GEORGETOWN, DE – Though skeptics had warned that the cold race day temperatures forecast for the Melvin Joseph Memorial at Georgetown Speedway Saturday would ruin engines, there were no observed engine failures among the 32 Modifieds at Georgetown.
“Most of the teams have water and oil tank warmers,” offered Jared Petruska, of the Petruska family which owns Ryan Godown’s No. 66 Modified. Petruska demonstrated where the oil and water warming lines were attached and how the process worked.
The best testament to the effectiveness of the process and the overstatement of the dangers of racing in cold weather was that every one of the 12 eligible cars for the Modified consolation was on the track for the start of the race.
But engineering marvels aside, it was bitterly cold and very, very windy Saturday at Georgetown.
Oft-expressed conventional wisdom has it that the heat generated by a Modified engine is sufficient to keep a cockpit warm no matter the ambient temperature.
To test this hypothesis, AARN asked a random sample of Modified drivers, after their heat races and before the start of the Melvin Joseph Memorial feature, this question: is it cold in the car today?
Responses were, surprisingly, wide ranging.
Rick Laubach, first heat winner, said, “It’s cold driving out there today, and I don’t usually mind it.”
Tyler Dippel, whose more recent experience has been inside a NASCAR K&N East Series car with a full windshield, said, “It’s a little cold riding around under caution, but not too bad. I sit pretty low in the car.”
Stewart Friesen, whose most recent cockpit time was in Atlanta, Ga., in the cramped confines of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck, was feeling the winter wrath. “Yeah, it’s cold inside the car. You definitely feel it.”
Brett Kressley, like Laubach a heat race winner, was more specific in his assessment. “Yeah, I feel it. It’s really cold driving down the homestretch. It feels like a head wind.”
“You feel it,” said ultimate race winner Jimmy Horton. “I don’t feel it very often but it’s cold in there today.”
HJ Bunting concurred with Horton. “You really do feel it. Not as much racing but under caution, yeah, it’s cold.”
Shawn Ward agreed with Bunting, adding, “The more laps under caution, the colder it got.”
Billy Pauch, Jr. and Ryan Watt also shared the Horton, Bunting view.
Duane Howard used the coldness as a barometer of his own personal preparation as a driver. “I felt it anywhere there was exposed skin. There shouldn’t be any place that is exposed so I have to adjust that before the feature.”
There were some drivers who professed to be not adversely affected by the weather at all.
“I don’t feel it at all,” said Ryan Godown. “I don’t realize that it’s cold or anything once I’m inside the car. On the parade laps, maybe, but not once the green flag drops.”
“I don’t feel anything,” Frank Cozze offered. “I’m used to this, I work outside every day in the yard at my business (Deer Foot Used Auto Parts). I’m worried about a steering problem with the car, that’s about it.”
The most colorful view of the Fahrenheit situation came the ever quotable Danny Johnson.
“You can’t ignore it, it’s cold here,” Johnson said. “I’m freezing my a** off.”