Sunday, August 06, 2000

Auto Racing Insider


Drag racers follow dad's footsteps

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        Jim Bucher of West Chester, Ohio, was a National Hot Rod Association star in the 1970s. Two of his sons, Tim and Rick Bucher, race dragsters today despite a late start in the sport.

        The Buchers have raced often at Edgewater Sports Park in Cleves, where Tim is driving Super Comp this weekend in the NHRA's Federal Mogul event. Rick, who drives in Super Gas, was 1999 track champion at Pacemakers Raceway Park in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Tim was 1997 track champ at Pacemakers.

        Jim Bucher died in 1977 of a rare blood disease. He was just 38, but veteran Cincinnati race fans remember him well.

        “We didn't start racing ourselves until 1995,” Tim Bucher said. “I wanted to race, but I couldn't figure out a way.”

        Along the way, Tim got a college degree and went into property management. On the side, he still dabbled in racing. He was on the pit crew for drag legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits when Garlits won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1985.

        Jim Bucher raced against Garlits in the '70s, and finished fourth behind champion Garlits in the 1975 NHRA Top Fuel standings.

        Garlits was a perfectionist who could be difficult to work with, Tim Bucher said. But when Garlits won the 1985 NHRA Summernationals at Englishtown, N.J. — the same race Jim Bucher had won 10 years earlier — Garlits' emotions overcame him.

        “He came up and hugged me and said, "This one's for your dad,'” Tim Bucher said.

        Tim Bucher now lives in Powell, Ohio, near Columbus. Rick Bucher lives in West Chester, where the brothers grew up. Another brother, Mike, is a minister in Cleveland.

        Tim and Rick Bucher didn't start driving dragsters until five years ago. An opportunity arose when Jeg Coughlin Sr., father of NHRA star Jeg Coughlin Jr., sold a dragster to the Buchers.

        “I grew up watching my dad race,” Tim said. “The first time we raced was at Edgewater, where he raced all the time. That was pretty sentimental.”

        Today, with the help of engine builder Henry Wernke — the Bucher boys' stepfather — the family races mostly for the fun of it.

        “It's nice,” Tim Bucher said. “You can work during the week and play a race car driver on the weekends.”

        LOCAL SCENE: The Doran Lista Racing team, managed by Delhi native Kevin Doran, holds the season points lead in the Grand American Road Racing team owner standings. There is one race remaining.

        • Doran is also helping Mason driver Dave Renner prepare his car for the next ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 26.

        • Kentucky Speedway will have Pete Rose as grand marshal of its IRL race Aug. 27. There will be a brunch that day at the track (10:30-12:30 a.m.) where fans can meet IRL drivers and get free autographs from Rose. Fans can access that event with their grandstand ticket plus a $10 garage pass.

        • The annual NHRA Federal Mogul (Division 3) drag series concludes its weekend racing today at Edgewater.

        • The sixth annual Brandi Browder Memorial junior dragster race is Saturday at Tri-State Dragway, Hamilton. (www.tristatedragway.com).

        • The 30th annual Gravelrama four-wheel festival is Aug. 25-28 in Cleves. It is the largest 4x4 race in the country.

        • Wendall Wallace and Steve Francis were the big winners in the recent Hav-A-Tampa “Ironman 100” at Florence Speedway. Wallace won the $5,000 feature and Francis the $10,000 feature.

        Tom Groeschen welcomes your email at tgroeschen@enquirer.com

       



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