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The Shakedown - Interview with David Hance

Tim: So Dave, for the people who don’t know your background in drag racing fill in the readers.  

Dave: Like many drag racers, I got my start street racing in Brooklyn & Queens. I started racing street bikes. I lived in the era of the Ninja & GSX bikes, and it was an exciting time.  When the bike scene started to quiet down in the early 90's, I got into racing fast street cars. One day I got smart and decided to simply "take it to the track" where it was safer with no risk of going to jail. Of course we had lots to learn but over time we got the hang of track drag racing.  

    I attended the Orlando World Street Nationals and some other fastest street car stuff as a crew guy and really learned a lot. In early 2000 we entered 10.5 with a Chevy-2 Nova and spent three years getting our butt kicked.  We then purchased our first turbo charged Mustang from Chuck Fest of Tampa, Florida and the turbo era began.  At that time there were not many turbo cars around so we struggled to learn stuff but over time the technology came around to the point where turbo cars are the power adder of choice today.

   In 2006 we won the NMRA 10.5 series championship, the Atco 10.5 series championship and also the E’town Ultra Quick 8 Outlaw championship. It was a great year! We also were the second car to run in the 6's on 10.5's. 

    We sold the 10.5 car and moved on to both Drag Radial and Pro Mod.  Despite not spending lots of time on the Drag Radial program, we had some success and ran the first ever 6 second pass on drag radials. We also believe our 6 second pass was the first for a car without wheelie bars.

   As for the Pro Mod, we have struggled and to date, have not run any respectable numbers but hoping that will change in the coming months.  We decided not to race any full series for 2011 and will sit out most of the year due to slow downs in business.

At this moment both our Pro Mod and our Drag Radial cars are for sale.  
 


Tim: Well let’s get started with the Shakedown at E’town. What gave you the idea of putting on this race for the first time?  

Dave: At the conclusion of the 2002 E’town Ultra Quick 8 series many of the teams that raced discussed having an "outlaw" style run what ya brung race. You must keep in mind back in those days there were a million rules. You were limited to 1 NOS system and even the NOS line size was regulated!  We were only allowed to run 94mm turbos and had to weigh 3,400lbs!  All this while our brothers running in the ORSCA programs in the south had run what ya brung programs and everybody loved it. So we raised a few bucks through sponsors, I put in some money and we had an "Outlaw Quick 8" program with 12 cars.

   The fans loved it, the racers loved it, the smack talk was at an all time high and sponsors seemed to like it, too.  Year two came and we added a few more classes and had over 400 cars attend. We were over-run and had to really organize it better.  During that second year Tim Lynch/Steve Petty ran the first ever 6 second 10.5 pass, and it was the shot heard around the world. That 6 second pass really put Shakedown at E’town on the map. Every year since then every record in every class has been set and re-set!


Tim: Where do you see this race headed in the coming years?

Dave: The race continues to grow and evolve.  For 2011 we plan on having an X275 class in an effort to give the fans and racers what they want.  Our mainstay classes will always be Outlaw 10.5 & Pro Mod. Drag Radial & the 8.50 Index type classes are very popular now and need to be part of the show.  The Shakedown at E’town race has survived some scary economic times so we are hoping times will change for the better allowing for more growth and greater attendance.
 

Tim: There have been some rumors going around about this year’s Shakedown at E’town event being run 1/8th mile. Can you clear that up for everyone the best you can?

Dave: Yes, please allow me to clear up the confusion on this issue.  Every year we debate the 1/8 mile vs. 1/4 mile issue. For 2011 the Shakedown at E’town race will be run 1/4 mile. You can make a great case for both and perhaps one day Shakedown at E’town may switch to an 1/8 mile format but not yet.  Again, we will be running 1/4 mile!


Tim: The Shakedown Palm Beach event came out to be a pretty good race so is this going to be something the racers and fan can look forward to happening again in 2012?

Dave: The Shakedown Palm Beach race was very cool.  Despite the event basically getting rained out and being run on a make up day, we had lots of fun and learned a few things along the way.  For those keeping score we lost more $$ on that race than we ever made on all the other Shakedown at E’town events combined. Putting races on is fun & exciting, but we must also realize there are big financial risks involved and that is not a laughing matter. To think that hundreds of hours of labor putting a race together can be wasted if a few rain clouds hit your event is very nerve racking.

