In the post-race technical inspection area after Saturday night’s UARA-Stars event at Concord Speedway in North Carolina, nearly half a dozen people stood around Steve Wallace’s car. Wallace’s machine, just a week from a controversial disqualification, was under intense scrutiny as the race’s winner. Wallace’s team, mostly crew members from the NASCAR Nationwide Series, thrashed feverishly to get everything ready for review.
Not 10 feet away in the next inspection stall was a perfect study in contrasts. The black-and-white #22 machine clearly didn’t have the newly hung body the Wallace #66 did. Under the hood, a few low-key family members and friends, including one or two curious young boys, poked around to make sure everything was in tip-top shape. The driver of this machine, Bo Foust, kept a low profile having already traded his driving suit for a heavy jacket and a winter hat on a cold North Carolina evening. Despite the clearly grassroots effort Foust had fielded in Saturday’s race, he and his team had beaten the odds and finished third in a fairly stout field.
Beating the odds is something Foust and his family have done in a much more important sense this season.
Foust has been racing off and on in central North Carolina for the last few years, a fixture mainly at Concord Speedway. He earned a popular following at the half-mile facility, so much so that when a fan of Foust’s was asked for something interesting about their favorite driver, the fan laughed and immediately mentioned, “He loves his Corgis.” Yes, a racecar driver with a soft spot for little dogs.
That fan base must have been happy when Foust started working with the UARA-Stars tour late last season, eyeing a heavy schedule in 2011. Unfortunately for Foust and his fans, Foust’s family got some bad news soon afterwards.
“Last year, right at the end of the year, my dad came down with cancer,” Foust explained after the race, looked over towards his family, people who he indicated were the true heart of his race team. And with the heart of the team in medical trouble, Foust took a sabbatical from racing.
It’s the only kind of emergency that would seem to slow Foust down, helping out a man who bought him his first go-kart at the age of four. Foust took quickly to his father’s gift, turning doughnuts in the family front yard and soon, as Foust’s website puts it, “there wasn’t any grass left.” Foust’s father moved him to dirt racing and they’ve been moving up ever since.
After a tough summer, Foust and family got some good news on the medical front as Foust’s father began to succeed in his fight against cancer. Not surprisingly, a good kind of itch soon followed.
“He’s good now,” Foust said with a smile. “He’s been in remission for a couple months. About two months ago, he came up to me and said, ‘Let’s knock some dust off the car and run a race.’”
And run the race they did.
“It’s just my best friend, my mom and my dad,” Foust said about the team that hauled the machine out Saturday. “It was very hard. Last week when we practiced, I was pretty erratic. They were getting on me pretty bad. In the race, it took me a while to get my groove. I haven’t been on Goodyears in a long time. I haven’t run 150 laps in a year and half. So third is not too bad.”
When asked if 2011 had any more races in store, Foust said coyly “I don’t know. We’ll go home, we’ll talk. It’s all we can do.”
And while life may have given Bo Foust and family a curveball in 2011, the fight displayed through the good times and bad in both Foust and team indicate that what they can do is pretty impressive.