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July 7, 2008


With all the concerns about oil prices and the credit crisis recently, there has been a lot written about the growing gulf between “the haves” and “have nots” in this country.

In racing, much of this attention has been focused on Camping World East. This series, the current iteration of the old Busch North circuit, seems to have morphed from a exciting regional series led by local heroes into a development playground for well-funded superspeedway teams.

At New Hampshire’s June weekend, the East Series pit was a picture of motorsports opulence. DEI fielded three cars; Richard Childress Racing was represented by Austin Dillon; Marc Davis was driving for Joe Gibbs; Jamie Hayes was in the Hendrick/Schrader car – and on and on. Certainly the legacy of the old Busch North cars, typically run out of a one-car garage attached to someone’s house in the Northeast, seemed long gone.

But, at the start of the Heluva Good 125, a white #71 broke ranks, going three deep in a gutsy move before blending back into the pack coming out of turn two. It was Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass., in an unsponsored entry fielded by Rob Grimm. He was out to make a statement.

Eddie has done that before. If New England were to list its top gassers these days, he would surely be among them. He’s always been fast at New Hampshire, apparently not feeling obligated to lift for that first turn.

MacDonald continued a defiant march to the front of the 125-miler. And stunningly, he won it, after a heart-stopping duel with Trevor Bayne in a DEI Chevrolet. Everyone in the place was watching, awestruck.

Needless to say, after the race MacDonald’s car spent quite a bit of time in tech. Some heavy-duty dudes dropped by to talk to Eddie – and to try to find out what kind of incredible setup he and crew chief Rollie LaChance had put in that car. Visitors included Michael Waltrip and Ray Evernham.

Little did anyone know what had been going on earlier that week. As so many huge haulers were towing all their cars, personnel, and kit up to the race from Mooresville, Eddie MacDonald was alone in a corner of his dad’s unpretentious trucking garage in Newbury, Mass. He spent two days on his left front spring alone, laboriously getting maximum travel before coil bind. He was using the equivalent of an expensive pull-down rig, but this one he had fabricated himself – rather precariously, with poles and come-alongs.

It was by far the biggest victory yet for MacDonald and LaChance. They won this one for the home team.

In this case, the home team is every struggling, underfunded race team in America.

© 2008 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :.

6/18/08 - The Night Buzz Was Worried

6/5/08 - John Richards - Boomer Role Model

5/20/08 - The Spirit of a Racer

5/1/08 - Bobby's Blues

4/15/08 - Thinking About Rene Charland

3/26/08 - Carl and Corey

3/4/08 - A Cool Track with Cool Racers

2/14/08 - Doug Wolfgang

1/25/08 - Frankie Schneider

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica Santos

11/15/07 - Tough Drivers

11/1/07 - Cockpit Safety

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - Racing Nicknames

9/15/07 - Too Many Officials

9/1/07 - The Look of a Real Driver

8/15/07 - Being Dale Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer