After Brad Urquhart’s 1970 Monte Carlo was damaged beyond repair in the August 18 Pure Stocks main event at Barona Speedway, Urquhart purchased two Novas for driving in the Street Stocks division. Gary Hartsuyker drove a 1978 Nova at Barona Speedway but decided to retire from racing while Jim Ramsey, who sold the Monte Carlo to Urquhart prior to the 2010 season, had a 1976 Nova he intended to race but had postponed the completion of that racecar for other projects. Urquhart took over Hartsuyker’s Nova while James and Rod Robison turned Ramsey’s Nova into a dirt-track racecar.
The Robisons were able to get the 1976 Nova, which Urquhart still owns, ready to race for Barona Speedway’s 2013 season opener March 30. Rod Robison drove the car to a fourth-place finish in the eight-lap heat race that night, although a pair of steering problems in the main event prevented Robison from finishing the 20-lap feature.
“It was a mixed night,” Robison said. “The car was really hooking up in the heat race.”
The Nova had raced at the Perris and Irwindale tracks before Ramsey purchased it from Bill Shoemaker in 2009. Ramsey also sold a racing motor to Urquhart which is now in the Robisons’ Nova. The Robisons spent several months building the car and had it ready for the Barona
“The car ran real good. In hot laps we found an issue with springs and made an adjustment,” Rod Robison said.
The adjustments following the practice laps helped Robison during the heat race, but that wouldn’t provide a better main event start. Robison, who moved from Santee to Fallbrook in 2007, drove in the Street Stocks division at Cajon Speedway in the 1980s and drove in the Pony Stocks at Barona Speedway but had never previously driven a Street Stock at Barona Speedway and was thus classified as a rookie. Robison’s rookie status required him to start both the heat race and the main event in the back.
The heat race was thus primarily a test of the car for Robison. “Pulled up to fourth and was fighting for third,” he said. “We were side by side at the end fighting for third. Lost third by about a fender length, but I wasn’t really pushing the car too much in the heat race.”
Robison knew he would be starting the main event in the back and that his heat race finishing position would be irrelevant. “I didn’t want to tear the car up in the heat race,” he said.
Internal rather than external problems limited Robison’s activity in the main event. During the first lap, his power steering belt came off. “I had to baby it in the corners,” Robison said.
Robison was still able to move up to eighth place. “I gained a few positions,” he said.
“About lap 15 or 16 we had a malfunction on the steering coupler,” Robison said.
“The coupler worked its way loose,” Robison said. “The steering wheel and shaft came off in my hands in the middle of turn three and four.”
Robison’s next task was to avoid the track wall. “I was trying to do everything I could with the throttle,” he said.
Robison avoided damage from the wall but not from another former Pony Stocks driver who hadn’t driven in the Street Stocks since 2009. “Dennis Taylor decided to plow into me,” Robison said. “Tore the car up a little bit but not too bad, but ended our night for sure.”
That was the only yellow flag caution of the race. “It wasn’t the night we wanted to begin with,” Robison said.
“We’ll put it back together. We were really encouraged by the heat race results,” Robison said.
Robison and his son shared driving duties in the Pony Stocks class. “It’s definitely a little different to drive than the Pony,” Robison said of his Street Stock.
Urquhart injured his wrist in a non-racing accident earlier that morning and did not race, although Urquhart split time between the pits and the stands that night. Robison’s pit crew consisted of James Robison and Ken Oelke. Fallbrook Fertilizer Feed and Farm Supply sponsors the Nova.
Rod Robison expects the Nova to be ready for the April 13 Barona Speedway race. James Robison is planning to drive the car April 20 at Perris Auto Speedway.
“I really think the car’s going to be very competitive this year,” Rod Robison said.