Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, May 6, 2002

Springtime means stock car racing for Mark Weber

By Lynda Jensen

Spinning around a race track is where Howard Lake resident Mark Weber plans to be every week this summer, as usual.

Weber is one of a handful of locals that enjoy stock car racing, a sport that requires sharp driving skill and the ability to spend countless hours inside a garage, piecing cars back together.

Weber's season begins Saturday, May 4, when he hits the Arlington track, racing his modified car this year.

Other local racers ­ Jerry Wren, and Brad Miller ­ may have already started their seasons on the track, Weber said.

Weber is a veteran racer, having spent the better part of 26 years doing it.

Weber has traveled across the state, using tracks in the following cities: Arlington at the Sibley County Fairgrounds, Madison, Minn., Jackson, Minn., Montevideo, Brainerd, Princeton, Litchfield, St. Cloud, Cedar lake, which is near Somerset, Wisc., Menomonie, Wisc., and the McLeod County Fair in Hutchinson.

This year, he is using a three year old custom car out of a small block Chevrolet engine and custom sheet metal parts.

Welding skills seem to be almost as important as driving, since he spends a lot of time modifying and repairing his car.

As the result, he's been spending time at Mert Diers' place in Howard Lake, Holt Motors for machine work, and visiting French Lake Auto Parts for his chassis parts, he said. Another usual haunt is Lou Feger's race shop in Delano, he said.

The vehicle contains a roll cage, and custom driving compartment, among other things. "They're pretty safe," he said.

Another vehicle in the Weber garage is a late model Monte Carlo, which is in a metamorphic stage at the moment with the help of a few items from various sources, including the junk yard, Weber said.

The Weber children, Sam, 18, and Erin, 20, plan to use the Monte Carlo, Weber said. His wife, Linda, tolerates the sport, he said.

In fact, racing night is usually family night for the Webers, he said.

Racing at 21

Weber finished in second place last year as car number 63 in the modified division at the Arlington Raceway last year.

But Weber's career as a stock car racer started many years ago, when he was 21.

Growing up, he can't remember missing any races at the Wright County Fairgrounds, either as a racer or spectator, he said.

The track was taken out about three or four years ago, he said.

Other cars he's driven include modified vehicles, which means the car's shape diverts from any traditional car.

The one who first got him interested in racing was Jon Pettit, at the late Stan Goepfert shop, he said.

Pettit needed a little mechanical help and Weber was happy to supply it. Pretty soon, Pettit was pressing Weber to start driving, too.

Weber started racing 1966 Chevelles on a regular basis.

Over time, Weber has driven stock cars in three different divisions, modified, hobby, and late models.

He's also driven cars for Holt Motors.

In the early years, he raced at Willmar and St. Cloud, he said.

His first car was an old Chevelle convertible with a big block Chevy engine, he said. In 1976, he won the trophy dash at Madison. "That's what got me hooked," he said.

One time, a spark plug fell off, but he still managed to win the race on seven cylinders at Arlington, he said.

He's never been hurt once, although he did roll upside down once while driving someone else's car at the Brainerd track, he said.

Otherwise ­ not a scratch during more than two decades of driving.

Drivers are required to wear neck collars, fire suits, and helmets, among many other kinds of safety equipment.

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