Every driver seeks to develop that winning touch, that certain something that serves as a catalyst for victory.
Niagara Falls drag racer Dan Lum Jr. believes his late mother, Joanne, helped bring him a recent pair of wins at Lancaster Motorsports Park.
She died May 17 at age 55 after a five-year battle with breast cancer and Lum believes she was there in spirit.
"We say that my mother was the love behind the dream," said Lum. "I have been trying to win with a new car this year and it's been tough. Recently I saw one of the last photos taken of my mother when she was still alive. It is a photo of her with a big smile on her face.
"I took that photo and put it inside my race car,"" he said. "Every time I get into the car for a run I look at the photo, blow it a kiss, touch the photo and then race. It must be my winning touch because the very first night I put it in the car I won. It was Aug. 17, exactly three months to the day since she died."
Lum, 32, won again at LMP last Friday night.
He is an 11-year drag racing veteran who moved from Pro to Super Pro class after four years. He has six career wins, four in Super Pro.
For the last few seasons he has raced a 1981 Camaro dubbed "Boyz N' Toyz." After last season he parked the Camaro and bought a 1994 Lumina from fellow racer Vito Antonecelli. It's taken most of the season to get the new car, which carries the same name, up to standard.
"Because of my mother's situation we got a late start on the season," Lum said. "It's taken about three months to work out the bugs. The hardest thing about getting the car going was the engine changeover. I run a nitrous oxide engine and when Vito raced the car it was an alcohol motor."
Lum's crew chief is his father, Dan Lum Sr. His parents got their son and daughter, Lorene, interested in the sport.
"My dad is the main man," Lum said. "He's the engine builder and the set-up man. He raced for many years at Niagara Dragway. He and my mother went every Sunday. They brought me along and that's how I got into it."
The Lums will be busy this weekend. Friday is the grand opening of the new location of the family business: Dan Lum's Automotive and Performance Center (7400 Porter Road).
He will miss Friday's races, but make the LMP race card Sunday.
"I've been racing at Lancaster for many years and I know every inch of that track," said Lum. "The strongest part of my drag racing is my reaction time. I've always been able to get going quickly as the starting light is turning green. When I won this past Friday, I cut a 5.02 (of a second) light and Rich (Yacos) had a 5:23. We both had good runs but because I got off the line quicker I won the race with reaction time right on the starting line."
Next year Lum will bring his Camaro out of mothballs to race at LMP and he also will drive the Lumina in the Top Sportsman class on the International Hot Rod Association's Summit Drag Racing Series around the country.
With time consumed by racing, the move of the business and the responsibility of being a husband to Patty and a father to year-old Jillian, Lum remains extremely busy. But his mother is always in his thoughts.
"You know, she hardly got to know our daughter before she passed away," said Lum. "She had some time to get to know her, but not nearly enough. My mom was 100 percent behind my racing career and the last time she got to go to Lancaster was last fall. She never got to see me win in the new car but at least with her photo in there I feel like at least she got to ride with me when I finally won in August."
Dragway Park Cayuga has changed its name to Toronto Motorsports Park and will host an IHRA national event Aug. 9-11. Several improvements are planned for the Ontario facility, according to TMP owner Uli Bieri.
"By the time Toronto Motorsports Park is completed, you will not recognize it," said Bieri.
Improvements will include a new three-story control tower with a hospitality suite and media center, metal-halide track lighting, a cement safety wall, new grandstands and an extension of the track length to include a new shut-down area and sand trap.
When Holland Speedway runs its season-closing NASCAR All-Division Championships Saturday, the Figure-Eight class will not be included. Holland has banned the class for what it referred to as punishment for ""many weeks of intentional rough driving in the class despite efforts to curtail the actions through suspensions, fines and meetings with the drivers.""
Next season Holland is switching from the eight-cylinder cars to four-cylinder types for its Figure-Eight division.
Wyoming County International Speedway season champions are Jerry Harding Jr., Late Models; Ron Williams, Limited Modifieds; Craig Orr, Street Stocks; Dave Johnston, Pure Stocks; and Ken Barber, Mini-Stocks. Winners last Sunday at WCIS were T.J. Potrzebowski, Sunoco Race of Champions Modifieds; Ron Williams, Pepsi Sportsman Modifieds; and John Durso, Street Stocks.
Shane Riffel won the Cup Lite Bob Bender Memorial 100 at Holland Speedway on Sept. 8. With a good finish this Saturday, he will be the Holland Cup Lite champion for 2001. The Cup Lite division also runs a traveling circuit and if Riffel just starts both his heat and feature race during the NAPA U.S. Open weekend at LMP on Sept. 29, he will be champion of the traveling division as well.
"It was by far the biggest and best career win I ever had," Riffel said of his triumph in the Bender.