Jeff McGinnis apparently will not come down with a case of the sophomore jinx this year.
McGinnis is a second-generation driver and a second-year member of Ransomville Speedway's Sportsman class. He has two wins this season on the Niagara County oval and is second in the overall standings in points, only six back of the talented veteran Ray MacIver. Only two point shows remain -- this Friday and the double-point finale on Sept. 4.
"It's gone all right so far," said McGinnis, 25, the son of Modified racing veteran Don McGinnis.
The younger McGinnis already has displayed driving talent as well as the persistence that it takes to succeed. It came in the span of two weeks in June.
On June 5, he won his first race of the 1998 season at Ransomville. One week later, he flipped his Olsen-built Modified in Turn One. After a week of rebuilding the car, he and his team won the very next Friday.
"We had a lot of work to do that week after the crash," McGinnis recalled. "We were at the shop until midnight every night. We came to the track after the rebuilding, hoping we had the car pretty much back the way we had it before the wreck.
"We did some adjusting that night but there's not a whole lot you can do except hope you got it right in the shop. I'm still somewhat surprised we could come back and win just a week after I was on the roof."
As could be expected, McGinnis enjoyed winning a lot more than wrecking.
"I remember when I was upside down in the car after the flip," he said. "I was just hanging in the belts for a few seconds until the safety crew got me out, but I felt like I'd been hanging there all day."
McGinnis has been hanging around race cars all his life. His father introduced him to the sport.
"I remember going to the track when I was too young to hardly remember," said McGinnis. "I watched my dad when he ran Late Models at Ransomville and Merrittville."
Don McGinnis serves as crew chief for his son on Fridays at Ransomville. The Dick Blake-owned machine pit crew is comprised of Dave Desso, Tim Jeffery, Gary Jackubec, Ryan Wiepert and Chuck Brolinski.
On Saturdays, the father-son combination flip-flops. Don McGinnis drives the Terry St. Amand-owned Modified at Merrittville with Jeff assisting that crew.
Jeff didn't learn everything from his dad. For starters, the son has a different driving style.
"I guess the biggest difference between the way my dad drives right now and the way I do is that my dad seems to have a lot more patience out there," he said. "I think as time goes by and I get better, patience is something I'll try to use more of. I think it comes with experience. I hope so, anyway."
Jeff McGinnis began his race driving career in the Merrittville Speedway Stock Heavy Go-Kart class, where he reigned as champion of that class in 1995 and 1996. He made the large leap to the Ransomville Sportsman class last season, winning once. He knows that it will not be easy to overtake MacIver for the Sportsman crown this season.
"Ray's real good and it will be hard to beat him," McGinnis said. "All we can do is try to run fast and clean, hope for a win or a big break and go from there. It's possible."
Around the track
Ransomville races Friday at 7:15 p.m. Holland hosts Veteran Drivers Night Saturday at 6 p.m., featuring such drivers as Stroker McGurk and Dick Flaig.
Lancaster has its 40th Anniversary/Fan Appreciation Night Saturday. A party from 3 to 5 p.m. will feature discounted concession specials and a driver's autograph session. Racing begins at 6:30. A special Street Stock race starring retired drivers Stan Friesen, Geno Begolo, Charlie Rudolph will challenge current drivers Bill Putney and Sege Fidanza, among others.
Lancaster drag racing is Friday at 7:30 p.m.