|Website Updated : January 1, 2018
|- 2018 To Be 40th and Final Race Season For Andy Claiborne & VDC Motorsports -
To all my Family, Friends and Race Fans ... I have made the decision with mixed emotions that 2018 will be the last of my racing career. It will also mean that 2019 will be the first time that a member of the Claiborne family has not
been involved in car racing since 1960 when my dad took his first laps in a yellow #4, '40 Ford coupe jalopy in Virginia. My first race was on July 21, 1978 at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, my last race will be July 21, 2018
exactly 40 years to the day that my great adventure started. I have been around racing all my life. My mom used to take me to Riverside & Olympic Stadium when I was a baby to watch dads sprint & sportsman cars race, driven by
Jim McMurray & Ken Williams. She said I would fall asleep before the features would start and she knew then that I was right at home at a race track. Besides Jim and Ken, I developed other heroes as well like Frankie Coleman,
Ray Lee Goodwin, Richard O'Rhazda and Jerry Beach. We used to always have oval-shaped carpets in our house that were different shades of brown and different sizes. Those were my race tracks ... me and my Hotwheels made
laps too numerous to count around those carpets. When I got old enough to build models, I built hundreds and raced them around my oval carpets. Each car represented my racing heroes and friends I had gotten to know.
My dad started racing Formula Vee SCCA Open-wheel road racing cars as a change of pace. I just recently realized that his first FV race was on July 21, 1967 in Independence, KS. What were the odds of that happening ... I love
it ! The weekends he didn't go road racing we were back at the circle-track races. My Mom & Dad would sneak me into the pits at the SCCA races because I was too young to get in. I would curl up in the rear floor and they'd cover
me with a blanket. My sister would put her feet on me to be convincing to the stewards. It's funny that we did all that because as soon as we parked, out I'd come to go see my favorite drivers and those pit stewards just smiled and
waved at me. Great people at a great time in racing. My heroes in the SCCA were just as big to me as my circle track ones. Racers like Jack Hinkle, Dick Durant, Bobby Aylward, Dave Dooley, Bob Hindson and my favorite of all ...
Elouise Norris. Elouise was the best female race car driver I ever saw ... PERIOD. In the pits she was like my grandma, but when she put that helmet on ... she was a tiger ! I've always watched the women racers all through my
career and racers from different ethnic backgrounds. I did that because they had to try twice as hard to be noticed and accepted. One of the greatest memories I have as a race fan was getting to meet Wendell Scott at I-70 Speedway
during the late '70's. I had the great pleasure of getting to chat with him for a few minutes during some down time in the pits during the World Cup 400. It didn't matter what color he was because all he talked about was racing and
the people he had raced with. He was a great man, a hell of a racer and has been a hero of mine ever since. Even at a young age I watched the young racers who were coming along too, because at that time young racers couldn't buy
their rides ... they were for the veterans only.
My dad also liked being a track promotor. In 1976, '77, and '78 he ran Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City. In 1987, '88, '89 and 1993 he promoted Linn County Speedway in Pleasanton, KS. In 1989 he also ran Adrian Speedway
in Adrian, MO. My dad ran his last SCCA FV race at the end of the 1969 season. They stopped racing the dirt track cars about this same time because Ken Williams lost his life at Topeka, Ks and Jim McMurray was having vision
problems after a couple bad flips. The racing was not fun anymore for dad. Many business commitments kept dad busy until a friend convinced him to go to the races again in 1973. It didn't take long for dad to get the bug again, so
that winter along with best friend Jim McMurray they built a Datsun 510 mini-stock to race. From 1974 to 1978 dad raced the mini-stock at Olympic, Riverside and Lakeside Speedways. At this time I found new racing heroes in
the mini-stocks. Guys like Cliff Lawrence, Bryan Jenks, Don Holland, Richard Johnson, Jim Denny and Roger Arnhart were the ones I looked up to. These drivers could do no wrong in my eyes. My dad also ventured down to
Bolivar, Springfield and Monett, Mo plus some tracks in Arkansas. He also went to the big mini-stock race in Rockford, IL to try his luck on the asphalt. At the end of the 1977 season my dad hung up his helmet for good so he could
help me get my first race car ready. One of my regrets in racing was not getting to race with my dad ... I would have loved that !
The year 1978 would be my most memorable ... I would be racing for the first time, and I would be racing against many of my racing heroes. We had built a '67 Pontiac Firebird to race at I-70 Speedway on the pavement. I had a
new racing love and it was asphalt racing. My dad had took me out to I-70 for the big specials they had for late models the previous few years and I was so impressed by the guys that came and raced, I knew I had to race like them.
