---- — A year ago, during the three-day Sprint Car Smackdown for the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series at the Kokomo Speedway, Kokomo’s Josh Spencer passed more cars than any other driver all weekend.
Sadly though, he failed to make the feature in any of the three feature events.
That fact is one of the motivating factors this year for the Taylor High School special education teacher.
“We have the tires mounted and the motor problems are all fixed so we’re ready to go,” said Spencer after putting the finishing touches on his race car in anticipation of tonight’s opening round. “Last year was definitely strange for us. We passed more cars than any other car but we didn’t make the feature once. That’s a testament to just how important when you qualify and how you qualify and the quality of teams that are out there to win.”
When Spencer recounts his 2013 campaign to this point, the phrase “up and down” would be an understatement.
He was leading the points battle at Gas City while running second in the title hunt at the local oval until June 16. It was on that night at Kokomo that Spencer flipped his Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery/Colescott’s Mobil 1 Express No. 66J hard in turn one, destroying his car and that, coupled with his recovery from injuries sustained in the crash, thwarted his title hopes at both tracks.
“Racing is the one sport that a person can be on top of the world one day, then have your dreams shattered a day later,” he said with a chuckle. “Looking back on that crash, it was just one of those things. Up to that point we were having a great season, but since that crash it set our motor program back trying to figure out what was wrong with it.
“But I’™ve been truly blessed,” he continued. “The motor is back and running right again and we got the car put back together and I’m here in good health with the opportunity to race at my favorite track in a huge event.”
When pressed about the magnitude of tonight’s show, Spencer noted he and his team are looking at it as just another race — albeit a very big three-day show.
“With coming up short last year even though we had three strong runs, we are just focusing on making it into the feature,” he stated. “We know it’s going to be three nights of racing with the best in the business and running for big money.”
Both tonight’s and Friday’s features pay $5,000 to win while any driver cracking the lineup in Saturday’s feature will earn nearly as much as they would if they won any other night and $10,000 is up for grabs to the winner. Spencer noted that as much as he would like the money, it’s not the driving force behind him this weekend.
“With my family’s history out there [Kokomo] and as much as I love that track, I would be just as happy to win a feature if it only paid $50 to win, just to say I won one at Kokomo. The money would be great too, but just to know I won a feature at the track I’ve grown up at means more to me than the money.”
Brett Bowman covers the Kokomo Speedway for the Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.