Elder Blaney still racing at 59 HIGH POINT, N.C., (July 8, 1999) Somewhere in the United States, someone Lou Blaney's age might be winning regularly and schooling his younger opponents on the finer points of driving a race car. Through last...
Elder Blaney still racing at 59
HIGH POINT, N.C., (July 8, 1999) Somewhere in the United States, someone Lou Blaney's age might be winning regularly and schooling his younger opponents on the finer points of driving a race car. Through last weekend, though, that driver had not surfaced. At age 59, Blaney is on a tear, whipping DIRT modified peers half his age on a weekly basis with a car design his sons, former Los Angeles Laker Dale and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division star Dave, helped him build during the Christmas, 1998 holidays. Entering the Fourth of July weekend, the elder Blaney had won 11 times in 27 starts (including five in a row through July 2) and had finished second in eight additional races. Now in his fourth racing decade, the elder Blaney competes primarily at regional tracks close to his Hartford, Ohio home such as Lernerville, Pa., Sharon, Pa., and Mercer, Pa.
His father's recent tear has given son Dave substantial pleasure as the latter continues his second season of stock-car schooling with Bill Davis Racing's No. 93 Amoco Pontiac team, a weekly contender in the NASCAR Busch Series this season and a full-time contender for the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Award in 2000.
"My dad still races as hard today as he did 30 years ago and its great to see that he's still running at the front," said Blaney, who will attempt his second NASCAR Winston Cup Series start of 1999 this weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway. "We had some things we wanted to try out with this new car he's running so after our Busch Series season ended last year, I went home in December and Dale and I worked with him to get this car together and see what it would do. It took him a few weeks to sort it out and I don't think he won his first race until mid-May. Lately, he's really been going good. The Amoco team needs to get on that kind of streak."
The vision of the three racing Blaneys working side-by-side in the family shop adjacent to Blaney Lumber Company is not an unfamiliar one. After outstanding high school careers in basketball and baseball, brothers Dale and Dave went separate directions, the former to West Virginia University and the Los Angeles Lakers as a prototype 6' 6" swing guard in the mid-1980s, while older brother Dave started his sprint-car career. Eventually, Dale would also return to motorsports when gimpy knees slowed him a step. Through all the sibling success at various levels of open-wheel racing, the one constant in the family's racing resume is father Lou's consistant curve of short-track success spanning four decades.
"You don't have to be around Lou Blaney very long to realize that the apple really doesn't fall very far from the tree," said car owner Bill Davis. "It s a family of what we call 'racers'. It's what they do. It's what they think. It's why Dave's had such a good experience learning these stock cars after racing for 15 years in the sprint cars.
"Unlike so many of the new drivers we're getting into the sport who just want to climb in and drive, Dave has from the beginning wanted to be in the shop, learning the cars from the ground up. That's the way he learned to race, working in the shop beside his dad and his brother building the cars and understanding why they turn left and go fast. It's a dying breed of driver but there's no replacing that approach to racing knowledge if you want to win. I guess his dad is still beating them every week by working harder at it."
Strangely, it's probably a good thing that Lou Blaney still stays busy racing and winning each weekend. He's really not comfortable watching son Dave on-track despite the dramatic progress he enjoyed in stock cars over the past 17 months, although he was a regular track-side for Dave's World of Outlaws championship-contending seasons between 1993 and '97.
"My dad's proud of all Dale and I have done in sports but I think he's still happiest when he's driving himself," said Blaney, currently ninth in the standings after last weekend's sixth-place finish at Milwaukee -- his fifth top-10 in the last six races.
"And some of the happiest times I've had lately have been the times I've been able to go home, be on his crew and help him race. I guess we've built him a pretty good car. Maybe I've got some crew chief in me somewhere down the road. Of course, I've got a lot of driving to do first."
Source: NASCAR Online