Diary Of A Racer Kid: Stuff Happens

Ryan Fearn is an 18-year old driver in the Limited Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway. He is part of the racing Fearn family at Stafford, which also includes his uncle, Late Model driver Tom Fearn, and his sister, Limited Late Model driver Alexandra Fearn. His father Stu Fearn owns the Fearn Motorsports team. Ryan will bring his thoughts, views and behind the scenes observations of living the short track racing life to RaceDayCT in an occasional column titled Diary of Racer Kid.

A lot of race fans only get to see what happens on the track, and never what happens off the track, especially all of the emotions and work that goes into repairing and maintaining the amazing machines we love to see race.

Even further beyond the view of most fans, is what happens after a wreck causes big problems, like bending the frame of the car, the very skeleton of the vehicle.

It’s as serious to the car as breaking a bone is to a person, and that’s what happened during practice on Friday, July 7 for me. Unfortunately, I’ve done both, and let me tell you, neither your leg, nor your car, will be quite the same after. What happens first is that urge to exclaim profanities, and blame everything but yourself. Let’s be honest though, that isn’t the right way to deal with misfortune.

What contributed to the wreck was a combination of a wet racing surface and tunnel vision. All it takes is that one small mistake to send the car into a slide, and quite honestly, it sucks when ninety percent of the problem was the lack of attention behind the wheel. However, these things happen sometimes, even at a professional level.

Dale Earnhardt, Sr. fans could recall this moment, where The Intimidator claimed that Jeff Gordon “ain’t too smart” for running on track after a bit of rainfall. Lo and behold, Gordon got sideways on a patch of wet racing surface and ended up with a wrecked race car.

After the dust settles, there’s no use in looking for scapegoats. To improve their skills and mental state behind the wheel all a driver can really do is learn from the mistakes that had been made, fix their equipment, and get back out there for next week. Racing is arguably the sport with the highest emotions, and when it comes to wrecking yourself, you just gotta take the punch and roll with it. The level of emotional distress that comes is nothing compared to the eleventeen hours being spent on the car every night of the week.

As soon as the night is over, the entire race team is unloading the car and planning an order of operations. We had previously assessed the damage at the track, and are simply finalizing our plan. Then we can get the ball rolling, either sending the car to someone with a frame machine to pull the car straight, or simply chopping off the entire rear clip and replacing it. Usually, when the frame is bent, so are other parts, so a meticulous inspection begins as well, checking every single piece for signs of damage. Every little piece on the racecar is mission critical if you want to win races. Anything salvageable is repaired in house, anything beyond that must be replaced. As the old saying goes, “You can sleep in a car, but you can’t race a house.”

Of course, certain jobs take more time or effort than others. For example, we at Fearn Motorsports underwent serious hardships when my sister, Alexandra, ended up in the turn one safer barrier wall. We were up until around two in the morning getting her car loaded from one trailer to another with only the front wheels on it, and five hours later, we were up to deliver the car for a new clip. Within a day, while we worked on the other two cars, our chassis guy had the job done (not an easy feat either mind you) and we were there to pick the car up as soon as possible. From then on we as a team did what we normally do in a couple winter months. Piecing together almost half of a racecar in six days takes its toll on the entire team, with multiple nights going into the wee hours of the next day. Everything from the rear end to the lug nuts needs to go back on. Control arms, springs, shocks, the transponder, the fuel cell (including the fabrication and fitting of an entire new cage to hold it in this particular instance), every little piece that was removed comes back together.

What comes from that hard work, however, is possibly the greatest payoff in the entire sport. Being able to come back from adversity is what racing is all about, whether it’s starting last, battling with the car to find a setup, or suffering damage to the car. This hard work is what defines a race team and what makes great racers, as well as producing the motivation to succeed.

With all of that said, we’ll be back with the full three car fleet for next Friday at Stafford. Fearn Motorsports wouldn’t exist without the passion for the sport, or the appreciation of every single race fan in the grandstands.

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Comments

  1. Penny’s Two Cents and now this inside scoop from a tadpole developing his racing, fabrication and writing skills. RaceDayCt is on fire. However you measure your market exposure and ability to draw advertisers I certainly hope it is working cause this is great.

  2. Fast Eddie says:

    Great article! A little bit of insight into the multiple eleventeen hour days required to have a couple hours of fun!

  3. Bob Freeman says:

    Very well done! An important story that many of us forget. Even more impressive coming from an articulate young man.

  4. Racer 28 says:

    Great Job!! Any additional pictures just add to the good information in the writing. Like a before and after of the fuel cell cage. Glad to see this article

  5. Ryan Fearn says:

    Just wanted to drop a quick thank you to everyone for all the positive feedback, more to come in the future covering various topics.

  6. Sharpie Fan says:

    Better watch out Shawn, you might lose your job!

  7. Well done, a good read. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. darealgoodfella says:

    Ryan Fearn, thanks for sharing.

  9. Bob Npt. says:

    I’m very impressed with your writing skills, Ryan. I’ve been good friends with your Aunt Diane for many years and I’ve watched both you and your sister become good drivers. I don’t get to Stafford too often, but I’m always looking for the results on Saturday morning to see how you both did. It’s great to see a family coming together like this and supporting each other.

  10. I enjoyed reading this interesting and well written perspective. Thanks!

  11. I have to admit I was never a Fern fan but Ryan your starting to win me over,nice job

  12. Great article Ryan! Thanks for this. I know it’s been mentioned already but just wanted to add that pictures will definitely enhance future articles.

  13. Really nice to see an article like this from a racers point of view, many fans have no idea the hours that go into getting a competitive car to the track each and every week, many racers have full time jobs, racing is usually more than a 40 hour work week especially if your car gets wrecked,or like you, you have multiple cars. Well done Ryan, I hope to see more articles from you in the future.

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