New to Dirt Track Sponsorships
My first year in sponsoring dirt track racing was with the J82 UMP Pro-Mod (B-Mod) of Treb Jacoby. He and I met through Facebook after I purchased a RC car from him. We struck a small deal to put the TDT Logo on the car and he surprised me with a new wrap for one of the last races of the season at Tri-City Speedway when I did not think we were doing anything on the car until the next season. From there sponsorships snowballed a bit. I picked up the 17E B-Mod of Matt Edler, the 43 Sportsman of Wesley Kiser and his dad Jerry Kiser in the 68 UMP Modified. Soon I also picked up the 20D B-Mod (at that time) of Drew Dudash but now I am sponsoring his 22D UMP Sport Compact. Later on, I decided to get with the 22 B Mod of Timmy Hancock Jr and one of my favorites the 0 of Tim “Big Block” Hancock Sr and I also jumped in on a last-minute spot of the 11T Super Late Model of Trevor Gundaker early in the next season. One of my good friends Dan Willcut was helping build a modified for the 43 of Bobby Dees Jr, who is now running an all new A Mod. Treb and Matt decided they were going to take a run down to Doe Run Raceway for their opening night and hit up St Francois County Raceway or “Farmington” as most call it. While at Doe Run in the pits, we sat next to a couple nice people, Paul and Sarah”, who were shooting live video of their son running Micro Sprints. We chatted a bit and I started following their son Eric on his Facebook racing page.
The Pandemic During the Dirt Track Racing Season
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit racing hard and all the tracks were shut down for about half the season. Some didn’t even reopen, some likely never will. A few tracks slowly started opening up here and there late in the 2020 season which was a blessing and nice to start getting back to it. We had a few practice nights to keep the fuel running through our veins and the engines lubed but actual racing was not happening anywhere. One night at practice I ran into Paul and Eric in the pits at Tri-City Speedway and helped pit for them a bit. Quite honestly, I do not know a Micro Sprint from a go-kart at the time but what I did see what that this little 12-year-old could drive the wheels off of that sprint car regardless of what was done to it. I decided to take them to dinner and offer them a sponsorship for the next season. Since then I have became great friends with their family and help on the Micro when I can. My wife and I even helped build their house so they could get in before Christmas.
TDT Night at the Races
About mid-way through the season, I spoke with Tammy Gundaker at Tri-City Speedway about putting on a big show for my sponsored drivers. We decided to call it Test Drive Technologies Night at the Races. It was scheduled, the stage was all set, videographer booked, shirts were made, food was ordered and the TDT Racing Team was ready to hit the dirt. Days before this big event I was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was hospitalized in the ICU for 9 days after returning from a work trip in New Jersey. It brought the TDT Night at the Races to a screeching halt. Tammy graciously allowed the even to be postponed and we incorporated into the Fan Appreciation Night track event. I quickly offered to sponsor the track for a small spot on the back wall which my wife and I painted in between me having coughing fits and dizzy spells a few days before the big event.
The Big Night for Sponsoring Dirt Track Racing
We finally got to the big night. All our sponsored cars were there for Fan Appreciation TDT Night at the Races. This was possibly the biggest event I had ever sponsored and helped organize. I will be honest; I was an absolute mess mentally and physically. The stands were packed, the pits were packed, we had a lot of money on the line for a good show for the fans. The TDT Racing Team was to carry the Nation’s colors and military flags for the opening ceremonies and were allowed to show off for a couple laps while we got some good video of them. Next up was our intermission driver autograph session on the midway of the track. We had TONS of kids and almost all of our drivers signing TDT Racing Shirts. During intermission we were shooting out shirts from our truck on the track into the stands with the help of the TDT Racing Team ladies. We were honored to be the Pace Truck and fly our Nation’s Colors that night for each feature race, we were cable to capture some cool video from the back of the truck as well.
Thank You For All That Helped
I have to give a HUGE shoutout to everyone who helped with this event. First and foremost, my wife Christina. She was the chaos coordinator for the event and did a ton of work for this event, the paint you see on the back wall of Tri-City has been touched up by her hand brushing our logo for hours on the track. She made the shirts; she got the drivers where they were supposed to be and made things happen. Next people to thank is the ladies of the TDT Racing Team. They helped make sure their drivers were ready when they were supposed to be, this is NO easy task when there is so much to do on the cars between hot laps, heats and features. Next, I have to thank Tammy and Kevin Gundaker for being so flexible and allowing this event to happen. I believe it showed a huge support for the TDT Racing Team sponsored drivers and got the fans excited for the upcoming events later in the season. And of course, I have to tell all of our sponsored drivers a BIG THANK YOU for being a part of what we put on that night. It was an absolute blast to promote all of you, your crews and families for this event.
TDT Fan Appreciation Night at the Races 2021
NOW HERE IS THE EXCITING PART… Be sure to join us on Friday, September 17, 2021 for this awesome event. We are doing the same thing this year but with even more TDT Racing Team drivers and some extra fun! We will have the 2-Seater Modified there from Shaun Horstman and we will be raffling off FOUR rides in the 2-seater modified for some lucky fans. We will have all new designed TDT Racing Team shirts getting shot out into the stands. Of course, we will also have an autograph session again with our drivers and some other cool things also in the works for this year’s Test Drive Technologies Fan Appreciation Night at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois.
Test Drive Technologies Vehicle Inspection Appraisal Services 2021 Dirt Track Racing Sponsorship
This 2021 season of dirt track racing we are proud to sponsor the following drivers, teams, tracks and media outlets. I urge you all to check out this fine group of drivers, their pages and help support their other sponsors as well.I included links to each one of their Facebook profiles or pages so you can check them out.