The Pit Crew
I (Don Lewis) started driving on my 50th birthday in 1996. Being
a not very moderate person and having quit a variety of highly addictive
and unhealthy vices, stock car racing was a perfect replacement for them
all! I was fortunate enough to have six feature wins during my first
year and have never looked back. Some seasons have been better than
others in terms of wins, but I have accumulated a few trophies
over the years. I am highly fortunate to have Jon Neilson as an invaluable
pit crew member, engine builder, bodyman, welder, fabricator, etc. etc.
Jon has taken more than one checkered flag.
Jon, originally from San Diego, Ca. is a chemist by day.
My first car was 1979 Buick Park Avenue
that had previously been a bomber car driven on asphalt at Longhorn Speedway
here in Austin. Since I had just turned 50 I gave it the #50. I did minor rework on it to make the suspension
suitable for dirt and fitted it with the proper dirt wheels and tires.
The motor blew the first night I had it out in practice, but I was
fortunate enough to get a "grandpa's car" good used motor from a 72 Cutlass
from my sponsor, Joey Whitehead at Hiway 71 Auto Salvage. The used
Olds 350 engine performed well that season. I ran the car a second
year by which time it was pretty well battered
and used up.
The second car was a 77 Cutlass--shell courtesy of Joey. This
car was shorter and light than the previous, but still was one of the heaviest
cars on the track wherever I went. Again it was Oldsmobile powered,
but this time with a 403 engine. At
the end of two years it was pretty well used up, especially after the San
Antonio flagman put it hard into the wall during an official's race.
My next car finished one season in good shape and needs
only minor maintenance and some enhancements for next year. In keeping
with the trend of ever-escalating competitiveness, it was shorter with
a 108" wheelbase. It was a "metric chassis" Pontiac Gran Prix, again
with a 403 Oldsmobile engine. The transmission was a THD200 automatic
that I have been told for years is much too weak to hold up to racing stress
but it did so without any problem. This Car has been sitting without a
motor But I plan to put it back on the track in 2008.
The latest two cars were built to IMCA
"Stock" rules. Lately we have been racing the #51
pink car primarily.
I started out racing at Texas Dirt Speedway in San Antonio, but unfortunately
the track has had all sorts of management problems to the point where they had no spectators, no drivers and no payout
whatsoever and are now defunct.
I made Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad my home track for the year 2000 and 2001 season, and the way the track
was managed was well worth the excessive travel distance. The #50 purestock made a very close second in season
points there but without ever winning a feature in the year 2000! HOwever,
that track is now defunct.
Other area tracks that I have raced at are Texas
Thunder Speedway in Killeen Waco-Bellmeade Raceway outside of Waco, Hill
Country Raceway near Kerrville and I-37 Speedway south of San Antonio.
Texas Thunder is always packed and puts on a hell of a show!
The Pit Crew:
Most invaluable is Jon Neilson. I am trying to come up with a
way to keep him from going back to California for graduate school!
My friend Louis Torfason makes it sometimes but is all-too-often out of
town on the weekends. Various other friends and family make it on
a sporadic basis. I am highly blessed to have, if not the biggest
racing fan in the world, the most supportive, tolerant wife in the world--Elaine
DiRico. My nephew, Elias Anderson, is
the one who got me into all this fourteen years ago and he is a very talented
racer himself--IMCA class. Another IMCA driver is Joey
Whitehead. We try to help each other out all we can whenever we are
at the same track. If I'm not racing on a particular weekend, then
I will try to get my fix by helping one of them!
Texas Thunder Speedway--Action-packed
track in Killeen, Texas
Who Won--Forum and national
Weekend Auto Racer --Tech forum
IMCA--Sanctioning body that runs
the very popular Modified class
Texas Speed Zone
2001-2007 Racing Pictures