Marcis Puts Smith Behind The Wheel To Qualify At Sears Point
June 23, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Smith, 62, drove a Corvette to clinch the SCCA World Challenge Championship in 1990 and 1992. He didn’t make the field for the event in Sonoma, Calif. last season because of a broken gear, but Marcis is putting his faith in the Pennsylvania native.
"R.K.'s cup of tea is road racing. I used to be a pretty good road racer. That was before everybody tested there and had special cars. Everybody goes to driver's schools, and I don't get to do that anymore. I've gotten behind on some of my road racing experience,” said Marcis, who didn’t qualify at Sears Point last year after suffering an injury at Pocono.
“R.K. is a road racer. He knows that particular course. I think I have a better chance of getting the car qualified with him in it. I think I'll let him race it if he qualifies it as long as he's doing good in practice. That's what we're going there for.”
The relationship between the pair dates stretches over three decades. Marcis actually credits Smith with some handiwork with a 125-qualifier victory at Daytona early in his career.
"I actually met R.K. several years ago when I worked for Roger Penske driving the Matador back in the early 70s. He even helped us in the pits when I drove for Harry Hyde. He's actually the guy responsible for me winning the 125-miler in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1976. I broke a shifting lever, and we came down and made our final pit stop. I couldn't get the car going,” Marcis indicated.
"I hollered out the window for someone to throw me a 9/16 wrench. Nobody heard me. I was trying to get the car going and slipping the clutch to get it going. He heard me holler and jumped back over the wall, grabbed a 9/16 wrench and stuck it in the window. I had already torn the rubber boot loose on the floor. I stuck it down in that hole and got the car up in third gear. I got going, but we were almost a lap behind. I ended up catching Buddy Baker with a lap to go and passed him on the back straightaway going into turn three. I ended up winning the race."
Marcis, an owner/driver on the Winston Cup Series circuit, has only qualified for five events so far in 2000 and plans on working with the crew in the pits if Smith should make the race. The Wisconsin native thinks it’s financially taxing for a team to compete on the road courses.
"Maybe I can help make some pit strategy calls and hope that will help our whole situation. Road racing is all right, but it's quite costly for Winston Cup teams to have two cars and probably in a lot of cases three cars and a lot of special transmissions. It's probably not the best deal for Winston Cup, especially as time demanding as our sport is becoming to run the ovals and stuff," the 59-year-old said.
"It's nice to go do it, and it used to be a lot of fun to break the monotony of just doing the ovals, but with the schedule we've got now it makes it pretty tough, and it's also very costly. Probably Winston Cup would be better off without it."