At the track, it’s usually...
At the track, it’s usually pretty easy to find Lumpy, just look for the guy on the scooter.
One area that Lumpy and other Tech Officials are discussing is the future of EFI (electronic fuel injection) engines coming to short track racing. Lumpy already has had some experience with EFI engines during ASA's Free State 500 event back on January 31, 2010 at the Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom, Free State, South Africa (Aug. '11 issue). There were three EFI motors in that race with one of them coming home in Fifth place.
When asked for his thoughts about EFI engines coming into short track racing, Lumpy is pretty optimistic about the impact they will have. "We will see. I have been working with Tim Schwanke for some time on fuel-injected engines. In many cases right now, it is easier to tech than what we currently run," Lumpy explained. "The big reason is the use of the LS series engines and the lack of lightweight exotic components for these engines. The day is coming that we will see this in short track racing. As the engine packages get used in more types of race cars, the parts will also evolve. At this point, it is not a bad deal, just need to have a laptop in hand and go. In the long run, I think it will be a great deal and may even save people money."
Good officiating might start...
Good officiating might start with the Tech Director, but you’ll never get anywhere without a team of officials.
"We put Lumpy in a challenging position with our event in South Africa. That was to create a whole new rules package without any chance of testing in advance," said Dennis Huth, ASA President. "His focus was to make a level playing field and he was given the flexibility to make updates when we were at the track. On race day, we had a very competitive race with many lead changes featuring different engine packages with a great battle to the finish. You could not have asked for more, from your Tech Director."
Key To Success
In order for Lumpy and other Tech Officials to do their job and have that level playing field, they need to have a great relationship with the track/series owners along with a good tech staff. "The big thing is to make sure that promoters have your back on a call. Most tracks and series that I work for, it is my job to explain what the problem is and to suggest a decision as to the severity of the infraction to the promoter.
"The promoter or track owner must work with you and stand behind your findings and rulings. When everyone leaves that night, they are on the same page. They all have the same answers, even if someone does not agree, they must all stay with the same decision that was made on the infraction."
We had to have a little fun with Lumpy so we asked him to pick the best and worst rules he has ever heard. Now, these could be rules that we adopted or ones that were tossed aside. The winner for best rule was the standardization of Late Model bodies through the ABC body program. "It minimizes the aero advantage from one team to another." We all know that tweaking aerodynamics in a rented wind tunnel isn't exactly a cheap endeavor.
Now, for the worst rule, evidentally there was a group that proposed a fuel octane rule. It was designed as a pump-gas-only rule to outlaw race gas, which can be excessively expensive. "The only problem with it was how would you ever police a fuel octane rule? I've got the best at-track fuel testing equipment available--NASCAR-level stuff--and it doesn't show octane."
Finally, we asked what his biggest challenge today is. He quickly answered by saying, "the hardest thing to do is police the crate motor! The cost of the tools, the time to get the knowledge, it's not straightforward at all. Let me put it this way, I have enough expense in tools to tech a crate motor that I could buy a new 604 crate motor!"
Lumpy, like many other Tech Officials, is proud of what he does. He and other Tech Officials can be called the unsung heroes of this sport. He can easily sum up what he and other Tech Officials feel is the important part of their job. "Working with promoters like the Wimmers at State Park Speedway and the Dickinson County Racing Association board at Norway Speedway, tracks, series owners like Tim Olson and Steve Einhuas, and race teams to have a level playing field. There are always haves and have-nots in racing. But you would like to give them all the same chance of winning or racing at their highest level."
Talking with Lumpy is always entertaining, but coming away from the conversation it is clear that Tech Officials who desire respect and, consequently, success must stick with three basic priniciples; write clear rules; enforce those rules uniformly; keep open communication with racers, promoters, and series owners.
By the way, if you were wondering how he got the name Lumpy, just like we were, you might be surprised at the answer. "I don't really know," he quipped. "Maybe because it rhymes with Lempke? All I do know is it came about back in the day when I was traveling around with Trickle"... as in short track legend Dick Trickle.