While most people slow down when they reach middle age, Joe Bounds of Woodstock is busier now than ever. The 51-year-old is a regular at the 75-80 Dragway, competing two to three times every week.
"I raced when I was younger," said Bounds. "I had time, but didn't have any money back then and couldn't afford it. So I got out of it. Then I didn't have time. It wasn't until six years ago I could afford it and really had the time. So when I decided to go up, I was ready to race again."
Bounds didn't leave racing completely. He found time to attend racing events at places like Lincoln Speedway and satisfied his appetite for speed by racing motorcycles. He raced mostly in hill climbing events, which may have not been as expensive as drag racing, but is definitely a lot more dangerous.
Six years ago, Bounds decided to return to 75-80 Dragway. He entered his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro in the ETK class. He hadn't lost his touch, going five rounds the first time out.
Since that time, Bounds has been doing what he wanted to do 30 years ago, go drag racing every week.
After a few weeks, Bounds felt comfortable enough to move up to Class II, for cars with elapsed time of 11 seconds or slower. He continually worked on each car to get better times and within two years, the Camaro was too fast for Class II. Rather than make changes to the car for Class I and take away its value as a classic car, he purchased a 1967 Chevy II to race.
Like his Camaro when he purchased it, the Chevy II needed a lot of work. That didn't matter to Bounds, who seems to enjoy working on the cars as much as racing them.
He restored the Chevy II, replacing the body with aluminum and fiberglass racing panels to make the car lighter. He then rebuilt and installed a 355-cubic-inch small block Chevrolet engine in it.
With Bounds' continual work on the car have come marked improvements in the performance to where he has the Chevy II reaching 130 mph in the quarter-mile.
"It's strictly a hobby," said Bounds, a steamfitter at General Motors. "I don't need to win, it just makes me feel good to go three or four rounds. It's the feeling that's important, not the money. It's fun when you get a group of people together and go to the track."
Racing has changed quite a bit since Bounds first raced. Now electronics play an important part in Class I competition.
"I just keep getting more and more stuff like the big boys," said Bounds. "The electronics do their job. I just purchased another delay box. My reaction time was never real good, but with the delay box I have a better chance."
Bounds doesn't expect to slow down anytime soon. He would like to move on to a dragster in the future, but feels he isn't quite ready for it.
Right now he is happy working on his car during the week and racing on weekends.
"It keeps me busy. I just really enjoy it, no matter how I do," said Bounds. "I'd like to win, but it's still fun to me. I'll just keep working on it."
In racing last weekend, 7-year-old Luke Dempsey of Westminster won his feature in the quarter-midget regional finals at the Airport Speedway in New Castle, Del. Dempsey races in the junior stock division.
In late model racing, Gary Stuhler of Westminster grabbed the lead on the 31st lap and led the rest of the way to win the Johnny Roberts 50-lap Memorial at the Hagerstown Speedway. The win was Stuhler's 72nd career win at Hagerstown and sixth of the year. Stuhler also finished second at Bedford Speedway in the North East Winners Series event on Tuesday night.
Taneytown's Mike Walls placed fourth in the four-cylinder feature at Hagerstown Speedway.
Brad McClelland of Westminster had another good weekend in micro-sprint racing. He won the micro-sprint feature at Trail-Way Speedway and followed that with a win at Challenger Speedway in Indiana, Pa.
Jerry Parrish of Westminster was seventh in the micro-sprint feature at Trail-Way. In other action at Trail-Way, Matt Barnes and his brother, Steve, of Westminster finished in the second and third spots, respectively, in the four-cylinder stock feature. John McDonogh of Finksburg was eighth in the eight-cylinder feature and Mike Zechman of Westminster was 10th. In the street stock division, Jason Smith of Westminster was sixth and Gregg Messersmith of Hampstead was 10th. Mark Royston of Hampstead was third in the outlaw quads feature event.
At Lincoln Speedway, Judd Shepard of Finksburg was second in the Armaclad limited sprint feature. Don Zechman of Westminster was third in the semi-late feature. Cris Eash of Woodbine was sixth in the super sprint feature and Jesse Wentz of Manchester was eighth. Eash finished fifth in points for the fourth annual Pennsylvania Speedweek. In the semi-late feature, Don Zechman took the lead on the second lap and dominated the rest of the feature for his third win of the season. Zechman's son, Mickey, was fifth in the thundercar feature with Fred Cullum of Hampstead 10th.
In drag racing at Mason-Dixon Dragway, David Smith of Mount Airy was runner-up in junior dragster Class I. Matthew McCleary of Mount Airy was runner-up in junior dragster Class II.