Packs Make Southern Modified Tour A Family Tradition
by:Jason Mitchell NASCAR/PR
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will return to action this Friday night in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour 150 at the famed Caraway Speedway after taking its annual ‘Spring Break.'
As the cars and stars of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour return to action at the .455-mile short track, so too will the father and son combination of veteran Gene Pack and his 34-year-old son, Brian. When the green flag drops at 8 p.m., Brian will be behind the wheel of the No. 81 B&J Builders Chevrolet while his father will pilot the No. 31 B&J Builders Chevrolet.
The two Packs are two of the most comical figures in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour garage area, a firm focus on winning races and being competitive, but not to the point of letting bad racing luck on the Tour keep them from laughing and joking around.
For now the focus of Pack and the other competitors is on the track.
“I'm ready to get back to racing because it's been a while since we've had a Whelen Southern Modified Tour race,” Gene Pack said. “Most of us have been busy racing at Bowman-Gray (Stadium), but I like traveling around to all the different tracks like we do on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. We'll race at Caraway this Friday night, then we go back to racing at Bowman-Gray for a while until the Tour's schedule picks up and we go back to racing most every weekend.
“As far as our break in the schedule goes for us as a team, it really was a needed break because it gave us a chance to evaluate where we are as a team because we just had bad racing luck to start the season off. It gave us a chance to step back and catch our breath and see where we stand. We've gone over some things as a team that caused us some problems earlier in the season.
“It really was a needed break for me and Brian. So now we're looking forward about getting another one of these Whelen Southern Modified Tour races under our belt.”
The youngest of the Pack racing family agrees that he's also eager about Friday night's 150-lapper at Caraway.
“It's been a long break but I think we really needed it to regroup after the way we started the season off,” Brian Pack said. “We're looking forward to going back to Whelen Southern Modified Tour racing this Friday night at Caraway. I think we're going to both do pretty good. It's just a matter of hoping the cars will stay together and we can get a little good luck going on our side. I really do think we're going to have at least a top-5 car on Friday night at Caraway."
The first three races of the 2008 Whelen Southern Modified Tour season have been tough for the Packs, with Brian Pack sitting 14th in the point standings and Gene Pack in 17th.
Both of the Packs will be in search of their first Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory, a goal both have worked tirelessly for through three plus years of the Tour under the NASCAR banner.
“It would be tremendous to finally win one of these,” Gene Pack said. “We've won these modified races before, but not since it went under NASCAR sanction in 2005. To finally win one of these Tour races would be just tremendous to me and Brian both because we've worked hard for the last several years but just haven't been able to get over that hump just yet. I feel like that day will come, it's just a matter of when.”
Gene Pack said it would actually mean more to him to see Brian win a race than it would for himself.
“I'm more proud of what Brian has done by winning races at Bowman-Gray than any victory I've ever had myself,” Gene Pack said. “After he won those races, I never went to Victory Lane – that was his time to shine in the spotlight and not my time.
“I kind of keep my emotions to myself but I'm pretty sure he knows how proud I am of him and all he's done in both racing and life.”
Brian Pack showed his appreciation last year when he arrived at a late-season Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Caraway last season with a special sticker that said ‘Thank You Daddy' on the roof of his car.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” Gene Pack said. “I got a little emotional the first time I saw it and I still get that same way every time I look at it until this day. Before every race I will walk up to Brian and tell him to have a safe race and mostly to enjoy himself.”
Brian Pack said he was a bit surprised by his dad's reaction to the sticker.
“To see dad get emotional was something new because he doesn't really show a lot of emotion too often. I was glad to see the look on his face the first time he saw it. My dad does everything for me.”
Brian Pack said it would mean the world to him to capture his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory.
“That's why we show up every race,” Brian Pack said. “If we didn't think we could win, we wouldn't bother showing up. We don't spend the money on racing that a lot of the other teams do. We don't have our motors freshened up all the time, and a lot of the other teams practice on new tires more than we do. We work hard with what we've got and it's just a lot of fun.”
Both Packs laugh when asked if the two have ever had any on-track incidents in their years of racing together.
“Oh yeah,” Gene Pack said. “Our wives and family give us a hard time and tell us we race harder against each other than we do anybody else. It's always been very competitive between the two of us. We've been mad at each other before because of racing. I remember back at the Stadium a few years ago in a Sportsman race when he was running second and I called him on the radio when we were under caution. I was running third and told him I'd call him back when I was going to take off, and if I was going high or low.
“Of course, I didn't, and I got about a 10-car length jump on him and beat him for second – Brian wasn't too happy with me on that one. He didn't stay mad at me for too long.”
Brian Pack remembers another Saturday night at Bowman-Gray all too well.
“Dad was running for the championship and I was young and wanting to win,” Brian Pack said. “Before I got out of the car, Dad was at my window net telling me I needed to get out of his way. Now it's nothing like that because he worries more about helping my racing career more than he does his own. I think racing has brought our whole family closer together.”
