Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – BARBERSVILLE, FL – This week, at the 51st DIRTcar Nationals, it’s all about fun for Super DIRTcar Series competitor Demetrios Drellos.
You see, the Drellos team didn’t even have this event on their radar. They had plans of a vacation and only running the Short Track Super Series events at All-Tech last week.
However, damage to their #111 machine cut that four-race swing short and, after seeing what it was like at Volusia during other events, a decision was made.
We really didn’t have plans to run the DIRTcar events down here,” Drellos said. “However, during the last two nights (for the World of Outlaws Sprints & DIRTcar UMP Modifieds), the track actually looked really racy.”
After that, the team decided to get to work to switch everything around to compete in the DIRTcar events, but with one thing in mind.
“That’s when we said let’s give it a go,” he said. “As long as we are having fun, we will keep racing.”
So far this season, Drellos and company have had a tough start. After a 27th place DNF (did not finish) on Wednesday evening and a busted front axle and failing to qualify on Thursday night, the team decided to pull the plug on their Short Track Super Series events and look ahead to Volusia.
“My Big Block Modified’s all set,” he said. “We cleaned what and repaired I raced and now switched around the cars for Volusia. Hopefully the track stays nice. We may run last week’s car at Cherokee (the first Short Track Super Series Elite event).”
What type of work needed to be done on that car to get it ready for possible action February 24-26 in Gaffney, SC.?
“We had to do some normal maintenance on it after All-Tech,” he said. “It was a lot of swapping out damaged front end parts and washing it. Honestly, it was nice having the last couple days off after All-Tech to regroup so we can figure our stuff out for the next part of our Florida swing.”
Choosing to run both series in the Sunshine state took some planning by Drellos and his team, but once they figured it out, things seemed to come together.
“It took some time back home (in their Queensbury, NY shop) before we left to get everything figured out to have a game plan,” he said. “Fortunately, we basically have two completely different programs. Along with that, we have enough rims not to be swapping tires around between races (American Racers to Hoosiers).”
Now, Drellos’ focus will shift to his DIRTcar program, but this won’t be his first time thinking about the Barbersville, FL track. He helped his friend, former DIRTcar Modified racer Rob Pitcher, achieve one of Rob’s goals in the sport…winning a gator. Rob did that on Saturday in his UMP Mod.
“My family has been good friends with the Pitchers for a while,” he said. “I help Rob with some setup stuff and whatever I can with at the track. It was just awesome to see him get a win. Now, hopefully we can follow.”
The 2021 season was an up and down one for Drellos, who ran weekly at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday nights and ran the entire Super DIRTcar Series.
“I think last year left me feeling we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to,” he said. “However, we still got a win at Malta and finished ninth in points. It was still a solid year, but we could have done more.”
What are the plans for this season?
“We’re going to be at Albany-Saratoga again on Friday nights and then at Fonda Speedway on Saturdays,” he said. “We’re so happy to be back at the ‘Great Race Place’ and return to the ‘Track of Champions’ this year. It’s going to be a great season.”
One thing left out of his definite plans, as of right now, however, is a return to full-time action on the Super DIRTcar Series.
“We’re not sure yet about following the full series again,” he said. “We will see how the beginning of the season goes. We just want the freedom to do whatever we want and go where we want to go.”
That’s not to say, if things go well to start 2022, that fans won’t see the #111 at every Super DIRTcar Series race. However, Drellos is taking it one day at a time…one race at a time.
“At this point, having fun is the highest priority for me,” he said. “Down here in Florida, and this entire year, it’s all about this team just enjoying ourselves. That’s why we race, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Now, Drellos and his #111 Lizotte team will shift their focus to Volusia Speedway Park, for one night of practice on Monday before possibly five straight nights of racing as they chase their first gator trophy. Those events begin on Tuesday and go through Saturday evening’s big finale.