2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Brian Carlson After having a very trying 2007 season that saw him sidelined for a number of races after suffering a leg injury, as well as having engine troubles that forced...
2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Brian Carlson
After having a very trying 2007 season that saw him sidelined for a number of races after suffering a leg injury, as well as having engine troubles that forced him to miss a number of races, Brian Carlson is ready get back on the road and head to Florida to kick off the 2008 campaign and to put last season behind him.
For Carlson the off-season went by quickly this year as it usually does. Not only has he been busy preparing to compete full-time with Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series this year, but he also has been completing a number of jobs for clients of his successful kart engine business, out of his shop in Linden, Indiana.
In just about three weeks, he will take to the track for the first time in the New Year, as the World of Outlaws season kicks off the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park for three consecutive nights of racing, beginning on February 8.
"It seems like we just got back from the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) show in Florida and now its time to head back there again," said Carlson. "We'll get everything together to get down there, and we'll get away from the cold and snow up here in the north and enjoy some summer weather at least for a few days down south."
With around 80 races on the schedule this season, Carlson and his wife Sarah, who is his crew chief, are diligently preparing for the early part of the season that will see them travel to Florida, and then make a stop at Pike County Speedway in Mississippi before heading to the West Coast for a trio of races in California and Arizona. Having completed the full-season with the series in 2006, when he finished a career-best 15th in championship points, as well as competing in a majority of the World of Outlaws schedule last year, Carlson know how important preparation and paying attention to detail is.
"Anybody that is going to run the full Outlaws deal has to have all of their ducks in a row and all of their cars and motors ready before you even pull out of the driveway," he noted. "The way the schedule is, you are not home very much to work on stuff during the week. We're fortunate being from Indiana that we get home more than most teams do. It's a tough deal and when you head out to Florida this year, you will probably be on the road for about five or six weeks."
While he put countless hours in at the shop during the off-season, Carlson made extra time during the holiday's to catch-up with family and friends that he does not get to see him very often during the racing season. Included in this, was a trip back to Western Pennsylvania where he was born and raised.
"We always set aside time in the off-season to be family and get away from the race cars for a bit," Carlson said. "It gives us a break from being in the shop and we get to see a lot of people and that is very important to us. Then you have to get your head back to the grindstone to get back where you need to be for the year coming up."
Carlson sustained the injury to his leg at Lake Ozark Speedway in Missouri last May, and has been working the leg in the off-season to make sure it is at full strength for the upcoming season. In his first race back from the injury last year, he finished fifth in the dash at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Missouri, a track he will return to this season.
"The doctors told me that when I am 70 that I will have arthritis pretty bad and I just kind of laughed and said, 'Tell me someone that is 70 or 75 and doesn't have arthritis,' at least I have a story to go with mine," he smiled. "Everybody in the pit area seems to walk with a little bit of a limp. That's just part of racing and you grow accustomed to it. At least when we get old, we have a story to go with it."
Carlson will continue to add to the list of tracks he has visited during his career this season, with stops at Gillette Thunder Speedway in Wyoming, Dacotah Speedway in North Dakota, Billings Motorsports Park in Montana and Ocean Speedway in California. He enjoys visiting new tracks and feels comfortable with his experience at a variety of tracks across the country, that he can get up to speed pretty quick when he rolls through the gate of a facility he has never seen.
"I think the best thing is to look back at your notes and compare it to a place that you have been that is similar," explained the veteran driver. "We've been pretty successful in the past at going to new places by matching them up to places we have been. We went to Skagit two years ago and were pretty good right out of the box and I had never seen the place. You just have to dig deep into the memory banks to find a place that is similar that you have run before and about the gearing and stagger and those kinds of things. You usually come to a track knowing a good baseline of how you want to set the car up."
While Carlson and his wife Sarah have been working endlessly on the race cars, they also have been putting in extra hours on the business side of the race team, as they continue seeking sponsors for the always demanding World of Outlaws schedule that stretches across ten months of the year.
"We're working on a few deals and have a couple of sponsorship ideas that if one does happen to go through, we will be sitting a whole lot nicer," he said. "If all else fails, we'll keep plugging away like we have for years in the past. For 15 years I have run this thing out of my own pocket and that probably won't change any time soon."