Attitude drives behavior. Make no mistake about it, by choosing your attitude properly you set the mood and send out a message that everyone comprehends, whether consciously or unconsciously. If you feel like a winner, you already are. Duck Tape Racing's Michael Beard feels like a victor every time he gets to compete, because he's doing something that gives him an unlimited source of bliss and fulfillment, and the sheer power in that is quantifiable. Beard found his mojo partway through 2012, and he's been on a roll ever since, marking his fourth win in the last five weeks. The string of success began with a Memorial Day Weekend Footbrake win at Rockingham Dragway, followed by a Stock win at the Pittsburgh Nitro Jam, then a Super Stock win at the Jackson, South Carolina IHRA Pro-Am.
Michael Beard makes some moves and comes up with a win in Atlanta
Michael Beard's Duck Tape Volare had its NHRA Super Stock debut in Atlanta
Then at Atlanta Dragway's NHRA Division 2 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series (LODRS) event, Beard inked a victory on his résumé in his NHRA Super Stock debut. Atlanta also marked the beginning of the 2012-2013 JEGS Allstars points chase, so Beard grabbed the early lead there as well. And despite his late start on the NHRA tour, and with being four events behind, Beard still only trails the NHRA Division 2 Super Stock points leader by just over 150 points, while maintaining his commanding 142 point lead in IHRA Division 2 Super Stock.
We talked with Beard to get his take on 2012 up to this point, and to check on his mind-set in regards to racing.
From all indications you seem to enjoy racing about as much as anyone we've ever written about, would it be fair to say that your success in racing comes from your pure enthusiasm for what you do?
"I live for it. While it's not a fulltime job, I think you have to put that level of thought and effort into it. I really enjoy the thinking and strategy involved in our sport. You have to pay attention to details, not only in every aspect of your car, your staging and driving technique, and the weather conditions, but also your opponents. Knowledge is power."
How do you account for winning in "Hotlanta" your first time out in an NHRA event?
"It was a hot weekend and it lived up to the moniker, but the car ran phenomenal. It made seven laps within .011 seconds to the 1000' mark. We debuted the 5.9L DragPak engine in the Duck Tape Volare last summer, and have been sorting it out on the IHRA circuit. Gibbs Race Cars back-halved the car with a 4-link, Moser 60 rear, and 14x32 Mickey Thompson in May, and I've been working on the fuel injection tune-up in the FAST system. Although I've competed in NHRA before, I'll admit that it felt a little like going to my first race. By the end of the race, though, I'd gotten to know the tech and other officials better. It was a two-day event, and then they had a barbecue Friday night... it kinda felt like an IHRA race!
It was my first trip to Atlanta, and I have to say, I loved the track. With the new fiber optic Compulink, the rollout was nice and tight, how I like it, so I was comfortable with the tree right off the bat. I was really happy with the runs I was putting together, but it turned out that I didn't need them. It seemed like everyone I ran had put down good laps too, but then they all missed the tree when they got to me. Elisha Boyd got under his blinder in the finals, and caught a glimpse of the second bulb. He hung onto the button and was late, but he ran dead-on with a zero. Like you hear so many people say-it really was just my day!"
How is 2012 treating you overall up to this point?
"It was a bit of a learning year, as we discovered that we were overpowering the chassis, until we back-halved the car. We still had a few finals early in the season, but it's gotten even better since we made it a big-tire car. Overall, I've been in nine finals so far this year, with five wins. I won the IHRA Div. 2 Super Stock Championship, and qualified for the IHRA Summit Tournament of Champions in Super Stock, as well as in Stock with my buddy Terry Knott's Dart Sport. It's the car that we won the 2003 Stock World Championship with. I'm really looking forward to Memphis."
What are your short and long term goals for the rest of this season?
"There are a lot of really big races coming up, including the NHRA Northern Sportsnationals at Columbus, two $10K races at the Jim Harrington Footbrake Classic, and the IHRA Tournament of Champions. My partner Anthony Walton and I are also promoting a couple of big money bracket events of our own in November, each one a $5K-$20K-$5K race. One is an all-doorslammer box race at Fayetteville, and the other one is the Fall Footbrake Frenzy at Coastal Plains over Thanksgiving weekend."
You've raced since Atlanta; update us on how it went?
"I've recently moved from North Carolina (Seagrove) back to Ohio, so there are some different races on my schedule now. We had a successful weekend at the IHRA Northern Nitro Jam in Martin, Michigan. I had a runner-up in the national event in Stock with Terry Knott's Dart Sport, and then a runner-up in Super Stock with my Volare in the Pro-Am. The following week, I made it to the semis in Modified ET at Quaker City Motorsports Park, a track I used to work at many years ago. Ironically, the move to Ohio made the typical 2-hour drive to Darlington into a 12-hour ride, and I didn't do anything spectacular there, but I did well enough to hold onto the Division championship!"
What's up next and have you started thinking about the 2013 season yet?
"Moving and getting settled into a new place has taken a great deal of time, and made life so busy that I've hardly had time to think about where I'm going from one weekend to the next, but there's a rash of national events and big money bracket races coming up! Next year, I'll utilize the Gold Card to keep up with the IHRA circuit, but I also plan to run a lot more NHRA LODRS and National Events."
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