Auto Racing: Driver Chris Woodall doing a lot with less
By Tony Baranek email@example.com August 29, 2013 10:30PM
Chris Woodall holds off a charge on the outside from Johnny Senerchia during Friday night's street stock fast heat. Woodall won that race, as well as the feature. | Brian Nolte~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:32AM
Recently, we wrote about how the cost of racing has taken a deep cut into one of the most unlikely divisions of local racing: the street stocks.
Meet one of the “victims”: Chris Woodall.
The 32-year-old Calumet City native and Blue Island resident was a top contender in the turbo stox class at Illiana Speedway, finishing as high as second in points in 2011.
The past couple of seasons he has been competing on an extremely part-time basis. But when he’s shown up? Wow.
In 2012, Woodall won three of the five events he ran in between Grundy and Illiana speedways. He ended the season, in fact, by capturing the turbo feature on the night of the Bettenhausen Classic.
This year, in 10 appearances, Woodall has four heat race and two feature victories. Friday at Grundy he beat runaway division leader Johnny Senerchia in both the fast heat and feature.
“Earlier in the year we had motor troubles,” Woodall said. “To finally get the car running and back like it should be felt really good.
“Beating Johnny out there this year has been good for anyone. To beat him straight up without him having any problems was a great feeling.”
Woodall has been competing since 1999, when he debuted in the Mid-American class at Illiana. He was rookie of the year and sixth in points that year before expenses forced him to the sidelines.
After sitting for a couple of seasons he bought a street stock and swiftly became one of the front-runners. He was at the top of his game when he decided to stop points chasing after the 2011 campaign.
“It was just financial,” Woodall said. “I don’t have the money to run full-time how I want to run. I can get by running on old tires and stuff, but I’d rather run for wins. Doing it part-time makes it easier to run for wins because I just race when I have the money.”
He’s looking for sponsorship. It would seem to be a pretty solid investment.
Change of pace
D.J. Weltmeyer had two new experiences over the weekend when he drove a late-model Friday at Kankakee Speedway and made his ARCA debut Sunday at Madison International Speedway.
The performances didn’t bring wildly successful results — Weltmeyer was 11th in the late-model main at Kankakee and was on a “start-and-park” leash in the ARCA event. But the 20-year-old son of area racing legend Dave Weltmeyer came away happy.
At Kankakee, he drove a late-model offered by promoter Tom Smith.
“I got my three practice laps and I kind of learned as the (night) went on,” Weltmeyer said. “It was interesting. Everything I learned for an asphalt car was pretty much backward, from getting it rolling to driving it on the track.
“In the feature, I actually got the hang of it, throwing it into the corners and seeing everybody in different lanes. I actually did get to race sideways for a couple of laps. It was a blast.”
The appearance in an ARCA car with the Roulo Brothers continued a family tradition started by his dad.
“It was definitely cool,” D.J. said. “I got about 15 laps in the car (at practice). I didn’t really turn it loose … but I could definitely feel the horsepower in it. Hopefully, we’ll get another chance (in an ARCA car) sometime soon.”
Weltmeyer said it’s “day by day” on when he’ll return to Illiana after a week suspension for leaving his pit area after an Aug. 17 incident with Eddie Hoffman. He did say he’ll race in the Sept. 14 Bettenhausen Classic.