 

Tim: Now let’s talk Drag Radial! What is your take on what’s been going on in the class as far as rules and ET's the cars are running now?  

Dave: Drag Radial is an amazing class that has experienced an explosion of growth and popularity over the last three years. Drag Radial and True 10.5 stuff have come a long way and now have become the main draw at a lot of races.  The birth of the X275 class has helped keep things interesting, and it gives a home to teams that don't have mega motor budgets. Outlaw Drag Radial really gives a rise to my fries watching guys like Wolfe, Major, Nelson, Vrettos, Carter, Kolivas, Hinzman, Mustang Mike, Fiscus, Berry/Dillard, Jackson, and several others do their magic on the track. When all of these names are at the track at the same time, it becomes hard to find a seat in the stands and even harder to find a spot on the fence. Trust me. I'm usually looking for a spot on the fence when theses guys come up to run!

Tim: After becoming the first person to run in the 6's on drag radials, where do you see the class going as far as 1/4 mile racing?  

Dave: To be perfectly honest I don't like to run 1/4 mile with our Drag Radial car.  Yes, we run our Shakedown at E’town event 1/4 mile, but the one regret I have with doing that is I'm not comfortable running 225 mph and faster at 3,350lbs. I hate to admit it, but I'm somewhat scared/nervous doing so. I do expect to see a Drag Radial car run 230 mph sometime in 2011, and that is just mind boggling.


Tim: After making the switch to Pro Mod, which is the baddest class in all of drag racing IMO, where do you see yourself going with the 57 Chevy? 

Dave: I started out racing fast street-bikes and that is where the name "Cycle Dave" came from. Since then I've raced Nitrous and Turbo 10.5 cars, Pro 5.0 cars in NMRA & Fun Ford, Outlaw 10.5, Drag Radial, Extreme 10.5 and now Pro Mod. I feel I've had some success in every one of those classes except for Pro Mod. I now own the Pro Mod three years and still have not once run a respectable ET or MPH. It is frustrating, and we don't have the budget to continue much longer. I feel today we are soooo close to running a 5.99 pass but may never see the day it happens. To answer your question - I'm licensed in Alcohol Funny Car, and three years ago I made license passes in Paul Smith’s Nitro Funny Car. Nitro Funny car IMO is the baddest class in the world, and that’s where I'd love to be one day!


Tim: I know you read on the internet like we all do about tracks having problems getting racers to show up in some classes. What do you think as a promoter can be done to get the racers back out with the economic trends we are seeing now?

Dave: I'm not sure a promoter can control what is going on. As promoters we are battling several giant issues such as the economy, high fuel costs, too many races/choices, which waters everything down, difficulty in obtaining sponsorships and teams needing bigger budgets to be competitive.  I personally promote rivalries. I believe drag racing, grudge racing and even street racing has all been built on wanting to go out there and kick some a$$. At Shakedown at E’town for the last few years, it’s always been about Mobley vs Lynch or Glidden vs Lynch or Al Anabi vs Halsey. Rivalries make everything interesting and generates buzz. Without it, things are just weak and you’re doomed to a "flat" event. Oh did I mention Sexton and Ulsch are blowing the doors off Lynch & Petty come Oct 7th??  LOL.



Tim: What’s going to be the next big thing "that lasts for sometime" in drag racing in the heads up classes?  

Dave: I believe the next shot heard around the world will be an Outlaw 10.5 car running a 5 second pass! And if I had to bet who would run it, my money would be on a Vette from Georgia!


Tim: With all the races this season, which almost seems like every other weekend, do you think the racers are getting spread too thin to keep competing?

Dave: From a racer’s view point it’s great to have so many choices, but I would have to agree a downside to having so many races is competition does suffer a bit.  I say let the business of racing take its course, and if a race is weak it will not last.  


Tim: After racing in a number of different classes, what is Dave Hance's favorite class to race?

Dave: That’s a tough one, but here it is - the Drag Radial class is awesome but as I've said it scares me. The Pro Mod class is nice, but I'm NOT competitive at the moment. I dream of Nitro Funny Car but can't afford it. So I must say, if given the chance, Outlaw 10.5 would be my class of choice.


