Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – POWNAL, VT – Olden Dwyer may still be young in regards to his career running Modifieds, but he’s not so young that he can’t remember his father becoming a winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. He’s also not young enough that he can’t remember the guy who was head wrench at that time.
That’s why 2019 is almost a “coming home” for Dwyer. He’ll add Friday nights at the Malta, NY oval to his racing schedule, and has enlisted the help of Edmund “Peanut” Pierce to bring his racing program at Lebanon Valley to the level he feels it needs to be.
Since becoming a Big Block Modified racer, Dwyer has been a mainstay at the Valley, trying to add his name to the list of drivers who have graced victory lane…a list that includes his father. However, just like many other drivers who run one night a week, the second-generation pilot has gotten into the same rhythms that come with knowing the same track week in and week out.
He’s hoping that adding Albany-Saratoga on Friday nights will help make him a better all-around driver.
“I need to get better…simple as that,” Dwyer said. “A place like Malta can help make you a ‘driver’ and that will give me more seat time and experience on different track conditions. I think that will help me get better at Lebanon too…plus it’s a blast to race up there.”
Plans are being put together right now that will see Dwyer take the Teo Pro Car he’s run at Lebanon Valley in the Small Block Modified class to Malta each week. The correct motor combination is still being decided upon, but the team is getting excited to make the trek north each Friday.
“I think we’ll be good up there, but we’ll find out,” he said. “My guys are really looking forward to it, but all we want to do is have fun and learn. We want to gain experience that’ll help make me a better driver on all sorts of track conditions.”
In addition to that, Dwyer is working to strengthen his Lebanon Valley program as well, and that starts with the addition of Pierce to maintain the car. Since he and his son, Chad, stopped racing midway through the 2018 season, Peanut has been keeping himself out of the racing world…all except bringing Dwyer’s car into his shop and prepping the 2018 HigFab Chassis for action this season.
“This year is going to be great,” Dwyer said. “Teaming up with Peanut has already been amazing. Chad and Nut are family and have been since I was a baby when my dad use to put me in his car at Peanut’s shop.”
It’s that ‘going home’ feel and Pierce’s attention to detail that has Dwyer so excited for what’s to come this season.
“My dad and Peanut raced together for years and it is so cool that our families can team up again,” he said. Nut is incredibly smart and I hope to learn all I can from him so we can be very successful this year and have a ton of fun together. This year is all about having fun.”
Another key component this season for the Dwyer team is the addition of a new powerplant strapped between the pipes of his Valley machine. The team will have one of the new engines that was developed all last season by Valley promoter Howard Commander and tech official Mike Petrucci. This engine is being put together by Dan Bedell and should be ready to go for the season opener.
“I think this will be a good option for us and for someone to get into a Big Block,” he said. “Howard and Mike have worked very hard on this, trying to find a way to keep the cost down on these motors. It’s crazy how much an engine cost now. $60k is insane and we’ve got to find a way to make it reasonable to build these things.”
Does Dwyer think this is the answer for his team?
“There’s a lot of people that don’t believe this’ll work,” he said. “We’re confident, though, that we can figure out the right combination for it. I have to thank Howard for his help with this program. He’s trying extremely hard to get the cost down to make it more affordable for someone to move into the Big Blocks. I also have to thank Dan who’s working hard to make it as competitive as it can be.”
Even with all that he has going on, Dwyer knows to have a great year, it takes an amazing amount of support behind him and he’s got a great team who’s ready to tackle this season.
“I can’t do this without the help of all my guys on our team,” he said. “I have to thank Terry and Michelle, Brandon, Russ, Dool, Butch and all everyone who helps on the cars. I’ve got one of the best teams out there. I have to thank my girlfriend, Brooke, for all her support and especially my dad who does so much for me to race. I can’t forget my sponsors who help to make this program a success too. This is a huge team effort and they are all the reason we get to do this.”
The saying, ‘you can’t go home again,’ seems to be lost on Olden Dwyer. Racing at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Peanut Pierce turning the wrenches. His father enjoyed success using this strategy back in the day and now Olden is hoping to rekindle the magic. We’ll have to wait and see if 2019 is the best season of his career, but it certainly has the makings of a banner year for the driver of the 88.