DMSBD Tech Tips

DMSBD Start Up Clinic, Saturday, February 16, 2002
Written by- Ian Carsten

We had an excellent turnout for the February 16 Start Up Clinic. The Detroit Automobile Dealers Association (DADA) graciously provided us with a spacious, comfortable room that was very suitable for this event. Snacks, such as fresh bagels and cream cheese, scones, chips, pretzels, nachos, fresh coffee, and soft drinks were provided in abundance.

We were quite pleased with the attendance. About 117 people showed up, many of them children and parents who had never participated in derby before. Also, a number of participants involved in the derby years ago brought their children and, in a few cases, grandchildren with them to the clinic. Several new derby participants took advantage of the opportunity to sign up to begin racing at Detroit Metro. Also, a number of attendees placed orders for cars at the clinic.

Since DMSBD director, Joe Flynn, got permission to bring up his son Michael’s 2001 Masters Division champ car (now the property of the AASBD) from Akron to the Start Up clinic at DADA, he will be returning it to Akron after the clinic. Then, he will be returning from Akron with a load of car and parts orders, thus saving the purchasers the shipping charges. The savings can be significant. For example, the current shipping prices to this area are: stock car $27, superstock and masters car  $37, and the parts have various prices for shipping, such as,  $10 for axles, $11 for wheels, $5 for a helmet.

Michael’s 2001 champ car, along with his huge 2001 Masters Division trophy was displayed prominently at the clinic. Also, Lauren Flynn’s beautifully painted masters and superstock cars were displayed. And Kyle Scotti’s red stock car that he used to win the second place 2002 Akron Stock Division Championship was on display as well.

Along the wall to the audience’s right was a display of unassembled car kits for the attendees to examine. Additionally, we had framed photographs of Thomas Fisher and his 1940 All American national championship car. We were all surprised and pleased to learn that one gentleman in attendance had raced with Thomas Fisher in 1940. Thomas was the last driver from the Detroit area to win the national title until Michael won the Masters trophy on July 28, 2001. Michael’s car was also borrowed for display at the Detroit Auto Show last month where it was placed in a display of one of the major sponsors of the show. Joe and several other volunteers made initial contact at the show with visitors, several of whom have subsequently attended the start-up clinic and have ordered cars.

Joe handled most of the presentation and did a nice job of it. There were also a number of other presenters as well. The presentation began with an explanation of what the derby is about and brief review of its history from an informal street race among several boys in Dayton, Ohio in 1933 using homebuilt cars to its current form using standardized cars and a framework of structured rules which greatly levels the playing field of today’s derby.

The audience got an explanation of what derby is about and its benefits as a family-oriented, team sport focused on youth. Joe discussed many of the basic features of derby, emphasizing that it has evolved from a simple, rough and ready race, largely without rules into a fun, challenging experience that focuses on fairness for all competitors, sportsmanship, and the learning of new skills. He noted that building the cars is a great way for the young drivers to learn new mechanical skills and that they can and should be mainly built by the driver with help from the adult team members if, and only if, needed. He also spoke about a few of the ideas used to make the cars faster and noted that driving strategy also plays an important part in attaining winning speed. Further, he mentioned that Detroit Metro is adding several new awards to the program, including Best Derby Sprit, Participation, Design, and Rookie Driver.

Ted Schafer reported on the progress of the Weight Program. This is a program to have simple steel plate weights fabricated at low cost for the main weights required to ballast the cars to required legal racing weight. The weight sets are being fabricated by Detroit Metro sponsor, Ideal Steel, and will be made in at least two different sizes, depending how much main weight is needed. These often cause the beginner difficulty in obtaining and cutting to size, and they can be expensive. This should help our racers prepare their cars economically and minimize the problems that building a weight set often entails. Thank you Ideal Steel. We appreciate your continued support.

Detroit Metro drivers Michael and Lauren Flynn, as well as Kyle Scotti, and Alyssa Schafer, spoke about their derby experiences, what it has meant to them and the many ways in which derby racing has benefited them. Lauren did a particularly good job, especially in relating to the kids in attendance in putting them at ease with the idea of beginning racing in derby.

 Elementary school teacher Nick Ellis, former Akron finalist, and father of Detroit Metro driver Sam Ellis, spoke enthusiastically of his love of derby, how it has enriched his life and benefited his family. He concluded his comments by telling his listeners what he considered to be the thing he most wanted to convey. “Don’t miss this opportunity. Derby is too good to miss out on.”

Also, AASBD Region V Director, Jerry Reif, spoke. He said he wished he could bottle Nick Ellis’s enthusiasm for derby for all to see and hear. He noted that DMSBD is doing things a bit differently than other local organizations in Region V (comprising Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin). And, he said he thought we were on the right track and wished us continued success and best wishes.

Our presenters fielded lots of questions from the attendees. Each visitor received a numbered ticket as they arrived. When the formal presentation was over, a drawing was held. The prizes awarded included a number of 2001 Akron souvenir t-shirts, caps, computer games, and at least two copies of the Disney video, “Miracle In Lane Two” about Justin Yoder, the young man who had to petition the AASBD to allow him to race derby in a car equipped with a hand brake since he did not have the use of his legs. You might want to rent that some evening as you and your family may enjoy it.

Then the visitors were encouraged to look at the cars close up and the kids were invited to get in and get a feel of the car and the controls. Several of the DMSBD members, including drivers Alyssa Schafer, Michael Flynn, Lauren Flynn and Kyle Scotti helped young folks get into the cars and get into proper racing position. The young future drivers asked lots of questions, especially about how fast the cars go, how they are steered, how well the brake works, and why they have to get into such a seemingly awkward position. Also, this generated a very enthusiastic response and lots of questions regarding the setup and construction of the cars as well as the rules governing construction, driving, and racing procedure. There were lots of requests for details of this sort, which we did our best to answer.

Quite a few questions were requests for clarification on the wheel swap, lane swap and timer differential. They wanted to know what they are, how they are done, and perhaps most importantly, why they are done. Other frequently asked questions were, “Why do we want to put weight in the car?” and “Why do all the cars within a division have to weigh the same?” We think we did a reasonably good job of explanation. 

Future clinics will deal with construction, setup, and driving strategy.
Check  or
 for the schedule of upcoming clinics.

Another review of this clinic by Nick Ellis, 1970 Detroit Champ

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