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Auto Racing: Q-and-A with Chris Woodall

Chris Woodall is points leader turbo stox divisiIllianSpeedway. | Goodaker Photography/For Sun-Times Media

Chris Woodall is the points leader in the turbo stox division at Illiana Speedway. | Goodaker Photography/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 21, 2014 4:05PM



Woodall, 33, of Blue Island, is in his 14th season of racing. A service technician, he’s the points leader in the turbo stox class at Illiana Speedway with two heat and four feature wins.

Most drivers start in the support divisions and work their way up the ladder, but you did the opposite.

Yeah, I started in the Mid-American Division when I was 19 and won rookie of the year at Illiana in 1999, but then it became kind of a money thing and not knowing enough about racing in terms of setup. We found our niche in street stocks in terms of being able to afford it and having help with Dave Dotter.

How did you get into racing?

My dad (Ron Woodall) did it for a little bit in the ’70s at raceway and my grandpa (Alfred Peterson) did it in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s been in my family my whole life. It was kind of a natural progression type thing.

Do you remember your first win?

It was in 2007. I held off Eddie Ligue for the win. It seems like me and Eddie have raced for wins forever.

What makes street stock racing appealing?

It’s not as complicated as a late-model with setup. It’s a lot about the driver being able to adjust to what the car is doing. They’re pretty simple in setups, and it’s more fun. If you get a little beating and banging, you can just knock the fender back. Everything is just easier to deal with.

Are you alone in the garage or do you have a crew?

It’s definitely a crew of guys. I’m in a shop (in Thornton) with Dave Dotter, Eddie Wolf, Jacob McKown, Benny McKown and Matt Arvia. There are a million people at the shop every week. We have plenty of help.

You’ve had a lot of success. Are you a natural behind the wheel?

I wouldn’t say natural. It took me a long time to get used to everything. When we first started it was hard to tell what the car was doing. Now I pretty much know what I like on my car and know how to get it where I want it.

The quarter-mile at Illiana is tough. What’s the hardest part?

Really it’s just getting used to the corners. It’s a lot of braking, and you’ve got to be smooth on the brakes and not overdrive or you’ll slide up. Then just getting through traffic without doing too much beating and banging.

Is it difficult to get respect in that division?

It’s difficult to get respect in terms of being a clean driver. If you try to be too clean the other (drivers) will try push you around. It’s hard to explain. I guess you need a little bit of finesse and a little bit of bumping without being dirty.

What does racing mean to you?

Racing is competitive, and I’ve always been a competitive person. I played a lot of sports growing up. When you get older, sports come with a lot of injuries, so I guess racing is my competitive outlet now.

As told to Tony Baranek



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