WHEATLAND, Missouri (March 20, 2019) – One of the familiar drivers to Missouri fans of the USRA Modified division is Ronnie Woods. The veteran racer from Mexico, Missouri, rattled off another top-10 points season in the Pitts Homes USRA Modified division last season at Lucas Oil Speedway, part of his busy week-in, week-out schedule at multiple tracks.
This weekend, Woods’ No. 53 will be on display at the Capital Mall Racers Show in Jefferson City, where Lucas Oil Speedway also will have a booth with 2019 season information, including free schedules and other giveaways.
Lucas Oil Speedway PR Director Lyndal Scranton caught up with Woods earlier this week to talk about his plans for the new season, how he got started in racing and what he most enjoys about piloting a Modified. Here is that session of 12 Questions:
How’s the offseason been going and is the car ready to go?
“I think I’ve worked on everybody’s race car but mine. Well (he laughed) mine is about done. I had mine all done the second week of January and I’ve just been working on everybody else’s stuff. I’ve done six or seven bodies for people and just converted a GRT over to a Sport Mod. Just non-stop, trying to get stuff done.”
Is building bodies a main business for you or just a sidelight?
“My main business is I own a bail bond company (Woods Bail Bonds). That keeps me pretty busy. I build bodies and kind of work on everybody else’s stuff just to supplement some of the racing stuff for own program.”
Your car will be on public display this weekend at the Capital Mall Racers Show. Does it look much different than last season?
“We’ve changed our colors. Last year our car was black and neon red. This year it is platinum silver and neon yellow. It looks really, really good. It looks really good and I’ve had a lot of compliments on it. It was wrapped by Scotty’s Signs & Wraps out of Columbia. It ought to be one of the ones that will really catch everybody’s eye.”
Is it the same GRT that you have refurbished for the new season?
“We went through and made some updates on it. We put some new parts on it and just maintenance stuff. Put new suspension parts on because we had about 50 nights on it from last year. We ordered some new stuff and we’re just trying some new trick-out stuff. We’re kind of excited to get the season started.”
Do you have a similar, busy schedule mapped out for 2019?
“Yeah, we’re going to the mighty Tri-State Speedway the 28th, 29th and 30th of this month. Then we’re going to be at Lucas Oil Speedway, pretty much all season. I think we’ll miss three or four races just to go and run some big-show stuff. We’re going to go and run the Silver Dollar Nationals this year, and the Fall Jamboree, which we usually hit that every year. We’re not going to really concentrate on track championship stuff as much. We’re going to run for (USRA Modified) National and see how good we can score on that deal. We stayed in the top 20 last year, until the very end, and we just kind of ended our season a couple of weeks short and we ended up finishing 21st. We had good luck with that GRT last year. We’re going to see how we stack up this year. We’re going to run 55 shows. Last year we ran 41 or 42.”
How old are you and how get started racing?
“I’m 44. I got introduced into racing by my dad (Ronnie Sr.) when I was 18. We had a drag car and we went to the drag races in Clarksville, Tennessee, and my Dad used to take me to the dirt tracks on Saturday nights and watch the guys go around there. It was kind of a big thing that I wanted to do when I was younger, buy a dirt car. I moved back here to Missouri and went to the dirt races at Holt Summit and Quincy and had a drag car. I decided that I wanted to do something that was a little more of an adrenaline rush. I bought a Pro Mod and didn’t know anything about it. I jumped into the sport feet first and here we are, 12 years later. It was a major learning curve.”
Was there a racing influence who helped you get started?
“My dad passed away in 2001 and when I bought my first race car it was just me and some buddies of mine, Lance Cox and Barry White up here in Mexico. They had dirt cars and showed me the way. Then we became friends with Craig Roden and some other guys that had some pretty good success. I just started asking some questions and going from there and talking to people and asking even more questions and going to some chassis schools in the offseason. There are a lot of guys behind us that had a lot of knowledge.”
What is a highlight or proudest moment of your racing career?
“I just pride myself to run good and being known as one of the cleanest drivers in the class. That probably means more to me than winning a championship, just everybody knowing that I respect their stuff.”
What do you enjoy about driving the USRA Mod division?
“Just the adrenaline rush and the speed. Knowing there is another group of guys out there that are just as talented as you are – especially at Lucas. Everybody there, in the top 10, has a chance to win every night. If you can run in the top 10 with the caliber of guys that are at Lucas weekly, then you are accomplishing something. As far as I’m concerned, the guys who race there are the best in the Midwest. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of guys behind the scenes that make that class notable every week.”
If you weren’t racing, what would you do with your spare time? Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
“I like spending time with my family. I hunt in the offseason and I try to do a little fishing. We haven’t got much of that done in a couple of years with the racing schedule. During racing season, that’s pretty much all we do. I have some friends and we still try to get together and during racing season, whether it’s at the shop talking racing and the different ideas we have. But if you run up front, racing takes up 80 percent of the time. To me, there’s really no offseason. You’re just preparing for the next season. I try to dedicate at least 20-30 hours a week at the shop whether it’s working on my own stuff or somebody else’s in the offseason. There’s never a dull moment when it comes to this sport.”
Owning a bail bond company is pretty unique. How did that come about?
“I had an unfortunate run-in with the law when I was about 21 or 22. Nothing major. Just something minor. The guy that bailed me out was good friends with my dad and offered me a job. I got into it and it progressed from there. I worked for a guy for about six years and he pushed me to open my own bail bond company. We jumped in with both feet and … we’re now one of the best-known bail bond companies around where I live. That’s what I do for a living. If I wasn’t self-employed I don’t know how I would have the time to work on a race car like some of these guys. It’s time-consuming.”
How is your sponsorship shaping up?
“Last year, we didn’t have a lot of sponsors. This year, we’ve had several guys jump on board. We weren’t going to race a whole lot. We were going to run the Show-Me 100 and some bigger shows. We were going to take some weeks off and do some stuff we hadn’t got to the last three or four years. Then we had six or seven guys jump on board and threw some money into the car. We wanted to see what kind of chance we had this year to maybe get into the top-five of the (USRA) national stuff. That’s a big relief. We have Scotty’s Signs & Wraps, Big Time Bail Bonds, Krystal Kleen Car Wash, Robnett Automotive, Beck’s Hybrid, Dagwood JR’s, Sonic Drive Thru, VP Racing Fuel, Precision Performance, Speedwerx, Fuel Safe, Wehr’s Machine, Creason Racing Engines & GRT Racecars.”
The 2019 Lucas Oil Speedway season kicks off March 30 with an open test and tune. The Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series begins April 6 with action in all four of the weekly divisions – Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models and O’Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks.