Where he shows up to the racetrack, just the driver and a single crew member
On a national tour, that’s near unheard of. Even for local short track racing events, teams generally fill the pit area with friends and family who might pick up a wrench or two.
Yet, on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series tour, Dennis Erb Jr is the anomaly to the common game plan. There’s not a crew of 5 team members. The dirt late model driver from Carpentersville, Illinois shows up the track, just himself and Heather Lyne.
It’s the old-school way of dirt late model racing. Yet, Dennis Erb Jr is still getting it done, the old-fashioned way in 2017. I spoke with Dennis Erb Jr at a recent LOLMDS event on the topic….
What are the driver’s thoughts on that?
Dennis Erb Jr, “That’s a pretty tough deal. What we’re doing out here on the road and that. You know, at least both of us got our jobs. Where we know what we need to do to get things done efficiently.”
“If we can go and not get a bunch of stuff tore up and have a good night, it’s pretty east on us. But, you go and start having a couple bad nights and stuff, it can catch up on you pretty quick.”
In early July, Dennis Erb Jr blew a motor at Muskinghum County Speedway. They rolled out the backup, it was un-lettered. Just a blue car with no number. Yet, they took a provisional and started the feature.
It was really bad timing for the small dirt late model team. After that race, they had to drive the hauler from Ohio to North Carolina for the next event, 3 days later. Then to South Carolina and Tennessee. A marathon stretch of dirt racing events. There wasn’t much time to work on the car. Dennis Erb tapped organge duct tape numbers on the backup and went racing.
Together, Dennis Erb Jr and his single crew member would work on the torn up car all while the backup was set as the one to race that night. They didn’t have a backup until they fixed the primary, they’d work on it any chance they had. In the mean time, the raced several nights on the tour with the unlettered, duct tape number car.
The driver of the #28 continued, “We ran into a deal the other night where we got tore up a little bit. We just had to her straightened out again. To get everything done in time.”
“It’s a tough deal. Especially, if you’re doing it with just two people. Myself and one other person.”
Would you call her the crew chief?
Dennis Erb Jr speaks on his only crew member, Heather Lyne. He stated, “Um, basically. I mean, she’s the one that tries to take care of the car and keep everything all tight.”
“If I make a change, tell her what to do. She’ll be able to do it while I work on our tire situation and the motor and stuff. She’s got a pretty big job to do.
I assume it’s to cut the expenses down so you can run the tour?
Dennis Erb confirms, “It is. I don’t have the funding to hire a full-time person. It’s definitely a cost thing to be able to keep us going up and down the road.”
“Just finding the right person to work with you too. That’s hard to do.”
Do you ever think that if you had a full crew you’d win more races?
Not that Dennis Erb Jr can’t get it done now. I witnessed him pick up one of the more exciting wins of the 2017 season. A last lap pass on the outside of Tony Jackson Jr provided him the UMP Summer Nationals victory at Tri-City Speedway.
I just wondered if the team could step up from where they are currently, if they had more hands. Perhaps, due to a lack of time, some important steps are skipped? Or maybe Dennis feels they have everything covered?
Dennis Erb Jr states, “I don’t think that really the crew is going to make you win more races. It just makes things easier.”
“It would help me, in the long run. Allow me to focus on some other stuff. I definitely believe just the two of us can go out and win races.”
If you want to root for the underdog, here’s your guy. Yes, he’s a badass fast, national dirt late model driver but he does it with the heartbeat of a local race team. Ballin’ on a budget. He is the underfunded driver that takes home the winning check anyway.
Currently, the driver of the #28E sits 8th in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points. The team is back at it again this weekend. The LOLMDS heads to Florence Speedway. The Union, KY dirt track will host the famed North/South 100, paying $50,000 to the winner.
Primary sponsors include; McBride Mack, J.R. McBride Leasing, M&S Concrete Inc, Ideal, and M&M Painting & Construction
Dennis Erb Jr Photos
Author: Shane Walters
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