VOLUME XX,  NUMBER 5 - MAY,  2018

FEATURES

A Look Back at 2017 Victory NSS Series from the Champ, Tom Hoffman

A Championship Season

Words by Tom Hoffman

Photos by Dennis Mothershed and courtesy Victory NSS

All Victory Nostalgia Super Stock racers look forward to the start of the season, feeling just like some little kid who can't wait for Christmas to come.

 

As the weather warmed in April 2017, I woke up the race car and alerted the neighbors to the start of race season. I fired up the car, checking things over from the long winter sleep. I didn't change anything from the year before, so there were no surprises, thankfully. After a few fun races at the local track I was ready for the 600-mile trip to the first race in St. Louis.

 

St. Louis, May 12-13

 

This race is part of the Nostalgia Rendezvous and it's a neat event to be a part of. Some great Nostalgia race and show cars come to this event.

 

As this trip is as long as it is, I usually break it up into two days. Anytime I plan on leaving early in the morning to head out to a race it becomes a sleepless night. To fix this, I leave in the afternoon and usually make it halfway and spend the night. Then the next day finish the trip and make it to the track in time to socialize with the racing gang. This may be a long ride, but the country I drive through is really scenic, and I enjoy every mile we travel.

This first race is a great time to catch up with everybody I haven't seen since fall. Qualifying is a great time to test the car, reaction times, and just have fun. Then it's on to racing.

 

One of the great things about racing with the Victory NSS racing gang is that we are all friends. But it has its "not mentioned" downside as well. That is, you have to race a friend, and one of you has to lose. With this gang, I really don't want anyone to lose. Between the burnout box, and the end of the track, this feeling goes away, and we race as hard as we can. What happens, happens. But it is a downside to me.

Joe Ewing

 

In this race I was lucky enough to go to the fourth round against Joe Ewing who ran a very good race and truly lived up to his nick name "Double Oh Joe". Being a spectator is not all bad, except when you are rooting for both racers. But it is what I do many times.

Tim Frees went on to win the Gateway race in a close final.

 

Eddyville, Iowa, June 9-10

 

This is a race trip to neighboring Iowa and like every other race we go to, I look forward to the trip. There is great scenic farmland all along the way, and we make it to the motel in Oskaloosa before lunch. As a racer, the comradery of this group is what makes these races worth traveling to, and we look forward to meeting up with other racers. Once there we have lunch with friends before we head out to the track.

Jim Hagenhoff’s Belvedere

 

Race evening comes the next day and I find myself laddered up against Jim Hagenhoff. Jim's car has the longest, smoothest wheelies I have ever seen and it is quite a sight to behold. As much as I would have liked to hang around and watch his launch, I leave earlier as I am the slower car. I leave too early and turn on the dreaded red light. But Jim would have probably won anyway as he had a great light and made a nice pass. Now I get to spectate.

As a racer watching, this will turn out to be one of the more memorable races I've ever been to. As the rounds go on, Shaun Johnston keeps coming out on top and ends up winning! Shaun worked hard to win this race, and his father Doug, showed that pride well. He was just beaming and jumping around, showing us all how much fun this is. You don't often see excitement like that in anyone, and it's a joy to be around. It was such a neat event watching all of the Victory racers cheering Shaun as he came to the winner's circle. This is what Victory NSS is about, and I was happy to be there for it.

 

Cedar Falls, Iowa, July 14-15

 

As Victory Racers, we returned to Cedar Falls for their "Night of Fire" event in 2017. This event is great to attend as a spectator and even better as a racer. This race was particularly memorable for me. When the run sheet came out of the tower for qualifying, it had me as number one with a 10.7500 on the 10.75 dial. This will probably never happen to me again.

 

NSS racing started the event out that night, and it was a thrill to pull into the burnout box in front of the huge crowd. But, after you start that burnout, the crowd disappears into the night and the race ahead takes all of your attention.

I was fighting with the tree every round at this event, but did manage to go to the third round when friend Jerry Bolton (near lane) took me out with a really great pass.

Later on, with BJ Bax and Randy Spurgeon in the final, it was once again fun to cheer both finalists into the winner’s circle, with Randy Spurgeon taking the win.

BJ Bax’s GTO.

 

St. Louis, August 4-5

I look forward to St. Louis because always a lot of friends show up and the paved pits are nice. At this point in the season, friends are mentioning "How are you doing in points?" Well, I was doing pretty good, but really, I don't think a lot about the points; I'm thinking about the fun factor.

 

We had a great barbeque put on by the Spurgeon brothers here, with Randy showing off his chef abilities and his terrific barbeque sauce. The Victory Team get together meal is always a good time. Then, it was on to racing.

Kevin Miller was runner-up.

 

This was another memorable race for me, as I won it against a great racer, Kevin Miller. In that final, when I raced past the tree I was a little surprised that it wasn't red because I left sooner than planned. Kevin had a fantastic light, but mine was a little better, but of course I didn't know it at the time. The announcer had mentioned "Hoffman, with an oh-oh-one reaction time" during the final.

When I got out of the car in the winner's circle, several people stated, "nice light!" I was exceptionally curious as to how they knew, as at that time I didn't know myself. I hadn't looked at the time slip yet. Thinking about this win is one of those memories that keeps coming back to bless you.

