2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Brooke Tatnell Concord, NC -- Feb. 8, 2007 -- One of Brooke Tatnell's favorite phrases is: "There is no I in team." He epitomizes this ideal every time he straps into the cockpit for a night of racing. The native...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Brooke Tatnell
Concord, NC -- Feb. 8, 2007 -- One of Brooke Tatnell's favorite phrases is: "There is no I in team." He epitomizes this ideal every time he straps into the cockpit for a night of racing. The native of San Souci, New South Wales, Australia always credits his team first when he picks up a win. When asked what makes him strong at a particular track or in a particular race, he always stresses that it is the hard work that the crew puts in, giving him a fast car.
Gearing up for the season opening 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park for the World of Outlaws, Tatnell made two trips to his native land over the winter. In his first stint, he won two of the first three rounds for the World Series Sprintcars (WSS), where he is a five-time champion. In his second stint Down Under, he closed the WSS season with a $20,000 win.
"It's definitely an advantage to be able to go down to Australia and race," Tatnell said. "In the days gone by you used to sit around from November until February. We used to always say that the easiest time for an Australian to win races was at the start of the year before the other drivers had been racing. It doesn't matter how hard you work out at the gym, there's a difference between that and racing. I think has been proven time and time again. It gives me a chance also to go home. I miss Australia, and it's definitely good to win races."
For the upcoming World of Outlaws season, Tatnell, has teamed with veteran car owner Larry Woodward, a native of California. Last season, the always well-spoken driver finished sixth in series points, while winning four races for Rush Racing. Unfortunately the team ceased operations during the off-season which left Tatnell searching for a ride before he and Woodward hooked up.
"If someone would have told me three years ago that with the scenario we went through losing rides and just every turning bad on us, I probably would have flipped out," he admitted. "Now having a baby and having the responsibility of everything, I am more relaxed and more adept to changes. For this thing to get put together at this time of the year was a Godsend. It's not easy to put something together at this time of the year, and that's what were able to do. I am very fortunate. I am excited to drive for Larry."
Tatnell knows the team will face an uphill battle as the package came together in December, with the clock ticking very quickly until the 2007 season. One thing the always affable driver was very thankful for was the help of fellow World of Outlaws car owner Dave DeWitt, who in the off-season had purchased assets from Rush Racing, and then sold three of the cars he bought to Woodward's team. Those are the cars that they will start the season off with, and the same machines that won for Tatnell last season.
Another advantage the team will have is that the same crew that was with Tatnell on the road for all of last season will be back this year, led by veteran Crew Chief Troy Renfro.
"I knew we would be a little disorganized and that is why I said to Larry that I wanted to bring my guys as part of the deal," shared Tatnell. "I wanted Troy and Rob with us. That will lead to less trouble for us. We all know how to work together. Larry just stood up and said whatever we need to do, we need to do. That's the way we are approaching it."
With nearly 90 races on the schedule, Tatnell welcomes the added events, but cautions that the crew members are the ones that truly feel the effects of having a larger number of races on the calendar. While he would race every night of the week if he could, he wants to make sure his team is fresh for the entire nine-plus month schedule.
"It's definitely harder on the crews," said the fan favorite. "The crew guys work 360 days a year. That's the reality of it. What the drivers go through is nothing like what the crews, and wives, and girlfriends go through."
With a record number of cars starting the season off with the series, Tatnell knows how vital it will be to have a consistently fast car each night. Last season, he stopped the clocks first six times in time trials. He also won eight dashes to earn just as many pole positions. In addition to this, he was one of only four drivers to lead more than 200 laps on the season.
"Qualifying is going to be essential," he explained. "I think the days of qualifying bad and racing your way to the front like Dale Earnhardt are over. I used to be like Earnhardt and race my butt off from 24th to the Top-five. I'm sorry to say those days are gone. The competition is way too tough, and the equipment is too competitive. There's no secure ride anymore. Owners demand the best, and every crew demands the best from his driver. Every crew chief is looking for the best driver."
With his crew intact from last season, Tatnell knows exactly what the team is capable of this season, despite getting a late start compared to other teams. Renfro and the crew showed just how strong they were last season when Tatnell returned home to be with his father George, while he was battling illness, and the team ran consistently in the Top-10 and picked up a win with Mark Dobmeier filling in at Wilmot (Wisc.) Speedway. While Tatnell was sixth in driver points last season, he is quick to point out that the team was in fifth and that is what matters to him most. They believe they can carry that momentum and camaraderie to Woodward's operation this season.
"I'm demanding that we do not finish outside of the Top-Five," Tatnell said. "I need to win races. We are a Top-Five team, and we are a team that is going to win races."