The passion for racing may go through a series of ebbs and flows from time to time, but it never completely leaves a driver. The commitment to racing is sometimes relevant to the amount of good results, good times at the track, and the amount of resources left to keep racing with. Sometimes drivers can feel as if it’s time to sell out and do something else. It’s part of a process, a weighing of personal priorities if you will.
Garrett Krummert was at a certain point in that process at the start of 2015, a point where a decision would have to be made. And once he made it, the lure of being able to race just a little bit longer with a different set of circumstances came calling. The western, PA driver had made slow but steady progress in almost everything he’d driven, starting out in quads and karts in his early career, then moving on to 358 modifieds in the area, Krummert would eventually try his hand in 410 sprints and super late models when the time came that he’d just about had enough.
|Pat Miller Photo|
“For me, 2015 kind of came about because 2013 and 2014 were so bad for us,” Krummert remarked.
“And I can’t really blame it on one thing, whether it was the car or the driver I didn’t know, but we just didn’t have any fun.We were racing a late model at that time, and at the end of 2014 we were spending lots of time and lots of money and we weren’t having any fun. My crew, my dad, none of us were having any fun. So we were actually selling out at the end of 2014. I had everything for sale, the entire operation basically.”
And then after a conversation with area modified superstar Brian Swartzlander, Krummert’s passion was completely reignited.
|Pat Miller Photo|
“At the end of March, some guy came down and bought everything I had minus tools and the truck and trailer. And I was actually content. I knew where I was going and I knew we were done. Then my dad started talking to Brian Swartzlander and he was telling us that they’d bought a new car and of course what I’d sold all my old stuff for was the was the exact price that he wanted for his car and motor and everything he had. So we kicked it around for a while, and and we bought it and we started back modified racing. “
Having shown glimpses of potential greatness in the late model, Krummert looked to be on the verge of great things. He managed three stunning wins in weekly action at Attica Raceway Park during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and garnered several top five finishes at Lernerville Speedway where he was a weekly competitor in a very competitive late model division. But his fortunes took a turn for the worst with a mixture of bad luck and a chassis switch that took him off of his game.
“We were trying so hard, but we were going backwards, and I blame some of the going backwards on how hard we were trying. My last year in late models we bough a Swartz car just to try and get something going, and nothing against it, it was one of the best race cars I’ve ever seen, but we got away from Rockets and unfortunalely around here you’ve got to be in a rocket because it’s the only thing you can get help with, and being the only Swartz in the pond really hurt us. We had nobody to go to, and the race tracks those cars had success on weren’t Lernerville which is it’s own animal. We were dealing with Jackie Boggs and those guys running in southern Iowa, and it just didn’t translate to Lernerville.”
At the start of the 2015 campaign, there was no way of knowing how Krummert’s time away from the modified, would hinder his chances of attaining good results at Lernerville. His last attempt at competing in big blocks weekly there had been filled with some good but mostly mid pack finishes or dnf’s. Krummert himself had doubts about how good he might be in his new surroundings.
“Car wise and motor wise, I knew we had bought good stuff. Brian had only run that car a few times and I think he’d won two or three races out of it. I knew it would be close to how I wanted it because Brian and I have a lot of the same style, he’s always on the gas, but I didn’t know how good we’d be as far as the driver went. After struggling two or three years with the late model you start to doubt yourself. I had no idea how good I could be until we took it out for practice and in about four laps I was totally comfortable and was ready to go.”
But once the season got underway, it was easy to see that Krummert was going to become a force to be reckoned with. His car became a fixture up front, and his self doubt began to vanish, replaced with a quiet confidence that became more prevalent week after week. The dramatic improvement reached an all time high for Krummert on May 22, when he won his first feature event at Lernerville, besting the likes of Rex King Sr. and Jr., and eventual track champion Mat Williamson in what was perhaps the most exciting race of the season that turned into a slide job frenzy in the final four laps.
|Jo Krummert Photo|
“I’d led so many races in the late model, and we’d been fast there but I just got used to idea that we weren’t going to win. And on that night as the laps wound down were were running second and with two to go I had the chance and I had to take it. Having watched the replay, I probably wouldn’t have done it, I probably wouldn’t have stuck it in there on Mat if I had to do it again, even though it was my first Lernerville win, in dramatic fashion, but I probably wouldn’t have stuck it in. Maybe I was a little too excited and I knew we were good,” Krummert remarked. “We’re not central NY and I know that but we’ve got five or six guys that can win on any night and in the second half of the season, if we didn’t run in the top five, it was a disappointment.”
The Butler, Pa native found himself on the podium for the points championship by the time the end of the regular season rolled around with a third place finish in the standings. His evolution had come full circle, back to the modifieds where his experience in other types of cars perhaps had a hand in his overall development. He simply knew what he didn’t like about sprints and late models and got to a comfortable place in the modifieds. But still, he managed to fold his experience together, and with good equipment, was able to reach a new height. While at the same time, restoring his confidence and more importantly, having fun again.
“People ask me all the time, what’s your favorite thing about racing, and of course it’s driving. But in an average night at Lernerville you spend maybe 20 minutes in the car. I honestly enjoy working on the car. I told somebody if I ever quit driving, I’ll still never quit racing, I’ll work on somebody elses stuff or whatever, I love to do it, and I enjoy it as much as I do driving.”
Perhaps what Krummert might miss the most if he were to quit driving, is the family affair it has become for him, as his wife Jo and her family which contains local legends Dave and the recently retired Carl Murdick.
“To this day, Carl was a huge help to me. The motor we won Sharon with for the first time was a motor that he and I had built together. He’s always down helping fix something, rear ends, trannys, we do everything urselves. He’s done it for so long that it’s just as easier for us to do it as it is to box it up and ship it out. And Dave and I are always talking about setups and what does and doesn’t work. It’s unique being in a racing family like that. There’s tense moments when we’re all racing, but we do good together. But when we do rub the nerf bars together a little bit on the track, my wife is totally on my side so that makes it a lot easier to come home at night.”
So what does the future hold for Krummert? A continuation of his 2015 for the most part. He’s comfortable with the amount of nights he races, what he spends to race, and how much fun he’s having. He’s in a good place, a balanced place, but if his 2015 tell us anything, he won’t be content just to ride around, he’s in the game to win and at this time, it’s a game he can manage, and he’ll continue to improve, adding his name to the heavyweights of area modified racing for years to come perhaps.
“It would have to be a heck of a deal to get me to switch back to late models. Financially, where I’m at with the modified stuff, it’s fits us very well, People often ask me the difference in the costs. My tire bill alone from the late model to the modified is about six thousand dollars a year less. So from a financial standpoint, we’re not a big team, we don’t have two cars or anything like that, we don’t have five motors, we get by on what we have and the modified deal fits that well. Looking ahead, I’d like to do Lernerville and I’d like to do all the BRP tour races and we’ll hit most of the Sharon races, especially that Super Dirt Car Series date. And as long as everything is still looking good, we’d definitely look to hit Eldora too.
If you’re looking to bet on a darkhorse for a podium spot for either the Eldora or Sharon Super Dirt Car series races, make sure to pay attention to Krummert, he’s not done opening eyes anytime soon.