Auto Racing: Q-and A-with Chris Cooling
August 22, 2013 9:32PM
Chris Cooling | Kim Kemperman~For Sun-Times Media
Cooling, 30, lives in Kenosha, Wis., but is a native of Joliet. He is in his 13th season of racing, progressing from the street stock to Mid-American to late-model divisions at Grundy County and Illiana speedways. He is an insurance broker/agent.
What got you into racing?
I just started going to (Grundy) as a kid. My dad (John) took me to the track. I found that it was something that I had a lot of interest in.
What was your first car?
It was an old dirt sportsman car that had a metric body on a standard frame. We put a 305 motor in it and just starting running around the track. At the time we were getting 50-something street stocks a night. My first year I only made it into one feature.
How intimidating was that as a teenager?
(Laughing) Very intimidating. At that time Louie Tondini and Randy Weese were out there. I made sure I got out of their way when they got up on me.
When was your first win?
My third year I won one or two street stock races. Then halfway through the year I moved into Mid-Am and was able to win on my fourth night out. That’s when I started thinking, “Maybe I can figure this thing out.”
You won your first career late-model feature this season. What does it take to win more?
Time and equipment, more or less. For us, we’re more weekend warriors. We go out there and run the car hard and competitive. We put money into what we need to put money into — but it takes a lot more than that. It takes a lot of practice out there, going out a couple of times a month to try new things and the updated stuff. We’re not able to do that with my work.
So what is your goal every night?
To go out there, qualify in the top five, run in the top five in the feature and get a win or two out of the year. More than that would be icing on the cake.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you in a race car?
I tried these new seat belts and I used to run the steering wheel real close to me. I went up to (hit) the wall real hard one time, and the steering wheel basically collided with and turned the locks. The belts completely came off as I was plowing into the wall. I needed to change that.
What would satisfy you from racing when all is said and done?
Getting respect from people who win on a regular basis: Larry Schuler, Eddie Hoffman and Boris Jurkovic. Guys like that who would say that, “I respected him as a driver and I had a good time running against him.” That would ultimately be very important to me.”
As told to Tony Baranek