Working in crowded conditions,...
Working in crowded conditions, the crew takes about eight hours per car to convert it from oval to road course configuration, and do the routine maintenance to ready it for another day of racing.
Because Evans owns the cars and his team prepares them, "we avoid the tech line trauma" of other series.
Evans says he's a stickler for fielding clean looking cars in the series.
"We don't put drivers out in cars that look like they've been trashed," he says. "That's not the image we want."
Drivers who run the entire year are expected to come up with some sort of sponsorship, even if it's their own company.
And here's where things get a bit different.
To ensure no one has an unfair advantage, drivers will do a random pill draw for their car each week. That means it's possible that on any weekend, the "John Smith's Pharmacy" Ford may be driven by Mary Jones, while Smith drives the "Mary Jones House of Intimate Apparel" Chevrolet.
So, deal with it. Three weeks after the Portland school, the cars were at the bullring at Roseburg, where GASS was among the opening acts for the NASCAR Camping World West Series.
Driving skill and talent in the field were widespread and Evans didn't want anyone so intimidated on the track that he or she made a costly mistake. He told the flagman that every time the lead car was ready to pass the last car, he should throw a caution and bunch the group up again.
That left fans in the stands confused about what was going on down on the track.
"For them it looked a bit odd," Evans says, "but my goal was to give these guys some on-track experience and to have them bring the cars back in one piece."
Coaches watched the action during the multiple practice sessions and gave suggestions to drivers after each one. Drivers also gathered in a group to compare notes and download their experiences.
A pair of GASS cars battle...
A pair of GASS cars battle for track position as they power through the third turn of the Douglas County Speedway at Roseburg, Oregon. Drivers say the cars are precise and predictable, though plenty fast enough to get someone in trouble.
"No one feels they have to do something stupid to prove their manliness," White says. "People drive as fast as they feel they can. After each session, we all talk about what we did and how it worked and learn from one another.
"After each session, I went to the driving coach and talked about how I could do a better job."
Evans hired Ross Thompson to work with the drivers. Thompson is an experienced driving coach, with a background that includes racing sports cars at Daytona, driving for the factory Porsche team, working as an instructor at the Bob Bondurant driving school, competing in the Trans-Am series and racing in the NASCAR Elite and Grand National divisions along with a handful of starts in the Craftsman Truck Series.
While White says he was comfortable early on the road course, he found the oval intimidating.
"That concrete wall comes up awfully fast. There is room to make a mistake on the road course, but on the oval the level of concentration is at 100 percent the entire time.
"Most of us are willing to push the car, but I'm not willing to push so hard I wreck it," he says.
Drivers are responsible for any damage to the car or equipment.
"If the car just disappears, if it is wrecked so badly there is nothing, absolutely nothing we can salvage, the total bill is $55,000," Evans says. "That's the cost to build a new one.
"So far the biggest bill was for about $4,800 and that was major bodywork," he adds. "If a car comes in with just minor bumps and bruises, we do the work and don't worry about it much."
But bodywork is about the only thing he doesn't worry about. Evans recognizes the uniqueness of what he's doing makes it a risk. He also knows that's the element that may make it successful.
He's got a lot of money invested in cars, engines, transporters, safety gear, and crew.
"He's a tough, intelligent businessman who gets things done," says Culver, a longtime friend. "If there's anyone who can make this happen, it will be Chris."