Goforth family making history, raising the bar When Dean and Cary Goforth first rolled out their Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars for the first time back in February, both expected that this would be a banner year for the Goforth Family Racing ...
Goforth family making history, raising the bar
When Dean and Cary Goforth first rolled out their Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars for the first time back in February, both expected that this would be a banner year for the Goforth Family Racing Team.
With Dean in a brand new 2009 Pontiac GXP and Cary taking over the reigns of their '08 Chevrolet Cobalt, it was clear from the start that the pair from Holdenville, Oklahoma was going to make a splash this season and look good doing it.
What wasn't expected, however, was the sudden enormity of their success.
The father and son duo have both visited victory lane this season in IHRA competition -- a rarity in the motorsports world -- and both are comfortably in the top 10 in points with Dean sitting ninth and Cary currently third and right in the thick of the IHRA Elite Motorsports Pro Stock title hunt.
From just hoping to make the show two years ago to having two championship contending cars, the Goforth family has come a long way in a very short period of time.
"To have tried for so long and to be able to do what we have done and accomplish it after years and years of waiting, it has been incredible," Cary recalled. "We have always had that kind of bad luck, that racing luck where hardly anything falls your way. Well, it is nice to finally get that monkey off your back.
"And for both of us to get a win, if you could take that emotion and that feeling and everything that goes along with winning and double it that is basically what you have for us this year.
"A lot of people can't even get one of these things, let alone for you and your dad to do it. That is something that is very special and we are blessed to have accomplished all that we have so far this year."
Cary picked up his first career victory in April winning the sport's oldest race at the Spring Nationals in Rockingham, while Dean followed suite three months later with a win in Grand Bend, Ontario.
Combined the two have been to three final rounds in 2009 and three more finals outside of IHRA competition.
That is quite a feat when you consider the level of competition in Mountain Motor Pro Stock today.
"We are having the time of our life," Dean said. "I have wanted to do what I am doing this year my entire life and I am thankful to God and everybody else who has helped me to get where I am at."
But with sudden success also comes new challenges, and the Oklahoma crew has definitely seen their fair share of that.
While Cary was riding high during the early portion of the season, leading the points via a win and two final round appearances, Dean was simply trying to win rounds and qualify his car in the top half of the field.
In Tulsa, however, things quickly took a turn for the worst.
Both cars suffered first round losses in front of their home crowd and Cary, failing to make the semifinals for the first time all season, saw his points lead vanish as he dropped to third in the standings.
Clearly heading in the wrong direction, the pair had nearly a month to get things straightened out before returning to the track in mid-July at the MOPAR Canadian Nationals in Grand Bend, Ontario.
And it was at that race that the winds of fortune quickly shifted in favor of the elder Goforth.
With Cary still struggling, suffering his second consecutive first round defeat, Dean hit on something that even his crew found a bit baffling.
"It is nice when all of your hard work finally pays off, especially when you just want to throw your hands up and say I give up. Saturday night at Grand Bend was one of those nights," Cary said. "The night before the race we had a motor go south in dads car and we had to put a backup motor in and we felt it was a good piece, but it had a lot of runs on it.
"It was raining, everyone was tired and I was thinking that this is all just a waste of time. And then we go out and dad wins the race. I guess that is why we put ourselves through all of this."
Dean survived what will without a doubt go down as the most unexpected victory in drag racing history, not because the upsets, but by how he won those races.
Dean pulled off a shocking upset of Pete Berner in the first round, winning by an unheard of .0000 second margin of victory, and then pulled a perfect light in a semifinal victory over Richard Freeman.
He then beat John Montecalvo in the final, all from the 13th qualifying position in a car that spent nearly every run weaving from side to side down the racetrack.
In short, Dean simply willed himself to his first career victory.
"It was a weekend I won't soon forget," Dean recalled. "It is wonderful to get a win in the same class as some of the guys that we compete with. We have been watching Pete Berner for five years now and have become really good friends. John Montecalvo, Frank Gugliotta -- they are all great drivers.
"It is good to think you can go up there and do what they are doing and then to realize that you can, and for a long time I didn't think that we could, is just incredible. To be able to go at it at 65 years old and feel like you can drive as good as the rest is pretty good."
"It is not like someone just handed it to him, he had to take the reigns and really fight that car," Cary added. "He really earned that win."
Despite riding a tremendous high following the win, the pair simply fell flat in Martin two weeks later as neither car qualified well and both suffered early exits.
Now it is back to the drawing board with three races remaining in the IHRA Elite Motorsports Pro Stock season.
"First it was dads car, it would show a little promise here and there, but it had some issues being a new car and we almost gave up on it. Then, after getting his car straightened out, it was my car," Cary said. "We fell into some mechanical issues with my car and, while there is never a good time for problems, mine couldn't have come at a worst time.
"We ran into some clutch problems in Grand Bend that actually started in Dallas and nothing has been right since. Finally, over the course of the last four weeks, we have changed just about everything and finally got the car fixed.
"While it seemed like we couldn't get both cars running well at the same time, right now we finally have both running where we knew they could be."
Still, despite having both cars back up to speed, it appears the damage has already been done.
Cary has dropped from first to third over the last four races while point leader Frank Gugliotta has won two of those events. Cary now finds himself 95 points back of the lead with three races remaining.
"With the way Frank is running right now it probably cost us a championship," Cary said. "Still, I expect when you see us the next time we won't be qualifying in the back of the pack. We have everything lined up now and we have fought really hard to fix these things.
"The only thing we can do now is be as competitive as we can for the rest of the year and accumulate as many points as we can and see where this thing takes us. The championship is still a goal of mine and will continue to be a goal of mine through this year and next and we aren't going to stop fighting for it.
"There are three races left and a lot can happen."
While the team plans to do a couple of extra races between now and the next race, a mid-September date in New Hampshire, Cary and Dean remain focused on getting their car ready for the Amalie Oil North American Nationals presented by Dodge at New England Dragway next month.
Not only will Cary be trying to put himself back into championship form, but both drivers will also be looking to remain in contention for the eight-car Elite Motorsports Elite Eight Pro Stock Shootout which is scheduled to be run in late September at the IHRA President's Cup Nationals in Maryland.
The winner will take home their share of a $40,000 purse up for grabs in Budds Creek.
Despite all of the hardships and triumphs packed into the past six months, neither Cary nor Dean would trade anything in the world for the year they have had.
"If we don't win a championship this year I will still say it was a successful year," Cary said. "I just thank the good Lord we have a bunch of hard working guys putting this thing together and getting it down the track.
"I have been asked a million times if I was happier winning or watching dad win and I have to say it is a tie. We root for each other, so it comes natural to be excited when each other does well. And for both of us to get our first victories in the same year, it means everything."
Dean reiterated his son's thoughts, adding only one thing.
"If only I could have done this 50 years ago. I would have loved to have had this kind of season 50 years ago," Dean said. "This has been an incredible year and we plan on running just as hard next year as we did this year.
"This is only the beginning for the Goforths."