When "Underdog" stages on the starting line for another night of Quick 32 class IHRA drag racing Friday evening at Dunn Tire Raceway Park, he will be hoping that Houdini will have pulled some more magic from his winning bag of tricks.
"Underdog" is the racing nickname of the dragster driven by Alden's Dave Gomolski.
Driving what he refers to as a very under-funded and antique drag racing machine and sporting a budget just a fraction of what most of his fellow racers spend, Golomski has managed to win this season. He is tied for second in Quick 32 points at the raceway.
Accompanying him on his quest to clear the steep financial hurdles is local drag racing's "Houdini," better known as his crew chief and brother, Jim Gomolski.
A drawing of the "Underdog" cartoon character is painted on Gomolski's dragster's engine scoop.
"This class has competitors in it who have $60,000 plus into their race cars and I'm out there with my 1979 antique dragster that maybe has about $15,000 in it," said Dave Gomolski. "I picked up the chassis for $4,000 and use a lot of used parts. That's why I'm the "Underdog."
On July 1, Gomolski won his first race this season and picked a good night to do it, as the season's biggest drag racing crowd was on hand for the Pedregon's brothers Nitro Funny Car match race.
"It was unbelievable to win, especially in front of that big crowd and it was just a lot of hard work by Jim [Gomolski] that got it done," said Dave Gomolski. "That's why he's Houdini. He keeps finding ways to get all the power he can out of this old car. I had one other win that I can remember and that was a few years ago at New York International Raceway Park."
The Gomolski team had a setback last year when their dragster was heavily damaged in a starting line mishap.
"Suddenly, I was a low-buck racer needing to replace a lot of stuff that got broken," said Gomolski, who is owner of the Millgrove Service Center.
He is grateful for assistance provided to him by BRK Racing Engines, Triple G Service, Louie Post Chassis Service, NAPA Auto Parts, Hastings Plumbing and the Cash N Go Pawn Shop.
Two important individuals that offer support are Shawn Montgomery who rebuilds the team's transmission and Gomolski's girlfriend, Jill Figueroa, who he calls his good luck charm.
As the season winds down, Gomolski remains optimistic in his quest for the Quick 32 season points crown at the Lancaster strip.
He is currently tied for second with Rick Thurnherr in Quick 32 with 690 points, trailing Mark Talmadge, who has amassed 750.
"Hey, I have a win this season and I'm still tied for second in points and I race against the quickest cars on the property every week so maybe I can get one for the "Underdog," laughed Gomolski.
Veteran area racer and car owner Ray Stevens died this past Friday at age 80. Stevens of Ontario raced many different types of stock cars in the early 1950's and when he won he did the "Stevens Shuffle" atop the roof of his car in victory lane.
His race driving career was cut short in a roll-over accident at Merrittville Speedway on June 25, 1955, when he suffered permanent lower body paralyzing injuries which confined him to a wheel chair for the rest of his life.
It didn't stop him from being in the pits for all these years later, helping numerous teams, especially the team which featured his now retired driving son Brian Stevens. This father-son duo won many dirt track Modified races together at the area speedways.
Two big oval track events will be staged this weekend. The annual Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial Modified 100 will take center stage Saturday at Dunn Tire Raceway Park.
The $10,000-to-win 27th Annual Alex Friesen Summer Nationals 100 will get the green flag for the 358 Modifieds during Ransomville Speedway's 7:15 p.m. program Friday.
Along with the usual Ransomville contingent, traveling stars Stewart Friesen, Billy Decker, Pat Ward, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard, Alan and Danny Johnson will compete at Ransomville. Friesen is the defending Summer Nationals race winner.