Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
October 19, 2010
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Dave made his debut at the NMRA Bradenton 2008 opener, and we were glad to see a fresh face in competition. He would go on to win the NMRA Rookie of the Year award, and finish seventh in points. In 2009, Dave made the step up to Trick Flow's new 4.6 heads and intake. At that time, Dave was in the middle of figuring out how to get the Cobra out of the hole in a consistent manner. The increased power steepened that learning curve. However, he improved his finish to the fourth spot in Real Street for 2009.

We asked Dave what he's learned since taking his racing on the road. Racing has been "a lot more work than I thought it was going to be," Dave said. "Constant maintenance, meticulous note-taking, and how much weather conditions impact how the car runs-those are things I never knew before I started racing at this level."

However, it's not all doom and gloom. "It's also been more fun than I thought it would be. I have a great crew, but the camaraderie has been unreal. Guys from all different classes have helped me with parts and advice. That has been really great," Dave adds. MV's own Bart Tobener, who races EFI Renegade, is a tremendous help as well when Tim's not around.

As a result, Dave loves racing at the national level. "You can't describe the feeling you get when pulling Second gear and all you see is sky," Dave says. "It's hard to describe that to someone who has never experienced it," he adds. Speaking of seeing sky, Dave says MV's Tim Matherly threw him in the deep end of the pool to see if he could swim. Right before a pass, Tim told him the car was probably going to spin. Instead, the car went straight up. Dave seems to think Tim knew the car would go up in the air, but Dave thinks Tim wanted to see what he was made of right off the bat. Tim was preparing Dave for what the car was going to be like on a consistent basis, but that consistency hasn't been easy to come by. With a stick car, it's tough to have consistent launches from track to track and with differing weather conditions.

Something else that's been even tougher for Dave is the time and dedication it takes to field a competitive car. He is constantly working on the car and always looking at ways to go faster. "If people think this car sits in a trailer between races, that's definitely not the case," he explains. Using the launch as an example, he doesn't want to make wholesale changes because then he doesn't know what helps or hurts. Therefore, he'll change something, and make a pass to see if it works.

Changing one item at a time takes a lot of testing to realize the fruits of that labor. Dave's lucky enough that his home track is 40 minutes from the house so he is able to test, but in Wisconsin it's impossible to test in the winter. "That's a frustrating part-when I hear other people's testing numbers and I'm in four feet of snow," Dave says.

However, if it didn't snow in Wisconsin, Dave wouldn't have an off-season, and that's when he likes to spend time with Kristy and their dogs, which I think is about all you can do in four feet of snow, anyway, unless he takes up snowmobile racing. Oh well, it's mid-October as you read this, so he now has time to think about testing for 2011. At least, he has some time after the anniversary date. Right, Dave?