TEAROFF has been submitted by a long-time friend of Coastal 181,
Karl Fredrickson, one of our favorite racing drivers and
journalists. Some years back Karl, who hails from Fremont, N.H.,
took a Coastal 181 chassis and went modified racing for a season. It
was his first year on dirt. He was a terror. Sure was fun!
July 7, 2010
THE WINS ARE GUSTIN
The hottest racer in America is 19-year-old Ryan
Gustin. Corey Dripps, referring to rival racers and chassis builders
Jason Hughes and Kelly Shryock, says, “The three of us don’t agree
on much, but one thing we do see eye-to-eye on is that Ryan Gustin
might be the best we’ve ever seen.”
Shryock, a nine-time
National champion in the ultra-demanding and grueling USMTS tour,
started on the pole at Huset’s (S.D.) late last June. Shryock led
for ten laps until Gustin took the top spot and showed the rest of
It was the second win in as many days driving for
the well-funded Ed and Cindy Gressel No. 19R team. Gustin had won
the night before at Buena Vista in Iowa. Following the Huset’s
triumph, wins came at Scotland County Speedway in Missouri and
Minnesota’s Fairmont Raceway. A last-lap pass at Mineral City
Speedway in Fort Dodge, Iowa, capped the five-wins-in-a-row streak.
Speedway success is a family tradition in the Marshalltown,
Iowa, Gustin home. Ryan’s dad Rick is a Midwestern legend, mom Judy
won IMCA stock car features and his brothers, Richie and Jimmy, have
thrilled thousands on their way to many victories. Younger sister,
15-year-old Jenae, is already running well in her stock car.
Gustins spend their time winning, not counting; however, most
estimates consider over 1000 feature wins belong to the family, and
that’s not counting both grandfathers who raced or uncle Darrel
DeFrance — considered IMCA’s Iron Man.
Familiar sight: Gustin in USMTS
victory lane in 2010.
“We’re all happy for each other when we get the phone call that
one of us has won, but when we’re on the track together, there’s
going to be some torn-up equipment,” says Ryan, who adds that the
talent is not in the genes. “I don’t think anything comes natural.
You’ve got to work at it. I started racing go-karts at
three-years-old and spent years racing them on dirt in the summer.
During the winter we’d run them indoors on tracks treated with cola
Karting provided many valuable lessons. “Racing
karts teaches you how to work with parts outside the typical
suspension components,” says Gustin. “I know how caster, camber,
weight distribution and things like that can affect the car. Karting
also teaches you to be smooth on the track. You can’t scrub off the
speed. That’s true with a race car, too; especially on a dirt track
that gets slick, you gotta drive with your left foot.”
does things in the car that no one else can get away with,” says
crew chief Joe Bob Ciechanowski. “It’s not that he’s out of control.
We’ve replaced one front bumper in all the races we’ve run
“He is an unbelievable talent,” says Shryock. “I
saw him at Webster City (Iowa) in a B-mod and you could see it
there. He’s just so fast. And, he’s a remarkably clean racer.”
Hughes, builder of Gustin’s chassis says, “He’s got a helluva
future. He’s that good. He’s so smooth.”
“You never see him
sawing at the wheel,” says Ciechanowski. “He’ll drive through the
mirrored black, smooth as can be, never sawing at the wheel. I was
talking with Steve Wetzstein and he said, ‘When you think you’ve got
the fast line around the track, Gustin comes along and shows you
where it really is.’”
Young Ryan sums it up, “You can’t be
content following anybody, so just aim for the brown or the black
Joe Bob Ciechanowski with his
driver, Ryan ‘The Reaper’ Gustin. “The Reaper,” says
Ciechanowski, “is because he’s killing the competition.
Who’s next?” (Courtesy Photo)
© 2010 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181