When Ron Young locks the door of his Conyers, Ga., garage and heads home after a 12-hour day, he isn¿t thinking about watching television or relaxing on the couch. He¿s thinking about race set-ups and shock packages.
Young, a driver-owner in the NASCAR Busch Series, prepares his own car each week and travels to the racetrack from his home in Conyers, sometimes pulling his car to the track himself.
¿I¿ve been working to get to this point all of my life,¿ Young said. ¿¿I¿ve been working on race cars since I was 10, and never wanted to do anything else. We¿ve had to work harder than anyone out there just to get to where we are today.¿
As one of the only Busch Series drivers based in Georgia, Young often travels more than four times the 300-mile race distance just to get to the track. He¿ll be in luck on Oct. 25, though, when the Busch Series hits Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Aaron¿s 312.
¿One thing¿s for sure about Atlanta,¿ Young said. ¿No matter the outcome of the race, I won¿t have nearly as long a drive home as usual.¿
Although some have been quick to classify the part-time racer as just another ¿field-filler,¿ Young¿s statistics show otherwise. His No. 71 RB1 Racing team has run nine races this season and finished all but one. While many of the other family-owned, sponsorless teams are pulling into the garage after a lap or two, Young has five top-20 finishes.
¿When I show up, I show up to race, not just make the race,¿ Young said. ¿I¿ve worked at this for too long and I want to make it too bad to just give up. I don¿t understand how or why those guys do that.¿
While Young does much of the under-the-hood work on his own, RB1 isn¿t a one-man team. A group of volunteers ¿ many of whom Young counts among his closest friends ¿ does everything from changing tires to writing press releases and designing his Web site.
Even so, Young sometimes finds himself searching for a little extra help.
¿One thing we haven¿t had to deal with is a penalty for having an extra crewman over the wall,¿ Young said. ¿Sometimes we have enough crew members to do pit stops and sometimes we don¿t.¿
While they sometimes lose a lot of time on pit road, Young is proud of his friends who are willing to travel with him each week.
¿Our pit stops have hurt our finishes this season, but it¿s actually amazing we can go over the wall with two fewer crew members than anyone else and still average 25-second stops,¿ he said.
At a recent race, Young¿s team was short a tire carrier but still managed to make a four-tire pit stop in 20 seconds.
¿These guys don¿t have some of the pay or the benefits the other crews have, but they work just as hard,¿ Young said. ¿The fact that we can have one less man than the other teams and we¿re only six or seven seconds behind them is definitely a testament to how hard my guys work to help me out.¿
While he always strives to finish as close to the front as possible, Young is known for driving clean. This helps him achieve another of his goals on race weekend: keeping his race car in one piece.
¿In this sport, you know you¿re going to get wrecked sometimes, but I work hard not to tear up equipment,¿ Young said. ¿I come home with bumps and bruises on the car every race, but I know if I bring home a pile of sheet metal and a twisted frame I¿m not going to be racing again for awhile.¿
Young also knows that, without the backing of a big-name sponsor, the money to repair a broken race car will come from his own bank account.
¿We¿ve spent a ton of money to get where we are, but we truly believe it¿s going to pay off,¿ Young said. ¿We¿ve made tremendous accomplishments without the corporate backing of many other teams.¿
That said, Young knows his team can¿t continue on the path they¿re on without help from a sponsor.
¿We¿ve made it to the level where the corporate partnership is a must for us to grow, but the team isn¿t the only one who would benefit,¿ he said. ¿We bring a lot to the table for a company, and Busch Series sponsorships are one of the most powerful marketing tools out there right now.¿
Young drove the No. 63 Greased Lightning for Hubert Hensley in the 2002 Aaron¿s 312, but coming to Atlanta Motor Speedway with his family-owned team will be a new experience.
¿You wouldn¿t believe what it¿s going to mean to me to bring my family-owned car here,¿ Young said. ¿I¿m going to have everyone who¿s ever supported me in racing here and it¿s probably going to be one of the most special weekends of my life.¿
While it¿s important to their driver, an expanded cheering section won¿t be the only advantage for Young¿s team in the Aaron¿s 312.
¿I don¿t think a top-10 or top-15 finish is out of the question for us at Atlanta,¿ Young said. ¿It¿s a fast track with a lot of places to pass. And because we¿re so close to home, we¿ll have the luxury of a whole pit crew.¿
The Aaron¿s 312 NASCAR Busch Series race is just one event of the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Weekend, Oct. 24-26, 2003. Atlanta Motor Speedway will roar to life with Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night on Oct. 24, the Aaron¿s 312 on Oct. 25 and the Bass Pro Shops MBNA Winston Cup race on Oct. 26.
Weekend packages begin at just $69 and are available by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211.