CORONA, California — Eddie Secord has been around racing all his life. He’s built a lot of cars for himself and others and won a lot of races and championships for himself and others too.
It’s understandable then that five seasons ago, when he joined the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV, the Oak Hills, California, resident had reasonable expectations of being a title contender again. But he said recently that the best short-track touring series in the West has been more of a challenge than he anticipated.
“It’s definitely been that,” Secord said. “When it comes down to it the cars are unique, they’re hard to set up, and this (Hoosier 700) tire they’ve got us running on is kind of a handful, so if you hit it, you hit it, and if you miss it, you miss it
“I enjoy the cars and the competition, all the competitors and stuff, but yeah, it’s definitely a little more than I bit off. But we’ll keep going with it, keep fighting it. I’m not quitting yet.”
Saturday night (September 15) at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California, Secord will make his 43rd start in the series in the GEICO 100 presented by Optima Batteries.
The tight quarter-mile he laughingly calls “the concrete jungle” is one of the tracks Secord has raced on a lot, in Pony Stocks, Pro 4 Modifieds and Super Late Models in addition to his current vehicle, and there’s nothing he would like more than being in position to get his first win late Saturday night.
Secord, who spent much of his boyhood at Cajon Speedway while his father Bruce raced and his mother Mary took pictures, has made gradual improvements in the three races the Lucas Oil Modifieds have run at Orange Show since returning in 2015. He was 24th that year, 14th in 2016 and ninth last year, when another OSS veteran, Jim Mardis, took the win.
Secord won’t make any predictions, though. He joined the Modified ranks after he suffered a bad back injury in a race in another series and “decided I needed something that was a little slower and maybe a little less expensive. But they’re all fast and expensive so I didn’t cure any of that.
“I enjoy racing, so I just want to keep going. I like the class. I like the look of the cars; I’ve always admired them. A lot of my friends raced them prior to me getting into it, so I kind of got the itch.”
What his friends forgot to tell him, though, was that between the Modifieds and all the other cars he’s driven “the only thing that really applies is that we’re allowed to run bump stops, bump springs and stuff like that in the other series. Other than that, there’s nothing. The Pro 4s are so light it’s like driving a go-kart with a big tire. You’ve got the super late models, which have got a big tire and not quite as much motor as we’ve got. Then you’ve got these, which have a small (8-inch) tire and a whole bunch of motor. So, it’s kind of a trick trying to get it (worked out).
“You’ve got to tune the setup to the track. But it’s no different than any other car. You’ve got to stay on top of the bump stop stuff. That’s just the way the series went. They’re a little tricky, so you’ve got to keep chasing that. They allow the car to get low on the track and they can control the load on each tire. It’s better than running the big old springs like we used to. It’s maybe a little bit different than it used to be back in the day but we’re learning as we go.”
Of course, Secord said, “the more adjustments you have, the more chance you have something can go wrong, and with these things if you’re off a little it can be pretty big. The cars are so tight in qualifying, the speeds, if you miss it just a little bit you can go from fifth to 15th in a 10th and a half (of a second). That’s just how tight it is. That’s what makes the class so unique, though.”
Those tires he talked about loading up have a lot to do with it as well. They are small, which limits how much usable horsepower the cars have, and they won’t last 75 or 100 laps without careful management. There’s casual talk every year about changing them, but series promoter Greg Scheidecker thinks that would be a mistake and Secord agrees.
“I think if we went to a wider tire it would probably take the competitiveness out of it, and you’re going to get in a whole other realm of speed,” Secord said. “I know people want the cars to run slicks, but I think the speeds would be way beyond what the cars are capable of running. These cars still have a lot of stock parts in them, so a wider tire or something like that would probably create another expense to upgrade again.”
If changes are made, though, Secord probably will be there to make them. In addition to racing in the Lucas Oil Modified Series he travels to the Pacific Northwest several times a year to compete in the Northwest Pro4 Alliance, where he drives a car he built and has won seven or eight championships in, and he has no plans of slowing down soon.
“I’m going to keep going until it’s time,” he said. “My old man is still racing and he’s 73, so I can too.”
Secord will go into the GEICO 100 just out of the top 10 in the Hoosier Tire West point standings, which are led by reigning champion Taylor Miinch, of Blossom Valley, California. Miinch, who finished second to Mardis at Orange Show last season, is 42 points ahead of Justin Johnson, the leader in the Downforce Racing Products Rookie of the Year standings and 68 up on 2014 champion Dylan Cappello of Peoria, Arizona.
Miinch with a second and a fourth, Cappello with a fifth and a third and Scott Winters with a third and a fifth have been in the top five the past two seasons. Orange Show favorite Linny White of Colton, who was second to 2016 champion Matthew Hicks in 2015 and 2016, could be among the contenders as well when he makes his first series start of the season in a guest appearance with the Garcia Racing team.
The race will be streamed live by Low Budget TV. Visit lowbudget.tv for details.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Lucas Oil Modified Series