Canandaigua Motorsports Park
Hauler woes plague Eckert on northern swing
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (June 26) — The World of Outlaws Late Model Series trek through Canada and upstate New York has been an utter nightmare for Rick Eckert.
It began on a sour note when he suffered terminal engine problems during time trials on Friday night at Quebec's Autodrome Granby — forcing him to pull out his second car, and leaving him with just a smaller 380 cubic inch engine as a backup — and just got worse after he departed the track following a ninth-place finish.
Eckert headed straight for Cornwall, Ontario, after Friday's action and he got there, albeit not in good shape. The transmission in his big orange Freightliner hauler began acting up during the two-and-a-half-hour trip and went completely south as he approached the highway exit to a truck stop just miles from Cornwall Motor Speedway.
Tim Fuller stopped to assist Eckert and was in the process of attaching a chain from his rig to Eckert's to pull Eckert to the truck stop when Eckert's tranny clicked back into gear, allowing him to limp into the nearby parking lot.
After unhooking his trailer at the truck stop Saturday morning, Eckert ran his truck in second gear to a Freightliner dealer a few miles away. He helped an employee at the dealership work on the faulty tranny, but an immediate fix couldn't be made. A part that could hopefully solve the problem was located at another dealer, but that business was several hours away toward Toronto, so Eckert had to figure out a way to get it back to Cornwall.
He was able to locate someone from the Niagara Falls area who was traveling to Brighton Speedway, about three hours south of Cornwall, on Saturday night, so that person picked up the part en route and handed it off to WoO rookie Bub McCool, who accompanied Chub Frank to Brighton to run a special match race against four of the track's Dirt Late Model regulars.
Eckert's trailer was transported to the Cornwall pit area on Saturday by WoO rookie Jack Sullivan, who unhooked his trailer at the truck stop. Eckert and his crew were able to borrow a truck from Luc Lalancette, whose Total Race Supply business is located just outside Cornwall, in order to go out for dinner on Saturday night and get to their hauler, which was stuck in reverse gear in the Freightliner parking lot, to spend the night.
After Cornwall's Sunday-night show was rained out, Eckert stayed in Canada and had the part McCool brought him put on his truck on Monday morning. Eckert was able to drive the hauler back to the track to retrieve his trailer, but tranny woes resurfaced as he left the speedway and a high-powered pickup truck pulled him back to the Freightliner dealer.
Another tranny reset got him going and he crossed back into New York, but the transmission went haywire again on Route 37 south of Massena and Eckert had to carefully roll along in high gear. He had to stop on Interstate 81 twice more to make temporary repairs before arriving at a Freightliner dealer in Syracuse, N.Y., on Monday night.
With over $2,000 in repairs already invested, Eckert was told that his hauler would need a new computer that would likely double his financial outlay. That part could take anywhere from a day to a month to arrive, however, so Eckert was left wondering what to do next.
His immediate project was getting his trailer to Canandaigua for Tuesday’s race. He accomplished that by borrowing a three-axle semi-truck from Tracey Road Equipment, thanks to some assistance from Gypsum Racing team owner John Wight, a big customer of the Syracuse Freightliner dealer. Only two people could fit in the truck's cab, though, so Eckert had to rent a car to get his wife and second crew member to the track.
Although Eckert was able to race at Canandaigua, the tour's current second-place points man still has to figure out his plan for the upcoming events. If the part to get his truck running doesn't come in by Wednesday to get the rig running correctly, he'll need to arrange a way to get his racing equipment to Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., for this weekend's Firecracker 100 and transport the necessary tires from his York, Pa., shop to Lernerville. Beyond that, the six-race WoO Wild West Tour looms from July 6-14.