My excitement was fueled by travelling hotshoes like Dick Trickle, Tom Reffner, Tom Maier, Don Gregory, Larry Detjens, Mike Miller, Bob Senneker, Joe Ruttman, Ed Hoffman, Dave Watson, Joe Shear, Randy Sweet, Ray
Young and Mike Eddy. We had good area asphalt racers too like Larry Phillips, Terry Bivins, Rusty Wallace, Dave Wall, Mark Martin, Dave Goldsberry, Joe Wallace, Willie Crane, and Terry Brumley. I was in seventh heaven
around these guys ... the cars were awesome looking and flew like rockets around the high-banks. I knew at this point I wanted to be a race car driver ! A twist of fate changed my racing career from asphalt to dirt. My dad had
decided to drop the sprint cars from Lakesides weekly card and brought in the hobby-stocks to take their place. It was a hard decision for my dad. He had alot of good friends in the open wheel group around the KC-area and he
knew I wanted to race pavement. Dad knew the hobby stocks would need alot of support to get going so he asked if I would run with them instead of I-70. I agreed and my career started on dirt in 1978.
I thought I would be unhappy racing on dirt, but I can easily say that was probably my most fun year. I got to meet new racers and got to hang with my dirt late model heroes. I had grew up watching guys like Joe Wallace, Dave
Wall, Terry Bivins, Galen Schaefer, Kenny Baker, Wally Wallen, John Linscott, Jack Constable, Mike & Bud Dibben, Larry Briggs and Larry Sullivan. Now here I was ... in the pits ... with them. The hobby guys were my first
racing friends I guess you'd say. They were great people ... drivers like Rusty Hilderman, Duane Isaacs, John Nitsch, Gary Jellison, Stan Crooks, Don Collier, Dennis Millard and Ken Bisel raced me, rubbed me and sometimes
yelled at me ... but they were also the first ones that came over and helped me when I needed it. I will always be grateful to those guys.
In 1979 we were lucky enough to buy out a late model team that was getting out of racing. The car was a Sanger chassis with a big block motor that had been driven by Ron Tilley of Iowa. It was a great car and we got to make
new race friends that year racing in the late model class. We raced at numerous tracks & specials throughout the midwest that year. What a great year, I got to race local veterans like Joe Wallace, Galen Schaefer and John Oswalt
along with young guns like Joe Kosiski, Rick Beebe, Bobby Goulden and Billy Moyer. There were lots of grizzled veterans from out of town like Bob Kosiski, Bill Rice, Don Hoffman, Shelby Steenson, Ferris Collier, Tom Frasher
and Clayton Petersen. What a group of racers !
Through my career I've had alot of great people help me with my racing. In the beginning there was always Jim McMurray who not only built the all-aluminum sprinter with dad, he later built dads mini-stock and my hobby-stock as
well. Jim also helped dad with all the tracks he ran along the way. I miss Jim ... a bunch ... he always had a smile on his face. And even though he raced a bunch and built alot of race cars, he never treated me like a kid ... he talked
to me like I was a veteran racer ... I miss him.
I was truly lucky to have veteran help early in my career that taught me about race cars and race engines. Bill & Gene Cohee helped assemble & paint my first cars. Don Kirn, Richard (Huey)Anthony, Fred (Goober) Reneau and
Mike Kempton helped more than they'll ever know with teaching me about engines and chassis. Even though we didn't always see eye-to-eye, they were always trying to show me the right way to do things.
When I first started racing most of my "few crew" was my school friends ... Bill Brown and John Wells and I had fun times with the race cars. Later I became friends with some fans of mine in Columbia, MO. The Payne family
took a liking to me and have been a part of my racing ever since. Jim Payne ended up being on my crew for almost 37 years ... If you've seen me race, chances are Jim was there with me. A racing buddy of mine from high school
has also had a long stint with me. Jeff Meeker started out as a hobby-stock driver who later became my full-time crew for many years. He's living in Iowa now but is still involved in racing. Another family that became close friends
is the Allen family from Kirksville, MO. What started out as them coming to buy a car from me ended up a close racing teammate for many years. Bart, Doug and Todd Allen have been close friends and teammates in the
latemodels & modifieds. We built and raced late models for years with Bart doing the driving including driving my car when I broke my arm one season. Later we built a few modifieds together under the banner "Chassis USA".
Whenever I needed a test driver to shake down the latest changes on my car, I always called on Bart because he was one helluva shoe. When I started working and driving for Mike & Phyllis Clark at Dirt Works Race Cars in
Walker, MO., I made new friends who became my crew help. Richard Demery, Don Thomlinson and Shannon Green all became great friends and great pit help. We had awesome and unforgettable adventures together on the
road, racing across the country.
