January 27, 2009

Over the past two years, I've been writing a column for the print version of Modified Mustangs & Fords about my racing activities in the KONI Sports Car Challenge series. We're now taking this column online in a blog format, and those readers following that column should now look here online at MustangandFords.com for the latest installments. This should be a major improvement because of my ability to now post stories quickly after the news happens while it is still fresh, and because I can now offer more frequent updates through the season.

In this first online edition, I wanted to let everyone know that there have been some changes to my racing program. Starting in October of 2006, I've been racing Ford Mustangs with Rehagen Racing and co-driving with Dean Martin. Since that time, I've had the chance to learn about racing in the KONI series as well as what it takes to go road racing in full-sized Mustangs. Although I grew up road racing go-karts, I had not raced full-sized vehicles before 2006. There's a lot more to hustling a big, heavy car around a track, managing the weight under braking and acceleration, shifting... I am very thankful to have had this opportunity with Rehagen. The Rehagen team is a great bunch of guys. They know how to race, and they are very fast.

As the 2008 season drew to a close, I began to consider a change in my program -- taking it internal to ROUSH. This wasn't the result due to any problems with Rehagen. Rather, the idea came about because "we are who we are." My father has been drag racing, road racing, and stock car racing at the highest levels for over thirty years, and many of the key people who have been racing with him during this time are still at ROUSH. So, it only made sense that as my road racing program grew, we should integrate it to be part of ROUSH. And that's exactly what we've done.

So, as you can tell, we made the decision to branch out on our own. Mike Canney, who also raced with Rehagen last year, independently made the same choice to branch out on his own for 2009. After some discussion, we found that it made sense to work together to share costs and information, and to combine our efforts. The name of our new team is "Horsepower Ranch." Mike is very serious about the program, and it shows. He's quick, and he's always looking to be as fast as he possibly can be.

I'll be racing in the No. 61 ROUSH/Valvoline Mustang and my co-driver this year will be Hugh Plumb. Hugh is one of the fastest guys in the series, and he's also a great coach. He drove with Mike Canney last year and the pair won the season-finale at Virginia International Raceway (just beating my car to the checkered flag). During that time, Mike and Hugh let me sit in on some of their coaching sessions to get more information on what the fast way around the given track was.

Driving with Mike in the No. 60 Sunset Hills Vineyard Mustang will be Hugh's brother Matt Plumb. Like Hugh, Matt is also both a great driver and coach. Between the four of us, we've established a very open format for sharing information and trying to help us all be as quick as we can. As a driver, I look forward to being a part of this forum to grow as much as I possibly can.

You know, racing is a very unique sport. When you see 30 cars going around the track, you may think that it's just 30 guys competing. That's wrong. There are many more people involved than that. A great driver cannot do well without a great crew. Luckily, we have a great crew at Horsepower Ranch. I almost stop short of listing names because I'm sure that there will be some that I will leave out that have contributed. For anyone not listed, I apologize. Your effort is very much needed and greatly appreciated. Among those that I'd like to thank personally for taking part in our team are the following: Brad Francis, Quinn Conda, Dave Fredericks, John Sandy, Mike Fletcher, Ray Sharp, Ken Forsyth, Vince Arnold, Craig Young, and Vaughn Forsyth.

In racing, you can never be guaranteed of success. There is considerable chaos at every race, in the paddock, the pits, and on the racetrack. However, what you can do is control what is in your influence to give you the best chance possible. And that's what we've done.

I'd also like to take a moment and thank our sponsors for their support: Valvoline, ROUSH Performance, Moss Muscle, Mechanix Wear and GoPro. Without them, we couldn't race, period. If you need any of their products, please keep them in mind as you make a buying decision.

I'm looking forward to this season and this great opportunity. We've put ourselves in a position for success, so it is up to us to capitalize on that. Hopefully, in upcoming blog installments right here on ModifiedMustangsandFords.com, you'll have a chance to read about how well the team is doing.

See you at the track!