By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com – When roaming the pit area at Brighton Speedway it is hard to find a happier looking driver than DIRTcar Pro Late Model pilot Corey Earl. The Picton, Ontario native may have a carefree appearance, but he is all business when it comes to being prepared to strap into the racecar. We sat down with Corey to discuss his 2011 season and what it takes on a weekly basis and during the off-season to put his car on the track in this edition of ‘Question Session’.
Hometown: Picton, Ontario
Birthdate: June 30th, 1985
Career: Salesman/Manager, Hotch’s Auto Parts
Years in racing: 7
With a 4th place finish in Late Model points at Brighton Speedway in 2011, how did this line-up with the goals you set prior to the start of the season?
I was hoping for a top 5 finish in the 2011 season so I was happy with the end result. I have to say though that with the results we were having near the end of the season it wouldn’t have hurt my feelings any if there were a couple more races! The top 4 in the Late Model class was very tight this season with just 200 points seperating 1st from 4th so every position you could pick up in a race was that much more important.
What was the one memorable low or disappointing thing in the 2011 season?
The ODLM race at Brighton was probably the low point of the 2011 Season. It seemed like no matter where I went, trouble found me. The car was damaged in the heat race and after a full throttle slog to get it out for the feature I ended up in just about every wreck that happened. It was a very frustrating race. I felt we had a good car, but I just couldn’t get any momentum going and there was a ton of damage to repair to get the car ready for the following week. In fact, we ended up having to put an entirely new body on the car, nothing was salvageable other then the roof!
What was the one memorable high point in 2011?
The last couple weeks of the season in general were amazing. The double win at Applefest was the perfect way to end a great season, but I think the Great Crate Race the week before may have been a more memorable race. After starting 15th we were running in 2nd behind Lee Gill after only 10-15 laps. Unfortunatly the stupid driver (yours truly) got a little ahead of himself early in the race and spun the car, going straight to the back. Luckily the car was probably one of the best I’ve ever driven and would go anywhere on the track so I started the slow march back to the front, and had the laps and the car to do it! By the end of the race I was back up to 4th with barely a mark on the car. By far the most cars I’ve ever passed in a single race and it stands as the high point of 2011.
On a weekly basis do you perform specific checks on the car, or do you concentrate on working on things that may have hurt the way the car performed the last race?
I think the one thing that most people under-estimate when getting into racing is the maintenance that it takes to field a competitive car. It’s whats for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We have a weekly “prep” list which outlines every item that needs to be checked over on the car between race nights and that list is over a page long. Once a crew member or myself finish one item we initial it so we know it’s been done and who did it. I’ll walk you through a typical week that leads up to Saturday night:
Sunday/Monday – Unload car and strip off body, pressure wash car and check over so any needed parts can be ordered.
Tuesday/Wednesday – Repair damage, prep tires, clean air filter, grease car, remove shocks and cycle suspension to check for bent/bound parts.
Thursday – Replace any parts that had been ordered Monday, put body back on car, setup meeting to discuss/make changes for following week and scale the car if changes require it.
Friday/Saturday A.M – Clean and prepare trailer, organize tools, fuel car, fuel generator, load car.
Our focus is mainly on avoiding parts failure, it’s hard to win a race if the car isn’t on the track. If the car is ready to go right from the begining of the night we can concentrate on adjusting the car for current track conditions and keeping up with the changes throughout the night.
Take us through the off season in a sort of timeline on how you went about repairing, rebuilding and preparing for 2012.
This season we got a head start on the re-building process. We went to one race at Fulton Speedway in NY the weekend after Applefest and immidiately stripped the car down to the bare frame. After pressure washing and cleaning the chassis I sent it over to Hellraiser Race Bodies where they put a brand new deck and body on the car in this years colours. APEX graphics stepped their game up yet again and put together what I think is one of my best graphics schemes yet! We got the car back in mid January and have been going over every single part to make sure the car is in like new condition for the begining of the 2012 season. The race shop currently looks like a chop shop! Front suspensions here, rear-ends there, fuel cells opened up for new foam. Engine and transmission sitting on stands, cleaned, freshened and ready for another season of full throttle Late Model action! We have been focusing alot of our time on strategies and new setup ideas for this up coming season.
Whenever we see you in the pits prior to an event you’re smiling. What is it about racing you enjoy the most?
I’m normally a pretty happy guy and it takes quite a bit to get me worked up. If your not enjoying racing, why do it? I love everything about the experience, great people, great fans, great crew and a home track that improves every single year. When I look around and see the state of racing in other provinces and down in the U.S I can’t help but feel pride to be part of a racing movement that is growing by leaps and bounds yearly. Just using the last few years as an example, Late Models have gone from going the way of the dinosaurs to experiencing a full blown ressurection! The family like enviroment is another reason I love racing. In what other sport can you have a rough night, or a bad run and have your competitors drop whatever their doing to come help out and make sure your back on the track in time for the next race?
What do you need to do as a team and a driver to improve in 2012?
As a team we need to focus more on making sure I can communicate properly to my crew to make sure we make the right changes between races. My crew chief and I have a pretty good understanding of each other, but the better you can communicate what the car is doing the better chance you have of making changes in the right direction. The biggest improvement I would like to make to my own driving is patience and consistency. Making sure I hit my marks every lap makes for the best lap times. I feel that I have been improving every year in this regard and I hope to continue that trend this year. Probably my biggest handicap when it comes to Late Models and racing in general is my lack of seat time when compared to my competitors. With this being only my 3rd season in a 4-bar car I still learn something new almost every time I suit up.
What are your plans for 2012 as far as schedule, and do you think your strong showing last year gives you a good shot at the Brighton track Championship in 2012?
2012 is shaping up to be a great looking year. With the World of Outlaw Late Models returning to Canada for at least a couple events and the return of the Great Crate Race at Brighton Speedway the Corey Earl Racing team is looking forward to getting some more big events under our belt. As far as a championship at Brighton goes, I always seem to be in contention, or at least in the top-5, but I think this year we have the tools and the team to pull it all together. Plus, we have the advantage of starting the season with a setup that we know is capable of bringing home the checkers. Time will tell!
Stay tuned for the next edition of “Question Session”. If you are a driver, team member or track official and would like to be considered for an upcoming edition of “Question Session” please CLICK HERE to contact us.