Fun at 51. That describes where veteran Lucas Oil Speedway Out-Pace USRA B-Mod driver Jim Cihy views his racing career as a new season approaches.
"If I wasn't having fun, I wouldn't do it and I'm having more fun than I ever have," Cihy said. "It's always been fun and now it's rubbed off on my kids. That makes it even better."
For Cihy, racing not only is stress relief form his job as a Warsaw Police Lieutenant, it's definitely a family affair in 2017. Son Matt, 23, is joining him in the Out-Pace USRA B-Mod division this season. Son Cole, 24, helps both and plans to race a Pure Stock occasionally at area tracks that offer that division. Daughter Megan, 21, doesn't race but always is cheering for dad.
Jim Cihy, coming off his second straight fifth-place finish in the Lucas Oil Speedway Out-Pace USRA B-Mod points chase, will be racing against Matt for the first time. He knows that time is coming when his No. 99 and Matt's No. 00 will be battling for position.
How fun will that be? Jim Cihy, who turns 51 the first week of April, laughed and said the competitive juices definitely will be flowing.
"There will be a lot more competition between us than there's ever been," he said. "Matt and I, we'll start out pitting together and probably by the end of the season we won't be pitting together. All he has to do is beat me once and he won't have a trailer to his car any more."
Cihy was laughing when he said that. But he made it clear that he really won't cut Matt, who's an EMT with the Petis County Ambulance District, any slack on the race track.
"There won't be any punches pulled between either of us," he said. "We're both pretty competitive and want to beat each other as much as we want to beat anybody else."
For Jim Cihy, who's been racing weekly for the last dozen years after dabbling in the sport prior to that, he's set a goal of a third straight season among the top five of points.
"I would love to see another top-five, or better," Cihy said. "Maybe some heat-race wins and another good year with nothing breaking would make me happy.
"Any time you get a top-five at Lucas ... you have to be consistent," he added. "I know I wasn't the fastest car out there (last year) but we were consistent and had some good finishes. We only missed a couple of features all year due to mechanical stuff. I was real happy.
"The B-Mod class is growing all the time. The way the USRA has the rules, it's relatively fair across the board and doesn't take a whole lot of money to make a competitive car. For a winning car, you have to have a (higher) budget. But a competitive, consistent car just about anything can jump into one."
Sponsors include Subway, Eagle Machine, Burr King, Truman Lake Marine, Powersport, Lucas Oil, Lucas Cattle Company and Eddie Barnes Well Drilling. Kurt Sledd returns as crew chief and veteran Modified driver Mike Striegel "has been a big help" to the team, Jim Cihy said.
"We're looking forward to practice day on April 1. Matt will need a lot of laps," Cihy said. "We'll probably go through a couple of sets of tires on his car."
The Lucas Oil Speedway speedway 2017 schedule, fires up with the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series opener on April 8 followed by the 4th annual MLRA Spring Nationals Presented by RacingJunk.com on April 14-15.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With it's entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click www.LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984. In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking "Like" at www.facebook.com/LucasOilSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/LucasOilSpeedway.