I have had a successful career in the 39 years I've raced, and to have success you have to have people who are more than crew to help you along the way. There are people who give you more than a helping hand ... these are the
people that look after you during the bad times as well as the good. I have truly been blessed with these people in my life. My family has always looked after me in life, but there are some that helped that aren't blood-relatives. I want
to give these people a "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart for having helped me more than they will ever know ... Paul Grey, Greg Clemons, John Speer, Mike Wedelstadt, Bill Bushore, Mike & Mary Henry, Bart Schmidt &
Family, Freddy Vance, Johnnie Null & Family, Wally Wallen & Family, Craig Wood & Family, Carl Burdett, Kelly Lyon & Family, Curtis Allen, Karl Fredrickson, John & Jr. Lowrey, Randy Harrison, John Waugh, Julie McDermid,
Glen & Colleen Portzen, Randy & Sundy Ward, Rob Keller & Family & Crew, David Eaton & Family, Jeff Meeker & Family, Loni Richardson & Family, Joe Booth & Family, Steve Mitchell, Robbie & Melissa Musick, Dick &
Sharon Davis, Tim North Jr., Chad Lyle & Family, Kerry Davis & Family, Scott Styskal, Russell Moore & Family, Steve Crane & Family, Monty Grice & Family, Jimmy King, Mike Hanson & Family, Wayne Redmond, Gary
Clark & Family, Mike & Phyllis Clark, Alan Covert, Jamie & Angela Hibbs, Chris Prussman & Crew, Brayton Skaggs & Family, Bryan Trogdon & Family, Karl Jenkins and most of all Jennifer Null who has been there for me for
a long time now. She has been my friend, my shoulder to lean on ... and sometimes cry on. She has been my pit crew and my race driver. She has been my biggest cheerleader and my toughest critic. I wouldn't trade our time together
for all the world ... but mostly shes been my soul mate. Thank You babe for being in my life !
I have had many different race cars in my career and they were all great cars. I would like to thank the people who built these awesome machines : Ed Sanger & Crew, Billy & Bobby Thomas at Jig-a-lo Chassis, Larry Shaw &
Family at Larry Shaw Race Cars, C.J. Rayburn & Royce Johnson at Rayburn Race Cars, Ray & Bret Callahan at Bullitt Chassis, GRT Race Cars, Mike & Phyllis Clark & Dirt Works Race Cars, Evolution Race Cars, Harris
Race Cars and Skyrocket Chassis. I would also like to thank the great people at AFCO Race Products, the awesome staff at PERFORMANCE BODIES, and the late Wayne Redmond at AERO Wheels who helped me
though much of my racing career.
As I said earlier, the decision to retire was made with mixed emotions. I always have been and always will be a huge fan of auto racing. I am in decent health and am down to my high school weight. One of the factors that made
this choice easier was the fact that my racing has always been family based. When I lost my dad in 1993 the thrill of racing left me. If it had not been for the encouraging of my mom & Mike Clark, I would have quit racing then. I
think they knew it would not be good for me to quit. Thinking back I would say my dad would have not wanted that either. I've been racing ever since, all over the country seeing new tracks and meeting new racers & fans. In
January of 2015 I was involved in an accident while delivering a car to one of Bob Harris's chassis schools. The accident left me with a broken back. In March of 2015 my mom took ill and past away. About that same time my
crew chief Johnnie Null started having health issues. By the end of summer friend & crewman Jim Payne had major health problems. I tried racing a late model in July 2015 but quickly realized my back wasn't healed enough to
continue racing. In October Craig Wood asked if I wanted to drive his modified at the year end special at Nevada, so I did. My back felt fine and a race car felt comfortable to me again. In 2016 I got a great little B-mod to race
and went back at it. I really enjoyed it but realized when I got home after the races that there was no one to tell what happend. Slowly I starting losing interest. Towards the end of the season a friend (Brayton Skaggs) had motor
problems so I contacted him about driving my car the rest of the year. We got to race a few times before the weather got bad. When 2017 rolled in Brayton got his own car back together to race. We got my car ready to race again.
In the mean time I traded my late model for a couple more B-mods. I thought maybe with Braytons enthusiasm and a stable of cars my interest would pick up. As if it was planned I saw where Gary Clark might not get to race,
so I contacted him about driving one of my B-mods. Again I was thinking that having Gary on board with us would surely get the juices flowing again. The boys raced the season well ... I was very proud of them both. When the
season ended I sat in the shop one day and thought about it all. I came to the conclusion that nothing we did had helped ... I just wasn't enjoying the racing. It would have been different if I had Dad & Mom to talk to about how the
racing went each weekend. So, I have decided that 2018 will be my 40th and final year of racing. On a high note my friend Jeff Meeker has contacted me about racing his road racing car in Texas in March. There will be 2 days of
racing with each day having a 8-hour endurance race. This is happening at Harris Hill Raceway in San Marcos, TX on March 17 & 18. I am very excited about this because my dad always told me I should try road racing. He said
he really enjoyed it and thought I would too. I will be racing the B-mod some too this year ... most likely at Nevada Speedway. I will be officially retired from racing on July 22, 2018.
Last but not least I want to thank all of the racing fans I've met across the country ... with out you cheering us all on, we wouldn't have any places to race.
... I hope to get to see some of you this year at the race track !
- So Long and God Bless -
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