Drew Walters: “I was a mud scraper looking for a promotion at the start of it.”
56 races are currently on the schedule for Pennsylvania’s Gregg Satterlee. He hit the national dirt late model tour for the first time in 2017 and he’s at it again this season. In the back of the#22 hauler you might find Drew Walters (no relation).
He’s the guy that’s taking the extra time to focus on the small details of the racing tire. He’ll make those tire grooves perfectly straight and the tire itself will be spotless. This is right before Satterlee hits the track and coves all four of them in mud.
How long have you been a tire guy?
“I’ve been a tire guy… Oh wow, a long time. I don’t even know.”
Does it help if I say full-time tire guy?
“I was a mud scraper looking for a promotion at the start of it. I’d say at least 20 years now.”
How many tires do you go through a year?
“It just kinda varies, depending on what we run and where we go. With the Lucas Tour and their tire rule, we don’t really go through as many. But, it’s still a tremendous amount.”
“With the tire rules varying, where we gotta run the same fronts. Typically, we’ll go through 4 a night.”
I did the math for you. That’s 224 tires that need to be prepped, per year.
But you bring way more than that.
“Depending on where we’re going and how far we’re out we’ll carry a bunch loose and have a rack full of mounted stuff. We make sure that we plan out what you would typically run on a night. With Hoosier being everywhere it’s easy just to be able to run to the truck and go get one if you need one.”
So you don’t necessarily have to bring two weeks of tires to Florida?
“Not necessarily, it’s good just to have them on the truck. That way if I’m up and I decide that I want to do tire work at 3 in the morning then I got them onboard. It really isn’t a problem. Hooiser does a good job of being where we’re at, being involved and having a good stock.”
4 races tires. How long does it take you to prep those?
“On average, it’s about an hour a tire. That’s me, some guys are a lot faster.”
Are you the guy that has to get the lines perfectly straight?
“Yeah, I’m that guy. I’m the perfectionist. I like taking my time and making sure I get everything straight.”
Does it matter if they’re straight though? Performance wise?
“To me it does. They don’t have to look pretty but it’s like an art form. It’s something that I take pride in. Other tire guys will walk by, it shows that I have a passion for it. It’s just something I like doing.”
I have OCD. This photo below makes me happy.
Is this your only job?
“Yes. There’s miscellaneous tasks that I have. When we’re home, we get washed up and all that. But, basically I take care of tires and that’s my main focus as far as the team. I can chip in with whatever they need.”
Has it always been the goal to go racing full-time in some fashion? In this case, it’s as a tire guy.
“Absolutely, this has been my dream for years. I worked with my uncle from the mid 80’s when he started. My dad took me to the races when I was a kid and my uncle races 4 cylinders. As I got older, I got to do a little bit more. I always ended up doing the deal that nobody else liked doing: mud scrapping, changing rear gears.”
“But, I love the sport. I love being involved. I had no real desire to drive. I like working on them.”
Have you ever driven?
He’s never put you in the car just for like a test?
“Nope, I had no desire to do it. I enjoy the work. ‘ll let those guys drive. I enjoy watching them. It’s neat to see it from that perspective.”
“It would be cool to get in something. Just to get the true feel of it. But, it’s not my main deal. I really enjoy where I’m at.”
“I started with my uncle Jason. We just moved up.”
How did you get in contact with Gregg Satterlee?
“When Robby was working with Rick Eckert, a long time ago, we got to be pretty good friends with them. I’ve known Robby forever. Looked up to him and respected him. I’ve just looked up to him my entire life.”
“He’s always helped my uncle out. I’ve always wanted to work with the guy, just never had the right situation. When we raced regionally with worked with Barry and Brian Klein in the #43A were tremendous. With me being able to do this, at this level. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been like the unachievable goal. Then, it’s like ‘oh-my-god, I’m here.’ ”
“Week in and week out, I’m racing with the best guys. Crew, drivers and series, in my opinion. It’s something that I passed up on years ago. It’s ate at my soul, ever since. I just wasn’t in the right situation to take the job.”
“Barry and Brian stopped there and my uncle went to race for a Cameraman. I just decided I was done. Halfway through the season, I got a phone call from Robby. He’s like, ‘What are you doing? Where ya at?’ I’m like,’Nothing. I’m sitting on the couch.’ ”
“I was trying to do that normal life, I guess. It wasn’t working out too well for me. He had me come down to the shop at his place. I started cutting tires. I still had a full-time job at the time.”
“I was cutting tires for them for a few years. I was burnt out at my job. I worked at an auto dealership for 15 years. I was in the right situation where I was done and I just wanted to see if I can do this instead. If I didn’t take the job, something was going to eat at me the rest of my life. I had to do this.”
“I owe that guy everything. There’s been a lot of people behind me, supporting me and showing me how to get to this point.”
“If it took this long for me to get to here, I’d do it all over again. I can’t thank the Klein’s enough I can’t thank my Uncle enough. Especially my dad, just for taking me to the races. Just to get the hook set.”
“Gary and Gregg give me the opportunity to go on the road and do this. It’s a dream come true. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. There’s a bunch of guys back home, Jeff and Brandon. We grew up racing together, the dream was always to do it at this level. I’m doing it for me. But, a little bit of me is doing it for them too. It’s nice to be here.”