Local driver earns Rookie of the Year honors in SuperModified
SAN MARTIN – Bobby Dalton captured the 2002 SuperModified Racing League Maax Lites Rookie of the Year honors in only his second year of racing.
Daulton, 16, was presented with the Rookie trophy, commemorative jacket and cash awards at the SRL banquet held on Oct. 6 in the Grand Hall of the Antique Auto Museum, located on the fifth floor of the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.
Not only did he win the rookie title, but he also took seventh in points in the SRL Maax Lites division, with two top fives and four top-ten finishes. In addition, he finished in the top twenty of the SRL Super division with only four starts. The young racer plans to run for the rookie title in that division in 2003.
Dalton started racing in 2001 in a speedway go-cart in the Altamont Speedway Series, where his brother also raced before moving to the Atwater Speedway Challenge last year.
“We bought a go-cart from a guy in Gilroy,” Daulton said. “Before that we were looking at MicroMidgets, but we never bought one. We decided to buy go-carts instead.”
He switched over to SuperModified after winning a Hyder Hawk chassis in a raffle while at a race in Madera in 2001. The proceeds went to help Davey Hamilton, an INDY race driver who is recovering from a crash.
Daulton and his younger brother Michael each purchased a $100 ticket earlier in the year. Bobby purchased another one on the day of the auction, but he said it was the original one that got him started.
“When we won the car, it didn’t have a motor,” Daulton said. “It was pretty much a rolling chassis. We had most of the parts. A friend of my dad’s built the motor for us. It probably cost about 10 grand for all the parts and work.”
The best part of racing for the young racer has been spending time with his dad Robert, who owns D&A Engineering in San Martin.
“It has been a lot of fun going to the races,” Daulton said. “We just kind of have a good time. I spend a lot of time with my dad working on the car. We learn a lot together.”
Before Daulton’s go-cart he hadn’t done much car maintenance.
“Me had an old MicroMidget that we screwed around with,” Daulton said. “It was old and the motor blew up. We didn’t anything serious. We put oil and gas in it and ran it in the back.”
The SuperModified racing season resumes in April. Daulton said he doesn’t plan to do much racing between now and then.
“There is not really anything to do,” Daulton said. “Some tracks have testing and stuff. I’ll be working on the car and keeping everything maintenanced. There is not really any training to do.”
Daulton said he learned a lot about racing from playing the computer game Dirt Track Racing: Sprint Cars.
“Some people think that games are kind of foolish,” Daulton said. “But the game is quite realistic. We have the whole setup so you can turn the wheel and hit the pedals. I think I learned a lot about driving from that. It helps getting used to different things.”
But the game didn’t help him avoid potentially fatal car trouble. On a half-mile track in Bakersfield, Daulton experienced his worst accident.
“My motor blew up and that got oil all over the tires,” said Daulton about the single-car crash. “Because it is a direct drive where the drive shaft goes directly from the crank shaft into the gear box in back, that locked up the rear tires. And I spun out and hit the wall. The front axle was bent. Both front shocks were damaged, and pistons, rods and crank shaft were destroyed.”
Daulton walked away with a couple of bruises, but nothing serious.
“It was a pretty bad accident,” Daulton said. “It doesn’t sound that bad from the damages. I was pretty lucky. Where I hit on the back straight away there was a gate to get in and out of the track. If I would have hit the gate, it probably would have been a lot worse because it would have been more a direct hit instead of a side impact. I hit at about a 45 degree angle.”
Kartzone in Morgan Hill, NC Metal Painting Inc. in Morgan Hill and D&A Engineering in San Martin are some of the major sponsors. Daulton hopes to eventually race in the IRL and possibly in NASCAR.
For more information about the racing series, check out www.SupermodifiedRacing.com.