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A late starter, Calp pursues family's racing tradition As long as the fun continues, 41-year-old will stay behind the wheel


Charlie Calp is another local driver whose father raced a generation ago.

Calp's father raced in the sportsman-modified divisions at the Lincoln Speedway in Hanover and the old Reading (Pa.) Fairgrounds Speedway.

Naturally, Charlie Calp was around racing all his life, but the 41-year-old didn't begin racing until five years ago.

"I went with my father a lot. We went to the races four times a weekend," said Calp. "He drove for 20 years."

While many second-generation drivers start racing as soon as they are old enough to drive, Calp put his racing on hold.

"I didn't start racing until late because I got married and raised a family," he said. "I still attended the races every weekend. I always loved the sport."

Calp began his driving in an enduro race. One event convinced him to race weekly.

For the last five years, Calp has been racing in the eight-cylinder class every Friday night at Trail Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa.

Calp is starting his second year with his black Chevrolet Camaro that bears No. 193, the same number his father used. Although Calp hasn't raced much this year because of the weather, he feels he has most of the bugs worked out of the car.

Although the eight-cylinder class is more of a hobby division, there is much to learn before you can have a top notch car. Many drivers will tell you having a car that handles well is as important as a having a good motor, and learning how to set up the car takes time.

"It's a big headache getting the car to handle," said Calp. "Getting the car set up, getting the right weight, the right tires, the right shocks; there are so many things you have to have right. It is so hard to get that right combination, but we feel it is coming around.

"We do have a decent motor," he added, talking about his 406 cubic inch Chevrolet engine. "We just have to get the car to handle."

Auto racing takes money, no matter the level, and sponsors go a long way in making it all happen. Peck's Auto Parts in White Hall, Baltimore County, is Calp's major sponsor, along with Big A Auto Parts and Matt Wentz of Vital Signs in Hampstead and Northwest Radiator in Reisterstown.

Mike Grimm is the engine builder and Wes Eyler and Roland Brown are part of the pit crew. Charlie Brown is the key man on the pit crew.

Also helping is Calp's wife, Tina. Her business, United Star Cleaning in Hampstead, is another major sponsor and their four-year-old daughter Jacklyn is his biggest fan.

Calp's career at Trail Way has had its ups and downs. After finishing eighth in the points standings three years ago, Calp had a year that was all trouble. He couldn't get the Chevy Nova he raced to handle properly and eventually blew the motor. But Calp is looking forward to better luck with his current car.

"I won a lot of heats," said Calp looking back on his racing career. "I never conquered a feature, but I am working on it."

Since Calp started racing later in life than most drivers, he is satisfied with racing in the eight-cylinder division.

"I'll probably stay here," he said. "I enjoy this class. Racing is a hobby to me.

"I just enjoy the competition, the speed, racing to the finish line. I like rubbing doors with somebody.

"Besides, I have to get smarter before I think about moving up. Who knows, if I do decent, I might change my mind. But it also requires spending big bucks."

During the week, Calp works as a carpenter for Bill Brown Custom Homes. Keeping the car running takes most of the evenings.

"I am having fun," said Calp. "It's aggravating but fun."

And as long as it's fun, Charlie Calp will continue the family tradition.

Information about Carroll County motor sports appears regularly in this column. If you have story ideas that you would like to share, The Carroll County Sun would like to know. Please send your ideas to Carroll motor sports, The Carroll County Sun, 15 East Main St., Westminster, Md. 21157-5052. You also may FAX your information to us at 876-0233. Information: 857-0550, 876-8771 or toll-free (800) 829-8000, Ext. 6595.

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