BEING EDDIE MACDONALD
It’s been said that there are three
approaches to NASCAR K&N racing these days: Make sure your dad or
granddad is a well-heeled Cup winner; run at the back; or quit. And
then there’s Eddie MacDonald.
At 33, Eddie is handsome, his
aura warm, and he’ll look you right in the eye. There’s no pretense,
no plastic about him, just that sense of focus. He’s a racer 24/7.
No question the obvious work ethic is in his genes. His parents run
a small trucking company weekdays, and on the weekends they operate
Lee Raceway in Southern New Hampshire.
Eddie’s operation is
based in a distant corner of an industrial building in Newburyport,
Massachusetts, no pretense or plastic about that, either. There are
parts, body panels, and ongoing projects everywhere. No fancy
machinery and no evidence of any inventory of cars. You can’t see
your face in the floor, but the shelves are laden with glitzy
trophies – lots of them. (www.eddiemacdonald.net)
Having run A-frame cars – ball joint
in line with the first spark plug – for half his life, Eddie
MacDonald has developed an uncanny propensity for pulling it off.
Sure, times are tough, but amazingly this guy has raced three times
to date this spring – at Bristol, Tennessee; Greenville-Pickens,
South Carolina; and “the Governor’s Cup” at Lee. He won at both
Bristol and Lee.
Here’s what he
has to say:
This has been
going on for a long time. And I’ll tell you, to keep on going,
especially in K&N, is such a struggle. But I am committed to racing
as long and as hard as I possibly can. When I am done with my
racing, I will be done – and on to the next chapter of my life.
I’m asked all the time about Nationwide and Cup. Sure, I’d love
to move up and on. But why would I want to move South and just end
up down there for a year or two and come back home never having had
the opportunity to race? Reality has to sink in. NASCAR has changed,
and I am not looking for what I can’t get. I just want to run the
best we possibly can, and Rob Grimm has allowed me to do that.
Rob has a general construction company in Pennsylvania and some
other business interests. We’ve been together since 2007. You know,
there was a time that sponsorships were relationships, and they
lasted. Not now. Now it seems so day-to-day, and it is cool that we
probably already have the longest-lasting deal in K&N.
owns the team and keeps us going at this level. Sure, he’d like to
attract more funding for us, but he’s very busy – and we’re just
grateful. He’s a good guy. He’s drawn lots of attention to the M.S.
Society with the panels of our cars.
Rob Grimm’s “MS Warriors” were
ready for their National Multiple Sclerosis
Society Walk at Pocono last May 5. (Photo from
Not only that, but our crew is all volunteer. Rob
lets us divide up the purse money within the team by percentage.
Sure, he might be down in Pennsylvania, but he knows how often we
work ’til 2:00 in the morning.
It’s no cake walk. It does get
kinda frustrating sometimes watching these K&N kids with the bucks.
They will usually go very fast in practice, but they don’t often
race well or manage the car. But in certain cases it seems these
organizations can put anyone in the seat and they can win.
funny. Rollie LaChance has been my full-time crew chief and team
manager – for the last ten years. He’s old style. He started with
Tracy Gordon, also under-funded. Rollie can and does do everything.
We were in the tech trailer after winning Bristol a couple of weeks
ago, and Tony Glover was doing the inspection. He asked Rollie where
we got the shocks. Rollie tells it like it is. “eBAY”.
a couple of so-so years before Rob helped us get a new chassis last
year, and we built it up here in Newburyport. That picked our pace
up a lot. We got a good, steady second at Iowa and were leading
Loudon when a tire went down.
So, it felt okay coming into
this year, and we were having fun. But there was this uneasy feeling
in the back of my mind. I knew if we didn’t do well early on, we
might not be able to attack the whole season schedule. That’s not
comforting to someone like me who gives so much to all this that I
still live with my parents. Thank goodness we got those wins.
Bristol was neat, our first win in the South. We’ve struggled
there and on the banks at Dover for a while. But this winter Rollie
and Andy Santerre, who is now back in Maine, got talking about
setups. Andy came down and helped us some on a consulting friendship
basis, and it really clicked.
My dad was here in
Massachusetts that day, working on a truck. He called his old friend
Herb Wing, who used to work on Dad’s Supermodified and was the first
employee at Lee Raceway. Herb also gives four or five days a week to
working on my car, and he was watching the race on his computer.
When Dad called, I was running up front. He followed the rest of the
race with Herb over the phone. I bet they went crazy.
The Governor’s Cup race
at Lee was a thrill, too. We won
that in Freddie Peterson’s car with Hancock Electric. Rob is very
willing to let me do some different things, and, needless to say, we
had Grimm Construction on the hood.
You ask why I seem so fast at Lee. I have
so many laps there, I guess, that I have developed an innate feel
for it. At this point, I know I can drive it differently than the
other guys. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. When you want to
go faster, you go in deeper and pick up the throttle before anyone
else. When he lifts, you don’t.
I have some sixth sense about
New Hampshire (NHMS), too. I’ve always been comfortable there. We’ve
won three K&N shows and three A.C.T. shows there. You might be right
that we are the leading Late Model, but Rollie says we only seem to
be able to win there on odd years.
Our two Oxford 250 wins
were a joy. It really seemed we had taken on the best, certainly
from New England.
What I am so motivated to do now is to pull
that off out to the west. We’ve been pretty good at Iowa, but
Phoenix has been a trial. That’s the only place other than Bristol
where we have lost a car.
And, as I said, I just want to keep
on truckin.’ If a chance comes up to run a Cup car, I’ll be there in
a second. I would love to do it just to try it. But I’ll be totally
comfortable cruising at the back, because I know that’s what it
|Eddie and his dad Red, a
legendary figure in Northeast racing. (Rich Hayes
© 2014 Lew Boyd
- Coastal 181
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