It seems that no luck would be better than the kind of luck that has followed 410 sprint-car racer Adam Wilt of late.
The 2012 season started out great for the 2009 Sprint Car Hall of Fame Poll National Rookie of the Year. Wilt won the season-opening Icebreaker 30 at Lincoln Speedway in late February. The Spring Grove native followed that up with a seventh-place finish the next week.
Things appeared to be headed in the right direction for Wilt, who failed to record a win throughout the 2011 campaign. But just when things appeared to be looking up, the 25-year-old found himself with the worst kind of luck -- bad luck.
Wilt endured a series of races over the following six weeks where he typically qualified near the back of the field and, worse yet, sometimes found himself and his car involved in an accident.
That bad luck stuck with Wilt, who's a full-time auto body technician at North York Auto Menders during the week, this past Friday at Williams Grove Speedway. Wilt started the second feature in seventh, but couldn't navigate out of a five-car pile-up that finished his night prematurely. Wilt and his crew, headed by his car owner and father Brad Wilt, decided to skip Saturday's feature at Lincoln to regroup for the upcoming schedule.
We caught up with Wilt Sunday for this week's edition of Sports Q&A.
What's it going to take to turn things around?
"We have to get better starting positions. Starting in the back ... if you want to finish in the top 10 you have to start in the top 10. We'll have to change some things around. We have a time-trials show coming up this Friday night (at Williams Grove)."
What is required of a sprint-car driver, other than obviously driving?
"There's a lot that goes into it. I don't just pop in the seat and just race. I actually order parts, load the trailer and pretty much I'm working on the thing every day of the week. I have a full-time job with our business, North York Auto Menders. I work there four days a week, Monday through Thursday, doing auto body repair, and then I usually work on the race cars Tuesday and Thursday nights and then Friday I work on it a little bit too."
So how much time does racing take up in an average week?
"Racing is a full-time job. It takes a lot of time to get things ready. You have to have a good crew and I'm happy about mine. They put a lot of heart and time into it."
How many guys are on your crew?
"We have five guys, including myself. We have Will Bechtel, and he's our tire guy. He does all the tire dismounts, mounts the tires and gets all that stuff ready to go. I have a guy, Dusty Graub, and he's pretty much our crew man and sets the car up. We have another guy, Jerrod Goodling, that pretty much does whatever we need him to do. And then there's Daryl Gimmel, an older guy that has been with me for many years. He also does whatever we ask him to do."
Your car is owned by your father. What's that like?
"He's the car owner and he takes care of the motors to keep them refreshed. Racing (for my dad) has its goods and it has its bads. The good part about it is that I don't have to worry about losing my ride, like if I was racing for somebody else. But then it has its bad parts, you know. Like father, like son ... we're both kind of hard-headed guys. We love each other to death, but sometimes we don't see eye-to-eye on things and you know how that can go."
How much money does it cost to run one full-time sprint car?
"I'd say about $100,000. We have five motors and to get them all ready is a lot of money. It's hard for me to say exactly. If you figure the tires, the laps on the motor, the fuel and the regular wear and tear on some things, it's about $1,000 a race that we spend. That's $2,000 a weekend. The tires these days aren't cheap. They went up about $15 to $25 this year. It's about $225 for a right-rear and maybe $210 for a left-rear and every night you're going through one of each. That's $400-and-some just for your tires. With the track conditions as they are, those (tires) don't hold up after 25 laps. After that they're like racing slicks."
You got your start with go-karts before moving up to the 358s. What was that tran sition like?
"It was a big difference. That first race in a sprint car at Williams Grove ... it was intense. I think I did horrible, but that was the first time in a sprint car and being at Williams Grove. Back then when I started in the 358s, you had your Chad Laytons, Cory Haas, Alan Krimes and them guys racing. We showed up at the track and there would be 46 358s there, and now they don't even have a full field. It was definitely a lot tougher to run the 358s back in the days."
How difficult is it to be a successful driver on the 410 circuit?
"It's definitely tough. It's just tough to be consistent and everybody wants to be consistent week-in and week-out. We don't really have many teams out there that just dominate since we switched to these Goodyear tires. The tires make it more racier ... you have better races."
What is the favorite highlight of your career?
"I'd say my rookie season in the 410s. I had two wins at Williams Grove and I won the National Rookie of the Year Award."
Are you looking for ward in a few weeks to when the World of Out laws (WoO) come to town?
"Last year the biggest race of the year was at Williams Grove Speedway -- the National Open. It paid out $50,000 to win and we finished 10th. That was a really big accomplishment since last year our season was kind of up and down. That made it a lot better."
Do you have your eye on racing WoO cir cuit sometime down the road?
"I'm sure that there are some people out there that their goal is to race with the Outlaws, but right now, to this day you only have, I'd say, 12 Outlaws that actually have full-time rides. It's tough and there aren't many rides out there on the WoO circuit."
I hear that the Penn sylvania Posse makes it tough on the Out laws when they come to town, right?
"The competition in central Pennsylvania is by far the toughest sprint-car racing that you're going to get. The Outlaws ... you can tell that they change their driving style a lot when they're racing around here. They just drive a lot harder and there's a lot of side-by-side racing because pretty much everybody in the central Pennsylvania area is fast."
What is the biggest key to winning a race?
"Starting spot. We only had two good starting positions so far this year. The first week, where I won, and then the week after that where I finished seventh. I started in the top 10 in both of those races and starting in the top 10 makes it easier to stay out of the wrecks and stuff like that. Here lately I've been starting 19th, 15th, 20th, and at places such as the Grove, it makes it tough to get up to a top 5. It seems like when you finally get going up there, the way track conditions are, everybody gets sprawled out. It's all about getting a good starting position."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.