TJ Hartman Racing News May 10, 2009



TJ Hartman Racing News May 10th, 2009
May 10th, 2009
Author: Ted Hartman


Photo courtesy of The Nicki Factor - TJ hotlapping at the Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA

TJ Hartman Racing - UPDATE - HOW DOES HE DO THAT!!!!

Puyallup, WA - May 9, 2009...

TJ's Grandmother has seen him race before. But those were her words captured on the video camera after she watched TJ qualify fast time with his Wesmar ASCS360 powered Maxim, and then overcome a six car invert and finish more than 2 1/2 seconds ahead of the pole sitter to win the 8 lap heat race on the big 3/8 mile Grays Harbor Raceway. The Emerald Ridge High School Junior looked posed to have a good night in his second night of the 2009 race season, but a mechanical failure while running third in the main event ended a great run.

TJ looked strong right out of the gate Saturday night, and in typical TJ fashion, he lends credit to where its due. "I just felt so comfortable in the car tonight." says TJ. "When you have a car that is working right, and with the power this motor makes, it gets real easy. I had a great car tonight, and everything was just clicking for us. That was definitely the best car I've ever had."

Photo Courtesy of The Nicki Factor - TJ finds the fast line out of turn 4 to set quick time at GHR

The setup for the good run began during the off week caused by too much rain the previous week. TJ picks up the story: "I can't take credit for tonights run. We had some help on setup advice, and I wish we would have found that a year ago. It fit me perfect, and just gave me the confidence I needed to get everything out of the great equipment I have. Axel Walker loaned us his scales, and that gave us some figures to look at. That's how we did things in quartermidgets, and we spent two days just making adjustments and recording what they did to the car."

But without knowing what the team should be looking for, all of those numbers meant little to the fledgling sprint car team. "There is a lot of people who will answer questions" TJ states. "The biggest thing is knowing what to try, and lucky for me, I listened to the right people. Dave Smith gave us some numbers to shoot for and some more advice from another driver made all of the difference. It's cool how you can call people up and they don't hesitate to give advice and help out. It made all the difference for me this week."

Qualifying quick time, winning his heat race, and a 4 pill pulled for the main event inversion would start TJ outside row two for the 25 lap main event. "The track was pretty rough, but we were reading the track really good all night" adds TJ. "We probably had it a little tight to start the main event, but I could tell it was getting better as we went. I got a good start and just started looking for a way to get through the ruts. We had a restart on lap 7, and going into turn three I heard something hit the car and felt it roll over on the right side and I knew we broke the jacobs ladder. So I just moved up high and started to accelerate again but the car acted like it wasn't in gear. I thought maybe we broke the rear end or something, so I just coasted to a stop and they towed me off."

Photo courtesy of The Nicki Factor - Northwest racing legend Dick Wilskey talks with TJ after the race

The jacobs ladder is a vital part of the rear suspension, and keeps the rear end centered in the car. After being towed to the pits, TJ's crew discovered what had rendered the car inoperable. "I took a boulder to the right side of the car, and when it knocked the jacobs ladder off, it took out the shifter cable and knocked it out of gear." TJ says with a surprise. "I was disappointed, because the car was so fast all night. A lot of the racers were coming over after qualifying and telling me good job, and that feels really good. Elma is a tough track to win at because there are a lot of guys who can win any night. JJ (Hickle - the nights eventual winner) came over after the race and said nobody could touch me tonight. He said anybody can qualify fast, but you were fast all night."

TJ also had a visit from someone he looked up to in his childhood. "Dick Wilskey stopped by and said I looked good, and that is a really big compliment. I talked to him one night at Skagit when I was about 7 years old, and I told him someday I would be doing this and maybe driving one of his cars. To have him come over to me, and say good job, felt really nice."

TJ finishes this weeks update: "This was a good week, and I can't wait to drive that car again. I want to ask everyone to keep my crew member Jim in their thoughts. He found out this week he needs to have bypass surgery next week, but he was still in our pits helping out. He even fixed the front wing after it was clobbered by a rock in the heat race. He's always nice to have around in the pits, and I hope his surgery goes good and we get him back soon."

Helpful advice from fellow racers, crew members dedicated beyond the call of duty, compliments from racing legends, and great sponsors all help to keep TJ living his dream of driving sprint cars. TJ Hartman Racing thanks each of you, and sends a reminder to please support those who support us.

Next scheduled stop - Getting back in gear for week 3!

One more lap with TJ - "Advanced Powder Coating in Sumner, Wa is one of our great sponsors. Pat has been with us from the beginning, and they keep lots of blue color in stock just for us! My car shows up great in the pictures, and I owe the great looking colors all to the crew at Advanced Powder Coating. Thank you Pat."

TJ Hartman Racing