Editor’s Note: This is part two of a feature from the August 2020 edition of Sprint Car & Midget Magazine about the history and future of USAC sprint car racing on the East Coast.
To read part one, click here.
Timmy Buckwalter is a talented and versatile driver. Even though he was unable to run the full slate of USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series races in 2019, that is going to change.
This year, the series is a priority. He is convinced that he is on the crest of a wave.
“I think in the next year or two, it is going to be a really big class around here,” Buckwalter said. “I think it is going to take off big time. It has a good overall base, and we have guys coming out of the micros.
“Look, everybody’s dream who is running a micro is to run a sprint car. If you are going sprint car racing around here, the wing program is so expensive. It is like the Outlaws tour out here with the Posse. So we are bringing in another division, and we do have a lot of divisions out here, but to bring one that is wingless makes sense. There are a lot of big races around here for the 600’s, and they are all wingless.
“I think that is really going to help Curt and his deal over time. Because the 360 wingless is definitely cheaper than going 410 winged racing. Plus, a lot of people like the wingless thing. So, it is a way for someone to become a sprint car driver.”
As talented as Buckwalter is, and even given his experience in the USAC National Sprint Car Series, he still feels he has something to learn. The series is one way to get valuable seat time to prepare for Eastern Storm.
Eddie Strada finished second in season points a year ago, and has won three features over the first two seasons of the series. Like Buckwalter, Strada races a diversified schedule, and comes from a long line of modified racers.
He still has a soft spot for the modifieds, and really enjoys competing at Big Diamond, feeling “the best of the best is there every week.”
He says he doesn’t really have the motor to compete with the top guns, “but to make the field, run close to them, and make the top 10 is really cool.”
The former Action Track USA 600 Micro Sprint champion experienced a similar situation when he jumped into a sprint car. For that reason, the USAC East Coast 360 tour has been a perfect fit.
“It was right for us,” Strada noted. “We were running URC with the wing, and we would go to places like Port Royal, Williams Grove and Selinsgrove, and with the money we have I couldn’t hang with them. Particularly with the wing experience I have. I only have one wing win in my whole career.”
It’s not just the money and the experience that draws Strada to this series. He also enjoys the style of racing needed to be successful in wingless racing.
“The more throttle control, the better for me,” he said. “I have always been better at keeping the car straight compared to other guys in a wingless car. We felt following this series was going to be better for me, and you don’t need quite as killer of a motor. I’m big on brakes, too, as much as I can drag the brake and stay on the throttle without spinning too much is how I like to do it. I know some guys like to whip it in there, but the straighter, the better as far as I’m concerned.”
Strada is also convinced that the series will soon see an influx from the micro ranks, but he suggests that those who come from a winged background are going to find this to be a different animal.
As he shared, he had to survive his own trial by fire.
“If you go to a place like Bedford with a wing, you go into the corner and just turn the car,” Strada noted. “Now you have your wing off and you realize you have to back it in for about 20 yards before you hit the turn. I wrecked Curt’s car in hot laps once because you just don’t know how fast you should go. You whip it in there and it is like, oh, this isn’t going to stick, and suddenly you are up in the wall. It is a finesse kind of thing.”
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