Like a Nor’ Easter storm sweeping across New England, Dan Winter is ready for his sophomore season in the Amsoil NELCAR Legend Series.
The NELCAR Legends kicks off its race season Saturday, April 21st at Unity Raceway in Unity, Maine. Like most drivers, Dan has spent these winter months getting ready for the 2012 race season. Building a new 1934 Ford coupe legend car as well working on the 1937 Chevy sedan from last season. As the driver of the number 81 legend car explains, “Both cars will be ready within the next week or so. We still have a lot of work to do, but everything is coming together.”
NELCAR has approximately 34 races this season across New England, from Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine, to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. The racing schedule is broken down into 3 different parts. The Thursday Night Thunder (TNT) Series, the NHMS Series which is a combination of 11 races on either the 0.25-mile Mini “Magic Mile” or the full, 1.6-mile road course. As well as the overall Amsoil NELCAR championship, which is a combination of TNT, NHMS, and races from 8 different tracks throughout the northeast. Dan gives his thoughts on the 2012 racing schedule. “I’m excited for it. It’s going to be an intense schedule with racing twice a week during the summer, but we’re ready for it.
“All 3 of the series championships are tough to win in,” said Winter. “To get the NHMS championship, you have to be good on both the oval and the road course, while the TNT championship you have to be consistent each week and there is little time to make up from a bad week. The overall NELCAR championship is also tough to win. The driver that wins it is the best of the best on all the tracks on the NELCAR Tour.”
As a rookie last season racing in the legend car, everything was a learning experience, especially at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Mini “Magic Mile” is almost a D shape with a flat front stretch and an incline banking down the back stretch. The drivers had to make complete changes to set the car up for the road course which is made up of left and right turns, a hairpin turn, and a long straight away down the front stretch. There the cars reach speeds in excess of 100mph. Dan recalls racing at NHMS. “I learned a lot about how to drive the car on both tracks. On both tracks it is very important to not over drive the car. If you slip up a little bit, you lose a lot of time on both the oval and the road course.”
There is a lot of work that goes into setting up the cars for the road course at NHMS. As Dan explains, ”A lot of the front end setup is different between the oval and road course track. But, once you figure out the setup numbers your using, it’s not that bad to switch the cars back and forth between oval and road course.”
When it comes to picking which track he likes best at NHMS it’s a tough decision, as Dan likes the close side by side racing on the oval course, as well as the intricacy and high speeds of the road course. “I’ve always been an oval racer and that’s what comes natural to me. At the beginning of last year I wasn’t looking forward to road racing at all. I thought that it would be something that would be difficult for me, but racing on the road course I’ve learned so much about how to drive the car. It has quickly become one of my favorite races to run and I am looking forward to those four races this year.”
All drivers have a favorite race track and for the “Winter Storm” that track is Star Speedway in Epping, N.H. “I’m looking forward to going back to Star Speedway for the four races on the tour this year. I raced there once in a go-kart and enjoyed it as well as enjoyed racing there in the legends this past year.”
Dan was also recently awarded with the 2011 INEX State Points Champion in the Semi Pro class. “Getting the 2011 Semi Pro State Points Championship was an honor. It was great to see that all of our hard work paid off.”
Just like in every racing series, a lot of support comes from the sponsors. “Without my sponsors for the 2012 season we wouldn’t be able to get to the track each week. I’d like to thank Canobie Lake Park, Vulc-Tech Auto Repair, Salem 66 Autobody, Windham Outdoor Landscape, The Prime Butcher, Skie’s Garden Center and Checkered Flag Indoor Karting. I’d also like to thank my mom and dad for all their help and support throughout my racing career.”