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Man makes foray into racing circuit at 81 Speedway

Staff writer

Peabody resident Todd Woodruff’s auto racing career has been years in the making. Either a few years or 24, depending how you look at it.

“I’ve been watching racing since I was in diapers,” he said. “It’s always been something I wanted to do.”

The culmination of a quarter-century of longing was Saturday, when Woodruff, 26, participated in his first modified class racing event at 81 Speedway in Park City.

In his first race, Woodruff surged to third place before spinning out on his final lap. He began the main event in eighth place and was able to procure a sixth-place finish despite early brake troubles.

“I think a top 10 would have been real pleasing, so sixth is definitely somewhere to work forward from,” Woodruff said.

Woodruff’s foray into racing was a deviation from a demolition derby career, which he said he’d done since he could drive. He got tired of putting work into cars only to wreck them in competitions, he said.

A few years back, he sold all his demo derby parts.

“I had enough for basically two full cars,” he said. “Between the two engines I had, special derby tires, drive lines, that kind of thing, I was able to get a good amount for it.”

He saved more money and bought a Dirt Works chassis and got to tuning up his first racing machine.

He’s since put in a new transmission and a new engine. The car runs off pure alcohol, he said. At six to eight thousand RPMs, it does between 70 and 75 on corners and 80 to 90 on straightaways.

“On dirt, that’s pretty fast,” Woodruff said.

Woodruff has gotten a lot of support from friends and family in his racing endeavors. Near the rear of his car, he’s put a sticker thanking, in a list, “Dad, Jeff, Mom, Harold, and Johnny,” friends and family of his. He said his in-laws have been instrumental in his ability to maintain cars and his son, Knox, and wife, Traci, have put up with his hobby as well.

“(Traci has) known I wanted to do it,” he said. “She doesn’t complain when I’m out for hours in the garage working on the car.”

Inside the garage is where most of Woodruff’s time goes, but the most memorable experiences are those on the track. After he bought the car, he was eager to test it out.

“That was the biggest question,” he said. “Can I drive it?”

Woodruff took his ride out for practices at 81 Speedway.

“It costs $10 to practice on the track,” he said. “You can never have more fun in your life for 10 bucks.”

He discovered at those practices his need for new parts and got his car ready for Saturday.

He’s excited to enter into the realm of auto racing because he doesn’t know of anyone else in Peabody who does it. He hopes to receive support from the community and would welcome anyone to watch him compete and talk with him after the races. He also said he would be interested in sponsorships from local businesses.

“I’ve got a little sponsorship money already from Precise Racing Products,” he said. “That’s how some guys make it in racing, through sponsorships.”

Woodruff said some racers are affluent enough to not worry about affording the hobby, but he’s not one of them. He’s worked hard to pave his way, he said, and gotten help from his friends.

He acknowledged that it isn’t typically a profitable hobby, but said it’s well worth it.

“The feeling when you’re going 90 miles an hour on the dirt track, man, it’s something else,” he said.

Woodruff showed off his car’s engine, a 383 small block Chevrolet build, that sounded like a drumroll of thunderclaps.

“I could listen to that sound all day,” he said.

Last modified April 29, 2015

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