Pat Sharpe is all ready to head down the big highway from Woodstock to Speedway 660 for the first Enduro of the 2012 racing season. Pat has won the last three Enduro championships and likes the sound of four in a row! Speedway 660 announcer Wade Wilson tracked down Pat Sharpe to talk about his success in Enduro racing.
Pat Sharpe will be out to defend his championship when the first Enduro race of the year comes to Speedway 660 this Saturday night. The Woodstock driver has won the last three championships and is all amped up to make it four in a row!
Wade: Pat, you have very quietly gone about your business at Speedway 660 in recent years, winning three straight Enduro titles. How did you do it?
Pat: There are two words that answer that question and they are hard work! My pit crew can take most of the credit for that. Sure, I drive the car and sometimes I get to sit in Victory Lane but if it wasn’t for their hard work and dedication before, during and after the races we would not have celebrated any Championships, let alone three!
Wade: Enduro racing is a lot different than the other divisions we normally see in the Geary Woods. What makes it so exciting for the drivers?
Pat: I think the most exciting thing for the drivers, myself included, is the thrill of being able to outsmart and outdrive your opponents and be the first to get to that magic 200th lap. This really gets your heart racing - no pun intended.
Wade: You only run three events a year, but Enduro racing has developed a great fan following. Why do you think our fans enjoy these rowdy races?
Pat: I think that the fans get excited because of the never ending action at an Enduro race. There is always somebody spinning out another driver, beating and banging on each other and like last year there were a lot of roll-overs. The fans and drivers know that because of the safety rules that Speedway 660 enforces that seldom does anybody get hurt.
Wade: Enduro racing is broken down into two 75 lap segments and one 50 lapper to the checkers at lap 200. And Enduro is short for endurance - how hard is it to survive or in this case endure for 200 laps?
Pat: It is very hard to survive 200 laps. You have to be on your toes at all times. There is always somebody out there trying to take you out, especially if it’s the last 50 laps and you are the leader. If you do have to pit, it’s nice to know that you have a great pit crew to get you back out there quickly.
Wade: Enduro championships may be the hardest to come by at Speedway 660. So many things can happen and so many things can go wrong - plus it’s a short three race series, so one bad outing can ruin your season.
Pat: Yes, one bad race can really hurt your season but you just can’t give up. You have to keep trying because you never know what is going to happen to the other drivers. They can be taken out, just like you were. In this type of racing, you just can’t quit. For example, last year in the first race we rolled over in turn three, when we were 12 laps up on the field, I went in the pits ready to quit. One of my pit crew members told me to get back in the car, because we were getting back out there and we were going to be the first team ever to roll a car and still win the race. Believe it or not, we did it. That’s a true example of never giving up.
Wade: We’ve seen other Enduro drivers move on to race in other divisions. Benji Ruff, for example is having good success in the RV World Street Stocks. Have you ever considered moving into one of our Weekly Point Series divisions?
Pat: Oh yes, I’ve considered it many times. For now I think we will stay in the Enduro Division because it is so much fun and we are having some good success. If the right situation comes along some day or if they decide to do away with the Enduro Division, which I hope they never do, we may move up. If I still have the racing fever, we will see what happens.
Wade: You’ve been bumped, spun-out, rammed into and rolled-over during Enduro races. Can you tell us about what it’s like to get a rough ride?
Pat: Sometimes it can get pretty rough out there. I’m starting to get a little older now and it takes longer to get over it. As long as you know that the ramming and bumping is coming it’s not too bad, you can brace yourself and it doesn’t hurt. The ones that you don’t see coming can really hurt, but as long as you have a good safety harness (I recommend a 4 point) and a good roll cage, you will be pretty safe.
Wade: I know you have your eyes set on a fourth straight Enduro title. What’s it going to take to get it done in 2012?
Pat: Oh, it’s going to take a lot of hard work from everybody and a lot of LUCK. Everybody wants to win. I was asked by one gentleman who my biggest competitior was and I told him each and every driver. Once you win, you always want to win.
Wade: Good luck this Saturday night. I think you are going to have the old bull’s eye on your back bumper this year, because there are a few other drivers who want to wrestle that Enduro championship away from you!
Pat: Thanks Wade, I’ll need all the help I can get, but I know that I have a strong car and a great pit crew. As long as I have that extra crew member named Lucky maybe we can pull off another championship. Last but not least, I would like to thank you, the staff, and management of Speedway 660 for this opportunity to talk about our racing and for recognizing the Enduro Division.