It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Tech at the Snowball Derby used to be a far less serious than what it is today. From soaking tires to cheated-up bodies, the Derby was not figured as the place with the toughest tech line in the business. Ricky Brooks has helped organized an alliance of tracks and rules and has worked with several engine builders to create a level playing field. He may not be a fan favorite as no name is too big and no advantage is too small, but Ricky Brooks has made the Snowball Derby fair. We caught up with him to see how things are on the Florida Panhandle.
51: We are a few days from when most people are going to start loading up and heading down to the Snowball Derby and I just want to get your take on how excited you are that you’ll be down there another year doing tech for the biggest race of the year.
Brooks: I’m excited about it. I think this year’s going to be bigger than it has been. We’re just excited about getting going.
51: A lot of people have probably been calling you because they want to make sure their cars are right at the Snowball Derby, how many drivers have you talked to over the past few weeks that are already checking things before they even get there?
Brooks: I’ve probably talked to 50 or 60 people in the past three or four weeks. I’ve been at the racetrack a lot lately, different tracks, and I’ve answered a lot of them face to face but I’ve had probably 50 phone calls.
51: Coming into the Snowball Derby, more people are probably looking at issues with the crate (engines) and Snowflake cars than the Supers, what do you think is the biggest issue you will be looking for?
Brooks: The biggest issue this year, like you said, will be the crates. That’s my worst nightmare, is a crate engine. There are so many engine builders across the country that are getting their hands into them that you don’t know who they are or anything about them and they’re just cheating these crate motors up. A minor change will make a big difference in the crate motors.
I’m not really worried about the Supers, that stuff is kind of taken its toll. If we could tech Supers every weekend it would be a breeze.
51: The motors used to come stock right from GM and Ford, but after a while they need to be freshened and that’s where we’re running into the issues, right?
Brooks: Right. It’s not coming from the manufacturer, it’s happening when they’re freshened up. I think if everybody had to do it over again they would tell them to buy a crate motor from the factory when it broke or you had a problem with it, they would just tell you to go get another one because they’re spending just as much rebuilding them as it was to buy them in the first place.
51: You went pretty deep into some motors at the Gov Cup (earlier this month at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) and a lot of people thought that was you going a little overboard. What are your thoughts on that?
Brooks: The racetrack wanted me to tear the motors apart because there has been a bad feeling about the spec motors down there in the South and they wanted me to tear it apart. Granted, we wish we would have had three spec motors, but we didn’t. But we started tearing apart the third motor (Bobby Good) and stopped when we found the illegal heads on it. But the other two spec motors, one was a McGunegill and one was a Crume spec motor and we pulled them all the way down to their crank shaft, per the race director’s request, and we weighed the crank shaft at four o’clock in the morning and both of those motors were dead on spec for spec . I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it probably needed to happen. I didn’t want to be there that late, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. And to my knowledge that had never happened with either one of those motors at a racetrack.
51: Progressive Engines have really stepped up to help you and the racer this year. It’s unfortunate that Bobby Good was disqualified they’ve really stepped up and tried to help everybody.
Brooks: Yes, everybody in south Florida, whether it’s Crume or Progressive. I’ve had more deals with Steve at Progressive in the last year and half and anything I need or information, they give it to me. And I’ve never checked one of his motors that had his name on it that was illegal, so that says a lot. Will they cheat one up? Yeah he will, and he’ll tell you he will, but he won’t put his name or his seal on it and I’ll have to give him credit for that because I’ve never caught him doing anything. Everything’s been on the up and up.
51: A lot of people curse your name because there driver might have been DQ'ed and or they don’t like what you’re doing. But fair is fair and your umbrella reaches pretty far in the Southeast. What’s the next step for you and your team keeping everything even?
Brooks: My next step is getting through the Derby. We’re going to do some dyno testing after the Derby and make sure that we don’t need to make any changes for the 2012 season and just see how it goes from there. I’ve got some things in the works for next year leading up to the 2013 season that may be beneficial to a lot of people but until I get all of that together I don’t want to put too much of that out there yet.