By Joe Buckles
TERRE HAUTE — In a relative brief racing career, Terre Haute racer Paul May has done his share of traveling and competing with the best winged sprint racers the country has to offer.
Whether it be at the treacherous half miles at Eldora, Ohio, or Knoxville, La., or the many small bull rings that dot the Ohio and Pennsylvania short track scene, May has made his presence felt.
At the same time, he’s developed a reputation of being as fiery off the track as on it. As his fans and competitors will attest there’s little place for the middle ground with Paul May.
He may be best described as the “maverick” of local sprint car racers because of the direction he has chosen to travel when it comes to the open-wheel cars.
Unlike most of his fellow Wabash Valley sprint competitors who spend their weekends running non-wing sprints, May is usually on the road running with the winged All-Star Sprints.
Mays says there’s a simple reason why non-wing sprints are so attractive to the local racing contingent.
“It’s all about the costs traveling to run the wings,” explained May. “You can run the non-wings sprints around here three nights a week without traveling a 100 miles a night doing so. It’s not like that with the wings. Your on the road a lot.”
May and the drivers of the highly regarded Club All-Star Sprint Series return to the Action Track on Saturday night giving area fans one the few opportunities all season to see winged sprint cars in the Hoosier state — a state best known in open wheel dirt track racing for non-wing sprint car racing.
The All-Stars made a visit to he Action Track a year ago and their appearance here wasn’t without its anxious moments. Several days of rain prior to their visit made for a muddy race track.
So bad that many of the All-Star regulars lobbied to have the event canceled. It made for a long day and night for racers and fans alike.
May almost singlehandedly kept the show alive during the lengthy confrontational showdown between drivers
May felt fans deserved to see a race after the lengthy delays. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and the show went on even though it was four hours behind schedule.
May’s bold stance that day didn’t surprise those who have followed his career.
Noted for his highly competitive nature on the track, May has also earned the reputation of not being all that shy about expressing his views out of the cockpit.
It’s an approach that has at times ran afoul with his fellow racers and officials. He concedes that he’s lucky that racers have a tendency to forget and forgive quickly.
“Racers are racers. They race night to night.They can be mad one night and happy the next. That’s just the way it is,” he explained.
May says the bad feelings felt by some a year ago isn’t likely to play any role in the car count for the Independence Day show.
He expects 30-35 cars for the local card. Despite a sluggish economy, Mays says the fields have been strong at each All-Star shows he has been at this season.
“I’m confused when I hear all the talk about a recession. We’ve had solid car counts every time I’ve been out. They ought to have a good field here,” May said.
That would include defending race winner and current All-Stars points leader Tim Schaffer, Dale Blaney, Greg Wilson and Randy Hannagan.
Although he has cut back on his once hectic racing schedule, May has made both All-Star and World of Outlaws shows at Eldora and Lawrenceburg in recent weeks.
“We’ve been running good but we’ve got to get where we can finish races. We’ve had our share of mechanical problems. Hopefully that doesn’t happen Saturday.” voiced the 2002 Great Lakes Outlaws Sprint Series champion.
“We don’t get to race around here all that often so we would like to have a strong showing for our fans and sponsors Mays Auto Wrecking, Scott’s Collison Center and Kessco Water.”
Joe Buckles can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.