This Week in Ford Racing June 7, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rick Crawford, driver of the No. 14 Ford F-150, is scheduled to make his 207th consecutive Craftsman Truck Series start this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, and over...
This Week in Ford Racing
June 7, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Rick Crawford, driver of the No. 14 Ford F-150, is scheduled to make his 207th consecutive Craftsman Truck Series start this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, and over the course of that eight-year streak, Crawford's truck series owner, Tom Mitchell, has yet to attend a race. Mitchell owns and operates the Circle Bar Truck Corral and Circle Bar Motel and RV Park located off of Interstate 10 in Ozona, Texas, but has an extensive history in racing that includes multiple Indianapolis 500 starts with driver Chet Fillip. Crawford discussed the unique relationship he has with his truck series owner and the origins of Circle Bar Racing.
RICK CRAWFORD-No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150
DO YOU CONSIDER TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY TO BE THE TEAM'S HOME TRACK? "If you're talking hometown, then it's Charlotte because the race shop and a lot of the employees are located there. I can look out of my office window and see Lowe's Motor Speedway, so that's what I'd call home, but if you consider Texas, that's home for the owner and his family, so that the team's home track."
DO YOU PUT A LITTLE EXTRA EMPHASIS ON TEXAS WITH THE RACE BEING HELD IN THE BOSS' BACKYARD? "Always. You've heard the old saying that we're going to throw everything at it including the kitchen sink, and it's a lot like going to Daytona. Daytona is our biggest race of the year and we've tasted victory there, and I want the best piece I've got in the shop at Daytona. We put a lot of emphasis on Daytona. Focus and priority is on every race, but there are races with added importance. All of them are important, but there are some that are more important than others and Charlotte comes to mind, and, of course, Texas."
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE CIRCLE BAR BUSINESS? "The original Circle Bar business in Texas was a livestock corral. It used to be a ranching company that raised cattle and then it grew into the Circle Bar Truck Corral. Circle Bar Truck Corral was the original name for truck stop, and it was a haven for truckers going across West Texas. It was basically the only place to stop between San Antonio and El Paso. It's been in business for over 25 years, and grew to include Circle Bar Motel & RV Park, which funded the racing business for the last 10 years. It's a nice hotel on the same grounds as the truck stop with a nice concrete patch for the RVs to spend a night on, and there's also museum of racing that includes Mr. Mitchell's memorabilia and toys. This year we sorta had a change of direction at Circle Bar, and now we're going back to the original name of the truck corral."
HOW DID A MAN FROM OZONA, TEXAS, BECOME INVOLVED IN RACING? "Franz Weiss with VDS Engines in Midland, Texas, was involved with Jim Hall and the Chaparral, and when the boss ran the Cosworth back at Indy in the early 80s, Franz did some engine work and development with the Indy car for Mr. Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell's fascination with speed came back in the '40s. He has been involved with racing and performance cars with Ford since he was able to drive a vehicle. Driving the Circle Bar F-150 for Mr. Mitchell has been quite and honor, but it's only a small part of Circle Bar's racing history because he's been involved with the sport and performance vehicles since he was able to drive."
DO YOU HAVE REGULAR PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH TOM MITCHELL TO DISCUSS THE RACING BUSINESS? "We had one yesterday and I've come to the realization that if you want to feel good about what you're doing - and I recognize that we really have been running good this year, but our results are not there - there is no better boss than Mr. Mitchell. Kevin 'Cowboy' Starland (crew chief) and me were talking about that this morning, but if you want a reality check and you want to see how good you really are, talk to Mr. Mitchell on Monday morning. He puts everything into perspective and he makes you feel good. He's proud about his product on the race track. He's proud about his race team and he knows we're working hard for results, and he knows we're trying to work very efficiently to get them. What a boss and what a family to drive for."
SOME NASCAR OWNERS ARE AT THE TRACK EVERY WEEK WATCHING OVER THEIR TEAMS. IS IT EASIER WORKING FOR AN OWNER WHO IS NEVER IN ATTENDANCE? "I don't think we have as much pressure on us from our boss or our home office. As far as Rick Crawford is concerned - the manager/driver of this race team - we try to conduct our business as if Mr., Mitchell is here. If he was to come to a race, and that would surprise me, but I believe he would be proud that we're conducting business as if he's here. I've done that from day one because I have the utmost respect, friendship and honor for Mr. Mitchell."
BESIDES THE WEEKLY CONFERENCE CALL, HOW ELSE DOES TOM MITCHELL STAY ABREAST OF HIS RACING INVESTMENT? "Although he's not at the track, he knows everything that's going on with his team. He's got Speed Channel at home and at work, he has XM satellite radio and he has family and friends that go to the track on a regular basis that keep him informed. If that's not enough, he also follows it on the Internet with NASCAR.com, FordRacing.com and TruckSeries.com. He's very proud of his race team, but he also knows what it's doing. When I call him on Monday morning for our weekly conference call sometimes he can relate to me what we've done right or what we're doing wrong and what we need to do to fix it."