Brooklyn, Mich. - Few weekends have passed from the time that NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division driver Tim Fedewa was born that he hasn't been to the racetrack. His parents, Butch and Sharon, wrapped him up in a blanket and took him...
Brooklyn, Mich. - Few weekends have passed from the time that NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division driver Tim Fedewa was born that he hasn't been to the racetrack.
His parents, Butch and Sharon, wrapped him up in a blanket and took him to the track just a couple of weeks after he was born. So it's fair to say that Fedewa's been going to the races since before he can remember. In the 33 years that Fedewa's been going to the races, he's seen a lot change. The car's have gotten better. The speeds have gotten faster. The tracks have gotten bigger and the sport has grown tremendously. But it's what has stayed the same that has had the most impact on Fedewa and his career. In his nearly 20-year racing career, two people have been a constant - his dad, Butch, and his current car chief, Bryan Smith. "Dad and Bryan have been with me every step of the way," Tim said. "I remember hanging out in the garage when we were kids. We'd pretend we were the race car drivers, and we would talk about being on a race team when we were older."
As a kid, Tim followed his dad to the tracks in Michigan and around the Midwest every weekend. Butch raced supermodifieds, sprint cars, midgets and late models. Butch's crew chief was Darryl Smith, Bryan's dad. "Tim and Bryan have been going to the track together since they were in diapers," said Butch Fedewa. "They grew up in the garage and the pits, so I think we always knew that one day we would be following them to the race track." Tim and Bryan palled around both at the track and away from it. The two also lived in the same neighborhood - only a few blocks from each other - in Holt, Michigan. "They had a lot of fun together," Butch Fedewa laughs. "I could tell a lot of stories about the two of them and what all they got into, but they really were two of the best kids around." Although Butch says he always knew that his son would be a race car driver, he wouldn't let Tim race until he had explored all the options available to him. It was during Tim's senior year of high school that Butch finally agreed to get his son a race car.
"We went and bought a car, put together a crew and Timmy started racing," Butch said. The crew consisted of Bryan, Scott Diehl (now Winston Cup driver Tony Stewart's car chief), and several more of Tim's high school friends. Tim and his team traveled together for several years with the Artgo Series and ASA. Tim captured several victories and championships before the doors opened for him in 1993, and he landed a ride in the Busch Series. Most of Tim's crew made the move to North Carolina and NASCAR with him. Now, eight years later, Tim and Bryan are still traveling to the race track together each weekend. There's only been one year that the two weren't together, and that was the 1999 season when Tim moved to the Stanley Racing team and Cicci-Welliver Racing.
"Last year was tough because they weren't together. Bryan has been so important to Tim during his career," Butch said. "He provides that comfort zone that you need when you're in such a high pressure situation. The two have been together so long - Tim trusts Bryan because Bryan knows him inside and out. He knows what Tim's thinking and feeling and vice versa. "Tim's comfortable with him. He knows that when he gets in the car, he's safe if Bryan's there."
Said Tim, "Having Bryan around makes it easier for me. He has been my best friend forever, and he's gotten me in and out of all kinds of situations. "You won't find the kind of connection that we have on a lot of other teams because we have such a long history. He knows what to say and boosts my confidence when things aren't so great. And I can't wait to celebrate with him when things are good. But most of all, Bryan has always been straight with me, and I respect that and our relationship more than anything." This weekend, Tim and Bryan are returning to their racing roots and Michigan Speedway.
"This is the most important race all year for me. We have the fan club meeting here after the race, and so many of my friends and family come out just for this event," Tim said. "Last year was really tough on me emotionally, because I didn't make the field in front of my hometown crowd. That won't happen again. I have confidence in this Stanley team, and I'm looking forward to going home.
"This time, I'll guarantee there will be better results."