So what does it mean for the eldest of the Packs to be able to race against his son on a weekly basis?'
“I've been asked that question so many times,” Gene Pack said with a laugh. “It's more of a pleasure than anything else being able to watch my son in something like racing because both of us love it so much. It makes it fun to see how much Brian enjoys racing. It's really become a close family thing between us. I've been racing for over 30 years and Brian probably started racing go-karts more than 20 years ago.
“Racing has always been an important part of Brian's life. I could tell racing was something Brian wanted to do since he was a kid because he never really cared about the stick-and-ball sports like football or baseball.
“Brian was probably nine or ten years old when he first started watching me race at Bowman-Gray, really got into it, and knew what was going on. I'd be working on the car in the garage and he'd come in and work with me. We got him started on a little go-kart and he's never wanted to quit.”
Brian Pack agrees with the assessment of his father.
“It's pretty neat because when we go to the track, we always park our haulers beside each other,” Brian Pack said. “I just think it's really cool to race against my dad because he's my hero. It's just an honor for me to be out there racing with my dad.
“As long as racing continues to be a fun and family atmosphere for me, I'm going to keep on doing it. Dad and I usually qualify pretty close to one another so that makes it interesting. We make our little bet on who's going to beat who in the races. It's enjoyable for me.”
Plenty To Keep Drivers Occupied During Summer Break
Friday night's race at Caraway Speedway will be the first for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour since April 19. But that doesn't mean that the drivers haven't been busy at the track.
Teenager Andy Seuss traveled to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown , New Jersey two weeks ago, where the driver of the No. 47 Advance Auto Parts/Q Racing Oil Dodge, was a special guest of NHRA Nitro Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon who was competing in the NHRA Super Nationals.
And this past weekend, Seuss was back behind the wheel in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He started 35th after rain washed out qualifying, and wound up finishing 18th in the New England 100.
Seuss was not the only NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver to make the trek north.
Brian Loftin, who has a win in three Southern starts, had the best performance with an 11th place finish after coming up from a 35th-placestarting spot. And defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion and current standings leader L.W. Miller overcame an early penalty to finish 19th.
Many of the drivers kept busy during the break racing at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem (N.C.), the longest running weekly track in NASCAR.
Tim Brown holds a slim 18-point lead over Burt Myers. Brown has three wins and Myers two. Bobby Hutchens is fourth in points, followed by fellow tour competitor Brian Pack. Brown set the track qualifying record in the Stadium's season opener May 3, but Myers won the race. Hutchens has also collected a victory this season.
Brown is also fourth in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina standings, while Myers is sixth.
Bowman Gray is celebrating its 60th anniversary and will be hosting the next NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race Aug. 2.
The Race: Whelen Southern Modified Tour 150
The Place: Caraway (N.C.) Speedway
The Date: July 4, 2008
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .455-mile paved oval
Race Purse: $25,920
2007 Winner: L.W. Miller
2007 Pole: Burt Myers
Whelen Southern Modified Tour standings
Rank Driver Points
1 L.W. Miller 506
2 Ronnie Silk 470
3 Brian Loftin 547
4 Frank Fleming 441
5 Jason Myers 433
6 Brian King 419
7 Tim Brown 418
8 Burt Myers 408
9 Andy Seuss 404
10 G. Brunnhoelzl 363
Schedule: Saturday: Practice 4:00-4:45 p.m., Time Trials 6:30 p.m.
Track Contact: Renee Hackett(336) 629-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org
•The race: This event is the 4th of 11 races on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour schedule. It is the third of six races in 2008 at Caraway Speedway.
•The procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining two spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (68.25 miles).
• Caraway History : There have been 19 Whelen Southern Modified Tour races at Caraway Speedway and L.W. Miller leads all drivers with six victories. Brian Loftin and Junior Miller each have five wins. Ted Christopher has two victories, while Burt Myers has made one trip to Victory Lane at Caraway.
• Caraway Pole Winners: Burt Myers leads all Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers in qualifying at Caraway Speedway. Myers has won seven Coors Light Pole Awards at the .455-mile track, while Jay Hedgecock has been the fastest qualifier on four different occasions. Brian Loftin and Junior Miller each have three poles, while Tim Brown has two pole positions
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Special Awards Standings
COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD
Tim Brown 1
L.W. Miller 1
Burt Myers 1
SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE RACE AWARD
Scott Rigney 2
Buddy Emory 1
FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER
Burt Myers 1
Andy Seuss 1
Thomas Stinson 1
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE
Jay Mize 1
Scott Rigney 1
Andy Seuss 1
2008 SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS
1. Scott Rigney 27
2. Rich Kuiken Jr. 26
3. Buddy Emory 18
4. Scott Brewer 9