2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Dion Hindi Norman, OK--Nov. 13, 2006 -- After finishing off the 2005 season as part of Donny Schatz's crew, Dion Hindi was anxious and more than ready to get back behind the wheel of his always popular bright...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Dion Hindi
Norman, OK--Nov. 13, 2006 -- After finishing off the 2005 season as part of Donny Schatz's crew, Dion Hindi was anxious and more than ready to get back behind the wheel of his always popular bright neon yellow sprint car.
Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the fan favorite set out in February to embark on the full World of Outlaws Sprint Series schedule. He only made it back to his shop twice during the season, but adapted very well to be on the road again and quickly showed he would be a force on the track.
When the dust settled on the season, Hindi found himself solidly in the 12th spot in the championship standings. He picked up eight top-10 finishes, including a season best sixth-place run at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway in July, after winning his first dash of the season to earn the pole position in the A-Feature.
Prior to this, he scored his first Top-10 finish of the campaign on May 20 at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway and followed that up with another strong run on Memorial Day at the sprawling Orange County Fair Speedway in New York. Hindi's success in the Empire State continued with a seventh-place finish at Lebanon Valley Speedway in July, showing he would be strong on the big tracks as well as the bullrings which he was used to running on.
During the Gold Rush Tour in the middle of August, the team hit its stride, with Hindi recording back-to-back Top-10's at tracks he was visiting for the first time. He was eighth at Black Hills (S.D.) Speedway and bettered that with a sixth-place run at Nodak (N.D.) Speedway two nights later. He wrapped up the Gold Rush Tour at the beginning of September with a solid sixth-place finish on the first night of the Harvest Classic at Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway, on a night that saw him win the dash to earn his second pole position of the season.
"We made it through the year," said a smiling Hindi, driver of the RealTruck.com J&J. "We had some ups and downs. I was not exactly happy with everything, but we are pleased with some things. We know what we have to work on for next year. That is kind of what I knew going into this year, learning what aspects we had to improve on. Now I know more than I did at the beginning of the year."
Hindi, who is one of the most hands-on drivers in the pit area, took great pride in helping his team adapt to operating out of their truck and trailer, while many of the other teams had the luxury of returning to their shops multiple times over the course of the season.
"The biggest adjustment we had to make was being away from home and not getting behind on our parts and motors and everything else," he commented. "I knew of all the logistics going in, but it was kind of a re-awakening about the logistical aspects of it as far having all of your ducks in a row, so to speak."
While Hindi was winning plenty of races in the Southwest over the last couple of years, he knew it would take some adapting to get used to some of the set-ups that it took to be fast night in and night with the World of Outlaws. Hindi used every opportunity he could to work on different set-ups and observed what other teams were doing in the pit area.
"Helping Donny (Schatz) at the end of last season (2005) did help me get ready to be on the road again full-time," explained Hindi. "I learned what the cars were doing compared to what they were doing 10 years ago, and even what they were doing back home versus what they are doing out here. We run a whole bunch of different combinations that we would have ever imagined. I learned a lot of that from last year, being with Donny and Ricky (Warner.)."
Hindi had many strong runs this season cut short by bad luck. One night it was a wing collapsing, while on other nights, it was a tire going down, or getting caught up in someone else's accidents. Through it all he remained optimistic and continued to work hard night in and night out.
"Some of it (bad luck) was self-inflicted and some of it was not," recalled Hindi. "We had some parts failures that were disappointing. We could see steady improvement as the year went on, and now at the end of the year, I can see where the changes we made during the year helped."
One of the highlights of the season for the always well-spoken driver was setting fast time at the famed Williams Grove Speedway on May 27. Being one of the first drivers out for his two laps on the unique half-mile, Hindi had to endure 40 other cars taking to the track before he could celebrate his accomplishment.
"I didn't ever think I would do that (set fast time) at Williams Grove," a proud Hindi said. "Of all the places in the country, that is one of the hardest to consistently get around, let alone be fast in qualifying. We were lucky enough to do that one night."
Hindi also had the chance during the season to hone his skills behind the microphone. For the second straight year he joined World of Outlaws Announcer John Gibson in the booth during the first night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar (Calif.) Speedway. Hindi provided color commentary for the DirtVision Webcast as well as the Dirt Radio Network broadcast. Also, at the Knoxville Nationals, he served as a pit reporter for American Dirt Network during one of the qualifying nights.
After criss-crossing the county, Hindi had one of his shortest trips of the year following the season finale in Las Vegas, as he journeyed back home and to his shop. With the clock ticking away toward the 2007 season, Hindi is busy preparing as he looks to build on the consistent season he had this year, and improve on his 12th place finish in the standings.
"We'll spend the off-season rebuilding stuff," he said. "We have our parts and cars ordered and we'll get everything in a line and organized. That will help us to not get behind halfway through the year like we were this year."
Next Up: The series of season reviews for the Top-15 in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues with Randy Hannagan.