Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge is probably one of the busiest drivers at the 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia. When he isn't making his timing and elimination runs, he can be found directing other drivers onto the starting grid.
"I started helping out about five years ago," said Stambaugh. "I got tired of sitting around between runs. Being a self-employed painter, I just had to be doing something. So I just started helping out."
Having a consistent car as Stambaugh has gives him a lot of free time. He knows his car well enough that he doesn't spend much time working on it. So he spends his extra time helping at the starting line or staging area.
"My car runs the numbers," said Stambaugh. "If it's not broken, I don't mess with it. My 10-year-old son, Jason, helps me cool the car down."
Stambaugh does just about everything at the track. If someone blows an engine at take-off, Stambaugh is there to clean it up. He keeps the racers flowing onto the starting grid in orderly fashion and he coordinates what cars come out, what lanes they go to and keeps them from getting into one another.
"I enjoy helping out," said Stambaugh. "I get to see all the cars and know just about everyone that is there."
When it is time to race, Stambaugh walks a short distance to his car and puts it in the staging lane for Class II cars. He makes his run down the quarter-mile in around 12 to 14 seconds, then returns to his parking spot and is back at the staging area.
The 37-year-old Stambaugh began racing 13 years ago shortly after he started going to the track with Charlie Spielman of Taneytown. After a couple of weeks, he purchased his first car, a 1964 Ford Falcon.
Stambaugh's current car is a 1978 Ford Fairmont, a car he purchased four years ago race-ready with a 351-cubic-inch Cleveland engine. Other than a few changes that he made to the rear of the car, Stambaugh has been racing the car week after week.
While other drivers try to go as fast as they can, Stambaugh concentrates on consistency. And it has paid off. He has been to the bracket finals at Maple Grove every fall since he started racing.
Four years ago he was the top driver at both 75-80 and Mason-Dixon dragways. He is currently in the top 10 in points and it looks like he will keep his string going of making the team every year once again.
"I don't have the need for speed like everyone else," Stambaugh said. "It doesn't bother me, I am going fast enough. All I want to do is cut the light and run the number. The other drivers don't beat you, you beat yourself. If you do everything right, they can't beat you.
"I don't do much to the car other than check the tires, oil and gas. I may go over the motor during the winter. I just leave it alone, that's how it gets its consistency. You can't keep fooling with it if you want to be consistent."
Last weekend was a big one in racing. At 75-80 Dragway, Russell Barefoot of Mount Airy made it to the finals in Class I. Dave Peters of Westminster was a semifinalist. In Class II, Robert Ford of Monrovia made it to the finals. Steve Hoff of Sykesville was a semifinalist. Tim Lippy of New Windsor beat Marvin Ford of Westminster in the motorcycle division. Marion Ford of Hampstead was a semifinalist. In junior dragsters, Josh Wagner of Hampstead was a semifinalist. On GM day on Sunday, the Pro-Start team that included Joe Mayne and Sev Tingle of Mount Airy won the team event.
Carroll County drivers fared well at Mason-Dixon Dragway. Ruben Standifer of Mount Airy won Class I. Jamie Talbert of Taneytown won Class II. Brian Fandel of Mount Airy was runner-up in the motorcycle division. David Smith of Mount Airy was runner-up in Class I Jr. Dragster and Megan Etzler of Mount Airy won Class II Jr. Dragster.
In oval track racing at Lincoln Speedway, Jesse Wentz of Manchester was ninth in the super print feature. Judd Shepard of Finksburg was sixth in the Armaclad sprint cars. Don Zechman of Westminster celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with a win in the semi-late feature after setting a eight-lap track record in a qualifying heat. His son, Randy, was third.
At Trail-Way Speedway, Brad McClelland of Westminster was second in the micro-sprint feature. David Parrish of Westminster was fifth. In the eight-cylinder feature, Mark Shorb of Westminster was sixth, John McDonogh of Finksburg ninth and Butch Harvey of Westminster 10th. Matt Barnes of Westminster was fourth in the four-cylinder feature. Jeff Young of Westminster was 10th. McClelland nailed down his third win at Challenger Raceway on Saturday. McClelland started ninth and gained the lead on the fifth lap to win the 15-lap event. David Parrish of Westminster was 10th.
In late model racing, Gary Stuhler of Westminster was fifth at Bedford Speedway and second at Winchester Speedway. Ernie Jones of Westminster was ninth. Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead was eighth at Hagerstown Speedway.
Luke Dempsey of Westminster was first in the Jr. Stock Class in quarter-midget racing at Hagerstown.