Andy drops in for service in
the Ideal Racing modified at Caraway this last April. (Seuss
ANDY DOES DIXIE
No question that Andy Seuss can wheel a
modified. The fresh-faced kid from New Hampshire has been a warhead
missile since jumping into a TVRMS car eight years ago at age 17.
He’s won everywhere – Oxford, ME; Monadnock, NH; Thompson, CT; South
Boston and Langley, VA; Caraway, NC; New Smyrna, FL, etc., etc. And
now he is about to go on this little trip with his girlfriend,
Jennifer DeMarco. They’ll do the Southern Modified Tour race at
Winston-Salem on Aug. 5, the modified show at Bristol on August 19,
and then head to their new home in North Carolina. They’re goin’
racin’. No return tickets.
In fact, there’s no big money and
no assurance whatsoever behind them. You have to think about when
the last time would be that anyone has done this successfully –
maybe Mike McLaughlin or Jeff Fuller. That was 20 odd years ago.
We had to talk with Andy about all this:
Coastal: Are you
Andy: Yup. It scares the crap out of me. Talk about
leaving the nest! I’m leaving my family and my job at our little
family boat business. I could screw the whole thing up!
Coastal: And what of Jennifer? She must be nuts, too.
Not. We’re similar but opposite. We both have mechanical engineering
backgrounds, but she’s a calculating person. Obviously, I’m not. She
just graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and
she’s already found a job down south at Schneider Electric, just
five minutes from where we’ll be living.
|Jenn and Andy will
be joined in North Carolina by Andy’s sister
Michelle. who will attend the Paul Mitchell hair
styling school. (Seuss Family Collection)
Coastal: Did you get a degree?
Andy: Nope. I was working on it, but the economy went bad and
racing went good. We were coming home from the races one night and I
was working on a school project on my laptop. It quit. I had to do
it all on paper and hand it in. The teacher really questioned me
about that. I told him he was right to do that – that I really
should be giving my fullest attention to what I was doing. He was
quite surprised when I told him I was quitting school so I could
give more focus to racing.
Coastal: So, Andy, you must be
pretty talented, because you sure came up the ladder pretty quickly.
Andy: I wish that was so, but it isn’t. Fact is, I flubbed
around in karts for four years before winning anything. I was no
Joey Logano. Then my parents were able to scrape enough money
together to get me a new kart for Christmas and a new motor for my
birthday – with an ultimatum. If I didn’t win by the end of the
year, I would be on my own. We won three championships that year.
They joke about it now, saying maybe they should have given me the
Coastal: You have won a lot in the
modifieds. Was there a personal breakthrough moment there?
Andy: Yeah. After I broke our car on the wall at New Smyrna in the
2007 Speedweeks. We were so broke in every way. We cobbled together
a jig ourselves and cut off the front clip. Then we cut the clip
apart, straightened the pieces, re-welded it, and put it back on. We
changed nothing else but the gears and headed to Nashville. Before
the race, Bobby Hutchins said that whoever wins would need to have
all three bases covered – car, driver, and motor. We won with our
wrinkled car and peashooter motor. I was proud.
that the moment you started connecting with guys from the Southern
Andy: Yes. After the race Jeff Riggs, Junior
Miller’s owner, asked me to come by his trailer. I was terrified
because I thought I had screwed up somehow. But it led to a ride
down south, and everyone up here was very supportive of my making a
his parents, Bobbi and Steve, join in the spoils at
(Seuss Family Collection)
Coastal: Why do you think you were chosen? What are
you best at as a driver?
Andy: When I was growing up at
Lee Speedway, I watched guys every week drive too hot, burn up
their tires, and fade. I did that once and never will again. It
still eats me up. I pride myself about that. Before Myrtle Beach
was repaved, I ran well there. On that worn-out surface, I would
run up front, driving like my 80-year-old grandmother was in the
Coastal: What’s your weakness?
The same darn thing. I’ve been running some SCoNE sprint car
shows recently, and those boys threw me for a loop, they are so
good. They run just 25 laps, and when the green waves, they are
GONE. Maybe I’ve run too many 150-lappers in the modifieds. I
have to learn to get going sooner.
different will it be down there for you in a cultural sense?
Andy: Well, the biggest challenge might be communication.
Down there you don’t have a pit “cart,” you have a “buggy.” And
you don’t “haul” the car to the races, you “carry” it. And, God
forbid, you do what I once did and call the car “wicked good.”
Wicked isn’t good at all down there. It’s very bad. Everyone
kinda stopped in their tracks and looked at me funny.
be honest, in the beginning I had to have my Dad as translator
on the radio between me and the pit guys. But, you know, what
I’m even more concerned about? I’m teamed with George
Brunnhoelzl in Eddie Harvey’s Ideal Racing team, so I’m with
those Brunnhoelzls all the time. What if I pick up that Long
Coastal: So, we’ve got to ask: What’s it
like running a modified at Bristol?
Andy: It’s a space
shuttle launch. You don’t lift when you have sticker tires on,
and the banks are so high you don’t even have to close your eyes
when you’re scared. You can’t see anyway.
Coastal: So why
are you making this leap?
Andy: You know in that book you
guys did about Dave Dion it talks about how much he missed by
not going south. I have missed opportunities being up here in
New Hampshire working on boats. It’s not enough to be willing to
drop everything and drive all night to get down there. I know
that what I am doing is a tall order and I don’t know anyone
else who is trying it. The biggest thing that scares me is the
thought of not racing at all. I would like to run for the
championship with Ideal Racing and then get in a full-bodied car
or a truck. But no start and park stuff. Seriously, I think I am
the luckiest guy in the world that I can do this with full
support of family and friends. If it turns out that in a few
years the racing community has forgotten me completely, so be
it. As long as I gave it my best shot.
Trails and go get ’em, Kiddo!
|(Seuss Family Collection)
© 2012 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181
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