Diary of a race team: ParkerStores crew, week four

Diary of the ParkerStores crew Road to the Money From Terre Haute to Knoxville Nationals Week Four From the conclusion of the World of Outlaws event at Terre Haute, Indiana on July 13, 2003 through the drop of the final checkered flag at the ...

Diary of the ParkerStores crew
Road to the Money
From Terre Haute to Knoxville Nationals
Week Four

From the conclusion of the World of Outlaws event at Terre Haute, Indiana on July 13, 2003 through the drop of the final checkered flag at the 2003 Knoxville Nationals, we will be bringing you a peek into the life on the road to the money with the crew of the ParkerStores #15 Winged Sprint car driven by Donny Schatz. The nomads responsible for the winning cars Schatz pilots to win after win are Crew Chief - Tyler Swank; Tire Specialist - Chad Lambert and Keith Giles, Schatz's Crew Chief when he is showing his winning ways during the off season in Australia.

EVERYWHERE, U.S.A. ~ August 11, 2003 ~

Dear Diary:

MONDAY, AUGUST 4 ~ We started the day early with the cleanup routine and engine swap. We put the engine in the car we will run at Hartford and got the one crated that is going back to Shaver today. After we got all of our cleanup and reorganization finished, we headed back down the highway 175 miles to O'Hare Airport in Chicago. We dropped off the crate being shipped back to Shaver but the one that was supposed to be there waiting for us didn't arrive as of yet.

Since we don't race until Wednesday in Michigan and we have to pick up the engine tomorrow, we found a hotel in the Chicago area tonight.

After a nice, relaxing dinner then a trip to a sports bar to watch Monday night football, we went to the room and long conversations with family and friends before we settled in for a good night's rest.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 5 ~ Today was laundry day and clean out the tractor. I know I have said this before, but I would rather change the motors ten times than go to the laundromat but it has to be done.

The engine that was supposed to arrive at O'Hare for us yesterday arrived today so we had to make another trip to the shipping company at O'Hare to pick up the engine for the Big One at Eldora.

Since it is only about 140 miles from where we are in Chicago to the track in Hartford, MI, we will make the trip tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6 ~ After the final check of the car for tonight's race, we headed north to the Hartford, MI track to do battle again. It was a reasonably short trip so we had time for a good lunch and still got to the track early but it is nice to have time to talk to guys on the other traveling crews just to catch up on all the news, or mostly the latest gossip.

We were really strong again tonight but had to settle for second behind Brian Paulus because Donny lost the brakes in the car on the final lap and had to scrub off speed in the corners with his line. Paulus got by us on the final corner of the last lap. Still, we were there and strong so that is a good omen for this weekend in Eldora.

After a trip to the car wash to get everything cleaned up and got the transporter ready to head for Ohio. We stayed near the Hartford track tonight rather than head the 250 miles or so to the hotel in Sidney, OH near Eldora Speedway.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 7 ~ We did just an initial check of the car and transporter before loading up and heading to the hotel in Sidney, OH. We have an appearance for ParkerStores tomorrow in Englewood, OH so we wanted to make sure everything was as well prepared as possible so we can head right to the track from the appearance.

We drove to Sidney, got checked in the hotel and finished our pre-race preparation.

Part of the responsibility of the road crew is to make sure everything is spic and span before an appearance so once we made sure the car was 100% for the race tomorrow night, we went through the tractor/trailer cleaning and checking one more time.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 8 ~ Donny arrived this morning in time to ride with us to the appearance. We only had to travel 45 minutes from our hotel to just outside Dayton, OH.

It is always a rewarding to show off the car, the transporter and all of the components to the team at an appearance to a group connected in some manner with ParkerStores. They are proud of their participation in the team and they enjoy having the opportunity to see everything up close and then come to the races when we are in their neighborhood.

The Night Before the Big One is over and we are heading to the car wash but everyone is quiet and subdued. Going for the lead on lap 12, the rearend let go in the car and that was the end of the night for us. The car was so fast, and it would handle anywhere Donny needed to go with it on the track.

Darn it, Donny and I had talked about changing out the rearend and we decided to do it for the Big One Saturday night. Well, hindsight is 20/20 and in the future, instead of just talking about it, we will change it. We will just have to get them tomorrow night.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 9 ~ I think we changed everything on the car except the number and the stripes for tonight's race. I am glad we went to the car wash and got that part of the process out of the way last night on the way back from the track so we could focus on the preparation of the car for tonight's race. It was a coupler that let go in the rearend.

When we leave the track tonight, we will head back to Fargo, after we get the car and transporter all washed and hopefully have a reason to celebrate just a little, to get the car ready for Knoxville. Won't arrive until late Sunday night because it is over 950 miles. Since Donny qualifies on Wednesday night, we need to have everything completely ready and the transporter loaded by Tuesday night so we can be on the road very early on Wednesday because it is 520 miles from Fargo to Knoxville. But right now, we have a big race ahead of us tonight so that is where we need to be focused with our total concentration.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 10 ~ We are stopped to refuel and catch some breakfast but still somewhat shocked by another mechanical failure last night. With two laps to go, the rearend locked up again and took the engine with it this time while we were running fifth. I don't think we had the winning car because the right rear tire we put on wasn't coming to the track like we thought it would, but we were set for another top-five finish.

We didn't bother to try and find out exactly what caused the failure in the new rearend we had put in yesterday morning but just get everything cleaned up and loaded so we could hit the road for the trip to Fargo.

Two nights in a row having major mechanical failures is just so uncharacteristic for this team and not a habit I want to continue.

It just makes us more determined to have everything as perfect as possible for Knoxville.

After breakfast, it is my turn to sleep and Chad's turn to drive. Thank goodness.

Guess we will see you in Knoxville.... the ParkerStores crew.

Be part of something big

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Donny Schatz , Brian Paulus