Column By: RUSTY RHOADES / RPW – ACCORD, NY – On Tuesday, Mike Gular proved just how amazing the racing community can be when combined with a never quit attitude of a driver/team.
He went from the absolutely snakebitten scenario of blowing both his race hauler truck and race car motors in a few hours time to driving someone else’s car from the back of the field to the runner-up podium position at the end of the talent-laden Short Track Super Series Battle of the Bullring at Accord Speedway.
Mike was nice enough to give me a few minutes after the race to break down his day filled with both great resiliency and great racing people.
“At about 1:30pm on Route 78 we pulled over, it (the truck) was smoking,” Gular started. “We thought it was just a leak so we wiped it down a little, kept going, quickly realized we had some major issues and pulled it over in a safe area in case it started on fire.”
As any die-hard race team would do first, they took to their smartphones and social media in search of some possible help getting themselves and their car to southern New York. And it didn’t take long for local racing friends to lend their support.
A crew member called fellow modified standout Rick Laubach, who then referred them in the perfect direction.
“Lucky enough, (modified driver) Ryan Krachun and (RKR team member) Cody Hager happened to be local. And they even had the same trailer hitch, so we just unhooked our truck, hooked up to theirs and off we went with a truck driver.”
They made it to Accord on time, unloaded a bit loose during hot laps and made some adjustments before the next huge shot of adversity hit.
“We came out tight for the heat race, then it shook and blew up, blew some rods out the side of it,” Gular lamented.
Then the next round of support from the racing community swept through the pit area, and this time from folks that prior to this Mike and his team really weren’t familiar with at all.
“Jimmy Wells came over and said he had a back-up car here since he was winning the points.” Mike added, “I think it’s Mike Ricci’s car, just Jimmy was using that as his backup tonight. He said if they needed anything to come on over, so I did.”
And boy was that a valuable decision, as Gular and his crew swapped a few things from their car onto the Ricci 17 ride and tagged the tail of the B Main. He survived involvement in a track blocking caution during that race and garnered a qualifying spot a races’ end.
And then come feature time, he again rebounded from an early race incident that had him restarting at the rear. By the time race winner Andy Bachetti drove under the checkers, Mike had just passed Matt Sheppard into second and had his sights set on a similar looking 17.
“That’s how you do good in points and that’s how you win championships,” Gular noted. He would know. His ’18 Grandview Speedway track championship broke a two decade long streak of only the big three (Strunk, Von Dohren, Howard) accomplishing that feat.
He’s also right in terms of what lies ahead this season, as this eight hour roller coaster rebound keeps him right in the thick of the Short Track Super Series North Region title hunt. Gular currently stands less than 50 markers back from Sheppard in 5th place.
So what does this show about upstart invader Mike Gular and his crew? “This (STSS) North tour means a lot to us, just like the South tour does,” he concluded. “This whole deal means a lot to us, so we don’t give up. We keep digging.”