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KENTUCKY (1/8/13) - Its eight days in to the New Year… 2013. Are you like racers across the country? Weight loss is your resolution?

For most racing series and divisions that race there is a minimum weight that the car has to race at before and/or after the race. So the cars are built as light as possible and pounds of lead are bolted on to the race car in strategic places to optimize the cars handling.

I tend to remind people ever so often that today’s racing whether it’s at the local short track or the high society cousin called NASCAR that it’s not all that far removed from its historical beginnings when outlaws were running suped up cars on back dirt roads trying to keep out of distance of the law.

So today when teams “cheat” the rules, it’s instinctual.

For years the area most cheated was weight. Technology has gotten far improved and the gray area of rules has grown as to what is and what isn’t allowed as knowledge is gained.

But every year as race cars are prepped in shops… the old weight issue comes up first. It’s the number one goal when the car takes life and each step as it’s prepared for a season of racing, weight loss is the number one focus as each part is added to the car.

But there’s another often unspoken thought that crosses minds. The driver’s weight. Yes folks, secretly your favorite driver’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight… himself.

That little aspect of being able to place the bolt on weight on the race car at the most precise place can make the difference in winning and losing. And yes it makes a difference if the driver sitting in the seat is 5’4” and 100 pounds versus a 7’0 245 pound racer.

So if today’s racing isn’t too far removed from moonshine runners, it’s even closer related to its jockey riding horsemen of old. Yes sir, indeed, racing takes it roots from horse racing.

Jeff Gordon, the wonder boy, as he was referred to when he hit NASCAR didn’t go unnoticed when in the seat of a racecar despite the phone books piled under him to see over the steering wheel as the jokes were told. It had as much to do with the competition advantages he gave the team as much as the competitiveness of his soul. Racing against drivers who were double his size, such as a Buddy Baker or a Jimmy Spencer, Gordon’s team was able to place weight in a better location and it resulted in wins. Maybe it was a small factor, but it helped his performance. Thus it led to an influx of small framed, light-weight drivers. Arrest the current drivers against the old school drivers and you’ll notice the top, winning drivers have become smaller versions of the heroes of old. Tony Stewart excluded, ha ha.

Michael Waltrip complained to NASCAR and a rules change took effect that began to include the driver’s weight in to the equation of minimum weights in NASCAR. Drivers hit the scales at Daytona both in their cars and way before in their tighty-whities.

In 2013 NASCAR with a new bodied car hitting the track with aerodynamic advantages, the weight limit has been adjusted. Cars will weigh 160 pounds lighter than years prior and quietly the driver’s weight issue was adjusted as well.

Car builders will still be required to make sure the driver’s seat area meets a certain weight but it’s less than it was, so look for your next wave of drivers to look even more like horse jockeys than the current crop of racers.

All that said, the local short tracks don’t have the advanced weight rules as NASCAR but minimum weights are enforced. So that weight placement is crucial to the fastest set-up on a race car and even if he hasn’t admitted it or not, your favorite driver’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Let’s cheer him on… LOSE, LOSE, LOSE!

That just seemed so wrong… so, so wrong.

Richard Cunningham is a Madisonville born, Western Kentucky University graduate with some 25 years in the Stock Car Racing PR business. A noted motorsports journalist he publishes several websites including www.KYRacing.com focused on Kentucky motorsports. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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