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In the Driver's Seat

douglas-mod

Lives in: El Cajon, California

Car number: 56

Doug Carpenter's first race car was a 1967 Dodge station wagon. That was the car he drove when he first started competing in run-what-you-brung match races at Cloverleaf Speedway, a quarter-mile oval in Cleveland, Ohio, that closed late in 1990.

douglas-mod-2 Doug Carpenter's first race car was a 1967 Dodge station wagon. That was the car he drove when he first started competing in run-what-you-brung match races at Cloverleaf Speedway, a quarter-mile oval in Cleveland, Ohio, that closed late in 1990."

The last three guys would get trophies and I always seemed to miss by one place," Carpenter said. "But I beat a Corvette once. Actually, he beat himself. I drove into Turn 3 so hard I lost control. I started sliding but I didn't let off the gas and he was so afraid I was going to run into him that he jumped on the throttle so hard he spun himself out."

Carpenter said he was about 18 or 19 then. When he was 20 he built his first car, won his first race and got his first sponsor. But in the process of taking the car to the sponsor the car got wrecked because, as Carpenter remembers it, "I went into a ditch to avoid a hay baler and when I came up out of the ditch I went straight across the street and hit a tree."

That mishap left Carpenter with two cars, a 1969 AMC Javelin and a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass with no reverse gear. So he turned the Javelin into a race car, drove the Oldsmobile to work and made sure he parked so he never had to back up, and quietly launched a racing career he wants to continue as long as possible.

Carpenter, who moved to California to stay in 1980, raced at South Bay Speedway during the Chula Vista, California, track's final season and was a regular at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon, competing in the Street Stock and Grand American Modified divisions, until that track closed in 2004. Then he joined the Lucas Oil Modified Series, which has a race schedule and financial structure tailor-made for Carpenter and others who race with limited budgets.

Carpenter said promoter Greg Scheidecker, race director Bill Rozhon and the other series officials "put on a great show. Those guys know what they're doing and they treat people right. You can't please everyone all the time, but you can make them know that they're being treated right. They're always doing a lot to try to get us more tow money (from the race tracks) and that helps a lot. Without the money they give us we wouldn't make a lot of the shows."

Carpenter never has missed a show. The 56-year-old resident of El Cajon, California, is the only driver who has competed in every event the series has run since its inception in 2006. He has finished outside the top 10 in the Hoosier Tire West point standings only twice in those eight seasons and is fifth on the all-time money-winnings list despite the limited resources and a heavy work schedule as a fleet mechanic in San Diego.

"Carpenter's crew consists of himself and friend and co-worker Doug Kerste, and their work load usually prevents them from taking part in the Friday evening practices that precede every race. That means race day is usually a scramble – "We get there and sometimes we're pretty far off (on the setup)and we're just barely getting close come time for the main event," Carpenter said – and makes their performances more impressive, but not completely satisfying.

"It's a little bit frustrating," Carpenter said. "I'd like to win some races, but the competition is very stiff and I don't have the resources a lot of the others have. I don't buy tires every race.

"What we're doing on a limited budget is pretty darn good, I guess. That's what everybody tells me, and really I know it is. But it's still nice to hear."

DOUG CARPENTER AT A GLANCE

Age: 56 (10 March 1957)

Lives in: El Cajon, California

Marital status: Single; two children

Occupation: Fleet mechanic

Car number: 3

Type of chassis: STR

Engine: Chevrolet

Crew Chief: Doug Kerste

Sponsors: Pro Gear, Sunoco, Team RBK, NAPA Auto Parts, Snap-On Tools, Arce Engines, OB Custom Tees

Years in racing: 38

Divisions raced: Street Stock, Late Model, Dwarf Cars, Grand American Modifieds, Lucas Oil Modifieds

Series point standings: 9 (2007); 10 (2008); 7 (2009); 12 (2010); 6 (2011); 10 (2012); 11 (2013)

Tracks

Havasu 95 SpeedwayHavasu 95 Speedway
Irwindale Event CenterIrwindale Event Center
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas Motor Speedway
Madera SpeedwayMadera Speedway
Rocky Mountain RacewayRocky Mountain Raceway
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In the Driver's Seat

MICHAEL MITCHELL

Michael Mitchell

Lives in: Loomis, California
Car number: 77

Mike Mitchell got interested in racing when he was a boy. His dad owned race cars that others drove for him and to Mitchell it looked like something he’d like to try when he got old enough. By that time, however, his father had quit racing, so Mitchell turned to other things in his life.

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