 

The World Series of Drag Racing, Cordova, Illinois, August 25-26

This is another big event that allows us racers to stage in front of a very large crowd, and this weekend was certainly that. Once again we had a great feed together as a group, and later on we go racing.

 

As typical with me, when we go up for that first round, I get so anxious that I wonder "why I do this?" But then it goes away as fast as it comes. This racing is funny: you don't feel your age, you don't feel anything but the anticipation of fun, and fun it is.

I don't have a particular routine that I go through before running, but I do like to check the tire pressure and get it right. But, other than that, nothing that happens gets me rattled. I do like to wander around … I suppose, nervous energy maybe. But waiting has never been my heavy suit in life. I have learned over the years, that some racers like to sit alone in their cars in the lanes, and others like myself, don't mind conversation. Just don't interrupt those that want the solitude. With that in mind, strolling through the lanes with the Victory NSS cars there demonstrates we have some of the best looking cars at the track. This is what I love.

Shaun Johnston receives his World Series trophy from Victory NSS series director, Chris Schneider (left).

 

In this race, I went out in the third round to Shaun Johnston. When we crossed the finish line in a very close race my thought was actually "great, this guy certainly deserves this win" -- and he went on to win the race. Once again we had a great Victory crowd cheering the finalists in the winner's circle, and my wife, Helen, and I are proud members in that photo.

 

Indianapolis, September 22-24, final season race

The championship belt was on the line between the Victory NSS and the NMCA racers.

 

This was a huge race for all NSS fans with the Victory/NMCA shootout race, the Victory Final, and the NMCA final all in one weekend. With the Victory NSS gang, this race would determine the season winner. Due to the tight points at this time, there can be a lot of position changes at this race, with four racers in contention for the top spot.

 

First race of the weekend, Friday, was the Victory Shootout with the NMCA NSS gang. I was lucky enough to be a part of this and took out my NMCA opponent in the first round, but went out to eventual winner Jeff "Blick" Blickensderfer in the second round. Being a spectator for this race, I cheered so loudly that I really couldn't talk above a whisper the rest of the weekend. What a cool win for the Victory Gang in Indy!

Jeff Blickensderfer celebrates his Indy win with the Victory NSS gang.

 

There was a small party at Jeff's camp spot afterwards and it was a blast talking with all the racers from both teams. In addition, watching Jeff pose in the crazy "Winners Belt" was a treat as well.

 

Then, on Saturday, it's on to the Victory final. I have a slight lead going into this race for first place, but in reality, I knew I would finish in the top 5. As such, I felt pretty good about racing. Shaun Johnston, BJ Bax, Randy Spurgeon, and myself all had a chance to win the number-one spot at this point.

 

After the first round of racing, both Johnston and I were very much in contention for the top spot, with myself a few points in front of him. But I wasn't sure how many. I went out in the second round with Shaun going on to the third round. Now, I was reasonably sure Shaun's next round was going to be key on the season finish. Watching him stage in that third-round evening light, I was really watching my fate with his pass. He had won two races at this point, and was so close to taking first place, I really hoped he would win this round. But he lost that round on a double-oh red. To me, it was actually an odd way to get to first place, but that is racing.

 

At this point it was late at night, and I wasn't 100% sure I had won the championship, so it didn't really sink in. We watched the rest of the race and left the track.

 

Sunday, arriving at the track for the NMCA final, Chris Schneider was quick to greet me with the good news. And now, now it does occur to me that once again, I am a very lucky racer to be a part of the Victory racing family.

 

I went out first round in the NMCA race, but that really didn't matter after the morning's news. I was just happy to be at the track at that point.

Russ Berens got the NMCA win at Indy.

 

I love racing with the Victory Gang, and I am lucky to be a three-time winner. It doesn't get much better than that.

 

The drive home from Indy was filled with the season's memories and I'm already looking forward to fun in 2018 as well, with that excitement only a kid at heart can feel.

 

2017 Victory NSS Final Points:

 

1. Tom Hoffman 361

2. Shaun Johnston 356

3. BJ Bax 343

4. Randy Spurgeon 327

5. Bruce Lang 296

6. Rosie Kossuth 296

7. Randy Vanhook 285

8. Tim Frees 273

9. Bob Westhoff 263

10. Jim Hagenhoff 261

11. Jerry Bolton 256

12. Bill Schlee 254

13. Dick Monaco 249

14. Don Bruemmer 231

15. Bob Lantero 229

16. Jeff Roberts 229

17. Dennis Spurgeon 215

18. Tom Gaines 212

19. Steve Stahschmidt 205

20. Russ Berens 204

21. Clay Kossuth 197

22. Kevin Miller 195

23. Carl Nappier 192

24. Matt Mothershed 174

25. Mike Volkart 172

 

2018 Victory NSS Schedule:

 

May 11-12: Gateway Raceway [Nostalgia Rendezvous]

June 8-9: Eddyville Raceway [Mid-West Nostalgia Nationals]

July 27-28: Cordova Raceway [Door Warz]

Aug. 3-4: Gateway Raceway [Street Car Super Nationals]

Aug. 24-25: Cordova Raceway [World Series of Drag Racing]

Sept. 14-15: Gateway Raceway [Mopar Race and Victory NSS Finals]

 

Non-Points Race: Sept. 21-23, Indianapolis Raceway [NSS All Star Race and NMCA Finals]

 

For more information on the series, go to www.victorynss.com.

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