Cool customers on a red hot day
Street Stock drivers at Grundy battle the elements at a special Fourth of July race for that division.
Moments after winning the Street Stock Twin 25 Fourth of July Special, Nathan Kelly climbed out of the No. 16 and removed a bag of mostly melted ice from behind his neck. His face was red and he couldn't wait to shed his racing jacket.
He posed for the obligatory photos with Grundy County Fair Queen Erica Weinreich, the winning trophy and his crew before politely requesting interviews be done in the pits instead of on the track.
"I really have to get this jacket off," he told a reporter.
Considering that temperatures in the greater Morris area have tickled 100 degrees all week, it was a logical request.
High temperatures are always a challenge for race car drivers, regardless of the division they are in. It was no different on Wednesday for man or machine. Both car and driver were trying everything they could to stay cool and on the track.
"I drank about five bottles of water already to stay hydrated," Matt Sisson, who finished third, said before the race.
"I make sure to drink a lot of water," Kelly said. "When I know I am going to sweat (in the car), I just try to wipe it off with my glove."
One of the unique things about Wednesday's race for the Street Stock drivers is the fact that there was a pit stop 25 laps in, not the usual occurrence for that division.
"I got a lot of water and my dad went and got a bag of ice," Kelly said. "I put it in my racing jacket. It was hot."
Senerchia said that he does his best to ignore the heat, paying just as much attention to the car.
"It's hot in there but your adrenaline gets going and you kind of put that to the side," he said. ""I get water and a fan and hope the car doesn't die out here."
Something everyone was concerned with.
"The engine gets super hot and you have to watch the temp and make sure you have water in the radiator," Sisson said.
"I put fans on the motor to cool it down so it didn't overheat," Kelly said about the eight-minute break between runs. "Put fuel in it. Other than that, I really didn't make any adjustments."
The other side effect of racing in the heat is how the car handles the track — in this case the 1/3 mile paved bank oval at Grundy.
"The track temperature is really hot. You're slippin' and slidin' all over," Sisson said.
"I always have to tighten my car up a lot," Kelly said.
"It slides around a lot more and you have to work on the setup a bit," Senerchia said. "Not a lot, just tighten it up a bit."
Tighten the car up, stay hydrated and keep the engine cool — all for the sake of staying in the race on a scoring hot day at the Grundy Speedway in a street stock car on the Fourth of July"