Lucas Oil Speedway Offseason Spotlight: 10 questions with Street Stocks veteran Toby Ott
WHEATLAND, Missouri (February 7, 2019) - Toby Ott finished a solid fourth in the 2018 Big O Tires Street Stocks division at Lucas Oil Speedway. While he fell short of repeating as track champion, after winning five features the year before, it was still a satisfying season for the popular hometown driver.
Lucas Oil Speedway Public Relations Director Lyndal Scranton recently caught up with Ott for a wide-ranging "10 questions" that hit on his expectations for the 2019 season in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks class, how he got started in the sport and why he selected 27 for his car number:
After winning the track championship in 2017, you were fourth last season. How would you evaluate the season overall?
"Actually, I was pretty satisfied ending up in fourth where I did. I missed three or four races. I was off traveling, running some bigger shows last year. This year, a lot of changed with some of the different rules and I probably won't be venturing out quite as far."
David Hendrix got on a roll much like you did the year before and won the 2018 track championship. What's that feeling when you are winning so much?
"It's really hard to describe. It's kind of like a 'wow' factor and 'What happened? Where did everybody else go and how did I get so quick?' It makes you wonder how you can go from running toward the front to being the one in the front all the time. You kind of look back and everything starts to click. It's hard to explain. I don't know. You enjoy the ride while it's there. Dave came in the next year and did exactly how I did the year before. Chances are, Dave will still be up front next year. Hopefully this next year, we'll make make him earn it and at least keep him honest."
You did win the feature on season championship night. What did it mean to get a victory going into the offseason?
"It was a really positive way to end the regular season. I was really looking forward to the end-of-the-year shows there late in the year to see what we could do. We ended up getting rained out and didn't get to run them. I went over to Lake Ozark the week after (Lucas Oil Speedway's season championship) and won that. Everything was looking more promising. We had went to a new open motor and I spent most of the year trying to get the car lined out, trying to get used to the different engine package. It was finally starting to all come together. I haven't touched the car since the last rained-out race. It's still sitting in the garage. Hopefully we'll get that thing out, put a new body on it and be ready to go."
What are your plans and goals for the upcoming season?
"I think 2019 we're going to stay close to home and mostly race at Lucas. We'll see how the season starts off. As far as points and stuff go, I'm not dead-set on running for points. I'll kind of see how it goes. My youngest son is graduating high school this year. Me and my wife will probably try to spend a little more time doing some stuff on our own. You have to keep the wife happy, too."
How long have you been racing and how did you get started?
"I started racing cars in 2003. I started racing ATVs back in 1999. I used to flat-track race. My first races started at the Urbana Speedway with Bill Allen. I went all over Illinois and places racing ATVs and was successful doing that. I went to cars in 2003. I was a whole different ballgame than ATVs. In '03, it was the Sportsman class which has evolved into Limited Late Model now. That's what I raced all the way up to 2006, at Lucas when it was the Limited Late Models. I did get out for a year or two when I wasn't racing at all. It was about 2012 or '13 the last time I was in a Late Model. I've jumped in or out a time or two throughout the years, pretty much always in a Sportsman until Late Model until the last three or four years."
Who was an inspiration to you early in your career?
"I've had to do most of the stuff on my own. Very limited sponsors. I've always had friends and family give me a hand during the week. But coming to the track, I've pretty much always had to be a one-man band. I've had a lot of racing partners. Harlen and Andy Kennedy, I went and started racing with those guys and we'd always give each other a hand in the pits. I guess, really, if I had to say ... my brother, Rob, who was racing at the time I started ... got me started racing stock cars."
What appeals most to you about competing in Street Stocks and what do the fans like about them?
"I think a lot of the fans enjoy a full-body car. My uncles are big fans and they used to do it years ago. They're all about a full-body car. Even if it's a Late Model, they want to see a fender on the car. It was just something about a car having fender. As far as why I race in the Street Stocks, three or four years ago when I started, it looked to be a really fun, affordable class. Now it's evolved into an expensive sport in this class, as well as every other one. Everything evolves, I guess."
Is there any significance in your car number of 27?
"Honestly, the number ... what really started me on No. 27, I don't know if you know Duayne Hommel. He's a Late Model racer from years ago up in Illinois and he had a car that had graphics what they called 'bent nails' was the design of the font on the number. I thought it looked so cool on there. He was actually No. 2. I saw it and thought it would be so cool to have that font and have number 27 because you could make the 'bent nail' look. There is no significance in the number. I liked the design and that's the number I've always stuck with."
If you weren't driving a race car, what would you do with your Saturdays in the spring through the fall?
"I would imagine in the spring time I'd be fishing. Fishing, camping and riding RZRs. My wife and I and friends like to get together and go trail riding on RZRs. We try to do that about a half-dozen times a year on the side-by-sides."
You work at Hobbytime Motorsports, which is a big supporter of Lucas Oil Speedway. What do you do there and what does racing mean to the folks there?
"I'm the service manager for the Bolivar and the Clinton store. I tell you what, we have big support from employees and everybody. They all enjoy it. All kidding aside, if it wasn't for Hobbytime's support and the fan base, I probably wouldn't keep doing this. There's a lot of camaraderie, not only at the time but when we're at work. Racing is something to talk about. It's a company car, per se. I get a lot of support and a lot of chatting about it."
The 2019 Lucas Oil Speedway season kicks off March 30 with an open test and tune. The Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series begins April 6 with action in all four of the weekly divisions - Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models and O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984