Bob Daniels races with an old adage in the back of his mind: “There are two kinds of race engines — those that have blown up and those that are going to.” That statement went from the latter to the former at the most inopportune time.
On Wednesday, Daniels held firm command of the IMCA stock car feature at Stuart International Speedway in Iowa. That is until his engine blew with three laps to go, producing a spectacular smoke show for spectators and competitors alike.
“Something let go on the bottom end of the engine,” said Daniels, a 25-year racing veteran from Des Moines, Iowa. “I’d rather have that happen while being competitive than in the back of the field.”
The highly competitive father-and-son team from Chelsea, Iowa — Damon and Dallon Murty — applied pressure on Daniels throughout the feature. (See “Dallon Murty: The Game Changer”.)
“Dallon was on my bumper the whole way — he won,” Daniels said. “His dad got my oil on his tires and struggled on the restart.”
Damon Murty slid to fifth spot in the final results. Jeremy Gettler, of Adair, Iowa, finished second.
For its stock car division, IMCA limits GM engines running on a 500-cfm carburetor to a maximum 361-cid displacement and a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Racers can use only stock or stock-appearing crankshafts and connecting rods.
“The engine that blew up was my spare — the same one I raced with last season — and it hadn’t been freshened,” said Daniels. “I was putting the final touches on my new engine. It wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to miss opening night.”
The Daniels shop will work at fever pitch the next few days. As Bob Daniels, an HVAC installer by day, swaps engines, his sons Bobby, 17, and Lucas, 14, will prepare their mod lites. The kids will race them at a pair of Iowa tracks: Mason City Motor Speedway and at Stuart.
“We’ll have that new engine ready to go,” Daniels said. “We won’t miss a night of racing.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.