Chuck Etchells Joliet Preview

ETCHELLS TO COMBINE BUSINESS WITH BUSINESS AT ROUTE 66 Putnam, Conn., May 20, 1998 - Chuck Etchells is quite literally a man of two worlds. On one side, he is recognized as the president and owner of Union Roto Engravers, a multi-million dollar...

ETCHELLS TO COMBINE BUSINESS WITH BUSINESS AT ROUTE 66

Putnam, Conn., May 20, 1998 - Chuck Etchells is quite literally a man of two worlds. On one side, he is recognized as the president and owner of Union Roto Engravers, a multi-million dollar international engraving company serving the wallcovering industry. On the other side, he is the well-known owner and driver of the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Nitro Funny Car, which has been one of the most consistent performers in the division over the last decade. Two businesses, both extremely successful, and, up until this week, totally separate. However, at the inaugural Fram Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Illinois, Etchells' two worlds will momentarily converge as some of his most important customers from his engraving business will attend their first NHRA national event to see what their business associate does in his spare time.

"It is very, very exciting for everyone involved to be coming to the Chicagoland area," stated Etchells. "It is a huge market with a tremendous motorsports fan base that is very loyal to the companies that support racing teams. I'm thrilled we're making this move, and hope it signals the start of expansion in other areas of the country, which will benefit the teams, sponsors and fans. One of our primary responsibilities as racers is to represent our sponsors. Entering new areas, such as we are doing this weekend, adds value to our programs, and helps sell our sponsors' products. The media response to this race has already been outstanding, and the event is already sold out. It doesn't get much better than that!"

Chuck Etchells sees the NHRA's first visit to the Chicago area as an opportunity to educate his engraving company customers about his racing business. The Windy City's location makes it central to the wall-covering industry, and many of his customers will be in attendance throughout the weekend. Expected guests include Mr. George Warner, whose father founded the Warner Company in the 1900's, and John Taylor of Taylor Wallcovering, which is based in Joliet, home to the Route 66 facility. There will also be representatives from Mokena Mills in Chicago, who have just entered the segment of the market serviced by Etchells' company. These organizations have been tremendous supporters of Union Roto-Graving for many years, yet have never had the chance until now to experience Etchells' "other" business.

"It's funny, because I have had concerns expressed by customers in the wallcovering industry, who think money from the engraving company is used to support a hobby, but nothing could be further from the truth" explained Etchells. "As a matter of fact, unlike some of my competitors, I do not have a yacht, fly an airplane, or belong to an expensive club. When I'm not working at the engraving company, I concentrate on running our race team, which is a full-time, serious, for-profit operation, totally separate from Union Roto. We put 100% effort in making both businesses successful. Neither company is in a financial position to carry the other. This weekend's event will allow me to show them what drag racing is all about!

"Not that Etchells has forgotten the importance of this event to his race team. When the teams pull into the Route 66 Raceway they will be faced with a totally level playing field, as none of the nitro-burning contingent have made a single pass down the Joliet strip. As a brand new facility, competitors will hope for a good, finely structured surface, which will allow for the maximum tire contact area. This in turn will result in better performance throughout the entire quarter-mile, and fewer engine explosions and oil downs due to lost traction. The Etchells crew enters the Illinois event in second place in the Winston points standings, 99 markers behind current leader John Force. Although they would naturally prefer to be in the lead or nearer the top, they are heartened by being the closest of all pursuers with the smallest separation ever at this point of the season. In addition, their Camaro Z28 has shown great promise, and their parts inventory remains strong.

"We are confident that our car will be as good as anyone's throughout the season," said Etchells. "Our main concern right now is to avoid burning pistons early in the run. Although the damage doesn't show its ugly head until 1,000 feet, we're pretty sure it happens within the first 100 feet. That's hurt us in qualifying, which has cost us some valuable points. Knowing the General (co-crew chief Tim Richards), he and the team are hard at work trying to fix whatever's wrong, which will make us even tougher. This Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Racing team sees this race as any other, and has the same goal -qualify well, advance rounds on Sunday, and leave with the winner's trophy."

Looking at their results to date, it's a pretty safe bet they'll do just that.

ETCHELLS EXCERPTS: Etchells is in second place in the Winston Funny Car Points standings, 99 points out of the lead.....Chuck is looking for his third win of the season.

Fast Facts

WHAT: Inaugural Fram Route 66 Nationals, the ninth of 22 events on the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule.

WHEN: May 28-31, 1998

WHERE: Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Illinois

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start on Friday, May 29 at 3:00 p.m., with another session at 7:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, May 30 with two rounds at 11:00 and 3:00 p.m.. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May31.

TV: TNN will provide live final round coverage from 6-8 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, May 31 As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Chuck Etchells , John Taylor , Tim Richards