View from the Stands (3/18/2013)
by Eric Arnold, Knoxville Raceway Blogger & Twitter Commentator
It has been eight years since David Hesmer last raced at Knoxville Raceway, but he is going to make a return in 2013, in the 410 division. Hesmer is the most successful driver of all time in the Knoxville 360 class with 65 career wins (second is John Kearney at 23 wins), four 360 track championships in 1988, 1997, 1998, and 1999. He won his first track championship as a rookie. He also won the inaugural 360 Nationals in 1991 and again in 1997. David and his father Ken have both been inducted into the Knoxville Raceway track Hall of Fame in recent years for their accomplishments and service to the sport they love. But in 2013 Hesmer will once again pilot a familiar black #1 sprint car in the 410 class with car owner Bryan Sundby. So why and how is David Hesmer getting back into racing? I thought I would ask him.
EA: So what has David Hesmer been up to since 2005?
DH: “Running the family business, Action Auto Parts in Marshalltown with my Father Ken and enjoying being a father. But we have stayed close to sprint car racing helping Clint Garner, Sammy, and Kevin Swindell when time allows us.”
EA: Why did you stop racing?
DH: “When we decided to stop racing after the 2005 season our family run team didn’t have the time to put into the car like we once did. Our family business was growing, our main crewman Jim Coleman also had family and a real job, his career was taking off. And my mother Sarah was going through some health problems at the time as well so it was the right thing to do at that time for all of us to focus on our families instead of racing. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter Alix instead of at the shop every night, and we had plenty of success racing over the years, so it was a good time to walk away then. Thankfully my Mom is in good health today.”
EA: How did the deal with Bryan Sundby and BDS Motorsports come about?
DH: “I had known Bryan through Sammy a few years ago when Bryan worked on the Tom Rolfe #10 and then again later with the Big Game team. Bryan has a lot of experience and is a great mechanic. He has worked in drag racing with John Force and won championships there, he has experience in motocross, off-road cars, and of course sprint cars with Sammy and Wayne Johnson. Bryan is from North Dakota originally and has built his own race shop in Newton, Iowa. Over the off-season we talked over lunch one day and he said he was putting together a team to race at Knoxville weekly and was looking for some advice, and then I asked if I could submit my application to drive for him. After that it all fell into place.”
EA: What kind of equipment does BDS Motorsports have for the season?
DH: “Maxim chassis and Al Parker is building the engine. We have all the parts in place in the shop, and I have my seat and safety equipment ready to go. But we are still looking for funding to make sure we can endure the wear and tear through the whole season. Bryan is a motivated guy and racing is primarily how he makes a living so I am confident in him and our equipment.”
EA: What are your goals for 2013?
DH: “Our goal is to finish in the top five in points and compete for some wins, hopefully be as successful as Kevin was a couple of years ago. We want to have fun racing, but having fun is being competitive and winning some races. It will be tough to compete with guys like Terry McCarl and Brian Brown who race for a living, but we have the equipment to be fast and I am confident that I have the ability to compete.”
EA: Is this strictly a 410 team or will there be any 360 races this year for you?
DH: “If the funding is there we might race the 360 Nationals, we will have to see how that plays out as the season goes.”
EA: You are known as the King of the 360’s at Knoxville, but you have raced a 410 previously. Can you refresh our memory on your past 410 experience?
DH: “Yes we raced a 410 in 1990 with the Jordan Brothers team. We timed well a couple of nights but we never seemed to get a handle on the race car. We had some mechanical gremlins that we never did quite get worked out. But the Jordan Brothers are great guys and we enjoyed that experience. We decided to move back to the 360 class the following season and we had success with the Harrold Annett TMC car in 1991 and 1992 and won a lot of races.” (Hesmer won six races and finished second in points each of those seasons, and won the 360 Nationals in 1991.)
EA: So why get back into racing now at the age of 50?
DH: “The timing is right, it’s the right team and situation for our family, my health is good, and we miss racing like we once did and having a car to tinker with. Bryan, my family, and I all want to race at Knoxville one night a week and compete for some wins. So this deal fits with my work schedule and for my family to participate.”
EA: One question some people will ask is if you are a test pilot for Sammy and Al Parker. Is there any truth to that?
DH: “I am a lucky person to have both Sammy Swindell and Al Parker as friends. Certainly anything that I learn racing a Parker Engine at Knoxville will be information that Sammy will have access to. To say that the BDS Racing team is a test team for Sammy, is a big stretch. Both Sammy & Al have helped me in the past a lot! Because we are all friends, information may flow between the teams. Sammy does not need my help, but if Al Parker can learn something from me racing at Knoxville weekly, and that can help Al Parker to help Sammy, then I am all for it.”
David Hesmer has been a favorite driver of mine over the years. His whole family has been very welcoming to me and my friends and I think it’s great that they had their priorities in order to put family first ahead of racing. His past successes in the 360 class are second to no one and 65 wins are a milestone that we may never see broken. Every time I have stopped to chat with David over the past couple of years in the pit area, you could see that grin of his and I could tell he was itching to race again. I sincerely wish this new team the best of luck in 2013, and they will need it with the likes of Terry McCarl, Davey Heskin, Dusty Zomer, Brooke Tatnell, Mark Dobmeier, Bronson Maeschen, Ian Madsen, and the occasional visits from Brian Brown, Billy Balog, and Wayne Johnson. The 2013 Knoxville Raceway 410 class is one of the toughest fields I can ever remember coming into the season, and it just got a little tougher with an accomplished veteran in David Hesmer and a top notch mechanic and car owner like Bryan Sundby.
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Eric can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @_EricArnold.