So here’s what happens when you get a fast racecar, after several years of having an average racecar. They start talking…
The “they” that I refer to are people who are theorizing about the success of myself and Team Tapout this year. People are talking because I am having the best season of my career, after 15 years in the division. But they don’t talk to me directly. It just gets back to me through the grapevine that “they” are saying this and that about Jason Simmons and I. Actually, this is proof that we have “arrived". I’ve always felt that if the competition is talking about you, you must be doing something right. I love it. Here are some examples of what I hear “they” are saying…
“THEY” said “you don’t have to do anything to drive that car. You just show up with your helmet in your hand.” Answer: not true. Yes, we have a TON of great help on our cars. I haven’t been so blessed manpower wise for over a decade. There were six guys in the shop working on the two cars Monday night. I’ve had it a lot easier this year compared to the several years of running with one or two guys. But don’t think I’m not working on the car in the shop every week. The result of the extra help, of course, is a faster car because I’m not cutting corners on maintenance like I did with my own car for the last ten years.
“THEY” say the only reason you’re running so hard this year is because Jason is paying the bills. Answer: the reason I’m running so hard is because I have a car that is worthy of running hard. I don’t care who is paying the bills - if the car won’t go, you can’t go. Every week, when the car is fast, it gives me more confidence, which makes me go faster. Same for anyone out there, I would bet. But yes, while I won’t be specific about the financial arrangement between Jason and I, I acknowledge that it does make me go harder knowing that we have a lot of spares and help in the shop if something goes bad.
“THEY” think you have some exotic motor. Answer: I don’t know the definition of exotic, but our engine is a Finger Lakes Machine piece that Jason had, that Doug Holmes freshened for us over the winter. Doug has always produced excellent engines, and I’m sure he will sell you one just like it. And no, he won’t cheat. I asked him years ago, when I was struggling, and he wouldn’t play ball.
“THEY” know you’re cheating, because you pass cars now, instead of holding cars back. Answer: see the previous paragraph. I’m passing cars because I CAN.
“THEY” said you were illegal the night you won, but you were let go. Answer: While we did have an engine to rear-end length that came up short, it sure wasn’t the 1 ½ inches that “they” said it was. This was deemed to not be a performance enhancing infraction, just a minor adjustment that we were asked to change for the next week, which we did in about 15 minutes in the shop. I bet it would be hard to find a car out there with every single measurement perfect. Note: of all of the people talking about this behind our backs, only one guy, Jim Bernys, had the decency to ask me about it to my face.
“THEY” think you’re a flash in the pan. The win on opening night was a fluke. You’re fast now, but don’t worry. You’ll go back to your old ways as a blocker. (Must be they haven’t seen me pass ten cars in my last two heat races.) Answer: all I can say to you boo-birds is…We’ll see. Like many of you, I’m pretty surprised at the way I’m running and driving this year also. Thankfully, we have a lot positive comments as well, and I hope everything keeps going like it is. But I’m a realist, and I know that the bubble can break at any time. Me and my “Jay-Mates” are sure having a great time riding the wave right now!
“THEY” wonder what the hell Jason was thinking of putting you in that car. What’s he ever done? Why would you put Andrews in that car? You should have had (insert name here) drive it. He’s a lot better driver. Answer: I’ve done a few things in my career, but I don’t know if I was worthy of a ride like this. Jason asked me to drive for him because we are friends, and we share a lot of laughs together. If I was a tenth place car, I wouldn’t be in danger of losing my ride. We’d still crack wise and exchange stories at the races and in the shop. We race together because we’re buddies. The success is the icing on the cake.
“THEY” want your cam card. Answer: this is one of my favorites. (A cam card tells the specific sizes of your camshaft, which is one of the few variables allowed in our engines.) We certainly are not disclosing that information. And don’t bother asking Doug Holmes which cam we’re running. I BEGGED him years ago to tell me what cam Shawn Muldoon was running, but he wouldn’t have it.
“THEY” don’t think you deserve any success, because you’ve never done anything to support the division. Answer: this is the one that bugs me the most. While I’ve raced this division the better part of 15 years, currently riding 5th in all time points, history will most likely appreciate me more for the publicity I’ve given the division. Through my stories in Gater News, Syracuse Post-Standard, Oswego Speedway Eagle, Gater Blog, etc, people all over the country know many of our names that wouldn’t have heard them otherwise. I recently had a friend get recognized by a security agent when he had to show his driver’s license. “I’ve never met you, but I’ve read about you in J.J. Andrews’ column.” Do I deserve any success or credit for spreading the word on Oswego Speedway and supermodifieds and small block supermodifieds for the better part of two decades?
“THEY” are jealous.
But for the record, for every back-stab I hear about, I get ten positive comments. A lot of friends are having an absolute riot watching Jason and I have so much fun. And a lot of them are new friends and fans. I have had a few people tell me, “I didn’t used to watch them before, but I have become a small block supermodified fan this year following you guys.” There is no better feeling than that. Thank you to everyone that is having fun along with us, and we hope to convert more of you before the season is over. This class really is a great bunch of guys, that work very hard, and we do have a lot of fun together. Maybe some are secretly enjoying seeing me go fast finally.
And to you that aren’t - don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…
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As a driver/owner in the Limited Supermodified division, JJ Andrews covers mostly Oswego Speedway events, from a driver's point of view.