Tim: Some have called you the Promoter of the Year the past few seasons. With all the "promoters" out there these days how does doing the two Shakedown events stack up to what these others are doing?

Dave: I don't believe we are worthy of any awards. When you cite the Shakedown events, you must keep certain items in mind. I have a great team behind me. Michelle Marchese, Eddie Krawiec, Quick Vandiver, the entire Napp family, the awesome staff at E'town, the awesome facility that is E'town, the awesome racers that show up, our generous sponsors and the fabulous media people, who have supported us for nine straight years all make it happen. I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time when the northeast was hungry for outlaw type heads up racing, which was already happening in the southeast.  I would also like to credit Mr. Joe Malazzo of the Florida Keys (Elias Delatorre 10.5 crew chief on the Hurricane car) for coming up with the catchy Shakedown at E’town name.
 
  As for other promoters I have to tip my hat to Donald & Amanda Long, Denny Savage and all the folks at Bradenton Motorsports Park for creating wonderful events from scratch.  I have big respect for Mike Hill and all he has done for Automatic Pro Mods, Mel at the PSCA has done an awesome job on the west coast, the Weisenger family of Orlando have survived in this tough business for almost two decades, which deserves big respect, Jim Halsey & Dave O'Donnell have done an awesome job with the Cecil County Saturday night Street Car Shootout shows, Monty Mikho & Jimmy Biggs did a great job bringing us the Yellowbullet Nationals, which will get better every year. Great minds produce great racing events, and a big thank you to all of them.

       

Tim: Outlaw 10.5 has all but died out in the southeast but has grown in the northeast. What do you think could be done to keep the class around for some time to come?  

Dave: There is no easy fix. Without the necessary sponsor dollars tracks cannot put up the necessary purse money to attract most 10.5 teams, which results in teams racing closer to home and not traveling much.  I feel 10.5 is making a come back and will finish off the 2011 season stronger than ever.  2012 looks very promising for 10.5. 


Tim: Tell the readers what it was like racing in the Middle East in Pro Mod.

Dave: Racing in Qatar was amazing! The facilities were first class. The people in Qatar treated my team and me very well.  HH Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani and the staff at the Qatar Racing Club helped us whenever we needed something or had a problem.  We also ran a career best 4.06, 194 on 10.5's so we definitely left Qatar very happy.  I want you all to know we now have several thousand new drag racing fans overseas and that number is growing.  Hoping a percentage of those new fans become drag racers. A big thank you to HH Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani and everyone at the QRC.


Tim: Any other countries you would like to take a trip down the 1/4 mile? 

Dave: Not another country, but Puerto Rico is a place I'd like to race one day

 

Tim: If there was another track that you could put on a Shakedown style race, where would it be and why?

Dave: I've always liked Rockingham and would love to do something there one day.  It’s a fast track, great people and it’s central to both north & south.

Tim: What car count are you looking for in this year’s Shakedown at E’town event?
 
Dave: Anything over 200 teams is a blessing, and what we hope for this year.

Tim: Where is Dave Hance going next in drag racing?  

Dave: Dave is going broke! LOL. Our plans are to look for sponsors to help us meet our Pro Mod goals.  We'd also like to run a good number with the Drag Radial car during the Yellowbullet Nationals.


Tim: Dave, thanks for your time in doing the interview. Is there anyone you would like to thank? 

Dave: Thank you Tim for everything you do to make our sport better !

 I'd like to thank my darling wife Raquel,  who has supported me since day one, I want to thank my children Davina, David jr, Devin, Danielle & Danica for keeping me in line. 

 I have to thank John Crane, PGT Trucking, Ace Crankshaft, ATI Performance ProductsMickey Thompson Tires, Bigstuff3, Precision Turbo, M&M Chassis Craft and FordSpeedCraft.com.

 I'd also like to thank my awesome crew & life long friends Andre Motta, Lenny Simmons, Tony Samms, Randy Conner, Ellen Eschenbacher, Joseph Puccio, his Mom & Dad too, Fred & Matt McKee, Bob Gardner, Craig Pio, Michelle Marchese, Don Bailey, Steve Petty, Jobe Spetter, Bobby/Ace, Nappy, Shawn, and everyone else who has helped me over the last 25 years!


The Shakedown will be at:

Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ - October 7th - 9th, 2011


Author: Tim Lewis
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