under the sun
THE BRUNSWICK&BEACON D
THURSDAY. OCTOBER 31. 1V91 D
It's Life In Fast Lane For
Brunswick County's Tony Caines
BY TERRY POI'K
r ? Kic car in Tony Caincs' tront yard is a Buick. and
it'll go 160 miles an hour. Obviously, it's not
JL your average Buick. Last week Caincs was busy
switching engines in the machine that had just complet
ed a race at die Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When the No. 89 car heads to Atlanta Nov. 16 for
its final race of the season. Caincs and his crew of sev
en men will be dreaming of victory's lane, lar away
from his Northwest community home in Brunswick
On the job, Caincs helps operaic a trucking business
and keeps the dicsel engines in operation.
But away from the job, he shares time in the driv
er's seat of the 1987 Buick La Sabre w ith driver Rocky
Hodges of Indiana. Caines is also chief of the pit crew,
which is why the car has found a home port in
The move from local dirt tracks to life in the fast
lane came swift for Caines, who nurtures the car that is
owned by Dec and G.G. Bussey of Irving. Texas.
Racing fans know the car better ;ls the former
Quaker Stale car driven by Ricky Rudd in the National
Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)
Winston Cup Series. But Rudd has a new car now and
is currently seventh in the circuit money-winnings with
The mother and daughter team bought Rudd's car
and entered it in the Sportsman's Division, which has
been running for three years. The eight-cylinder car has
been repainted while with hot pink numbers and is
trimmed in aqua.
Sportsman races arc held each Saturday before
Sunday's Winston Cup races.
But being a part of the crew and getting to drive on
ihe big track is helping Caines inch closer lo his goal of
becoming a NASCAR driver.
"It's something thai I've always wanted to do every
since I was a kid," said Caincs. "Over the years I had
messed with cars, but 1 had never really gotten into
them like now."
He had thought about buying a car. Then he wanted
to become a driver. Last March, he attended Buck
Baker's driving school in Rockingham for prospective
NASCAR drivers. From competition there, he has been
named as one of four finalists wiih a shot of driving in
the Busch Grand Nationals.
"Things just fell inio place," said Caines.
It's also where he met the first driver for ihe Bussey
car and became part of ihe crew. Inside ihe No. 89. and
also painted on the rear bumper, are the words, "In
memory of Bill Bussey: 1949-1990."
The mother and daughter who own ihe car have
made it a memorial to their husband and father, who
died last year in a motorcycle accident, said Caines.
"It takes ambition " he said "It t;>kes determination.
You have to be competitive and have an easy touch. A
person that's real rough-handed doesn't drive gotxl on
Caines also drives a dirt track car, owned by Albert
Bass of Wilmington, from April 10 October. For each of
the last six weeks, he has finished in the the top live.
At Baker's driving school, trainees run races in
groups of 20 cars on what Caincs says is one of the
toughest tracks on the circuit, named "The Rock" at
Rockingham, for its treacherous turn No. 2.
During the three-day course, instructors explain the
track and what it takes to become a driver.
"What they're looking for is smoothness and con
sistency," said Caines. "Some people have that touch.
STAFF PHOTO BY TERRY POPE
TOXY CAINES' love for racing has him inching closer lo the NASCAR circuit. In his Leland area garage Caines keeps the former Kickv Kutid liuick
ready for action on the Sportsmen's competition.
anil some don't. They're pretty blunt in telling you if
you have a chance."
Ilie Bussey car has run eight races this year anil is
scheduled lor 10 races next year, on the road from the
Poconos in Pennsylvania to tracks in New Hampshire,
Richmond, Va., Charlotte and Atlanta. The season runs
from February to November, which means Caines and
the crew must spend a lot of time traveling.
"It's quite time consuming," said Caines. "This en
tire w inter, we'll be working on this car, getting it ready
He learned to work on nice cars "mostly by jusi
hanging around the tracks," he said, "learning set ups
and stuff like that."
Since each race track is different, the car must be
adjusted before each race.
In lime and dollars, ihe racc car can become a costly
hobby, Caines said. The Huick is valued at $35,(KK)
while each of its two engines cost S14,(XX>.
"They (Busscys) kind of put their trust in me." said
Caines. "I look after it like it was my own. The crew
enjoys working together. It's like a family."
Radio communication helps the crew stay in contact
will) the driver at all tunes during the racc.
" They can tell you if there's a wreck up ahead," said
Caines. "The driver can also let the crew know what the
car is doing on the track so they can be ready to make
adjustments when the driver comes in."
When the car does wreck, it makes the crew 's job
even more difficult in preparing for another race.
"When that happens, we work all week just getting
it ready for the next race, working day and night," said
Caincs. "You have 10 love it U> want to do it."
Earlier this year. Caincs drove the car at the Atlanta
track, reaching speeds up to I 60 mph.
"You get a little hit nervous before a race," said
Caines. "But all of that leaves. Then you're just think
ing about getting to the front of the pack."
Drivers also can't afford to think about wrecks and
injuries, he said, for mental attitude can be the differ
ence between success and failure.
"Even though the possibility is there." he said, "if
you think about it you'll never be a gix>d race car driv
er. It'll stay in the back of your mind."
Young drivers crave "seal lime." lingo for driving in
races on the big tracks. Caines is no exception as he
continues his race lor success.
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