By Brett Bowman
Tribune sports columnist
As hard as it is to believe, when Kokomo’s Jamie Frederickson rolls onto a race track in the coming days, it will mark his 20th year of toiling in a non-wing sprint car.
Entering this season, Frederickson has high hopes as a result of the previous 19 years honing his craft and bettering his equipment.
“This year is pretty much like I am every year,” said Frederickson. “My main goal is that I would really like to pick up a feature win at some time this year. I don’t care where it’s at and how I do it, I just want to win a feature before this year is over.”
His goals are partially attributed to experience gained and some new equipment.
“We finally have gotten some pretty decent equipment under us heading into this season,” he noted. “Now I’ve got an aluminum block Kercher Engine that we couldn’t quite get a handle on last year. We played around some with it late last season but this year hopefully we can put our finger on what to do. I really feel like this year I’ve got the means to be competitive in that the car has a good motor and the equipment is better than I’ve had in the past.”
Unlike too many teams around the pits each race night that roll in with fancy tow rigs and seemingly an endless supply of spare parts and even cars, Frederickson and his family-owned team have gotten everything the old fashioned way — through paying his dues over the years.
“I get asked a lot of times why I don’t do this or do that like some of these young kids coming up. But, the thing I have to keep in my mind all the time I’m on the track is that I can’t really afford to tear anything up on the car or we’re parked until we can come up with the money to get it fixed,” he stated. “It would be easy to go out and take a lot of chances if I had an extra car or parts sitting in the trailer like a lot of these young kids coming up do. That’s just something we’ve never had in all the years I’ve raced.”
It’s not uncommon for Frederickson and his team to take other teams’ used tires and parts and make good use of them.
“We’ve always done that,” he said. “Sometimes a team might only use a right rear tire for one race and ask us if we want it. We will take it and use it the rest of the year. Our operation is pretty much a week-to-week deal. There are nights I have to put the car in the show or we won’t have the money to race the next race.”
Frederickson noted that he has several sponsors on the team, however a lot of those sponsors are swapping services to have their name on the race car.
“We could always use more sponsorship,” he noted. “It would be great if we had a sponsor who could just buy us one right rear tire a month, but nowadays it’s hard to get potential sponsors to jump on board.”
Those helping him with the car include Oddfellows, Kokomo Marina, Padfield’s Auto Body, Pack Rat Storage, Fas-Lube Under Car and Caldwell Monuments.
The name that is emboldened on the side of the hood, however, is Hemophilia of Indiana. That relationship is the team’s charity, as was the Ronald McDonald House two seasons back.
“It is just something we got involved in,” said Frederickson of the charity. “Mike Perigo was the one who got us in with the Ronald McDonald House, but he left and the McDonald House folks opted to go another direction. Then got back with us and told us he was now with Hemophilia of Indiana and they would like to be involved with the team.”
When it doesn’t conflict with his race schedule, Frederickson and his team will tow the car to various charitable functions such as golf outings and charity walks.
When asked if he would change anything over his 20 years wheeling a sprint car, Frederickson noted he was happy with how things have gone.
“From day one, we really had no extra money to throw at the race car,” he stated. “But I’ve always had a lot of fun getting on the track and competing and in the last couple of years I’ve seen us make some big gains. As long as I get the opportunity to get out there and race, well, then I’m happy and I hope in five years we can be talking about me beginning my 25th year.”
Brett Bowman may be reached at email@example.com or through the sports department.