We recently sat down with AMSOIL Maintenance Technician (Buildings and Grounds) Justin Madsen, a championship-winning dirt-track racer, to dig into the racing scene and provide some tips for people interested in getting started.
What tips do you have for someone interested in getting into racing?
While it is fairly easy to get into racing, I would use caution about jumping in with two feet. There is a learning curve and a lot more goes into racing a car than simply strapping in and smashing the gas. Racing takes time and practice – the more seat time you can get, the better you will become. To get the best deal on a car and spare parts, shop around online and reach out to racers in the class your looking to get into. Don’t forget about a truck and trailer!
What have you learned along the way?
Since I began racing six years ago, I’ve learned advanced vehicle maintenance and auto body tricks. I’ve also learned about track conditions and how to make adjustments to the car to prepare for the changes throughout the night. Although every race is a competition, the respect and sportsmanship we have as racers is so important. We keep our problems on the track and maintain a professional relationship.
What is one thing you wish you had known from the start?
That it takes a whole lot more than just a big engine to win. In fact, I’ve been more successful with an engine that didn’t put out the highest horsepower. I’ve found that good tire work and the proper shocks have helped me more than anything else.
What modifications have you done to your car?
I have a 1985 Buick Regal with the following:
- Standard-bore 305 built by Troy’s Shop racing engines
- Vortec pistons
- Iskenderian camshaft fueled by a Quardrajet carb that was built and tuned by Performance Specialists
- Moog springs with Billstein shocks
My transmission is a turbo 350 that was built by AMSOIL racer Darrell Nelson.
Any final thoughts?
It takes a lot of time, effort and money to keep a car running at its max potential. Having a good crew to help is essential; I am fortunate enough to work with my friends or family, which makes it more enjoyable.
Check out Justin’s Company of Enthusiasts video below. Of racing, he says, “It’s loud and fast. You’re side-by-side with other cars. You’re sliding, you’re drifting. You’re trying to control the out-of-control. It’s a rush.”
Since we shot this video, Justin bought a 1985 Buick Regal and switched to the Wissota Pure Stock class. The move has been successful for Justin, as he won a track championship at St. Croix Speedway, in Wisconsin; took third at AMSOIL Speedway, in Superior, Wis.; was ranked second in the state of Wisconsin and ranked eighth in the nation.
Congrats to Justin on his success!